Dane. Designer.

Old Blog

Danish Cyclist Culture in NY

I have no numbers for the amount of cyclists killed in traffic on Manhattan, but I imagine grim statistics. At least, when considering how the few cyclists that are, bob and weave in-between, and against, traffic, without so much as a care.

Now this might simply be that my coolheaded Scandinavian take on how the layers of traffic should flow, simply isn’t capable of grokking the Manhattan spirit (if in doubt, honk).

Well, now it seems New York is getting help from a Danish advisor, on how to adapt the big apple to make it cyclist friendly:

This summer, Jan Gehl, the 71-year-old Danish traffic-curbing guru, took NYC planning chief Amanda Burden and transportation czar Janette Sadik-Khan on a bike trip around Copenhagen to show them what could be done for New York. #

Copenhagen is far from perfect in that area, and both pedestrians, cyclists and drivers think they own the infrastructure, but I do think the world, as I’ve seen it in my travels, can pick up a few things about modern traffic from us.

Denmark on the other hand could definitely learn a thing or two as well. Whether or not it’s legal in New York to cross over pedestrian crossings when there’s a red light, I don’t know, but if one guy decides that he can make it across before the next wad of cars, the entire group waiting to cross starts walking. It must be a nightmare for the drivers. In Scotland, the balance, as I remember it, seems to have been struck quite nicely. You cross for red, but not to the detriment of vehicular traffic.

In Denmark of course, and the rest of Scandinavia I gather, you don’t. Ever. Because we’re law abiding, if anything.

For cars, the entirety of drivers-license-wielding Danes would do well to spend a year or so driving on the streets of Paris. I have never seen traffic that smooth. The merging. Oh dear Zod; the merging! It’s like poetry in motion. Try merging like that in Denmark, and you’re likely to get your ass kicked.

Strange, isn’t it, how different the same systems can be, simply because of them having grown separately.