Thomas is an entrepreneur. He has two shoe repair shops in Copenhagen, one in Christianshavn and the other in Carlsberg Byen. The first he opened eight years ago, the second several years later. Before Cityringen, the new metro line, he travelled from one shop to another by bicycle, carrying shoes, bags and other items for repair. In a day, he could commute up to 40 kilometres.
So Thomas is looking forward to the new metro line’s inauguration, because it will become his means of transport. «I’ll take my bike on the metro, and I’ll take the train to shuttle back and forth between the two stores», he says. «Both have a station nearby, and this for me means a real change in lifestyle».
Enghave Plads, one of the Cityringen stations, is near one of his shops in the heart of a modern and trendy neighbourhood which has been gentrified in recent years.
Thomas is one of the estimated 240,000 people who each day will take one of Cityringen’s two driverless trains that will encircle the city, intersecting with existing lines and stopping at some of Copenhagen’s strategic locations.
Copenhagen: a sustainable transport network
«From the nearby station, Cityringen allows me to arrive at the airport in just 20 minutes», says Susana. «I am a bit lazy and I always took a taxi, but now I can go to the airport by choosing public transport. It is good for the environment and also a way for me to save money».
Susana lives in København, a quiet neighbourhood north of the city centre with colourful, ivy-covered buildings. She works in psychology, mostly with children, and has always gotten around the city on foot or by bicycle. But that will change when Cityringen arrives.
Copenhagen is a lively city with constantly growing demand for transport. Only 40% of this city’s 775,000 residents (or two million if we consider the entire metropolitan area) use a private car. Most get around on foot, by bicycle or with public transport, bringing important benefits to the economy as well as health and overall well-being.
According to the report “Copenhagen. Solutions for Sustainable Cities” by State of Green (a public-private partnership including the Danish government, the Confederation of Danish Industry and the Danish Energy Association), every year two-wheeled mobility in the city guarantees health expenses savings of €230 million. This means that every kilometre that is done by bicycle instead of by car leads to the city earning €0.60.
Bicycling is part of an integrated sustainable mobility system that includes bus and metro, a system that will get a considerable boost from Cityringen. Once the new line is up and running, 85% of residents will live just 600 metres away from the nearest metro or train station.
The Copenhagen challenge
Cityringen is not only a major infrastructure project, but also a tool to achieve an ambitious goal: to make Copenhagen into the first carbon neutral metropolis in the world by 2025.
This is the result of a strategic vision that dates back more than a decade and involves a series of infrastructure investments that are changing the style of life of the city’s residents
Mayor Frank Jensen identified a series of steps, many of which focus on the development of sustainable mobility. These depend on a closer integration between the bicycle and public transport, and metros in particular.
Just ask Monica, who runs a shop at Rosenborggade 3, where she rents bicycles.
«I have a degree, but this is my passion now», she says.
Then, asked about Cityringen, she explains: «For me, the new metro is not just an opportunity to make my everyday life easier, it is also a source of pride. The residents of Copenhagen believe in sustainability, and we are ready to commit ourselves to achieve it. All this helps make our city greener, cleaner, more in line with our lifestyles. And, for us, it is a great achievement».
By 2025, 75% of residents’ movements will be done on foot, by bicycle or with public transport.
To achieve this goal, Copenhagen adopted the CPH 2025 Climate Plan that the United Nations uses to show the measures needed to reduce CO2 emissions.
The impact of this initiative will be significant, as much on the environment as on the economy. Just in terms of energy costs, Copenhagen calculates that each resident will save an average of €537 on utility bills every year.
As Mayor Jensen writes in “Copenhagen: Solutions for Sustainable Cities,” «a sustainable world starts with sustainable cities». This dream travels on the trains of Cityringen, which can make a ring around the city in just 24 minutes, convincing the inhabitants that in the 21st century you don’t really need a car.