Cycling insights and other lessons learned from Copenhagen

Today, I will visit a talk by Andreas Røhl, Copenhagen’s Bicycle Programme Manager, on “Sticks, Carrots and Tambourines: Actively Learning from Copenhagen’s Transport Successes” at SFU Harbour Centre. As a short preview, I would like to share five insights that I have gained during my visit to Copenhagen 2.5 years ago.

In September 2009, prior to the UN COP15 Climate Change Conference, I traveled to Denmark’s capital together with 89 other climate bloggers from 43 different countries for the launch event of the international climate change blogging competition “TH!NK ABOUT IT“. Despite the short duration of our trip, I could gain many interesting insights from this fascinating city.

First of all, it is exciting to see how cycling has transformed and shaped this city! When arriving at the central rail station, hundreds of bikes demonstrate what a bicycle-friendly urban planning approach can achieve. With a comprehensive approach ranging from safe bike lanes to plenty of bike racks, this paradise for cyclists shows that bikes are not only the best but also a very safe means of transportation in the city. In turn, less car traffic has positive effects on the environment as well as people’s safety, health and quality of life. Moreover, economic and cultural benefits also show that bikes must be a cornerstone of a comprehensive, sustainable urban planning approach!

Secondly, Denmark shows how an ambitious energy policy can look like: Attractive feed-in tariffs for renewable energy, globally known pioneer projects, clear and ambitious climate change goals (“Copenhagen aims to become the first carbon-neutral capital city by 2025”) and massive investments in wind parks and other renewable energy plants are good for the environment, raise public awareness for climate change and create thousands of new green jobs, e.g. at Denmark’s famous wind turbine manufacturer Vestas. So, a good framework for domestic renewable energy investments as well as the export of technology, products and know-how can strengthen the economy!

Thirdly, people and communities should be able to participate in renewable energy generation, as I have also recently written in this blog on community energy development in BC. In fact, it is good to know that one’s used energy comes from a wind park instead of an oil or gas field. But it even feels better when you can even participate in the economic and environmental success of a wind park! Public participation in renewable energy projects also increases people’s identification with these projects which is especially true for small cities and communities where local renewable energy projects increase energy independence and create local jobs.

Finally, I have also made two policy recommendations which are especially true for Austria but do not play a significant role for Canada: First, I recommended to increase the share of original versions of movies and TV shows instead of German dubbed versions to foster the Austrian population’s English skills. Secondly, I recommended a smoking-ban in all public buildings, including restaurants and bars. Unfortunately, both recommendations haven’t been implemented to date in Austria.

So, let us learn from the good ideas from Copenhagen and other great cities worldwide! We can put energy generation in our own hands, we can tell others the stories of coureagous climate activists and innovative renewable energy pioneers and we can put bicycles at the centre of our cities! I am looking forward to some new exciting insights from Copenhagen at today’s event!

Posted on June 4, 2012 in Sustainability

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About the Author

Andreas Lindinger is a Vienna-based business consultant, sustainability expert and urban thinker passionate about livable cities, sustainable transportation, renewable energy and civic engagement. Andreas offers a transdisciplinary business, finance and sustainability background, industry expertise in energy, mobility and environmental consulting and broad international experience gained in Vienna, Vancouver, Berlin and Dublin. Make sure to also check out Vienncouver.com and to follow @lindinger on Twitter.

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