Saturday, December 5, 2009

Copenhagen, city of cyclists

Why Copenhagen Is the World’s Happiest Capital

This clip, from the film Contested Streets, contains information about the city of Copenhagen, along with interviews of Lars Engberg, Lord Mayor of Copenhagen; Jan Gehl, Urban Planner and Architect; and Soren Elle, Chief Traffic Engineer.
Contested Streets explores the history and culture of New York City streets from pre-automobile times to the present. This examination allows for an understanding of how the city - though the most well served by mass transit in the United States - has slowly relinquished what was a rich, multi-dimensional conception of the street as public space to a mindset that prioritizes the rapid movement of cars and trucks over all other functions.
Why have Danes again been named the happiest people on the planet? Early this year ABC News cited bikes as "perhaps ... the best symbol of Danish happiness," and in this clip from "Contested Streets" it isn't hard to see why. Here, livable streets guru Jan Gehl and others explain the many ways an increase in bike traffic (now one-third of all commutes) has improved life in the capital city of Copenhagen.
But it didn't happen overnight. Rather, it took four decades of gradual change to make Copenhagen the place it is today. As for replicating that success elsewhere, says Gehl: "if you don't have enough nice spaces, you can see these [become] overcrowded spaces. Then you should just make more spaces."