Copen­hag­e­nize De­sign Co.

Canadian Cycling Magazine - - CONTENTS - by Marie-josée Kelly

Im­prov­ing North Amer­ica’s cy­cling in­fra­struc­ture from Mon­treal

“The bi­cy­cle is the most pow­er­ful tool in our ur­ban tool­boxes to fix our cities,” says Mikael Colville-an­der­sen, ceo of Copen­hag­e­nize De­sign Co. The com­pany is a glob­ally renowned ur­ban-plan­ning con­sul­tancy that ad­vises cities and gov­ern­ments on how to be­come more bi­cy­cle-friendly through coach­ing, plan­ning and com­mu­ni­ca­tion. The com­pany opened its Mon­treal of­fice this past sum­mer to bet­ter serve the North Amer­i­can mar­ket. While this con­ti­nent is far be­hind in mod­ern­iz­ing its cy­cling in­fra­struc­ture, ac­cord­ing to Colville-an­der­sen, the mo­men­tum is here and it is not go­ing any­where.

He says the bi­cy­cle made a come­back as a means of main­stream trans­porta­tion in North Amer­i­can cities some­where around 2007 and is a re­sponse to many of the ur­ban chal­lenges we face. “We are cur­rently work­ing with Long Beach, Calif., and Detroit, coach­ing them on how to grow ur­ban cy­cling through data gath­er­ing, how to mine it, how to in­ter­pret it as well as in­fra­struc­ture de­sign,” he says.

Euro­pean cities, such as Copen­hagen and Amsterdam, have tried and tested the best forms of bi­cy­cle in­fra­struc­ture for decades. All that is re­ally stand­ing in the way of adopt­ing them in North Amer­ica is po­lit­i­cal will. An a ver­sion to bold po­lit­i­cal ac­tion and a dom­i­nant “traf­fi­cengi­neer­ing cul­ture ,” ac­cord­ing to Co lvi ll e-an­ders en, are the big­gest hur­dles to the im­ple­men­ta­tion of safe net­works of cy­cling in­fra­struc­ture. “For the past 70 years, we’ve only asked one ques­tion of our traf­fic en­gi­neers, and that is, ‘How many cars can we fit down that street?’” he says. “We need to change the ques­tion to, ‘How many peo­ple can we get down that street us­ing all of the things we’ve in­vented, us­ing pub­lic trans­port, bikes and cars?’”

In Copen­hagen, a 2.2-m-wide cy­cle track can move 5,900 peo­ple per hour. A car lane, that is wide enough for one ve­hi­cle, can trans­port 1,300 peo­ple per hour ac­cord­ing to the com­pany’s re­search. “The bi­cy­cle is a just a fast­mov­ing pedes­trian. All we want as hu­man be­ings is to get from Point A to Point B the fastest way pos­si­ble,” says Colville-an­der­sen.

“All that is re­ally stand­ing in the way of adopt­ing them in North Amer­ica is po­lit­i­cal will.”

Many North Amer­i­can cities are start­ing to cre­ate more bi­cy­cle-friendly in­fra­struc­ture, but Colville-an­der­sen be­lieves there is still a lot of work to be done in or­der to make them safe and en­joy­able for ev­ery­one. Mon­treal has long been con­sid­ered a bi­cy­cle mecca on the con­ti­nent, with bi­cy­cle in­fra­struc­ture in place since 1989. The in­fra­struc­ture, how­ever, is not con­nected or se­cure. “In Mon­treal, we’re see­ing bike lanes on the wrong side of parked cars in the door zone in­stead of on the side­walk, and they’re filled with snow,” says ColvilleAn­der­sen. “We’re see­ing a lot of bi-di­rec­tional lanes, which are Band-aid so­lu­tions.” He ar­gues that net­work is key; bits and pieces of un­pro­tected in­fra­struc­ture are of lit­tle value. It’s time to start de­sign­ing our cities with the users’ ex­pe­ri­ences as the driv­ing force. The City of Min­neapo­lis bumped Mon­treal down to No. 20 in the last Copen­hag­e­nize In­dex rank­ing. It was the first U.S. city to make it onto the list back in 2013. The in­ven­tory, which comes out ev­ery two years, mea­sures which cities world­wide are most bi­cy­cle-friendly based on per­for­mance. The next in­dex is sched­uled to come out in June. We may be see­ing more North Amer­i­can cities start to pop in the rank­ings.

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