Sometimes Even Copenhagen Screws Up on Bike Infrastructure

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©. Copenhagen's Inderhavnsbro - Inner Harbour Bridge - Photo: City of Copenhagen

There is a lot to love about the cycling infrastructure in Copenhagen, but we have been rolling our eyes at the roll-out of the so-called "kissing bridge" that finally opened last year after many years of being the "missing bridge." I could only look at it during my tour of the bike bridges of Copenhagen, but James Clasper covered it for TreeHugger last summer, and noted some of its oddities, such as the jog in the middle:

While the Cykelslangen snakes through the sky like the Silver Surfer, the Inner Harbor Bridge is distinguished by a zigzag in the cycle path about halfway across the harbor. Approaching from the Nyhavn side, the cyclist must first negotiate a lurch to the left, before darting back to the right. And when it rains—as it often does in Denmark—the surface of the bridge can seemingly become slippery. The zigzag doesn’t help. Nor does the proximity of pedestrians. Many will be tourists unused to cyclists. Many will be brazen or daft (or both) and eschew the designated viewpoints to wander into the cycle path to get better shots.

Now Mikael Colville-Andersen of Copenhagenize has weighed in with his impressions of the bridge; he found it to be a very different experience from other bike bridges in the city. He calls it “fantastic and stupid.”

it is a cumbersome, beastly thing that is completely and utterly out of place in the delicate urban, historical and architectural context of its location. A fantastic overcomplication of the simple, timeless art of bridges that open and close.
jog in the bridge

© James Clasper

The engineering complications that delayed its opening are one thing, but what matters is the ride across. James and I both worried about the jog in the middle; Mikael is appalled.

Crossing the bridge by bicycle involves two sharp turns - two chicanes. Chicanes designed by someone who doesn't ride a bicycle. Cyclists are shunted sharply and rudely towards the middle of the bridge and back out to the side again....These chicanes pose serious problems and they are clearly visible for anyone to see. You can see from the bicycle tracks in rain that people just cut the corners of them.

There are now big red and white danger signs so that people on bikes don’t slam into the glass and perhaps even go over the side, and as Mikael notes, “If you need to put warning signs on a design, it is basically a crappy design. Period.”

people on bridge

Lloyd Alter/ Inderhavnsbroen/CC BY 2.0

Oh, and he goes on to note that it is too steep and it breaks down a lot. He concludes:

The basic principles of Danish Design - practical, functional and elegant - were sadly forgotten in the choice of this bridge.

Read all of Mikael’s rant in Copenhagenize.