Region-wide cycle commuter routes

One way to boost cycling rates is to make it the quickest and most convenient way to get to work.

Currently 70,000 people commute in and out of Portsmouth on workdays: many of these are to places relatively near such as Fareham and Havant, but it can take a long time in rush hour. With high-quality cycle routes and facilities like storage and showers at work, commuting by bike could become an attractive option.


Image: Ursula Bach on visitcopenhagen

Copenhagen decided to target commuters who live over 3 miles from their place of work or education. The goal was to give those commuting by car a serious alternative. This meant persuading surrounding municipalities to buy into a network of high-quality cycle highways that crossed the region. It wasn’t easy at first: but now 28 are signed up.

The key to winning them over was showing the health benefits: 7 of the more sceptical mayors were invited to replace their usual mode of transport with an electric bike. The participants were given a health test and after just one month of daily cycling, were found to be 11 years younger in Biological Age.

The first route opened in 2012 leading to a 34% increase in cyclists, and longer journeys (an average trip of 14.7 km). There are now 14 routes and many more under construction. The routes contain innovations like garbage cans tilted at angles, and 'conversation lanes' so two people can ride side by side.

The aim is to open 45 routes in total and thus achieve 3 million more bike trips, and 720,000 fewer car trips annually. This would lead to savings of £900,000 from an annual reduction of 856 tonnes of CO2, and 34,000 less employee sick days.

In general, the super bike trails have a socio-economic return of 11% compared to the investment. In comparison, a local motorway between Herning and Holstebro has a return of 8.2%.

The key to success was creating an independent Secretariat responsible for route identity, communication, application for funding, overall management and evaluation. Within this group, the quality and scope of the infrastructure could be agreed to the satisfaction of all parties.

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