Cycling is clean, green, fast and healthy, says Klaus Bondam, CEO of the Danish Cyclist Federation. But to convince politicians to spend more on infrastructure, he says we need facts and figures. Copenhagen learned this early on and now the UK is following suit, he notes in this guest blog post that has come to us via Sustrans.
Cycling is sustainable. It slashes both traffic congestion and pollution. On top of that cycling is also fast, good for your health, cheap, modern and hip. These are all good arguments for getting in the saddle, and they may even convince your neighbour or friend to choose the bike.
But none of them will convince politicians. For them you need figures, statistics and concrete information to start the dialogue and identify potential action.
That’s where the Copenhagen Bicycle Account comes in. This visionary database was made in the early nineties by the City of Copenhagen. It contains extensive figures and statistics about cycling and cyclists.
The newest Bicycle Account shows that 45 per cent of all journeys to work or education in Copenhagen are made by bicycle. This is an increase of 25 per cent compared to two years ago. These figures are an important tool needed to convince the politicians of Copenhagen to continue investment.
The latest report also shows that each kilometre cycling in Copenhagen during rush hour brings a socioeconomic benefit of €0.20. By comparison the same trip by car causes a loss of €0.70. These figures paint a clear picture which politicians can understand and act upon.
The 2012 account showed that cycling consumers spent €15.4 billion in the shops and supermarkets of Copenhagen. That’s more than the motorists, although they are larger in number. These figures are strong arguments for prioritising bikes over cars in cities all over the world.
Other figures can help reassure the public that things are improving. Our Bicycle Account shows that you have to cycle for 2,800 years before you statistically will have an accident cycling to work in Copenhagen.
The Copenhagen Bicycle Account has been an important tool in the development and success of Copenhagen as a leading bike-capital in the world. It has made a big difference in both the communication about cycling and in the planning of bike-related infrastructure.
We are privileged as a Danish cyclist organisation to have access to relevant statistics which are easy to communicate and relate to. I therefore hope and suggest that other cities that do not have this sort of information, will look at the Copenhagen Bicycle Account and make one for their own city.
The work of Sustrans to bring similar surveys to cities across the UK, in the form of the Bike Life project, will hopefully have a similar impact that the Bicycle Account did. It has already been able to show that three quarters (75%) of people across England, Scotland and Northern Ireland want national governments to invest more in making cycling safer. Hopefully politicians will hear them.