Copenhagen’s city center was transformed into a welcoming place through the slow conversion of streets to pedestrian-friendly areas.
Gradual change made the process politically feasible and gave people the opportunity to incrementally adjust their behavior. Lanes of car traffic and parking spaces in the city center were eliminated slowly, 2-3% per year. The freed-up space was put to new uses, including bicycle and bus lanes. One third of Copenhagen commuters now travel by bicycle, with 60-70% of cyclists choosing to pedal even through rain and winter cold. Four times as many people come to the city center now than thirty years ago. Traffic jams are a thing of the past.
Parking Lots Removed
Throughout Copenhagen, parking lots were converted from places to store cars into places to enjoy life — places with public squares and markets. Although Danes had little tradition of using outdoor public spaces, pedestrian-friendly changes proved to be very popular.
Copenhagen’s success in creating a livable downtown was supported and driven by the collection of pedestrian data and activity mapping, making people visible in the planning process.
As the total area of pedestrianized street space increases, the number of people engaged in “stationary activities” — Lingering or sitting on benches — also increases.