“Be a Copenhagener on a Bike” pilot project

Here’s a new pilot project from the ever experimental city of Copenhagen called “Be a Copenhagener on Bike” (ppt in Danish):

Locals take tourists on a ride and show them their city-  as they experience it. All bike guides are volunteers. The usual  sights are not on the program, it is rather the guide’s own  favorite areas in town, odd angles, fun, or whatever the  guide feels like. There are pilot project in the coming  week, and the idea is that the concept will launch in the spring of 2011.

Guides will post info about themselves and the tours they offer on an online social media platform where people can read about them and their tours as well as see comments from previous tourists.

Thorbjørn Ovedal, who seems to be the brains behind the concept, writes about his findings from interviews with tourists in Berlin engaging in a similar concept called Berlin on Bike:

Participants expressed a feeling of joy connected to the use of the bicycle as a means of transport in connection with sightseeing. This experience of joy was often presented as an opposite to the experience one for example might have while riding a sightseeing bus. Sightseeing by bus was often described as a filtered experience, in the sense that the surroundings where experienced through the filter of the windows of the bus. Contrasting the bus experience the bicycle tour was described in accordance with the experience of freedom, and that of having access to and experiencing places people doing more conventional forms of sightseeing wouldn’t have access to. This gave the tourists an experience of being involved in the urban spaces they moved through thus giving them a sense of being immersed in to the experience.

Maybe this will help people see why Copenhagen is truly a great biking city. The problem is that the downtown core is where most tourists spend their time, but given the very old urban form of the inner city, it is not well-suited to bicycling and there is minimal bicycling infrastructure.

City planners I have spoken with here have expressed an active dis-interest in catering to tourists in their bicycle planning efforts, stating clearly that they plan for Copenhageners, not tourists. This, unfortunately, can leave visitors scratching their heads saying ‘where are all the bikes?

The most common tourist path is to walk:

outside Tivoli on Vesterbrogade (4 lane road) [picture is actually from the other side but it’s similar]

Credit: Henrik Sendelbach

crossing HC Andersen Boulevard (4 lane road), through Rådhuspladsen (City Hall Square),

walk down Strøget (pedestrian outdoor mall)

to Kongens Nytorv (traffic cirlce)

to Nyhavn (outdoor pedestrian street with cafes).

You could do that whole walk without hardly seeing any bicycles! Hopefully, this will help people get a better perception of what makes Copenhagen a city of cyclists, not just Jan Gehl pedestrian streetscapes.

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