Bikeable City Masterclass helps build culture of cycling and sustainable mobility
Copenhagen, Denmark has a long tradition of cycling. The city’s recent Cycling Strategy for 2011 – 2025 was created to ensure cycling’s place in the future of Copenhagen’s transport network. This strategy includes measures like building out 400 km (250 miles) of bicycle lanes on both sides of major streets, as well as 110 km (70 miles) of more leisure-oriented trails.
Another part of the overarching Cycling Strategy is to create a Cycling Masterclass to teach city planners and urban administrators about the design, safety, and policy issues surrounding cycling. The latest edition of this seven day Bikeable City Masterclass, co-organized by the Danish Cycling Embassy with EMBARQ Turkey, brought together transport experts and city leaders and from around the world to learn more about how to weave cycling into the urban fabric.
International participation breeds innovation
The Masterclass was completed around several different sites within Copenhagen, with the Aalborg University Centre serving as the program’s base. Throughout the seven day program, participants moved everywhere on bike to fully experience the city’s cycling environment. Participants came from around the EMBARQ network – including EMBARQ Turkey, EMBARQ Brazil, and EMBARQ Mexico – as well as from city agencies in the Turkish cities of Kocaeli, Konya, Seferihisar, and Istanbul, the national Turkish Ministry of Transportation, and Milliyet Newspaper.
The trainers and the facilitators represented as great a geographic and occupational diversity as the program’s participants, with trainers from the Danish Cyclist Federation, Aalborg University Centre Copenhagen, Cycling Embassy of Denmark, City of Copenhagen, Gehl Architects and COWI. This broad knowledge base created a wealth of new ideas on how to export Copenhagen’s cycling culture to other cities, taking into account local context. The training covered a wide variety of topics, from designing cycle infrastructure, cycle policy, public participation, traffic safety measures, data collection, intersection design, and experiences from Gehl Architects on how to design at the “human-scale.” What unites these topics is the key role of non-motorized transport in creating livable spaces. The masterclass also included hands-on workshops and case studies drawing experiences from EMBARQ’s work, which highlighted the importance of citizen engagement during the planning process.
Learning through action
Throughout the Masterclass, participants took an active role, visiting various cycle routes and discussing safe cycling practices with associates from Gehl Architects, city administrators, the Danish Cyclist Federation, Danish Architecture Centre, GoBike, and the traffic police. These discussions not only energerized the participants about the importance of cycling as financially and environmentally sound mode of transport for urban life, but also provided them with new tools to adapt to their own cities.
Safe cycling is sustainable transport
Cycling is a critical and underitilized form of transport. Commuting via bike as opposed private car reduces greenhouse gas (GHG) and local air pollutant emissions, helping to mitigate climate change and improve air quality and public health. Furthermore, cycling to work or school is an easy way to increase necessary physical. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), physical inactivity accounts for an estimated 9% increase in premature deaths and also increases the risk of chronic diseases.
For these reasons, it is important to change the perception of cycling as purely a leisure acitivity and recognize its place within greater urban transport systems. The Bikeable City Masterclass, as well as projects like EMBARQ Turkey’s BikeLab series, provide city leaders and planners the necessary tools to integrate cycling infrastructure into the fabric of their cities, and build a culture of sustainable urban mobility. These changes make cities livable, accessible, and of course bikeable, providing a wider range of mobility options for urban residents.