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Car-Free Streets

Copenhagen’s Car-Free Streets and Slow-Speed Zones

12:01 PM EDT on August 4, 2010

In Copenhagen, you never have to travel very far to see a beautiful
public space or car-free street packed with people soaking up the day.
In fact, since the early 1960s, 18 parking lots in the downtown area
have been converted into public spaces for playing, meeting, and
generally just doing things that human beings enjoy doing. If you're
hungry, there are over 7,500 cafe seats in the city.

But as you walk and bike the city, you also quickly become aware of
something else: Most Copenhagen streets have a speed limit of 30 to 40
km/h (19 to 25 mph). There are blocks in some
neighborhoods with limits as low as 15 km/h (9 mph), where cars must
yield to residents. Still other areas are "shared spaces" where cars,
bikes and pedestrians mix freely with no stress, usually thanks to
traffic calming measures (speed bumps are popular), textured road
surfaces and common sense.

We mesmerized you last month with our look at bicycling in Copenhagen,
now sit back and watch livable streets experts Jan Gehl and Gil
Penalosa share their observations about pedestrian life. You'll also
hear Ida Auken, a member of Denmark's Parliament, and Niels Tørsløv,
traffic director for the City of Copenhagen, talk about their
enthusiasm for street reclamation and its effect on their city.

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