Velo-City Global – Day Three
Another sunny beautiful day here in Copenhagen, we couldn’t be asking for better weather. All three days at the Velo-City Global conference have been perfect conditions – sunny, blue sky, light breeze, and in the upper 60’s. We are so far north here that the sun lasts until about 10:30 p.m. and comes up around 4:30am. So there is plenty of time to see the hustle and bustle of the city before and after the conference.
A highlight of the day was going through one of Copenhagen’s two bike counters. More important to me than another stamp in my passport was becoming a number in the Denmark bicycling community. I wanted to pass by one of the bike counters and leave my permanent mark here in Copenhagen. Although just a number, I feel like I am now an official part of the city. Forever remembered in the nearly 2 million bicyclists counted by Copenhagen to this date.
Photo taken by Andy Clarke at the United Nations Climate Change Conference '09
Executive Director of the Canadian organization 8-80, Gil Penalosa, offered an inspiring presentation today in the morning session. He called on advocates, planners and decision makers to be doers. “We need solutions to the problem, not problems to the solution.” A passionate man and excellent public speaker, he encouraged the audience to follow the “Ready, aim, fire” mantra rather than “Ready, aim, aim, aim, aim…” since often times we are caught over-thinking our issues rather than just getting it done.
There was a Meet the Danes, speed-dating-esque session where conference participants heard a short elevator speech from various people of Denmark in an open floor session. I learned from Lotte Ruby that the Danish Cyclist Federation has a program similar to the League’s Bicycle Friendly Business program. The Danes also recognize the value in encouraging businesses to promote a more bicycle friendly atmosphere for their employees and have seen an explosion of interest in the program. We traded success stories and shared some of the challenges we both faced.
To end the day, all 850 conference attendees participated in a Bike Parade throughout the city. There was a solar powered bike stereo to accompany the crowd blasting Danish pop music as we rode through the city. Along with the mobile DJ, there were orchestras on (cargo) bikes, bicycle messengers, kids on bikes, pensioners on bikes (retirees), Long Johns (a type of cargo bike), other cargos, unicycles, trailer bikes, and more. Many of us wore “I BIKE CPH” t-shirts. We would have blended right in with the rush hour traffic had there not been so many of us. Instead we brought Copenhagen to a halt – autos, bicyclists, and pedestrians all stopped to wonder what was happening. The parade was sponsored by the city so a police escort was along for the ride and we were actually legal. It was a sight to see!