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life’s better on a bike Bicycle bliss in Copenhagen

Brenda Mattick BNSW* AS ONE OF fifteen fortunate

Australians to attend the Velo-city Global 2010 cycling conference in Copenhagen (June 22-25), I too know what it’s like to cycle ‘Copenhagen- style’: on an old upright bicycle, in regular street clothes, on wide, separated and inter-connected cycleways — bike bliss. I experienced my first ‘green wave’

as I rode non-stop along a priority green highway (preference is given to cyclists riding at 20 km/h). I rode in peak hour with a mob of cyclists right through the centre of the city without having to weave around pedestrians or swerve around cars. Or wear a fluoro safety vest. And before anyone says: “Ah yes

— but because it’s so flat there, cycling is really easy”, 70% of Copenhagen’s regular summer cyclists keep on cycling to work, shops or school through winter’s rain, sleet and snow. Copenhagen* was an ideal city

to host a major cycling conference, demonstrate world class cycling infrastructure and launch new cycling initiatives. Velo-city Global 2010 was the first ever global version of the conference series (originally established as a European bicycle planning conference in Germany back in 1980). Over 1000 participants from 60 countries attended truly inspiring plenary sessions, drank good coffee, ate great Danish food and agonised over the choices on offer in the numerous presentations, roundtables and workshops. It was a cycling advocate’s religious

convention; in many ways this meant ‘preaching to the converted’, but there were enough innovative campaigns, successful strategies and new research findings to keep us thinking – and motivated to make a difference.

Global perspective To give you a little taste of Velo-city’s

global flavour, broad reach and diversity: the Lithuanian Cyclists’ Community, Bicycling Empowerment Network Namibia, Bikeability in Iceland and Cycling Scotland were all represented. Speakers from a variety of occupations and organisations (federal government, city council, business, academia, advocacy and NGOs) presented sessions on topics including Greenways in Central Europe, Bicycle tourism in

Taiwan and Crowd-sourced bike maps for Minsk. The subject of Australian Cyclist’s

July-Aug In the frame column, Jim Krynen (WA Public Transport Authority’s Cycling Integration Manager) presented Train drivers on bikes – a Trojan for cycling integration in the Cycling and public transport session. Getting sedentary, overweight and stressed train drivers onto bikes not only improved their fitness and well being – it also greatly improved their attitude to people taking bikes onto trains or parking bikes at train stations. It was a top priority of the conference

organisers to help fund speakers and participants from Africa, Asia and Latin America, regions where there are significant health, pollution, road safety, equity and access problems – and thanks to UN-Habitat and the City of Copenhagen, 20 people were sponsored from the bicycle communities in these specific regions.

Creative programming The program structure was varied and innovative. In a ‘Meet the Danes’


session (modeled on speed dating?) we had the opportunity to hear brief presentations from Danish experts in the following areas: studies and research, communication and campaigns, hardware and infrastructure or bicycles and accessories. We could listen, ask questions then move on to the next station. The ‘Creative cycling innovations’

session gave young fashion designers, film makers and illustrators a chance to show us their cycling-themed creations. We learnt how bike-powered water pumps (‘bicimaquinas) have helped reduce the workload of women in Guatemala. And we joined a bike parade through the city accompanied by not only a coffee cart on wheels but also a group of very talented musicians transported on cargo bikes.

Big wheels ‘Big wheels’ were there too, and

they made a big impression: Jan Gehl, the Danish urban planner and ‘international architect’ (famous for putting the human back into the city); Janette Sadik-Khan, Commissioner

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