January 01 2013

Biking and the City: How to Create and Communicate Bike-Friendly Urban Environments

Image copyright of Luise Letzner

Bike paths come in many shapes and sizes. They are made for the urban bicyclist, the long distance bicyclist, or the adventurous bicyclist. Sometimes, they are not made for bicyclists at all, and because it’s too dangerous or unpleasant to use them bicyclists find a way around them. What can a city do to encourage more people to bike-ride daily?

Trying to think of good examples for bike-friendly infrastructure, immediately my mind wanders to Malmö, Sweden. In this town, 30% of trips through the city are made by bicycle  – and that is no coincidence. Wide bike paths offer a comfortable and quick connection from one central point to another and are a popular alternative for local bus and car traffic. What could Berlin learn from Malmö if it wants to become more bike-friendly?

A popular way to lower urban car traffic and stimulate more people to travel sustainably is to install a city bike system. Cities like Paris, London, Vienna, and Hamburg have successfully integrated a cheap and easy-to-use bike rental system where inhabitants and visitors can pick up and drop off bikes from different bike stations all across the city. In Vienna and Hamburg the first half-hour is free of charge – enough time to cover most central points of interest.

Another aspect to creating a bike-friendly environment is to offer the right information for bicyclists. In the Digital Age, bike maps are distributed via the web. An interesting attempt to build an interactive tool for urban cyclists is “Dynamic Connections” a project of BMW Guggenheim Labs. Visiting the website, the user is first asked to answer a few questions about his biking routines and the assessment of specific routes. The result is a crowd-sourced evaluation of Berlin’s bike paths, which can be filtered after a degree of bike-friendliness, security, and convenience.

What are other physical and digital ways to encourage bike-ability?

Credits: Images and data linked to sources.

Luise Letzner

Originally from Berlin, Luise Letzner currently pursues a Masters at HafenCity University in Hamburg, Germany, in Urban Planning. She also holds a B.A. in European Studies from Malmö University, Sweden, where she focused on inner-city redevelopment projects, place branding, and the concept of urbanity. She worked as a concept strategist and social media manager for several online agencies and in trend research, where she investigated new forms of communication via mobile and online technology, as well as trends within city marketing. Apart from Sweden, she has lived in France, Switzerland, and the U.S. and is fascinated by different approaches to the creation and use of public spaces within city centres. For The GRID, she investigated current urban and environmental design projects in Berlin and Hamburg.

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This entry was posted on Tuesday, January 1st, 2013 at 4:08 pm and is filed under Environmental Design, Urban Planning and Design. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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