Cultivating Bike Culture
Copenhagen won the European Green Capital Award for its excellence in promoting sustainable mobility as well as eco-innovations. Its strong bike culture and the investments in cycling infrastructure the city has made surely must be one of the reasons for this achievement.
But does a strong bike culture emerge only when cycling infrastructure is already in place? How can bike culture be promoted in an average city where motorized vehicles dominate the roads built for them?
Culture is primarily a human quality: it is a way of life and living shared by a group of individuals. Location and infrastructure can only influence a people’s culture so far.
The same can be said in cultivating a culture, in this case a healthy bike culture. There are many ideas about what bike culture exactly is – whether as a movement, a recreation, or even a competitive sport. It is fair to say that all bike culture is formed with the aim of encouraging bike use among people. Read Copenhagenize’s tongue-in-cheek guide on how to know whether you have a sense of bike culture or not. It is interesting to note that special cycling infrastructure doesn’t play a major role in cultivating bike culture on a personal level.
Whether you live in the heart of a bustling city or have plenty of the rolling countryside to go around, you can cultivate a personal sense of bike culture even when not in bike-friendlyCopenhagen. Here are some ideas:
Quality Time on Two Wheels – share quality time with loved ones and friends while enjoying a bike ride. Grist recommends cycling with your kids as a way to save transport time, build relationship with them, and expose them to the community they live in – all while showing a good example of green living through biking.
Organize a group biking activity with friends and co-workers as an alternative to usual group hangout routines.
Make a Statement – choosing bicycle commuting is in itself is a statement. More assertive expressions of bicycle culture through demonstrations like Critical Mass and bike lifts are seen by some as inappropriate and aggressive, while others see them as important means to draw attention to cycling issues (safety, priority, etc.) Make a personal statement through your own bicycle by letting your creative side shine through. Earth911 recommends ten eco-friendly bike DIY projects which include decoupage decorations, basket additions and drawstring seat covers.
Meet people – join groups of bike enthusiasts, voice your opinion on cycling issues and take part in local cycling activities in your area. Examples of sites for cyclists are Bicycle Network, Bike MeetUp and the National Cycle Network.
When bike culture is alive among people, all that is left to do is lay down the path for them. By cultivating bike culture there is a greater chance of encouraging city officials and planners to make cycling infrastructure a priority and reality for any city.
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