I live in Odense which is across the other bridge (the one that doesn't go to Sweden) and it is by far my favorite city in Denmark. Relatively recently, the busiest street that goes through the very center of downtown was closed in order to expand the pedestrian downtown.
Copenhagen is really charming with its canals and such, but it's incredibly busy and noisy and trafficked in comparison. Too much for me.
If anyone should be considering moving to denmark, Copenhagen is not the only place to be. Odense, Århus, Vejle, Ålborg and most other cities are built on the same principles, so if work doesn't demand you live in the capitol, expanding your search parameters is definitely worth it(and potentially very lucrative given the price of housing in Copenhagen).
Copenhagen[a] (Danish: København [kʰøpm̩ˈhaʊ̯ˀn] (About this soundlisten)) is the capital and most populous city of Denmark. As of July 2018, the city has a population of 777,218 (616,098 in Copenhagen Municipality, 103,914 in Frederiksberg Municipality, 43,005 in Tårnby Municipality, and 14,201 in Dragør Municipality). It forms the core of the wider urban area of Copenhagen (population 1,627,705) and the Copenhagen metropolitan area (population 2,057,737).
It's a fair bit bigger than 600k whichever way you look at it. Frederiksberg is entirely encircled by Copenhagen municipality, there's no difference in terms of cycling. There's easily 1M people who could cycle to work/school if they wanted. As a kid I could cycle, maybe 85% in bike lanes, all the way to the end of "the Copenhagen metropolitan area" from the centre.
My main gripe with the place is they seem to hate cars. I mean the trains, underground, bus, and bike lanes work for a lot of people, but not everyone. Say I want to bring my kids and my elderly parents somewhere. Realistically the only way to do that is to drive, but they're squeezing parking spaces massively.
I'm currently looking into buying an electric cargo bike called the Tern GSD: https://www.ternbicycles.com/bikes/gsd. I rented one for a day and I could carry my adult partner on the back with very little effort. Two children would fit on the back easily.
I really think electric bikes are a gamechanger for mobility for the elderly. My father has an electric bike that allows him to go to the post office, wander the bike paths etc. without overextending himself. Even if your parents are too old to safely balance on a bicycle, they might be able to handle an electric tricycle.
That’s the cost of an okay used car. Obviously the bike has fewer ongoing costs, but cargo bikes are still a niche product with very high margins or very high production costs.
Chinese ebikes/scooters are demolishing the cargo bike market.
Elderly: wheelchair / cane, medicines. Will stop traffic due to slowness.
I'm not talking about people who are of ordinary mobility.
When I lived in SF a few years ago, I bought a bike and asked the fancy bike store what hand signals to use when biking. They weren't sure...
In Denmark it's a 100 USD fine of you don't signal turns and stops on your bike.
Nothing says that schools in the US can't do this. It's all up to the school management to decide.
The fines I have seen have been for missing lights and running red lights.
Copenhagen is not car-unfriendly given its size and history. Parking in the inner part of the city is expensive and getting around in car is slow because the city is not built for it (circa ++100 years ago). The newer parts of Copenhagen accommodates cars as any other modern city.
Another thing worth noting is that Copenhagen got is its metro quite recently (some 15 years ago) and it is not fully expanded. So the public transport alternative was busses and some trains.
We invented jazz music and snowboarding. And the Internet.
They get social cohesion and political buy-in for (relatively) progressive transportation and health initiatives.
I, like the author, have urban envy when I visit Copenhagen (and Zurich and Tokyo). But if I had to choose, I'd choose inventing jazz.
People -love- their cars. And Denmark/Sweden try to dissuade people from owning them with heavy taxes and expensive parking.
But I’ve noticed if you ever try to take a car from someone who has one they with fight you until you’re burger. To many people it means freedom, and until public transport and bikes are much stronger alternatives you’re not going to make any friends.
Which is a catch-22. You need to limit cars because they consume a lot of space and make a lot of noise (and can be dangerous) but few have an appetite for limiting cars.
I think if there’s a change it needs to be very gradual, over generations.
Sometimes you have to recognize that in reality things are unsustainable and we are stuck in a local optimum far below what could be. And no, gradual doesn't get you out of a local optimum, and besides, we don't have the time. It takes a modal shift, and it needs to happen fast.
I don't own a car, and never have. I live in Stockholm, a very car-hostile city. I commute the 20km each way by bus/subway or e-bike (in the summer).
And it's absolutely miserable.
The commute that would have taken 20 minutes by car instead takes at least an hour, if everything matches up perfectly.
Any large shopping is an exercise in misery, where you're stuck buying one thing, taking it home, and coming back for the next thing in the shop next door, because you have nowhere to store stuff temporarily (and your (/bike's) carrying capacity is tiny anyway). And of course each roundtrip, again, takes 3x what it would otherwise.
Want to meet up with friends? Take the hour+ trip to downtown, then as much again to get to their place, since the system was only designed for getting people to work and back. Oh, and add another 50% since you're in the weekend/evening where the traffic is reduced further.
And then you wonder why there is a loneliness epidemic, or why people get mad when you want to take away the least depressing mode of transportation that they have.
The same also matches my experience of Copenhagen. But of course you're not going to see that when you live in a hotel in the middle of the city for a few days.
People also love guns. And particularly if they need them to be safe. That doesn't mean you shouldn't try to make them unnecessary.
Interesting that they compared it to Park Slope.
Another thing about Copenhagen and Amsterdam is that they are the ideal size. Bigger and a bicycle is not enough, smaller and you might as well be walking.
