Tuesday, November 3, 2009

A2B Bicycling in Copenhagen and San Francisco

Parking for bikes 自行车停放处 by SaraXG.
A little bike parking in Copenhagen. Photo by SaraXg on Flickr.

That's a whole lot of bikes. by Poom!.
And a little more. Photo by MyLSD on Flickr.

Copenhagenize in Portland-4 by BikePortland.org.
Mikael Colville-Andersen. Photo by BikePortland.org on Flickr.

"This is all people want...It doesn't matter if we're on foot, on a bicycle, or in a car,
we just want to get there quick," explained Mikael Colville-Andersen, bicyclist ambassador and buzzed-about blogger from Copenhagen. "We're rivers. We will find the quickest route."

In the last few months, urban planners and livable city advocates from the Netherlands and Denmark have shared with Americans what worked, what didn't, and why we should try harder when it comes to encouraging alternative modes of transportation and use of public spaces. Colville-Andersen is on an American tour to describe why 56% of Copenhagen residents ride bikes. He stopped in San Francisco last Friday for a presentation at SPUR, following a similar talk the night before in Portland. (Yes, they stopped at that platinum-level biking city first).

His message in both cities is similar to what he presents on his blog Copenhagenize, one of the hottest bicycling blogs around. (And, if you've got the time after your stops here at BIKE NOPA and at Streetsblog, check out BikePortland for more on Colville-Andersen's talk and tour sponsored by the Danish Embassy.

"A2Bism" is what Colville-Andersen calls the approach to increasing bicycle use by making it easy and fast to get from Point A to Point B. San Francisco is already off and running with the concept. Leah Shahum, Executive Director of the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition, told a recent City Arts & Lecture audience that one of the main reasons she bikes is because it's the best way for her to get from Point A to B. She added, "It's a big thing for me to be on time. With bicycling I can do that."

Talk to a NOPA bicyclist and you hear the same thing. Mariana Parreiras barrels down Golden Gate -- but, yes, observes the stop signs -- because it's the quickest commute to school. Jarie Bolander bikes from his NOPA home to the Caltrain station because "I can get there as fast on my bike as I can by motorcycle or car." Marc Caswell takes McAllister for a quick connection to his Market Street office, and and J.P. Collins takes Masonic Avenue because "it's the most direct route." They love biking, but mostly it gets them where they need to go.

Colville-Andersen believes his practical A2Bism reflects how Copenhagen cyclists treat riding. He explains there's not much of a biking subculture in the city. There's more "mainstream bicycling," to the point that bicycling has become an almost boring means of transportation. For more on the lack of a bike subculture, read the BikePortland post. Find out if you're at the point where you think of your bike the same way you do a vacuum cleaner.

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