Are there limits to how far Danish bicycle culture can spread?
Geographically, three CED members were very far away when they participated in the event IbikeABC. IbikeABC was a co-operation between the city administration of Buenos Aires, the Dutch Cultural Institute and the Danish Embassy in Buenos Aires.
Apart from the CED members, Jens Loft Rasmussen from The Danish Cyclists Federation, David Sim from Gehl Arkitekter and Niels Hoé, from HOE360 Consulting, three Dutchmen participated.
Buenos Aires as a bicycle city
Maybe some of you are thinking: do they ride bikes in Buenos Aires? I certainly did! But in three years the city has come really far with a dedicated effort from a handful of ambitious employees.
Today, 2.5 per cent of all trips are on a bike. Of course, it’s a long way from Dutch and Danish levels, but it has been achieved in only three years from a starting point of nearly zero.
A city bike system has been established which differentiates itself by having manned distribution stations. In 2014 it will be extended from the present 750 bikes at 29 stations to a fully automatic system with 3,000 bikes at 200 stations, a system found in many other cities around the world. Guillermo Dietrich, the Deputy Secretary for Transport in Buenos Aires, expects the number of bicycle rides to rise, from the present number of around 7,000 daily rides, to 36,000 rides on a daily basis.
In order for the bicycles to get around the city, 100 kilometres of bicycle lanes have been established, which are definitely first generation as they are narrow with two-way traffic. The design makes it difficult to cycle at what we in Denmark consider a normal speed, so if the bike is to be used for daily transport on a larger scale, a new generation of bicycle lanes is needed where the design is more suitable for cycling at a more commuter friendly speed than walking.
But is it impressive what has been achieved in such a short time and maybe this visit from Holland and Denmark can inspire the next steps that must be taken in order to truly make Buenos Aires a really good bicycle city.
What can the Cycling Embassy of Denmark contribute with?
Buenos Aires’ Office for Transport had laid down a programme that spanned three days with two talks and a connected workshop on each day.
From the Danish delegation, Jens Loft spoke about,”Promoting the use of the bike: Implementation of Public Policies and its Civil Organisations”.
I spoke about “Design and intermodality, the bikes in the city”, while David Sim had brought a huge box of Lego so the participants could design and play their way through Cities for People.
The participants were very interested in how we work with city cycling, and during the workshops the participants showed a great desire and creativity to work the Danish bicycle culture into a Buenos Aires context.
A little sign-off
Our hosts were incredibly accommodating and the best hosts possible and with their attitude to life, there are sure to be many more bike riders in Buenos Aires.