Taking cycling to the next level at Copenhagen's Immersive Study Tour
Andrea Sigrid Ege Andersen
Andrea Sigrid Ege Andersen
On 16 May 2022, delegation members from Helsinki, Riga, and Greater Manchester met in sunny Copenhagen for a week-long Immersive Study Tour, as part of the Handshake project. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Handshakers have – up until recently – relied on the digital space for cooperation and knowledge-sharing. Now, with the Immersive Study Tour finally able to take place, that trend changed.
Inspired by the “show, don’t tell” school of thought, we took our guests on multiple cycling tours. We crossed the iconic cycling bridges of the inner harbour and rode along the most used bicycle routes during rush hour. Along the way, we checked out traffic intersections and bicycle parking solutions. Our visitors even had the chance to experience Denmark’s famous Cycle Superhighways, which reaches far beyond the municipal borders of Copenhagen. Totaling nearly 90 km in the span of a week, we collectively experienced the cycling infrastructure available in Copenhagen, and showed our guests the cycling culture that makes it such a unique city.
Meanwhile, we also took the opportunity to tell, discuss and learn valuable insights the more traditional way. This included a discussion on local and municipal planning, as well as a meeting with the Danish Chamber of Commerce, where we focused on the socio-economic potential of cycling and how to potentially unleash it with initiatives that reshape the use of bikes within the realm of urban businesses.
Colleagues from the Copenhagen Municipality spoke with our delegation members on bicycle parking, traffic island zones, climate adaptation initiatives, bus stops, large-scale infrastructural projects that prioritize pedestrians and cyclists, implementing bicycle streets, and Cycle Superhighways. In this task, we were aided by our neighbouring municipality of Ballerup, which also showcased the significance of cross-municipal collaboration.
Throughout the week, we discussed (and experienced!) the many dilemmas of safety and security as a cyclist in a hectic cityscape. All of these informative and inspiring conversations were met with curious questions and enthusiasm from our European colleagues, which extended well into the evenings over the dinners in the heart of Copenhagen.
A resounding takeaway from the week spent with this geographically diverse group is that, despite our differences, we recognize mirroring challenges and obstacles in our efforts to improve cycling in our respective cities.
For some of the Immersive Study Tour attendees, like Dominic Smith, Handshake project manager in Greater Manchester, the week together also provided a rare opportunity for the development of internal cohesion. The Greater Manchester delegation included both senior decision makers and technical officers from Greater Mancheste, who thanks to the Tour were able to experience a city planned around mobility on two wheels. According to Dominic; ”three days after returning, we are already seeing new cycling aspects of projects springing from the inspiration of the Immersive Study Tour”.
The conversations had amongst the entire group of cities, as well as within city delegations, encouraged mutual learning and idea sharing, and proved – yet again – the significant value of collaboration between international colleagues in the effort to take cycling to the next level across Europe.
The Copenhagen Immersive Study Tour marks a seminal point in the collaborative and inspiring relationship between Helsinki, Riga, Greater Manchester, and Copenhagen. The momentum generated by the week in Copenhagen has set the stage for strengthened and invaluable engagement among all participants across expertise, experience, and cities. The Copenhagen team looks forward to the potential of further collaboration on cycling solutions in Europe in the future.
Image by: Kadri Rood