The Student News Site of Macalester College

The Mac Weekly

The Student News Site of Macalester College

The Mac Weekly

The Student News Site of Macalester College

The Mac Weekly

Love Thy Neighborhood: Reflections on a trip to Copenhagen

Cyclists in Copenhagen enjoy the vitality of the city, riding in designated bike lanes that benefit from head-starts at traffic signals and higher grades than the rest of the street. Photo by Joe Huber ’15.
Cyclists in Copenhagen enjoy the vitality of the city, riding in designated bike lanes that benefit from head-starts at traffic signals and higher grades than the rest of the street. Photo by Joe Huber ’15.
Cyclists in Copenhagen enjoy the vitality of the city, riding in designated bike lanes that benefit from head-starts at traffic signals and higher grades than the rest of the street. Photo by Joe Huber ’15.

Love Thy Neighborhood has mainly focused on development in the Twin Cities, but this week I’m going to discuss a different place. Yes, I’ve chosen to move the neighborhood.

Over break, I had the unique opportunity to visit Copenhagen, Denmark. Copenhagen, for those of you who don’t know, is an urban geographer’s dream with its thoughtful and effective planning. Needless to say, my love for cities has changed; my heart has grown a little fonder.

This beautiful city, home to nearly two million people, has a vibrancy unlike that of any other I have visited. It boasts a comprehensive and dynamic transit system and urban life. From planes, trains (commuter and metro), buses, bikes, pedestrians, boats and more, the transportation infrastructure leaves little to be desired—except maybe a few metro lines that are only a few years away from opening.

Traversing the city is extremely easy on foot, and in fact, there are many places you can only reach as a pedestrian. Granted, this is one old European city that was built during the pedestrian era. But still, there’s really no reason to explore Copenhagen by car. Parking and driving in the city center is extremely difficult, and with heavy taxes on cars and gasoline, who would want to drive?

Parking garages simply do not exist. This made me realize the true impact parking garages have on urban form.
Parking garages add nothing to the vitality and vibrancy of the city streets. If anything, they suck the life out of them. When new projects are proposed in the U.S., people always ask, where will we park? Can we add parking somewhere? After returning from Copenhagen, part of me just wants to level all of them—is that so bad?

When it comes to bike lanes, Copenhagen does it right on every level. All bike lanes are grade-separated along roadways, meaning that bikes ride at a higher level than automobiles. Some bike lanes are also protected by cars, where off-street parking is allowed.

These grade-separated bike lanes allow for an extensive bike network, allowing users to traverse the city, in many instances, faster than it would take by car. Also, most intersections have bike traffic lights that give a several-second advantage or head-start to people cycling.

Bike parking is abundant throughout the city, although the sheer number of bikes does exceed the number of bike parking spots. However, most people use a wheel lock, as opposed to a U-lock as we do here, which means that bikes are scattered everywhere!

When it comes to mass transit, Copenhagen knows what it is doing. Commuter rail lines extend out into the greater Copenhagen area as well as across the sea into Malmo, Sweden, allowing for easy access to most areas. Within the city, a bus network traverses the entire city.

The buses’ frequency is so high that you really don’t refer to a schedule ahead of time. You just walk to the bus stop and the bus sign shows real-time updates on when the next bus will arrive.

The buses are also fairly large, having three entrances. People are also very quiet on the bus. Conversation and
noise is kept to a minimum. This I found very pleasant and comfortable.

Construction abounds in many of the plazas that are scattered across the city. This construction was mainly on the two new metro lines Copenhagen is building that will cover the entire center city. Currently two lines are open that connect the airport and several outer communities to the city center. The new lines will create a circle throughout the city center.

The metro system is very fast, comfortable and easy to use. Similar to the bus system, the metro trains are high frequency, and you rarely have to wait more than a few minutes. The system is also entirely automated, meaning that a computer controls the whole system. This works to keeps trains on time. It is also a result of the entire grade separation of the system, meaning that the metro system doesn’t cross any roads, unlike the light rail system we have here in the Twin Cities, making it even safer.

What I take away from this trip is this: Copenhagen is the city it is today because of the massive investment they chose to make decades ago in a transportation system that simply works quickly, efficiently and for the user.
Because of these investments, mass transit, cycling and walking are viable means of transportation to everyone.

The transportation system in Copenhagen reflects the values they carry with regard to transportation and the simple idea of getting somewhere. The investments they have made reflect the high value they place on cycling, walking and mass transit.

When Copenhagen built a bike network, they didn’t simply put a line down on a road; they built an entire grade-separated bike network with bike traffic lights that covers the entire city.
When Copenhagen built a metro system, they built a clean, safe, modern system that will serve for the future needs and expansion of the city.

Many U.S. cities, like Minneapolis-St. Paul, aren’t making the crucial investments we need to compete. Granted, the Twin Cities are far ahead of many U.S. metros. But too often we focus on the price tag of these things and sacrifice crucial aspects needed to make mass transit, cycling and walking competitive with driving.

Trains and buses only come every 10-15 minutes. Light rail crosses so many streets that it’s usually slower to travel by light rail than by car. Also, light rail is usually located in areas that aren’t heavily populated. So while the investment in mass transit is increasing, the quality of this investment still lacks.

Yes, I come back with a much more critical perspective. But it is because transportation is the key to the Twin Cities future, that we need to make more quality investments in our mass transit system, so that our metro area’s future is more vibrant for everyone.

View Comments (10)
More to Discover

Comments (10)

All The Mac Weekly Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  • G

    generic viagraSep 12, 2019 at 1:08 am

    I have to voice my affection for your kindness giving support to those people who require assistance with in this subject matter. Your very own commitment to getting the solution up and down appears to be certainly functional and have frequently empowered those just like me to reach their objectives. Your entire helpful guide denotes this much to me and much more to my colleagues. Thanks a lot; from everyone of us.

  • O

    online pharmacy canadaSep 10, 2019 at 3:08 am

    Yet another issue is really that video gaming became one of the all-time greatest forms of excitement for people spanning various ages. Kids have fun with video games, plus adults do, too. The particular XBox 360 is one of the favorite gaming systems for those who love to have hundreds of video games available to them, in addition to who like to learn live with other people all over the world. Thank you for sharing your ideas.

  • V

    viagra without doctor prescriptionSep 9, 2019 at 8:16 pm

    Thanks for the marvelous posting! I truly enjoyed reading it, you are a great author.I will make sure to bookmark your blog and will often come back at some point. I want to encourage yourself to continue your great posts, have a nice morning!

  • K

    Kartika DewiAug 17, 2019 at 1:21 am

    Stay at the country where most citizens used bycicle always becomes my dream. I hope one day, I was able to fulfill that dream.
    poker deposit via pulsa
    daftar idnplay
    download apk super10
    idn poker domino qq
    agen resmi idnplay
    poker idn pulsa
    poker idn pakai pulsa
    idn poker cara deposit