Interview of Ole Vissing
Head of Division at the Technical and Environmental Administration- City of Copenhagen
2019, May 29th
What are the main reasons why the ‘Bicycle Strategy 2011-2025’ is so successful in Copenhagen? How did the city manage engage its inhabitants in both an active and sustainable mobility?
The reason why The Bicycle Strategy 2011-2025 has proven to be a successful strategy for increasing bike mobility is founded in both culture and infrastructure. Cycling is treated as an integrated system where both infrastructure, maintenance, policy and user interaction are keys to success. Most Copenhageners choose the bicycle because it’s the easiest and fastest way to get around in Copenhagen. This is the result of many years of political and administrational focus on improving the conditions for cycling in Copenhagen – also before 2011.
A crucial element is the comprehensive network of dedicated bicycle infrastructure with separated tracks and safe intersection design. The result is that bikes are used by everyone for everything. Getting to work or school, delivering goods, bringing children to kindergarten, or for the joy of experiencing the city on a sunny Sunday. Even many car owners use their bicycles as part of their daily transportation, and public transport users bring their bikes on the train – for free.
“Co-create Copenhagen 2025” insists on the importance of outdoor spaces in the city. Why are these public spaces so important, and how can they help citizen be more active on a daily basis?
Copenhagen is at its best when people meet each other in its outdoor spaces. This is when the city comes to life. In 2025, it will have to serve as a venue for a wider range of activities and more freedom of choice. More and more people will want to use its open spaces, whether with others or alone in peaceful contemplation. There will be significantly more of us in 2025, and urban life has to be just as good utilizing the same space, and equally good within and outside the inner-city neighbourhoods.
Urban spaces must provide a secure and functional framework for a wide range of activities: transport, work, relaxation, sport, meetings, reflection, celebrations, markets, culture, debates and much, much more. Our targets are that Copenhageners spend 20% more time in urban spaces in 2025 than today and that they consider their neighbourhood lively and varied.
Copenhagen is often seen as an example when it comes to implementing innovative projects. Where do all of these ideas come from? What are the main drivers of change?
Cities that don’t constantly change become drab and predictable. We want a more flexible and dynamic Copenhagen that reflects the myriad of lives lived here. The ambition for 2025 is to make room for experimental projects that may have a limited lifespan. There will be freedom to start up and test new things. Buildings and areas will change their function over time. We must have the courage to surprise and innovate.
All of us must work together to create Copenhagen. This is the vision for 2025. Everybody who uses the city – residents, commuters, companies, civic society, etc. – is invited to play an active part in developing the city and bringing it to life. The best city to live in is the one you can help create yourself.