The Bike Effect: How 'Copenhagenization' Saves Time, Money, and Lives

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The United States is considerably more suburban than its European counterparts, so leaving the car in the garage and biking to work isn't a universal option. But that doesn't stop environmentalists, urban planners, and green enthusiasts from wondering aloud why Americans can't be more like the Danish, who have turned their largest city into the biking capital of the world.

The benefits are diverse. A 2011 report Copenhagen - Beyond Green calculated that the city saved up to 45 million dollars with bikes, with most of that coming from reduced congestion. As the U.S. joins Europe in the era of high gas prices, it will see similar savings from drivers converting to two-wheels.

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Despite all these savings, money isn't the chief motivator for what locals call the "Copenhagenization" of the city:

In a survey where Copenhageners were asked, "Which of the following reactions do you regularly experience when you travel by car/bus/train/bicycle?" 58 percent of cyclists answered "enjoyment". In comparison, people in cars and on buses experienced 34 and 17 percent enjoyment respectively. Mind you, they where sheltered by the harsh weather Copenhagen offers at times. When it came to experiencing stress while travelling, the numbers were reversed. While around 20 percent of motorists and bus passengers experienced stress, this was only the case for 12 percent of people on bikes.5

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