Copenhagen loves to cycle. Did you know that 50 percent of the population commutes by bicycle daily? To further support its cyclists, the city of Copenhagen just announced it will replace traffic signals at every downtown intersection with 380 new intelligent signals. So what exactly does this mean for cyclists?
First, these intelligent lights can sense what type of vehicle is approaching and manage flow so that both drivers and bikers have less congested commutes. Better commute, better day, better life- am I right?
Second, these new signals help ensure green waves. If you’ve never heard of “green waves,” you may freak out about how cool this concept is. In an effort to reduce congestion, the city of Copenhagen coordinated the traffic lights so that cyclists riding at a speed of 20 km/hour will hit all green lights on their commute into the city during morning rush hour and again on their commute home in the evening. This encourages faster bike commuters to slow down, and slower bike commuters to speed up a bit to take advantage of the timing. The new smart signals are expected to facilitate the green wave concept so that everyone has a more seamless passage through downtown.
According to the Cycling Embassy of Denmark, the new smart signals throughout the city will shorten bike commutes by up to 10 percent and bus commutes by 5 to 20 percent. Copenhagen is the first city in Scandinavia to replace all its traffic signals with these intelligent signals—and we can only hope that the idea spreads to the US, where bike-specific traffic lights are still somewhat rare.