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Bella Center Not So Bella

I continue to document my 2009 United Nations Climate Change Conference experience …

By the time I got on the Metro to head over to the Bella Center this morning the transit information systems were already reporting that the Bella Center station was closed due to overcrowding and that COP15 delegates would have to get off one station before or after the stop and walk. Even worse, they were saying there were major lines just to get one’s accreditation at the center.

Sure enough, long, long lines awaited us as we approached the heavily guarded perimeter. And it was cold. People seemed cheerful, though. At least, at first they did. Then as we stood and waited some more, and folks started relaying their harrowing tales of waiting for six or eight or nine hours the day before to get in, we weren’t so happy. After about 90 minutes and maybe 100 meters of progress, I bailed. There was still at least another 90 minutes of line ahead of me, and I couldn’t feel my feet. Did I mention it was cold? It was cold. It was also more than a little frustrating – especially as people had registered for this event months in advance…

Anyway, I had to head over to the Green Lighthouse – Copenhagen’s first carbon-neutral building – on the university campus, where the Danish Embassy of Cycling was recognizing the leadership of New York City’s Mayor Bloomberg in promoting cycling. The Mayor was getting a tour of the very cool building, and before the tour we made a short presentation standing out in the cold by the bike parking.

The Danish Embassy of Cycling was represented by Jan Gehl (Gehl Architects), Niel Torslov (Copenhagen’s city traffic engineer), and Lise Borg Pederson (Danish Cyclists Federation), and part of the script was to invite Mayor Bloomberg to return to Copenhagen in June (when it will be warm) for the Velo City Global conference. The Embassy is a unique collaboration between user groups, academics, local government and the private sector to promote Danish cycling expertise – of which they have quite a bit!

Once the ceremonies were over, I sat in on the tour of the building and an interesting discussion of building codes, energy efficiency, public-private partnerships, and climate policy. By the time the next set of photos were taken with the architect and university folks, there was a bona fide snowstorm going on. I was on the bus back downtown, but I can assure you that Copenhageners are indeed not dissuaded by snow or cold – they just keep on riding.

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