Mathias på cykel med bus i baggrunden

Bicycles create better cities

A new survey from AFRY shows that close to in every four young Dane prefer to take their bike when asked about their favourite means of transportation. And if you ask Mathias Schmidt from AFRY, this should be more visible in the way we plan our cities.

23 % of young Danish people prefer to jump on their bike, when transporting themselves from A to B. According to Mathias Schmidt, who works with traffic planning at AFRY, this makes perfect sense:

“Bicycles are like water. When riding a bike, it feels as if you’re soaring smoothly through the heavy afternoon traffic, and at the same time you’re doing both yourself, the city, and the climate a favour,” he says.

”We have to think about holistic solutions”

More and more people are living in the cities. For instance, the population growth in Copenhagen has increased with about 26 % over the last 15 years. This leads to a rise in freight- and passenger transport, which puts a strain on both the climate and the road network.

”If all the people, who are living in the cities were to have one or two cars, then neither the climate, the road network, or the space in city would be able to keep up. That’s why we should start thinking in holistic solutions and distancing ourselves from the kind of society, where everyone having their own car is a normality. Instead, we should work towards a society, where we rely more on public transportation, bicycles, and shared economy solutions like car sharing,” says Mathias Schmidt.

Trafikplanlæggeren Mathias kigger ind i kameraet

Mathias also points out, that it is tough to make decisions that restrict people from having the freedom to buy or use cars as they wish. This requires visionary and brave decision makers, who dare to think differently, while making sure that the bike remains a more desirable choice than the car.

Smart mobility solutions can pave the way

One way of getting the cars out of the city is to develop smart mobility solutions like shared bicycles, cars, and platforms that make travelling with public transport available for everyone:

”We have to design and develop solutions, that make grabbing the bicycle or jumping on the train more desirable than driving a car. If it’s easy to jump on the bicycle or the train on weekdays, and easy to borrow a car on weekends through shared solutions, then we minimize people’s need to go and buy a car of their own,” says Mathias Schmidt.

Bikes are great for our bodies, our cities, and the climate

A lot of cities have started introducing bicycle streets and other actions, that makes biking an attractive alternative to the motorised forms of transport. In Aarhus, for instance, a bicycle street is making it easy to get around in the city centre. But in many other cities, local business communities have expressed concerns about the impact this could have on their deliveries.

However, these concerns are often put to shame, when people realise that minimising car traffic actually results in more people visiting the city centres – and consequently also their stores,” Mathias Schmidt explains.

“It’s just nicer to sit at a sidewalk café, where people are peacefully passing you on their two wheels, than on a street full of roaring cars. It’s up to traffic planners like me to come up with good solutions, for deliveries to get to the stores – for example through less crowded back streets. Reducing noisy and heavy freight traffic in the city centres is beneficial to both public health and urban planning,” he says.

With solutions like wider bicycle lanes, bicycle streets and green waves for bicycles at traffic signals, the urban space is opening for “the human driven traffic”, as Mathias Schmidt calls the Danish pedestrians and cyclists. According to him bicycles are great for both our health, the city, and the climate, which is why future urban planning should make cities more bicycle friendly:

“We have to have more faith in bicycles and smart mobility solutions, when planning the infrastructure for future cities”.

What type of transport would you prefer to use for getting from A t B in your everyday life?

The Future Cities survey was conducted in Denmark by YouGov for AFRY. A total of 752 representatively chosen respondents participated in the survey, which took place in the period between August 23rd and September 2nd, 2021.


Mathias Schmidt - Traffic Engineer

Mathias Schmidt

Traffic Engineer

Contact Mathias Schmidt

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