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Copenhagen cycling bridge in the sky plans scrapped

Security concerns see idea abandoned, bridge at ground level may be solution

Just days after it was reported that Copenhagen was to get a bridge for cyclists and pedestrians suspended more than 200 feet in the air above a harbour entrance, it has emerged that the project has been scrapped.

Designed by the American architect Steven Holl, the Copenhagen Gate project would have seen the bridge link two towers on either site of the entrance to Nordhavn, used by criuse liners visiting the city as well as daily ferries to and from the Norwegian capital, Oslo.

Work due to start on Copenhagen's new cycling bridge - 200 feet in the air

The Guardian's Peter Walker reports however that news that the project, first mooted in 2008 but put on hold due to the global financial crisis, would finally go ahead was premature, according to Danish newspaper Politiken,

It's questionable how useful a piece of infrastructure it would have been for cyclists, who would have had to take a lift to the bridge, then another one back to ground level after crossing it.

Klaus Bondam, chief executive of national cyclists' group Cyklistforbundet, said: “It would be fun, and a landmark, but it would never be something that would be used every day.

“You wouldn’t want to cycle, get in a lift with your bike, get on your bike and then get in another lift on the other side. It would be quicker to cycle round the harbour.”

Given the practical approach the Danes bring to designing cycle infrastructure, you could be wondering how such a proposal arose - and was approved - in the first place.

The answer lies in two pieces of legislation. One is a planning law that requires new residential buildings to be no more than 500 metres from public transport links, meaning a bridge across the harbour entrance was needed to fulfil that requirement.

Secondly, a law in force at the time the project was first proposed meant that bridges for cyclists had to be fixed - ruling out a swing or bascule bridge at ground level.

So the only solution was to link the buildings higher up, a design feature that was retained even once the law changed to allow other types of bridge.

Design unveiled for £88m cycling and walking bridge from Rotherhithe to Canary Wharf

But it was security concerns over providing round-the-clock public access to the complex that sealed the fate of the proposed aerial bridge, leading the city council's planning committee to reject the scheme.

According to Politiken, the developers are now considering a ground level bridge that could open whenever shipping needs to access the harbour, a solution backed by Bonden.

He commented: “The ferry only leaves once or twice a day, so it would be possible to have a lower-level bridge that opens.

"You don’t necessarily need to go up 30 storeys. My suggestion would be to build a bridge on water level, and make sure it can go up whenever the ferry has to pass.”

 

Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.

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