From Alison Dewey’s June 25, Velo-City journal entry:
The conference wrap up was this afternoon, and so I have a few minutes to reflect on the morning events before filling my last few hours in Copenhagen. We heard Jan Gehl, a Danish urban planner and for a few years the head of the Department of Urban Design at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts. He started his presentation by reminiscing of his 45th wedding anniversary. For their celebration, he and his wife rode their bikes to dine at a restaurant in downtown Copenhagen, rode through the waterfront area and then returned home – a round trip of nearly 20km. Their combined age is 136 years. He joked about his mother-in-law, who cycled until she was 86 years of age, after that she walked her bike rather than a walker. She said it was much more attractive to walk her bike than any other old-person’s walking contraption. Now that is something! Both stories give you a wonderful glimpse into how ingrained bicycling is in Copenhagen. It is a place where elders and the elderly can cycle safely and comfortably.
Gehl than produced photo upon photo of the many faces, facilities, open spaces, and public transport options in Copenhagen as a case study. He compared it to Melbourne, Australia, which has also been making great strides for bicycling in the past few years and continues to make progress. Sydney, on the other hand, has a new comprehensive transportation plan that is dominated by a bicycle network. It has been adopted but not yet implemented, but change will come quickly to this southern hemisphere city once the plan gets put to use.
As the conference comes to a close, I begin to reflect on the past few days as a whole. Experiencing is believing. Velo-City Global 2010 has been a magnificent arrangement of inspirations, from the speakers, the location, the case studies, to the examples. It has all been recharging, a reaffirmation of our work at the League. If only we could have our city leaders and federal decision makers experience Copenhagen. Truly they would not be able to turn their backs on what great benefits bicycling, walking, and open space has on a community if they could experience it for themselves. But until they are convinced, our work continues. One day we as a nation will reach a 37 percent mode share for bicyclists, as is here in Copenhagen. We will all be able to look back, know that we contributed, and continue to strive for better conditions for bicycles.
Velo-City will be in Seville, Spain next year, and Velo-City Global will follow in 2012 in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Hope to see you there!
Alison DeweyDewey joined the League in 2008. For four years prior to that, Dewey worked for Massachusetts- based Landry’s Bicycles and served on the board of the Massachusetts Bicycle Coalition. Dewey has a MA in International Relations and Communications from Boston University and is a graduate of St. Olaf College. She spent three years as a Peace Corps volunteer in Senegal.
League Program Manager, BFB & BFU