U.S. city planners seek inspiration on Danish cycle tracks

| August 25, 2012

In June, 19 influential politicians and city officials from Portland, Chicago, and San Francisco, plus members of Bikes Belong, toured Denmark visiting the cycle cities Aarhus, Odense, and Copenhagen to study Danish cycle solutions under the headline: ”Experiencing the Most Advanced Bicycling Environments on the Planet.”

By Charlotte Kjær Petersen, Gottlieb Paludan + Public Arkitekter

Danish cycle solutions are among the furthest developed in the world, and the Danish mainstream bicycle culture has caught the eye of the world – including several American cities that have begun working to make space for bicycles.

“Bicycling is growing in nearly every major American city, and our politicians, planners, and designers are eager to learn how to make bicycling a safe, comfortable, and rational choice for getting around.”
– Zach Vanderkooy, Bikes Belong

The Americans wanted to experience various cycle solutions firsthand and find inspiration for new, concrete cycle-promoting solutions in their respective hometowns. Each of the three cities is already well under way to improve conditions for cyclists and has worked out very specific visions and objectives to increase the cycle modal share by improving the physical conditions for cyclists.

Experiencing Danish cycle solution 1:1
Pablo Celis, from Cycle City Aarhus and Gottlieb Paludan + Public Arkitekter had the pleasure of hosting the delegates in Aarhus.

The visit in Aarhus was centred around a 19-kilometre bike trip. The route led the group through the city centre’s sophisticated cycle solutions which support the centre’s tight and mixed traffic, and to solutions on more scenic routes to the suburbs by the area Egå Engsø, where we saw parking facilities for multi-modal transport – which the delegates had expressly wanted to see.

In addition, we passed Denmark’s first cycle street, Mejlgade, optimised parking solutions, cycle stalls, covered bike racks, various air pumps, and info stands for cyclists.

Pablo Celis from Cycle City Aarhus explains the communication value of an air pump for cyclists.

Willing to learn

Their visit to Aarhus made a great impression on the delegation.

“The most inspiring part of visiting Aarhus for Americans is seeing that EVERYBODY uses the bike; old people, young people, men, women, kids. In America, bicycling is a sub-culture of unique individuals, mostly young, brave men. Seeing a city where bicycling is so safe and ordinary that anyone can do it is very powerful.”
– Zach Vanderkooy, Bikes Belong

Among other things, the group highlighted the way that the suburbs are con-nected with the city centre, the architecturally well-planned cycle solutions, the city’s focus on offering solutions for multi-modal transport, campaigns to encourage the citizens cycle despite the hilly landscape, innovative solutions, and not least the guts and guile to continue to improve the conditions for Danish cyclists.

“The best part of the trip was seeing first hand the positive effects that cycling has on the quality of life in Denmark. Seeing the final product [cities with world-class bicycling infra-structure] sparked my imagination on infrastructure improvements that can be made in US cities to increase bicycling.”
– Harry Osterman, Alderman 48th Ward, Chicago

Enroute to the suburbs of Aarhus testing the facilities for two-wheeled commuters.

Clearly, ’the Danish model’ continues to inspire others, and we look forward to continuing the dialogue with the American politicians and cycle organisations. Thank you Bikes Belong for stopping by Aarhus for a fruitful and interesting day.

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Category: Danish Cycling Know How, Newsletter 8

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