Can we copy the Copenhagen model?

There’s a rather interesting debate going on on a Madrid bicycling blog about how replicable the Copenhagen segregated bike lane model is in other places. I’m reposting my comments to the feed since they are fairly generally relevant around this hot button issue:

Studies suggest that bicycle lanes may be more important to attract new, inexperienced cyclists who primarily fear for their safety. Experienced bicyclists seem to be more concerned about speed (eg, signal timing) than safety.

As cycling rates in Copenhagen have increased in recent years, safety has increased but the perception of safety has decreased. This is probably due to the fact that increased numbers of cyclists are a primary reason for a reduction in accidents due to increased visibility of cyclists. However, the perception of safety has gone down because cyclists in Copenhagen are more afraid of other cyclists on the bike lanes, not other cars (which are largely ‘tamed’).

Cyclists in the global south (India, Brazil, Cuba, etc.) are typically what are called “captive” cyclists who bike because they cannot afford other options. Cycling is tied to status and wealth. As these societies develop, you see people transitioning to higher status transportation options, especially motor scooters.

Bicycle lanes that have been developed in places like India and South Africa have largely failed, perhaps due to the informality of traffic rules and regulations leading to heavy encroachment of lanes from motor vehicles (see previous posts on this blog).

I think we need a different model for these cities than what might work in the global north. The Copenhagen model works in Copenhagen, but I don’t think we can just “copy/paste” it across the world and expect the same results.

The blog is in Spanish but if you aren’t already using Google Translate and Google’s Advances Search functionalities, you are probably missing out on most of what is happening on the internet outside of your own country since Google searches filter away hits that are not in your language and outside of your country in order to increase speed and “relevance”.


One response to “Can we copy the Copenhagen model?

  1. Hi. You may want to check a post about the issue (in English) in my blog, locked here:

    Some heated discussion on it in the original post, here:

    Also, although most of my blog is in Spanish, there is some stuff in English, grouped here:



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