Friday, July 17, 2009

Starting Early (with a Note on Land Use)

Here in Copenhagen, the individuals who are working to grow the bicycle culture understand that a 37% mode share can be lost in a single generation.

The Danish Cyclists' Federation (DCF), a 105 year old bicycle advocacy group still at work here in Copenhagen, has begun a program to ensure that the next generation of Danes continues to ride bicycles.
This bicycle is similar to the first bike created in Germany in the 19th century, the velocipede
(The handsome man holding this bicycle is Kristian, a former bicycle messenger/bicycle mechanic who now works full time at the DCF). The bike has no pedals and is instead powered by pushing. Its for the very little ones among us. The very, very little ones.

While kids in America can begin riding the bicycle with training wheels at 4 or 5, this little device enables kids to get moving on two wheels a bit earlier. Perhaps most importantly, the young people learn balance at an early age, which means they can often safely forgo training wheels and begin riding a real bike at a young age.

I tried to snap a shot of this mother/daughter duo as they rode past, but managed only to catch them in the background. They were riding quite fast!

Still, I think this picture tells a story about the bicycle culture here. The young girl riding beside her mom appeared to be 5 or 6 years old. They are riding in a bicycle track near the busy city center on a roadway used frequently by motor vehicles.

In Copenhagen, they ride with a clearly discernible sense of security: in part because the effort to teach safe bicycle riding starts early and in part because the City of Copenhagen has created safe places for little people and old people, fast people and slow people, to use their bicycles.
Maybe they parked here a bit later. This parking lot is typical for Copenhagen, and one can be found on most city blocks in within the city. There are perhaps 25 or 30 bicycles parked here. Using this same space, you park two cars.


  1. Come on Taco, you've seen Camden ride his velocipede, though not yet on the streets. Hope you're having fun, good luck with your presentation in a few weeks (that is super-rad).

  2. You may be interested in this recent safety and mobility study. Many interesting ideas with mirrors at stop lights for traffic turning right (at bike lanes), and a closed course to teach children traffic safety.