Traffic Signals Timed for Bicycling

Here is an interesting bike infrastructure story out of Copenhagen, Denmark. 30,000 Cyclists Get the Green Wave:

Cars and especially buses have for year had the benefit of a green traffic light wave on the roads. But now it is the cyclists turn to enjoy a smooth ride through the city without stopping at red light writes the e-newsletter "News from Copenhagen – Environmental capital of Europe".

Recently the first ‘green wave’ bike route has been inaugurated to the satisfaction of 30,000 cyclists, who use the bike lane on one of Copenhagen’s busiest streets, Nørrebrogade.

"My ambition is to turn Copenhagen into the best bicycle capital in the World. An obvious step is to regulate traffic to the benefit of the Copenhagen cyclists," says Technical and Environmental Mayor of Copenhagen, Klaus Bondam.

The green wave is the first of its kind and traffic light is adjusted to give cyclists a continuous ride if they travel 20 km/h. "It is a rational and sensible speed to pedal, as both children and elderly can keep the pace," says Klaus Bondam.

The green wave stretches over a distance of 2.5 km and it will only take 7½ minutes to travel the distance whereas longer before. The green wave also means that it does not pay off to travel faster as the cyclist eventually will encounter red light.

The green traffic light wave is regulated towards the city between 6.30 and 12.00 and out of the city between 12.00 and 18.00. "At the moment we are looking for new stretches, where green waves are possible solutions to improve conditions on Copenhagen’s many cyclists," says Klaus Bondam. Everyday the Copenhageners cycle 1.2 million kilometres.

  • AD

    Copcap.com must be using a Microsoft product for their spell checking. Busses means kisses. Buses is the plural of bus.

  • Isn’t that a British English thing, AD? Busses?

  • Glad to hear about an example of this. A possibility that had been raised in encouraging cyclists to use routes other than the deadly Houston St. was to time lights on parallel streets so that there would be a “green wave” at a speed of 10-15 mph.

  • crzwdjk

    You mean get cyclists off Houston and onto Prince Street? That seems like an even worse idea. The street is narrow and crowded, and on weekends, the Prince/Broadway intersection is so crowded that getting through can be a challenge. No, the light progression on Houston is more or less fine, what is really needed is a rationalization of lanes, and fixing the split at the intersection of Houston and Sixth, where there are many near misses for cars, never mind cyclists.

  • ddartley

    Yeah, Houston could use a lot of safety improvements–I wonder what’s going on since so many people organized against the “accommodate more cars” plan that was announced a while back. Houston could be a wonderful crosstown street for cyclists because its width allows for a lot of sunlight for much of the day. Unfortunately it’s too scary for a lot of cyclists because there are too many car lanes, and because cars are allowed to go (a little) too fast. That’s one street where I might support a buffered Class II lane. Of course I’d prefer a simple, effective reduction of the speed limit. Don’t know if Houston’s speed limit is 30, but I’ll repeat my new refrain: 30mph is too fast for a city street.

  • moocow

    DDartley, you said something like that a while back, and as I ride about, I keep saying the same thing in my head. Slowing cars down, would make a drastic change on the street. Since the NYPD doesn’t actually “do” traffic control, many cars would still be traveling way too fast, but at least it would be illegal. (If the limit was 20mph, cars would still go 30. But 40 and 50 would really stand out) I was also thinking maybe many single occupant vehicle drivers would find other ways to enter the city, due to the ‘hassle’ of a 20mph limit. Yet, I wonder, if the limit was 20mph would the coppers come after bikes going 20+? Or would human powered transport have an exemption?

  • alex

    moocow,

    When I lived in both California and Colorado, I lived and trained with cyclists. They would occasionally get stopped by local law enforcement for speeding. Out of the countless cyclists stopped, most were warned but I can recall 2 citations for speeding. Several times I would get cops pulling up beside me and motion for me to slow down (but I never received a ticket. Of course, these incidents and tickets were issued on neighborhood streets in suburbs, which as we know have a different standard of acceptable driving behavior than NYC’s streets.

