Super Bike Paths increase capacity and flow

City bike paths in Copenhagen

City bike paths in Copenhagen

In Copenhagen, one of the world’s leading cities for cycling, congestion is not confined to the road system. A range of new Super Bike Path solutions includes green waves, fast lanes and virtual traffic islands to increase capacity and flow on bike paths.

The Municipality of Copenhagen has set the objective that at least 50 % of all journeys to and from work or education must be covered by bike. Add to this, that Copenhagen is expected to grow by 1,000 new inhabitants every month, and that the city’s bike paths are already crowded.

“In order to ensure that cycling remains an attractive means of transportation, it is critical to optimise capacity and flow in the limited space available,” Ramboll traffic planner Casper Wulff explains.     

A Ramboll team of traffic planners, traffic safety experts and an anthropologist has worked extensively with the issues that arise as an increasing number of users intensify the pressure on the city’s cycling infrastructure. Mapping out user behaviour and integrating the current developments within the field of Intelligent Traffic Systems (ITS), the team has developed a range of new solutions for The Municipality of Copenhagen and the Secretary of Cycle Superhighways – some of which are currently being tested and evaluated on Copenhagen’s busiest bike paths.      

Fast lane/comfort lane

Essentially mirroring the rules and norms of the highway, the division of bike paths into a fast lane and a comfort lane enables cyclists to ride at their preferred pace and overtake if needed, thereby improving traffic flow. An evaluation shows that more than half of all cyclists consider it to be easier to overtake as a consequence, and half of all cyclists consider it to be easier to ride at their preferred pace.  

Virtual traffic islands

Traditionally, the way to safely combine bike paths and bus stops has been to narrow bike paths to make room for traffic islands where bus passengers can safely exit the bus. However, this solution takes up space and capacity even when no busses are stopping.

A virtual traffic island with remotely controlled dynamic markings poses a possible solution to the “dead space” problem. As a bus approaches the bus stop, lights in the pavement are activated to demarcate a virtual traffic island. As the bus leaves, the markings are deactivated, and the bike path returns to its full width. The concept is currently under development and is planned for testing at different sites in Copenhagen in 2016.

Green waves

 A third example is the integration of signalised junctions that ensures ‘green waves’ for cyclists. Currently, Ramboll and The Municipality of Copenhagen are developing an intelligent and dynamic system that adapts to changes in average cycling speeds due to variables such as weather and traffic density by way of data collection points along the bike path.

The concept of Super bike paths was invented in the wake of an ITS competition held by The Municipality of Copenhagen in 2008. Since then, Ramboll has worked with The Municipality of Copenhagen, the Secretary of Cycle Superhighways and The Danish Road Directorate on numerous projects that aim to provide information, optimise capacity, enhance service and improve safety on bike paths.


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