In the Race to become the world’s most bike-friendly capital, Copenhagen still dons the yellow jersey. Its latest architectural attraction, Dissing+Weitling’s Cykelslangen (“bike snake”), solidifies the Danish belief that the bicycle is – or will be – this century’s preferred means of transportation. The firm’s vast experience with bridges made it an ideal choice for the elevated pathway, which opened in June.
The dedicated two-way artery meanders along a stretch of the inner harbour while negotiating a 5.5‑metre height difference between the two ends. At 235 metres long, the bridge cuts down the daily commute for some 12,000 Copenhageners on wheels, eliminating obstacles; the old route forced cyclists to negotiate sharp corners and push or carry their bikes up stairs.
Such details as the striking orange surface, made of coloured aggregate with an epoxy coating, have added to the structure’s landmark potential. In addition to reducing time in the saddle, it separates riders from the pedestrians below, in an area where a large shopping centre and a public bath attract huge numbers of visitors. With the risk of collisions minimized, the Cykelslangen is also expected to boost the district’s recreational prospects.
This $7.5-million investment aims to improve the capital’s image as a bike-friendly city (as if that were needed when half of the population already uses bikes as a main mode of transport). As well, the initial phase has already been completed on a cycling superhighway (Supercykelstier), which connects downtown with the suburbs, giving priority to two-wheeled vehicles. Dissing+Weitling’s highly visible bridge demonstrates this new traffic hierarchy in Copenhagen.