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Stockholm’s Bicycle Network

Stockholm, Sweden is a world-class city by any account, and its multi-modal transportation network contributes to that status.  Its quiet subway system, vintage trams, and efficient buses are used by 70 percent of commuters traveling to or from downtown Stockholm during rush hour.   But what truly makes Stockholm a tourist destination and a desired place to live and work is its pedestrian and bicycle paths that guide people to the train, tram and bus, while also weaving its transportation network together. 

 

 

In 1998, Stockholm implemented a ridership and safety plan that separated bike lanes from traffic, making cycling safer and encouraging greater bicycle use.  Rather than simply stripe a lane just inches from auto traffic, as is the norm in most U.S. cities, Stockholm used historic-looking brick and cobblestone to create a highly visible divide between auto traffic and bicyclists along many of its streets.  The changes in pavement from smooth concrete to bumpy surface immediately signals to the motorist a dangerous incursion into the bike lane. 

Stockholm also realized that simply separating cyclists from traffic would not alleviate car and bike conflicts.  Stockholm re-engineered some of its busiest intersections to include cobblestone bike cross-paths that safely allow a bicyclist to traverse the intersection. 

 

The bicycle plan, which was updated in 2006, not only makes Stockholm’s car, tram, bus, pedestrian and bicyclist-filled streets truly complete, but also provide Stockholm’s 1 million residents access to transit stops that may have previously been inaccessible by bike.  This, in turn, increases transit ridership and decreases the reliance on the automobile and the need for costly road expansion.  As the Chicago region is finalizing its plans for a state capital bill, a 2009 federal surface reauthorization measure, and the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning’s long-range, 30-year plan (to be released in 2010), bicycle improvements like those in Stockholm should be a key component of all transportation and infrastructure proposals.

 

This article was featured in Talking Transit, MPC’s bi-weekly e-newsletter. To receive the newsletter, email talkingtransit@metroplanning.org with ‘Subscribe’ in the subject line.

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