A comparison of cycling cultures in Stockholm and Copenhagen

This study focuses on two central Scandinavian cities – Copenhagen and Stockholm – that are generally thought to be culturally close but have deviated with respect to cycling policies and infrastructure.

Based on a survey including inhabitants of Copenhagen (n = 1110) and Stockholm (n = 1191), this study investigated whether cyclists in Copenhagen and Stockholm experience the transport systems in the two cities differently, and to what extent cycling perceptions can explain differences in cycling level (minutes of cycling) among cyclists.

Cycling levels are much higher in Copenhagen than Stockholm, and cyclists in Copenhagen perceive a higher prioritization in traffic, feel safer, and perceive a higher ability to reach their destinations by bike. Using ordered logit models, we examined the effect of different factors on cycling level among cyclists in both cities. Those who live in Copenhagen have higher levels of cycling even when other independent variables are included in our model. Other significant factors were employment, which increased cycling, and car access, which decreased cycling. Being female was related to higher cycling levels in Copenhagen, but not in Stockholm. The only significant cycling perception was the perceived ease and feasibility of getting to important destinations by bicycle (cycling autonomy). Results of a similar analysis including non-cyclists led to comparable results. The results suggest that differences in cycling levels between the two cities are related to the overall mobility culture of the two cities (in particular different policies, norms and infrastructure), while individual/micro-level factors, appear rather inadequate for understanding urban differences.

Published in the International Journal of Sustainable Transportation
Volume 14, 2020 - Issue 4.