Strategic and systematic promotion of cycling have been the key words for 11 small and medium-sized municipalities in Denmark, Norway, and Sweden who for the past three years have participated in the interregional bicycle project, “Nordic Cycle Cities.”
By Dea Seeberg, VEKSØ Mobility, firstname.lastname@example.org.
During the past three years, 11 small and medium-sized municipalities have developed methods and tools that can help them meet the challenges of getting more citizens to jump on their bikes.
Prior to the project, ad hoc planning and a focus on physical infrastructure often characterized their work. Thus, one of the main objects of the project was to secure a more systematic and holistic approach to working with cycling, and through this process, to secure political ownership and an organizational framework.
Bicycle account, strategy, and plan of action
The core of the project was the preparation of three very central strategic documents: bicycle accounts, a bicycle strategy, and a bicycle action plan which answer the questions: “Where are we?”, “Where are we going?”, and “How do we get there?” This process has involved different administrations, politicians, and citizens in each of the municipalities, and the politicians have subsequently approved the documents.
For the Swedish municipality, Mölndal, the strategic effort has resulted in a significantly greater focus on cycling – and more funds for cycling as well. Regarding the effects of the partnership of Nordic Cycle Cities, Project Manager in Mölndal, Sweden, Ulf Bredby says, “For us, participating in Nordic Cycle Cities has meant that cycling has been put on the agenda both among politicians and government officials to a much higher degree than before. Working out the action plan has given us a plan for what to do within seven different focus areas. And the structured drawing up of a bicycle strategy, bicycle action plan, and bicycle account has significantly contributed to the fact that it looks like we will receive a lot more funds for cycling in the coming fiscal years.”
For many of the project managers, the project has had a great impact on their work, among other things because the increased focus has resulted in more resources.
“For us in the region of Kristiansand, I think the most valuable has been the development of a bicycle strategy and action plan. It has been an important task that has meant that we have allotted large resources for building cycle tracks. The objective of doubling the modal share of cyclists within 10 years has also been incorporated into other plans and strategies,“ says Siri Gilbert from the Municipality of Kristiansand, Norway.
In Mölndal, the common Nordic Bicycle Day was used to celebrate the cyclists with cheerleaders at the three most important cycle tracks leading into the city. Photo; Mölndals Stad.
Kids and commuters
In addition to securing the strategic basis for the promotion of cycling, the 11 municipalities have worked on projects focusing on children and commuters at local companies. Exchanging experiences across the municipalities has also opened the eyes of the Swedish and Norwegian partners to the use of training bikes for bicycle events for kids, which, for example, the Municipality of Randers has done. In addition, the participants have been inspired to develop their own campaign concepts.
Also many workers in companies in the 11 municipalities have noticed the increased efforts to support cycling. For example, Mölndal established a network for businesses focusing on how to get more commuters to cycle.
The project has also focused on drawing attention to cyclists on the common Nordic Bicycle Day on 21 April 2010. Here, all the participating municipalities organized a list of local events to the benefit of cyclists. Moreover, a list of products have been put up such as bicycle racks, bicycle counters, water fountains, air pumps, signs, and information boards to offer better services to cyclists.
At www.nordiskecykelbyer.dk all interested parties can download process plans for the preparation of bicycle accounts, strategies and action plans used by the 11 municipalities, read more about the work of the task groups, and download a magazine presenting the results of the project.
”I hadn’t heard about training bicycles for small kids before, so it was a great experience to see how Denmark has had positive experiences teaching kids to cycle through play.” Eva Berdenius, Project Manager for Nordic Cycle Cities, Municipality of Mariestad. Photo: Jeannot Huyot, Randers Kommune.
The participants of ”Nordic Cycle Cities” were:
Frederikshavn (DK), Viborg (DK), Randers (DK), Silkeborg (DK), Kristiansand (N), Sandefjord (N), Varberg (S), Mölndal (S), Svenljunga (S), Mariestad (S), Tranemo (S).