Kenniscentrum voor fietsbeleid
  • 1. Green wave for cyclists

    Copenhagen, Norrebrogade, green wave for cyclists. Local authorities in Copenhagen have installed a green wave for cyclists affecting 12 traffic lights over a stretch of road of over 2 kilometres. The effects on travel times and cyclist comfort are very positive. Transport by bus is however adversely affected.

  • 2. Increase in bicycle use

    Bicycle use to the Copenhagen town centre has increased greatly over the past decades. The number of car trips, on the other hand, has decreased slightly. In order to boost bicycle use, local authorities intend to increase average bicycle speed by 10% over 10 years. Green waves for cyclists should contribute towards this goal.

  • 3. The principle of a green wave

    A green wave for cyclists may be disadvantageous for cars or buses, since their speeds are different. This graph displays the possible consequences at 5 intersections and a maximum cycle time of 80 seconds. The bicycle encounters 5 green lights, the car 4 and the bus 3. Bus and bicycle have comparable speeds. 

  • 4. Consequences for opposite direction

    It is often impossible to realise green waves for opposite directions at the same time, as distances between intersections vary. In this graph cyclists encounter 3 green lights in the opposite direction and have to wait at a red light twice. The opposite direction is also less advantageous for cars and buses.

  • 5. Routes en intensities

    In the autumn of 2006 a green wave for cyclists has been realised on Norrebrogade, assuming of a speed of 20 km/h. In the morning for cyclists towards the town centre, in the afternoon in the opposite direction. Norrebrogade is a major route for cars, cyclists and buses. In Dutch terms it would be called a reasonably busy local road with a huge amount of cyclists. It also has an important shopping function.

  • 6. Impression of the route

    Norrebrogade has a quite narrow lay-out. Cyclists are provided with adjoining bike paths (a kind of raised bicycle lanes). Bus stops are frequently next to the bike path. Cars and lorries regularly park next to or on the bike path as well. Crossing pedestrians complete a chaotic picture.



  • 7. Effects on bicycle traffic

    Travel times for both bicycles and cars have been measured by means of a GPS/GIS system. The test cyclist attempted to maintain a speed of 20 km/h as much as possible, the car driver 45 km/h. Results for the bicycle are very positive. See for instance the graph: the number of stops fell from 6 to 0 and average speed increased from 15,1 to 20,7 km/h

  • 8. Overall effects

    The graph demonstrates that cyclists towards the town centre benefit most from the green wave in the morning peak hour. In the opposite direction cyclists also gain approx. 35 seconds. For motor vehicles the green wave for cyclists is in most cases slightly positive as well. Consequences for bus transport are negative: travel times increase in 3 out of 4 cases.

  • 9. Limitations

    In order to benefit from the green wave cyclists have to maintain a speed of approx. 20 km/h. This is not always feasible. Cyclists are sometimes hampered by the large numbers of other cyclists. Progress may also be impeded by incorrectly parked lorries and cars or passengers entering a bus.

  • 10. Another 3 green waves

    In the spring of 2007 the Copenhagen authorities have realised a green wave for cyclists on Farimagsgade, involving 4 traffic lights. This is a green wave affecting two directions of bicycle traffic. There are moreover plans for Torvegade (4 traffic lights) and Ostergrogade (3 and 7 traffic lights). 


  • 11. Sources

    This example has used the presentation by Nicolai Ryding Hoegh (traffic department, city of Copenhagen) at the Munich Velocity conference (June 2007)

Dirk Ligtermoet (Ligtermoet & Partners, Gouda) , Fietsberaad
Comparison of bicycle policy in 5 Dutch bicycle towns (Groningen, Zwolle, Veenendaal, Enschede, Amsterdam) and 5 foreign towns (Copenhagen, Munster, Freiburg, Ghent and Odense).
Dirk Ligtermoet (Ligtermoet & Partners, Gouda) , Fietsberaad
Comparison of bicycle policy in 5 Dutch bicycle towns (Groningen, Zwolle, Veenendaal, Enschede, Amsterdam) and 5 foreign towns (Copenhagen, Munster, Freiburg, Ghent and Odense). This document is moved.  Click here.
Peter Kroeze (Ligtermoet & Partners) , CROW
The Bicycle Traffic Design Indicator (CROW publication 230) is the standard reference for designers and policy makers. This index helps them find the required information.
Policy memorandum
Het schitterende - niet alleen qua uitvoering - fietsplan van Kopenhagen, 2002-2012. Een breed, integraal plan.

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