The CEO of TRL, the UK’s Transport Research Laboratory, says that, as walking and cycling grow as transport modes, we should learn from places like Copenhagen when we design networks of the future.
In a blog post on his company’s website, Paul Campion points at Copenhagen being one of the best places to live – pleasant and humane. “There is a small metro system but Copenhagen is cycling-central: Wikipedia says that it is the most bicycle friendly city in the world”, so, he asks, “Why is a UK city of about the same size: Leeds, not more like Copenhagen?”
Campion discusses that Leeds is further south than Copenhagen, that e-bikes flatten any hills and that cycling helps tackle inequality because it is a cheap and flexible solution. He adds that in 1970 they were very similar with booming car industries. But he says then activism in Denmark led to the cities taking different paths.
In the blog, Campion adds that UK town planners drove dual carriageways through towns and cities, but that things are now beginning to change. To push quicker change, he suggests, we should “start by imagining a better life”.
“It’s not all about cycling, of course, and the Copenhagen analogy is only one of the ways that we can think about how we want to live,” he concludes. “But it is an instructive story in that it shows that dramatic change for the better is possible and that we need to be careful about the stories we tell ourselves (‘Leeds is too far north for people to cycle’) lest they constrain our thinking. But the fundamental point is surely that transport arises from, responds to and ultimately in its turn helps to shape the way we live our lives and the way the physical space we live in is formed and develops. Let’s start by asking ourselves ‘what could better look like’ and work back from there to establish what it would take to get there.”