Bicyclists -- and blue bike lanes and physically separated bikeways -- abound in Copenhagen, where biking makes up 37 percent of the trips to work and school. Photos by Leah Shahum
Editor's note: This is the first in a series of dispatches from Copenhagen and Amsterdam from Leah Shahum, the executive director of the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition who is on sabbatical in Europe.
More than 1,000 bicycling leaders from nearly 60 countries are gathered in Copenhagen, Denmark to oooh and aaah, share and compare, and, above all else, challenge ourselves to step it up back home.
For a dozen of us from the Bay Area, the Velo-City Global Conference is a chance to experience the much-praised Copenhagen bicycling environment and to bring home ideas and inspiration at a time when our own region could be on the cusp of awakening to the benefits of great bicycling cities.
"In the Bay Area, people are starting to realize that this is the future, in terms of our development. And cycling is an integral part of that," says Corinne Winter, Executive Director of the Silicon Valley Bicycle Coalition.
In presentations from biking advocates from Europe, North America, South America, and Asia, it is clear that cities are now considered the most vital frontier for increasing and improving bicycling, particularly as more people move to urban areas.
"Cycling is the most obvious way to encourage more mobility no matter which corner of the earth you come from," says Bo Asmus Kjeldgaard, Copenhagen's Mayor of the Technical and Environmental Administration, who spoke to the eager crowd. "Copenhagen is just a drop in the ocean…but the power of our example is not to be missed. Cities need to look beyond their national borders and raise the bar worldwide."
Copenhagen clearly takes its role seriously as a pioneering bicycling city and wants to serve as a model for the rest of us. The numbers are impressive: 37 percent of Copenhageners ride bicycles to work and school, though the city's leadership is not satisfied with this and aims to increase that to 50 percent by 2015. More than 350 kilometers of physically separated bikeways grace the city's streets, and plans are underway to expand the already-impressive bicycling network with more dedicated bike space and improved intersections. Read more...