Yeah, I know. Do we have to talk about Copenhagen again? We get that it’s the archetypal city of bikes, but seriously, enough with all the Copenhagen already. It’s cliché. It’s not like it was voted the world most livable city year after year or anything.
Well, but here’s the thing. It does actually look pretty not bad. Pretty good, even. As you can see from the video above, it’s not even about bikes. It actually never even mentions bikes (it descends into more of an ad for a certain lighting company…), but you simply can’t help it. Bikes are probably the most central image throughout the entire video because they represent so much about what makes a city livable. The whole bike thing is merely a natural result of putting people first. After putting cars first after the war, Copenhagen ended up with more traffic, more roads, less space for people, thousands of dead citizens, and a less livable city. In a relatively short period of time, they have turned themselves around to consistently lead the world in livability for its people. Just like New York City has been doing for the last few years, even though it is happening in a vastly different context.
You know what they have in common? Bikes. Well, aside from people who are brave enough to actually effect change. One has been a city of bikes for decades, and the other has rapidly turned itself into a city of bikes almost overnight.
In 2009, DOT’s strategic plan laid out the accelerated goal of doubling bicycle commuting between 2007 and 2012 and tripling it by 2017. The City reached the goal of doubling bicycle commuting in 2011, a year early.
How? Because they decided to. Why? Because it’s better that way. Observe:
As the title today suggests, this could be any city. Both Copenhagen and NYC were about as far away from being a city of bikes as one could get, which is proof enough that there is no such thing as a city that can’t transform itself, but only cities that won’t transform themselves.
Anyways, the point today was simply to do two things: enjoy the warm glow of a populus that is naturally attracted to bikes without thinking that it’s a big deal, and the fact that one of the very most harmful things that we might be doing for cycling here in Australia may very well be that we are making it a huge, big, scary, controversial, heated, angry, debate about Lycra.
Maybe we’re just doing it wrong.
Maybe we just need to focus more on life, and love, and goodness, and people, and the bikes will take care of themselves. It these places turned themselves around, then really, any city could be a city of bikes.
Header image: The Sticky Bidon (this, to no one’s surprise, is not Copenhagen. It was Adelaide yesterday morning, and although it may appear a modest bunch, I have been noticing more people on bikes lately, and no Lycra in sight. I sincerely hope the trend of people riding bikes simply because it’s a good way to get around continues)