All over the world, we're seeing cities add bike lanes, bike paths, bike parking, bike sharing — but the way you know cities are really getting serious is when they start reprogramming their signals for cyclists instead of cars. In Berlin, a new pilot project is doing exactly that.
Die grüne Welle or "The Green Wave" is a new program set up on Berlin's Belziger Straße, an important connector between two bike routes. The half-mile chunk of road has some bike infrastructure at one end but the lane is largely marked only with signs in the roadway. All that's really being changed is the signal timing: when traffic is travelling at around 18km/h (about the speed of a bike), the vehicles will be rewarded with green lights. The idea is being executed in some other cities and was inspired by Copenhagen, which not only has bike-prioritised signaling but entire bike highways.
Changing roadway infrastructure for bikes has been embraced in many American cities, where you'll find dedicated lanes and signals with bike icons that give cyclists their own left turn light, for example, or specialised inductive sensors in the asphalt that encourage lights to change when a bike rolls up.
But actually changing the speed of traffic so that it favours bikes is altogether radical. Reprogramming the timing is cheaper than adding infrastructure and it also helps to slow all traffic on the street, making it safer. But think about it this way: You're actually redesigning the rhythm of the city so it runs on bike time, instead of car time. [Spiegel via @Charles_Hawley]