Cycle Super Highways

Research Cooperative
25/06/13 10:12:06PM

The Cycle Super Highways of Copenhagen are introduced in the International Herald Tribune (Japan edition), June 24, 2013, by writer Alice Rawsthorn. She is a Londoner, disappointed with recent efforts to improve conditions for cycling there, admiring of Amsterdam, Cologne, and other cities with 'decent cycling facilities', and super-impressed with the Cycle Super Highways of Copenhagen, in Denmark.

She writes:

"More than a third of Copenhageners already bike to work or school, mainly on short journeys of an average of five kilometres, or three miles"


Here in Kyoto, the figures might be something (very approximately) like:

70% of residents use bicycles sometime during the week, for short journeys of an average of two kilometres.

I am basing this on figures recalled by my 16 year old son, who cycles about two km per day, to school and back, and my own observations as a short-journey bicycle rider.

The difference may reflect the fact that fundamentally, Kyoto was designed for pedestrians, several hundred years ago, and cars have taken over the streets in just the last 50 years.

We still have many local shops, bus-stops, and train stations that can be reached by walking or with short bicycle rides (and our housing density is very high, though generally low-rise).

Cars and new roads continue to erode the structure of the city, but since the population is declining, and most old drivers do not really enjoy driving in their 80s and 90s, the pressure to keep building roads may also be declining.

Most new construction that I see in Kyoto is filling in land around railway stations. People are still buying cars, but I suspect that most cars sit at home for most days of the week. I often see houses with both cars and bicycles parked outside.

The distant suburbs built in the 197Os and 80s must be hollowing out, as there is no-one to replace the people who move to new locations with good public transport, and good local services.

Peter (in Kyoto)