Here’s a fun, simple, and low cost idea to encourage smart and safe cycling in cities. Copenhagen’s ‘Karmaspotters’ walk the streets of the city giving out good karma presents to cyclists who are being considerate while biking around the city.
Andreas Røhl describes his experience as the City of Copenhagen’s Bicycle Programme manager. Andreas manages Copenhagen’s Bicycle Programme and recently joined Urban Systems Ltd. for a temporary term in their Metro Vancouver office. He is participating in a range of active transportation projects throughout Western Canada, including the development of an Active Transportation Master Plan for the City of Vancouver.
With the City of Copenhagen, Andreas focused on bicycle policies and strategies to improve conditions for cycling, and recently led the completion of the Copenhagen’s Cycling Strategy as well as the City’s Design Guidelines to Great Cycle Roads. In addition to his in-depth knowledge of cycling infrastructure, Andreas has extensive experience with cost-benefit analysis, cycling education, and promotional campaigns.
In general, a perfect climate or geography does not always mean an increase in cycling. San Luis Obispo, for example, has very steep hills along main corridors. Copenhagen and Amsterdam, are very cold. All of these locations, however, have a high cycling mode share. Some important factors for cyclists, beyond infrastructure, are the presence of a supportive bike culture and bike education. Even in a city like Davis, which is flat, has a good climate, and has many biking facilities, bike mode share went down for a number of years until a concerted bike campaign effort was put into place.
I was also surprised to find—because it often seems dangerous—that people generally prefer to use bike lanes on major roads. People are also willing to walk and bike longer than planners generally assume. While aesthetics along a route sometimes get more focus from planners, they are actually secondary considerations for everyday users.
These findings show that in places of high biking and walking mode share, people use these modes just as they would use cars in a high car mode share area. Distance to key destinations, connection and lack of barriers matter the most for everyday users. These are the main issues planners need to address to increase biking and walking.
In 2011 CDP Cities collected climate change data from 48 cities around the world. Our first ever infographic celebrates the actions taken by local governments to ensure that cities remain safe places to live and do business despite the effects of climate change.
Resilient cities, those that are working to transition towards a low-carbon economy while also preparing to avert the worst of climate change, are gaining interest and attention from policy makers, city councils and others worldwide. In fact, today, leaders from the public and private sector, supported by ICLEI (see below) and the U.S. Green Building Council, are launching a National Leadership Speaker Series on Resiliency and Security in the 21st Century.
“The battle to prevent catastrophic climate change will be won or lost in our cities…” (C40 Cities Initiative)
Cities account for up to 80% of GHG emissions globally and are home to more than 50% of the world’s population (headed to 60%, 5 billion people by 2030). As I mentioned in my previous post, if we refocus our efforts on the right solutions soon enough, we can mitigate the worst of climate change while actually improving our city economies and growing corporate profits. Hunter Lovins and I recently published a book entitled Climate Capitalism to share stories of cities and companies around the world who are profiting from that transition to the low carbon economy. Furthermore, the longer we wait the more we will have to pay for adaptation.
The Top 10 Resilient Cities Are….
10.) Tokyo, Japan
9.) London, UK
8.) New York, USA
7.) San Francisco, USA
6.) Paris, France
5.) Vancouver, Canada
4.) Stockholm, Sweden
3.) Barcelona, Spain
2.) Curitiba, Brazil
1.) Copenhagen, Denmark
You can check out the runners up and why each city ranked where it did here.
Joyce Ohajah visits Copenhagen to see what it is like to travel in a city built for bicycles, and experience Bicycle Rush Hour, when more than 35,000 cyclists cross the Dronning Louises Bridge on what is the busiest bicycle street in the western world
Forty years ago, London and Copenhagen had similar ratios of car to bicycle use, and both faced an exodus of workers moving out of the centre and into the suburbs. But after the energy crises of the 1970s, the two cities diverged. Danes were restricted in how much they could use their cars and commuters began to campaign for a better infrastructure for cyclists. Today, there are almost 200 miles of bicycle lanes in the city, and 40 per cent of its 1.8 million inhabitants cycle to work. The city has evolved cyclist-friendly policies, such as the Green Wave – a sequence of favourable traffic signals for cyclists at rush hour.
The key, it seems, is getting women cycling because only then has cycling become part of the mainstream. A recent poll by Sustrans, the UK cycling pressure group, asked women cyclists what would get them on to bikes and the answer was simple: better infrastructure, more bike lanes. Copenhagen’s separate, raised bike lanes with their own traffic signals are a must. And the lesson learnt from Gehl’s study is that infrastructure has to come first. Once it is in place, the message, says Colville-Andersen, is simple: “You don’t tell them it’s healthier to cycle, you don’t tell them they’re saving the planet, you just say that it is the fastest way from A to B. And they will come.
The words “pop-up” have become synonymous recently with a smart, savvy form of experimentation. Usually associated with the temporary installation of a café or retail store that operates for a limited time and then disappears, pop-ups are used by chefs to try out restaurant concepts, while brands employ them to gauge the interest and spending habits of specific neighbourhoods.
Now, cities around the world have embraced the idea of pop-up urban planning, experimenting with temporary projects as a way to build public support for an idea, circumvent city hall, or iron out the wrinkles in a municipal pipedream.
The idea was first employed in Copenhagen in the 1950s, when the now famously pedestrian-friendly city was debating whether to close Strøget Street to car traffic. With the public firmly opposed the idea, the city announced it would close the road over the Christmas holiday as an experiment.
Bit by bit, for the past 40 years, the city of Copenhagen has done something revolutionary: The Danish capital has reduced its parking supply. Cutting the total number of parking spaces by a small percentage each year stands in stark contrast to the more common pattern of cities adding more and more parking to accommodate private cars.
But in a few pockets around the world, momentum is growing behind efforts to bump out large parking lots, curbside parking, and garages in favor of services and infrastructure for pedestrians, cyclists, and public transportation.
“There’s no demand for parking, per se,” said parking policy expert Rachel Weinberger, assistant professor of city and regional planning at the University of Pennsylvania. “There’s demand for access to a location.” If a private car is the only way to access a given restaurant, shopping center, workplace, or neighborhood, she argued, then “that translates to demand for parking.”
Cities around the world are recognizing that managing parking is an effective, if indirect, means of addressing concerns about energy and traffic congestion—indeed, climate change. In fact, according to research from the Paris-based firm Sareco, people choose their mode of transportation for urban trips based on the parking conditions at their origin and destination.