Maybe a more interesting city to study for its bike culture would be Tokyo. Huge city, not flat, and yet very bike friendly.
In my opinion it's better to focus on skinny vehicle overall than just bikes; just because the current motorcycle culture in the US is that of a mid-life crisis on wheels doesn't mean that the motorcycle can't play a role in the city of tommorow
The neighborhood is also much longer across the slope than up and down it, and the retail and recreational corridors are situated accordingly.
But on further investigation I discovered it was almost impossible to get a long term rental there. I read that Danes would put their newborns on wait lists in hopes that they might be eligible for an apartment when they left home 18 years later.
Copenhagians, is that really true or just Internet Hyperbole?
Anyone in Scandinavia if I have pointed out inaccuracies please correct me. I lived in Scandinavia for some time but cannot say I fully understand the system.
As for my own experience, I'm moving to Copenhagen in a month for a job and I managed to find an apartment after searching for about a month. I'm moving from Aarhus (the second largest city in Denmark) and my new apartment costs 2.5 times as much each month, for which I'll get a slightly bigger apartment but much further from the center of town. My guess at the reasons for the price increase is ~50% higher rent in Copenhagen, ~30% moving from a 'boligforening' to a non-'boligforening' and ~20% the extra square meters in the new apartment.
Edit: I've lived in Denmark since '91, and I never thought it was low cost of living, but definitely value for money.
One of my dreams is to bring together dozens or hundreds of people, and collectively buy and operate an entire block, making it using sound principles of "garden city" urbanism - vastly applied in Copenhagen, and also promoted by Jan Gehl himself.
That would never happen in USA/Canada. We must continue to waste 5%+ parking capacity in the unlikely event that it could delay fire fighting and to continue using parking-space wasting valve orientation.
Search for Copenhagen here:
I was trying to research which countries prohibit parking in-front of fire hydrants, because many don't, and don't burn down in 6 seconds.
I think the 90 degree turns with the hose are fine and can be fit between parked cars. It's the valve facing the street that can be a problem if it's obstructed, possibly needing to smash windows, because there isn't enough space to route around.
That way no one can block them unless they park on the sidewalk or in the middle of the street.
Why not make them usable?
Or just let people park in front of them, and bash the very occasional car window as a cost of doing business.
George Monbiot emphasizes a similar idea: public luxury.
"securing private space through private spending. Attempts to do so are highly inefficient, producing ridiculous levels of redundancy and replication. Look at roads, in which individual people, each encased in a tonne of metal, each taking up (at 70mph) 90 metres of lane, travel in parallel to the same destination. The expansion of public wealth creates more space for everyone; the expansion of private wealth reduces it, eventually damaging most people’s quality of life."
- when the money leaves the country, it reduces the money supply so less money is chasing goods and services like labor, thereby mitigating inflation.
- when money leaves the country, it reduces the demand for that country's currency, increasing the buying power of visitors from other countries when they are in Bali.
That said, the magnitude of the importance of these two effects is debatable.
This is when the real philanthropy starts. In addition to buildings, charity, endowed academic chairs, etc. I think buying and donating land would be a great thing to do. If I had N millions to donate then buying a city block, turning it into a park, and putting my name on the gate would be a pretty nice way to be remembered.
Is philanthropy the reason the state does not do what's needed?
Or is the state not doing what's needed the reason for philanthropy?
Or perhaps it's both?
In any case we can't really figure out how to get to a game theoretic local optimum of maximum state participation and maximum philanthropy, until we can dig into the real reasons a lot of these things are and are not done.
It seems obvious the state doesn’t do enough when you have a government that doesn’t believe in the state doing anything but the barest minimum that will get them elected.
On the scale of government spending philanthropy barely registers, it’s only raised as an issue in an attempt to distract from the real question.
The thing I liked about donating a park is the idea of people sitting on benches, reading a book, relaxing, dreaming of nature. Having my name over a park that is an adult nap zone for drunk people isn’t something I’m too interested in.
Whenever you donate something now, make sure you have an ironclad agreement that prevents your name from ever being removed.
Then they made it difficult and unaffordable to park in the city and built those extensive bike lanes.
To me as someone who grew up in a communist country reeks of communism.
Dont take me wrong I am not saying cars are necessary but having a car to me equals having the freedom of choice.
Now I live in Seoul and I usually commute by taking the subway but If I need to go to a district that is not in the vicinity of the extensive subway network in Seoul I take the car. It's fast and reliable.
I'm currently living in Lisbon, which also has a very good living quality, but I'd say that the living quality in Copenhagen is unparalleled. I'd move there anytime if I had a good job opportunity there. I still work in Academia and Copenhagen University does not have many open positions, so no chance for me. Not that I complain about Lisbon's sunshine.
You can still have a car in Copenhagen, if you really want one, you know. It's not a matter of choices, it's a matter of nudging people in the right direction and tax them in a way that improves living quality and society as a whole. However, living in a low/no-traffic area can only be appreciated properly once you've experienced it. IMHO, it's one of those things that need to be experienced before forming an informed opinion. That's why it can be hard to sell politically.
This is one of my bugbears. Setting to one side the obvious GHG-emissions problems with moving people by cars, the noise they make and the visual impact they have are huge reasons why I prefer areas with as few cars as possible.
That is exactly what has happened in the car centric parts of the world. It took a lot of work by the car and road lobby to get us where we are now.
The freedom of the car is an illusion unless there are other options.
Surely having the government pay for a gigantic road network and vast amounts of parking spaces and making it all available to people for free is more like communism?