The Bicycle Snake
“With the change from commercial harbour activities to residences and retail the Inner Harbour of Copenhagen has undergone a pronounced transformation. As part of this transformation, the first stage was a foot- and bicycle connection across the Inner Harbour, Bryggebroen (The Quay Bridge) by DISSSING+WEITLING architecture, which was opened in 2006 . The first new crossing of the harbour in fifty years. The bridge became a tremendous success not only as a connection between two parts of the city, but also simply as a way to enjoy the views of the harbour, the sensation of beingabove water. However heading to or from Bryggebroen on the Eastern side of the Harbour cyclist had to carry their bikes down or up afull flight of stairs at one end of the quayside.
Cykelslangen, or the ”The Bicycle Snake”, a 230 m long sky bridge which offers a short cut to Bryggebroen was opened in the summer of 2014. Cykelslangen takes off where Bryggebroen ends on the Eastern side of the harbour and continues in a meandering course to Kalvebod Brygge, a major roadway, some 5,5 m above the quay. Cykelslangen is used by 12.500 cyclists daily.
Copenhagen and bicycles
In 2011 the City of Copenhagen published its planning strategy for becoming the world’s best bicycle town in 2015. And this for all sort of good reasons – promoting a healthier life style cycling to work, setting the goal for Copenhagen as a CO2 neutral city by 2025, and simply – Copenhagen as a better place to live, more space, less noise, cleaner air. In 2010 with a 36% market share bicycles were the most used means of transportation to and from work within the city. The city’s strategy aimsfor 50% by the end of 2015.
In 2010 as part of the city’s bicycle policy, a forerunner for the bicycle strategy, a series of initiatives were taken. Amongst these a general consultant tender for what was to become the bicycle bridge Cykelslangen. DISSSING+WEITLING architecture won the tender with Rambøll as sub consulting engineers.
Pushing the boundaries – a specific typology
The clients brief called for a somewhat minimal bicycle ramp providing an alternative to the staircase. We saw a tremendous potential for the new ramp to become something more than just replacing the staircase. To unfold the ramp from the corner site of the staircase, stretch it out, curve it. Across the water, in between the buildings, and down close to the Bryggebroen. A clear pathway. Hereby not only making it more joyful to ride on, with less steep gradients and better curvature, but also making it an element that could pull together an areawith a multitude of incoherent buildings.
We proposed a series of alternatives and discussed them with the client, the City of Copenhagen. And the city listened and contributed to the idea. The city’s project manager brought it up higher in the administration. The budget had to be raised and a dialogue with neighbours to be commenced. Not only did it go through, the city also awarded DISSSING+WEITLING architecture, a year before the bridge was opened, for raising the bar. An award the City Administration has established to further good ideas.
Cykelslangen – a winding course
The project went from a ramp to an elevated bicycle route. It winds its way and by doing so it makes the bikers inadvertently slow down. A bike route above land and water. And it barely touches either resting on slim columns with a distance of 17 – 20 m. It epitomizes the image of Copenhagen as a bicycle City. The pure joy of cycling. It is orange. Orange so that it may hold its own elevated place amidst the surroundings. Orange to provide a sense of sensuousluxury. Orange to give it warmth in daytime and at night lit up from the LED strips in the glimmering stainless steel handrails.
Cykelslangen is not an elevated bicycle route. It is not an attempt to establish elevated bicycle routes as such, to separate cyclist from the ground level. Bicycles should not be isolated from but rather be an integrated part of city life, street life. Cykelslangen is a specific answer to a specific problem in Copenhagen”