  • Steve

    Moocow,

    The NYPD already engages in sporadic ticketing ot cyclists for moving violations, primarily in the early mornings in Central Park. When you consider that motorists as compared to cyclists are (1) more numerous, (2) more inherently capable of exceeding the speed limit, and (3) tend to speed more often as a matter of course, it may well be that the per capita rate of speeding tickets written to motorists as compared to that written to cyclists reflects comparabel rates of enforcement across the two populations (even when you ignore the discriminatory and often groundless ticket writing activities that take place near Union S

  • Steve

    Whoops, hit send by accident. Ignore comment above.

    Moocow,

    The NYPD already engages in sporadic ticketing ot cyclists for moving violations, primarily in the early mornings in Central Park. When you consider that motorists as compared to cyclists are (1) more numerous, (2) more inherently capable of exceeding the speed limit, and (3) tend to speed more often as a matter of course, it may well be that the per capita rate of speeding tickets written to motorists as compared to that written to cyclists reflects comparabel rates of enforcement across the two populations (even when you ignore the discriminatory and often groundless ticket writing activities that take place near Union Square on the last Friday of each month).

    If enforcement is comparable, there is no practical downside to bicyclists to greater enforcement of speeding laws, as long as the stepped enforcement is not applied in a discriminatory fashion toward bicyclists. I think this analysis would probably still hold even in the scenario of reduced limits (15-20 MPH). So I would favor MPH reductions, at least on routes with Class II and Class III bike lanes.

  • ddartley

    A further (and also sort of repetetive) comment on speed limits–we know that very often NYC motorists are not even able to reach the speed limit. That’s an obvious argument against reducing them.

    But I have a feeling that short bursts of aggressive acceleration, **whether or not it results in passing the speed limit** might be a comparable threat to driving at sustained speeds over 30; and my hypothesis is that motorists’ very knowledge that they’re nowhere near the real speed limit is what inspires them to drive so dangerously–again, over 30 or not. (And of course, I do still think 30 is too high–my vague memory from high school driver ed (that 30mph is where people IN AND OUT of cars really start dying in collisions) was backed up by some recent casual research.) For all that, I suggest it’s an inappropriate speed limit for streets with pedestrians.

  • moocow

    Sorry I have not been able to reply to the above comments, I work and commute odd, changing hours, ( why I have only just been able to read your comments) and I agree with both of you. I would not argue against speed reductions just so I can ride my bike the way I drove my car in high school. But as stated, that probably wouldn’t be the out come of a lowering of posted speed.
    I end up riding to work often at 6a and can be on the road as late as 12a to 1a as well. I am not often out at rush hour, where certainly drivers do not hit the speed limit. I can attest, that if I am going 22 or so, cars are often doing more than twice that. (add to that the sanitation trucks driving and loading however seems most inconvenient to other road users, and you have a complicated and threatening street to navigate).
    I was arrested for a “violation” at one of those Friday night gatherings, and since have talked to quite a number of arrestees and bikers who received tickets. My arrest and 90% of the stories I have heard, have led me to believe that the cops do not care or have no idea about traffic law, and just nail bikers while ignoring dangerous drivers.

  • Speed is very critical to pedestrian fatality rates. In one study, 5% at 20 mph, 45% at 30 mph, 85% at 40 mph. See:
    http://sggoodri.home.mindspring.com/sidewalks/SpeedKills.htm
    Automobiles are engineered to protect their occupants at well over 40 mph.
    I have not seen studies, but I would expect the vulnerability of cyclists to be similar to that of pedestrians. Perhaps some protection from a helmet, but perhaps more vulnerable on a low recumbent (where the initial impact will be to the body rather than to the legs).

    For more on bicycling in Copenhagen:

    Tuesday, January 23, DISH Network will show Episode 94 of “Perils For Pedestrians”.

    Contents of Episode 94 (2004):
    –We visit a roundabout in Malmo, Sweden.
    –We look at bicycles in Copenhagen, Denmark.
    –We talk about transportation with a planner from Spain.

    DISH Network Channel 9411 — The Universityhouse Channel
    Tuesday — 9:30 pm Eastern, 6:30 Pacific

    Episode 94 is also available on Google Video:
    http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-2601523814849816357

    Note: Public access cable channels are showing different episodes than DISH Network.

    Thank you.

  • On April 29 Google Video will stop hosting videos. “Perils For Pedestrians” 94 is now on Blip TV at http://blip.tv/file/5058707

    Thank you.

  • “Perils For Pedestrians” Episode 94 has now moved to YouTube at:

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