Sunday, April 09, 2006


Most engaged cyclers have heard, seen, or read about the culture of Dutch cyclers. It is a wonderful system, to be sure, but the short trips, slow speeds, and separate bike paths make it easy for naysayers to shrug the Netherlands off with an "It's not like that here."

Enter the Danes. In this 20 minute video, Copenhagen's incredible culture of cyclers is unveiled. One-third of commuting trips are made on bikes here, and planners want to increase that. What struck me most, though, was how much Copenhagen looks like the US. Cyclers ride a mix of mostly modern bikes at a much faster pace than the average Dutch. Commutes are longer. Facilities are complex, but primarily seem to be onstreet.

"Effective Cyclists" should be warned that Copenhagen cyclers would make John Forester cringe at times. Helmets are rare, and bikes obey slightly different rules than motorists (they even have their own miniature traffic signals!). But, I think Forester would agree that Danes seem to have taken the most important step in creating a positive cycling culture. Cycling as transportation in Copenhagen has the respect of motorists, planners, and the population at large. This is in evidence throughout the video and in the cycling budget: a staggering 20-25% of the entire city transportation budget.

Download the video, and when you have 20 minutes to spare, have a look. There is much to be learned here. Tell me what you think.


Blogger Paul Cooley said...

Jay Walljasper's essay on Europe is also an interesting look at the transition to bicycle-based transportation:

In it, he describes Copenhagen's initial resistance to closing streets to automobiles. If it can succeed there, why not in the U.S.?

Here's an excerpt:

Copenhagen's initial plans to create a pedestrian zone were met with just as much skepticism as we would hear about similar plans in America today. "We are Danes, not Italians," Gehl recalled the newspapers complaining. "We will not use public space. We will never leave our cars. The city will die if you take out any cars." But the pedestrian zone was popular from the first day, he noted, and downtown business leaders eventually took credit for a plan they once adamantly opposed. One key to the success of Copenhagen's efforts, Gehl said, is that they have been implemented gradually over 40 years. Drastic changes all at once provoke overreactions, he said.

9:22 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Found it on Google video too ... cool.

6:59 PM  
Blogger gwadzilla said...

I will have to check out this video when I have a more speedy connection

just today I was thinking of the stereotypes of various nations
was thinking of concepts like Euro Sensibilities
then I thought about the ugliness of the United States
so ugly that we call ourselves Americans
forgetting that those in South and Central America are also americans

if only we could strive to be a country that other countries emulate
the country that is civil
the country that things about the future of the earth
but.... sadly
that is not this country
as much as I wish it were
this is not the case

the notion of including the bicycle in city planning seems so obvious
yet to the standard city planner
so much that I would see as important gets ignored

New Orleans could be a cycling eutopia
the flat nature of the area
the majority of the year is warm
the people that suffered and need repair are for the most part poor
inexpensive transport makes sense
the bicycle could be that piece of the puzzle
somehow it is all left out

9:20 PM  
Blogger gwadzilla said...

very interesting
will have to read that article in the comments when I am a little less drunk

9:20 PM  
Anonymous John said...

it is so abundantly clear that this is the solution to so many of our problems... traffic, dependance on foreign oil, obesity. If there was such a city in the states, surely folks (such as those that read Kent's blog) would jump at the chance to move there...

8:39 PM  

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