Lessons from Copenhagen: Reflections on a Bicycle-Urbanism Master Class by Steve Bercu

I recently returned from Copenhagen, one of our planet’s great bicycling capitals, where I participated in a June 2016 master class on bicycle urbanism led by the Copenhagenize design firm, the gurus behind, among other things, the legendary Cycle Chic blog.  This company was founded by bicycle-urbanist extraordinaire, Mikael Colville-Anderson, pictured here.copenhagen1

 

My classmates hailed from four continents and included planners, architects, advocates, journalists, students, and elected officials. While the class addressed a broad range of issues and materials, here I want to focus on some salient impressions and reflections from the class, as well as observations of the Copenhagen bike scene.

History.  Copenhagen started early, installing, in 1892, the world’s first dedicated bike lane.  In this early era, bicycle advocates had to fight battles with the entrenched equestrian lobby over street space.  By the 1940s, the bicycle network had achieved impressive scale.  In the 1960s and 70s, the heyday of automobile-centered urban development, Copenhagen lost 50% of its bicycle infrastructure, and the bike network was effectively rendered useless.  This point marked a dramatic turning point, with the city completely reorganized around the convenience of the car, deeply inconveniencing all other modes, as dramatically visualized in this graphic:

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In what turned out to be a great stroke of fortune, Copenhagen, like Oslo and Helsinki, was too weak economically to undertake major, Robert Moses-style highway projects within the urban core (though it had plans to do so on the books).  Stockholm alone, among the Nordic capitals, went down that path, and to this day its city center bears the scars of that legacy.  In the early 1970s, in response to the oil crisis, horrific bicycling fatalities, and massive grass-roots uprisings, huge pressure was brought on the government to provide safe infrastructure for bicycling.  Since that time, Copenhagen has been decisively pursuing efforts to grow, improve, densify, and complete its bicycle network—with unparalleled success. Continue reading Lessons from Copenhagen: Reflections on a Bicycle-Urbanism Master Class by Steve Bercu

Attend an upcoming Advocacy 101 Workshop

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Want to make your community better for biking? Do you want to learn how to effectively engage your elected officials and members of your community to win policy changes at the local and state level? The Bike Union and MassBike invite you to an advocacy workshop facilitated by community activist and professional lobbyist, Erica Mattison.

The workshop is free with a suggested donation of $10. (Proceeds will support the Bike Union and MassBike.) Space is limited and tickets are given on a first-come first-serve basis. If you are interested in the workshop but are unable to attend due to scheduling conflicts or capacity, there will be another workshop the follow week on July 20th.

Light snacks will be provided.  Continue reading Attend an upcoming Advocacy 101 Workshop

We share your grief, and say enough is enough.

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Dear members and friends,

It is with heavy heart that I write to you today.  Most of you know by now that a young woman riding a bike, 27 year old Amanda Phillips of Cambridge, was hit and killed in Inman Square last week.  While some details are not fully clear yet, it is widely believed that she was either doored or swerved to avoid a door opening in her path, and was thrown into the path of a landscape truck.  We have been devastated by this loss, alongside all of you.

We want to welcome you to a vigil to honor the life of Amanda Phillips, mourn her loss, and find a way forward together.  It will be tonight at 7pm, in Inman Square at the site of the crash.  It is open to all, and we hope you will join us, members of the bike community, and friends of Amanda.

We are full of grief, and we are also angry.  We’re angry that we know where the dangerous intersections and corridors are, and we have to battle against the interests of on-street parking and against those who value motorist convenience over bicyclist mortality, to earn the space on the road for infrastructure that will protect us, not put us in the path of car doors or aggressive vehicles.  We’re angry because this was preventable.

In times like this, we understand that people need an outlet to “channel their righteous anger,” Continue reading We share your grief, and say enough is enough.

Vigil for Amanda Phillips

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On Wednesday, June 29th at 7 pm the cycling community will be holding a candlelight vigil in Inman Square to honor Amanda Phillips, who was killed while biking on Cambridge Street on Thursday, June 23rd.
All are welcome to attend.

There will be a collection to support those planning the arrangements for Amanda. All proceeds will be contributed to the GoFundMe campaign, but you can also contribute to it directly here: https://www.gofundme.com/radloveforphillips

Afterwards, there will be a reception at Ole Mexican Grill on Springfield Street in Inman, providing everyone a place to gather, mourn and heal together.

You can find more information about the vigil on facebook.