A bicycle became the motor of change

| September 19, 2016

In Aarhus we make a serious effort to further development and innovation in many areas. The character of the city is changing. The number of citizens is increasing, and we are seeing the appearance of new districts as well as a new skyline, new businesses, new places of study, new cultural institutions, a huge new hospital and a light railway. We want to create frames for mobility in the widest sense of the word, we want a city where there is space for everyone and a need for everyone. Aarhus wants to be a city where citizenship is a value and where we constantly rethink the possibilities of living in and developing our city together. And citizenship has been an important part of the electric bicycle project  ”365 days on a bicycle”, which has meant a change of habits in the Aarhus suburb of Beder-Malling 14 kilometres south of Aarhus.

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Per and his wife Lene in their orange jackets from the project ’365 days on a bicyle´. Credit: The Municipality of Aarhus and Smart Mobility.

Changing your habits on two wheels
In April 2015 Per Dan Jørgensen signed up for the pilot project ”365 days on a bicycle”. With this initiative, the project Smart Mobility made it possible for citizens who would normally commute to Aarhus to easily gain experience with new active transport habits. 30 drivers exchanged their car for an electric bicycle. Per, 55, was one of those who bought an electric mountain bike. He is married to Lene who took part in the same project. Per has 12 kilometres to work, which he still cycles every day.

Less stress on work days and a feeling of togetherness

Per signed up to the experiment in order to avoid wasting his time in the car queues on his way into Aarhus. But it was the feeling of being less stressed that made him hang on to the new habit.

    ”When I go to work on my bicycle, I relax. I get up in the morning and get some breakfast and then I jump onto my bike and when I arrive at work I’m actually pretty ready for the day ahead […] It takes an hour from I get up till I arrive at work and then I have even exercised.”

So it is the feeling of arriving at work more ready and arriving home unstressed that has made Per stick to his new habit. An important driving force in breaking Per’s old habits has been his partnership with his wife, Lene.

    ”Doing something together makes you stronger. […] It’s fun doing something together. We have been able to cheer each other on. It has been important that we have been able to ride together at least one way. We have made good use of that time by talking some things over.”

Sharing new experiences and being able to help each other has meant that the new bicycle habits have crept under the skin of both Per and Lene.

500 days on a bicycle
Apart from the feeling of doing something together with Lene, what motivated Per was the health tests offered to the participants, as well as the internal competitions. Both have been important drivers for Per:

    ”I got caught up in it. I have never seen myself as a competitive person but it quickly started motivating me: that we were two doing it and that we got the health tests that showed results. That meant that I was able to stick to it.

After ”365 days on a bicycle” Per has been motivated to find new milestones:

    “I won’t say that I’m competing – well, yes, against myself. I’m setting new goals; now I want to do 500 days on a bicycle.”

Ongoing work
Per’s experiences with changing his habits are valuable because his knowledge and experiences can be used to continue developing Aarhus as a city with good mobility and solutions that make sense in the life of the individual Aarhus citizen. The personal stories contribute with knowledge about target groups so that bicycle shops in Aarhus can adapt their products according to the needs of the commuters. The greatest focus of Smart Mobility is how the nuanced knowledge from the citizens of Aarhus who have changed their habits can be used to help create a rooting outside of the municipal context and thereby create good and lasting mobility solutions in the whole of the municipality.

Facts:
About Smart Mobility
Smart Mobility is a four year long development and innovation project in the City of Aarhus, running till 2018. The project aims to gather knowledge and change people’s traffic habits.

Smart Mobility is financed by the City of Aarhus innovation pool, the Danish Transport Authority and the Technical and Environmental Administration iof the City of Aarhus. The project wants to contribute to the work that is done to daily handle challenges concerning congestion as well as to a better city environment.

The project is run by project manager and engineer Gustav Friis, landscape architect Charlotte Kjær Petersen and anthropologist Liv Maria Stender Boisen from Smart Mobility. smart-mobilitet_logo_fra-aros

Read more about Smart Mobility (in Danish) at www.facebook.com/smartmobilitet and www.smartmobilitet.dk

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Category: Commuting, Cycling, Cycling Embassy of Denmark, Danish cycling culture, Danish Cycling Know How, Health, Infrastructure, Municipalities, Newsletters in English, Smart Mobility

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