Councils join forces for shared Copenhagen traffic plan

Mayors of 14 councils around Copenhagen advocate for improving public transport and bicycle infrastructure

The mayors of fourteen councils in the Greater Copenhagen area have written a joint letter to the congestion commission, Trængselskommisionen, outlining their ambitions for developing Copenhagen’s transport infrastructure.

The mayors write that improving public transport and bicycle infrastructure are the best ways to limit congestion and improve the speed of getting around the capital.

“In order for us to tackle the problem of congestion, we need to stand together across party lines and council borders,” Copenhagen mayor Frank Jensen (Socialdemokraterne) wrote in a press release. “There is a need to act quickly and decisively because residents and businesses are wasting thousands of hours every day in traffic jams or in the over-burdened public transport network.”

The mayors argue that in order to drive down costs and optimise the efficiency of the transport network, councils need to get better at co-ordinating the expansions of bus, train, light-rail, cars and bicycle networks.

Among the specific initiatives proposed by the mayors was ensuring that new stations – especially those for the planned light-rail system along the orbital motorway Ring 3 – be centrally located in order to accommodate as many local residents as possible.

They also suggested both extending and expanding the capacity of the existing public transport networks by, for example, extending bus networks and building an additional Metro station in Ny Ellebjerg on an offshoot to the City Ring line. Copenhagen would also benefit from a new light-rail line running from Copenhagen's Nordvest district out to Ring 3, the mayors said.

More also needs to be done for cyclists, the mayors argued, saying that more bicycle superhighways should be installed parallel to existing commuting pathways.

While most of the proposed initiatives focus on creating competitive alternatives to the car in order to reduce congestion on roads, the mayors also argued that there is a need to expand the capacity of the road network. The mayors all agreed that there is need for a new orbital road around the city, Ring 5.

But in particular, the councils support the construction of the 27 billion kroner harbour tunnel that will provide faster transit across the city for 65,000 cars a day by piping them underground from the north of the city to the motorway network in the south.

The harbour tunnel plan is not without its critics and the mayor of Gentofte Council, one of only two councils not to sign the letter, argued that the harbour tunnel plan, which was recently approved by City Council, may actually increase the amount of traffic to Gentofte.

Other critics have pointed out that the tunnel would include several access ramps to allow traffic on and off as it snakes beneath the city, which could potentially lead to increased traffic around the city and pollute and damage unspoiled areas of Amager.

Despite the go-ahead from the City Council, the funding for the tunnel won’t be found until the Trængselskommission releases its comprehensive plan for tackling Copenhagen’s congestion.

The Trængselskommission was established in early 2011 as a way to find alternative solutions to Copenhagen’s traffic problems after the government’s plan to introduce a congestion charging zone failed to gather political support.

The commission was supposed to be ready with a catalogue of suggestions for reducing congestion by this January, but a Transport Ministry spokesperson told The Copenhagen Post that their work has been delayed by at least a week.

The 14 councils that signed the letter are Copenhagen, Herlev, Rødovre, Albertslund, Gladsaxe, Frederiksberg, Hvidovre, Vallensbæk, Høje-Taastrup, Lyngby-Taarbæk, Brøndby, Ishøj, Dragør and Glostrup.

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