Digital panels are stimulating bike use in Copenhagen


27 July 2017

Copenhagen is prioritizing cyclists. More bikes and fewer cars in the center is one of the city’s spearheads as it works to achieve its goal of being fully carbon neutral by 2025. And it is paying off already: for the first time there were more bikes than cars in the city center in 2016. The recent installation of digital panels with traffic information for cyclists highlights the city’s bike-friendly policy. 

Bike jams

The digital panels (also called Variable Message Signs or VMSs) have been installed at busy locations where many cyclists from the suburbs enter the city center. The panels indicate if there are bike jams on the route ahead. Or they show the travel time to the centre and any diversion routes that might be needed. One VMS also shows the difference in travel time to the center between bikes and cars; usually the cars are slower, providing a subtle hint to the committed motorist that they should consider the alternative.

International attention

Copenhagen’s 2025 environmental plan and corresponding bicycle policy have attracted international attention. And with good reason. The city’s ambitious goal is to become the first international capital to be carbon neutral. This obviously has a large impact on traffic policy, because one of the targets is to offer positive stimuli to bicycle traffic and public transport. The city is well under way to implementing its environmental plan. The successful bicycle policy does have a ‘drawback’: on busy days, Copenhagen actually has bike jams. The VMSs with their traffic advice for cyclists will therefore be sure to prove their worth. The panels are a world first which have even attracted attention in countries where cycling is not – not yet! – a common practice.

Underlying technology

Technolution developed the concept of the VMSs together with the city and a number of innovative Danish partners. Traffic volume on bicycle lanes is measured using sensors along the side of the road. In addition, travel times for cyclists are monitored in real time across entire corridors. The travel times of motorized traffic are monitored using ‘floating car data’, data derived for instance from the navigation systems of cars. The information is then analyzed in the back office and is displayed on VMSs through MobiMaestro, the city’s central traffic management platform. VMSs are flexible and they will be enhanced in due course with other information, such as time-to-green and time-to-red at traffic lights.

Technolution developed the Variable Message Signs in partnership with the City of Copenhagen, Danish designer Jesper K. Thomsen and producer ITS Teknik.



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