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Copenhagen and Amsterdam join forces in Canberra

By Anne Treasure - 28 February 2017 19

Danish Ambassador to Australia Tom Nørring (left) and Dutch Ambassador to Australia Erica Schouten.

As the ACT Government encourages the public to adopt European modes of transport with Canberra Walk and Ride Week in March, it has been announced that Denmark and the Netherlands will work together to inspire Canberrans to get on their bikes.

Ambassador for the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Australia, Mrs Erica Schouten, and Ambassador for Denmark in Australia, Mr Tom Helge Nørring, will assume the roles of Co-Patrons of cycling advocacy organisation Pedal Power ACT in 2017.

The Netherlands and Denmark are recognised as the top two cycling nations in the world. And while Australians have embraced riding bikes as a leisure activity, few of us ride our bikes for transport.

In 2015, the Active Travel Office was established by the ACT Government to help change that.

The Netherlands is virtually synonymous with bike-riding, and their civic cycling infrastructure is the envy of active transport advocates worldwide.

“Cycling in the Netherlands is a way of life,” said Ambassador Schouten.

“We cycle to work, to school, to the shops, to the cinema. And we have a smart infrastructure to support this. Amsterdam, Utrecht and Eindhoven are among the 5 most bike-friendly cities in Europe, the World Economic Forum revealed last year.

“Cycling is good for your health and for the environment.  I am therefore very happy to support Pedal Power and to share the Dutch cycling experience with Australia.”

Denmark is world-famous for its biking culture, and the capital Copenhagen is officially recognised as the world’s premier cycling city.

“For Danes, riding your bike is just what you do,” said Ambassador Nørring.

“I, like my fellow countrymen, grew up riding my bike to school and as I got older, I rode my bike to my workplace – the Ministry of Foreign Affairs In Copenhagen – every day.

“I wasn’t alone, 50% of Copenhageners make the morning commute on a bike, including over 60% of our politicians.  25% of families with two kids have a cargo bike to pedal their children to school.

“In November we reached a fantastic milestone with there being more bikes than cars in the City Centre of Copenhagen.

“I am really honoured to be taking up the position of Co-Patron for Pedal Power. I am hopeful that I can inspire all Canberrans to hop on their bikes – even perhaps some of the politicians here!

“It’s good for your health, it’s good for the environment and it’s actually great fun!”

John Armstrong, Executive Officer of Pedal Power ACT, is excited about the potential that the Co-Patron Ambassadors represent to Canberra.

“We have much to learn from these countries, who champion bike-riding as a social, economic and environmental good,” said Armstrong.

“The healthy rivalry that Denmark and the Netherlands have when it comes to being the top biking nation in the world is fantastic, and we are fortunate that the Ambassadors have agreed to work together to support Pedal Power ACT.

“Their expertise in all things cycling is invaluable as Canberra strives to maintain its position as the Cycling Capital of our region.”

Canberra Walk and Ride Week starts on 17 March. All Canberrans are encouraged to walk, ride and catch public transport as often as possible for any journey purpose during the week. So jump on your bike, get active and get involved.

Anne Treasure is the Communications Manager for Pedal Power ACT. She writes on bike riding in the ACT from the perspective of a lapsed bicycle rider who should be cycling more. 

Photograph: Danish Ambassador to Australia Tom Nørring (left) and Dutch Ambassador to Australia Erica Schouten.

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19 Responses to
Copenhagen and Amsterdam join forces in Canberra
wildturkeycanoe 7:27 am 04 Mar 17

Maya123 said :

As for your comment “temperature extremes”. I still maintain we have a milder temperature then the Netherlands. We don’t have to ride to work in sub-zero temperatures in dangerous conditions through snow and ice.

Sure they get snow, but their average temperatures for winter aren’t sitting at the extreme of -32 degrees but closer to the average of zero. It is also much easier to put on a warm winter coat to embrace the winter chill, than to strip down into a pair of budgie smugglers to ride in plus 40 degrees. Riding warms you up, it doesn’t cool you down.

Postalgeek said :

There are electric bikes now. The world’s moved on.

Anna G said :

e-bikes flatten hills!

That isn’t cycling, that is just a mild powered, electric version of a motorcycle. It’s a bit like comparing a Segway to walking, totally different mode of transport.

Anna G 7:54 pm 03 Mar 17

local1 said :

If we leveled all the hills in Canberra more would ride bikes. Copenhagen and Amsterdam are flat.

e-bikes flatten hills!

Postalgeek 5:01 pm 02 Mar 17

HenryBG said :

Will these ambassadors be removing Canberra’s hills and temperature extremes and reducing the average cycling trip distance by 70% in order to make Canberra more like their hometowns?

There are electric bikes now. The world’s moved on.

Maya123 12:03 pm 02 Mar 17

HenryBG said :

Will these ambassadors be removing Canberra’s hills and temperature extremes and reducing the average cycling trip distance by 70% in order to make Canberra more like their hometowns?

Here in the real world, the average Canberra commute is 10km further than the average commute in Copenhagen or Amsterdam, and usually includes hills.

This is the reason why so few Canberrans use a bicycle, so this is what needs to be addressed.

For those who have further to cycle, investigate Bike and Ride (bus):
http://www.transport.act.gov.au/getting-around/bus-services/passenger-info/bike-and-buses

I sometimes want to take my bike the other side of Hindmarsh Drive. When younger I would ride and walk my bike over the Red Hill Saddle. Now retired, these days I use the readily available bus and put my bike on the rack to get over Hindmarsh. This wouldn’t work for large numbers of cyclists, but it works at present.

As for your comment “temperature extremes”. I still maintain we have a milder temperature then the Netherlands. We don’t have to ride to work in sub-zero temperatures in dangerous conditions through snow and ice. As you don’t appear to have read my earlier comment on this, here is the link again, showing real “temperature extremes”: https://www.google.com.au/search?q=cycling+in+the+snow+in+the+Netherlands&client=firefox-b&sa=X&biw=1687&bih=989&tbm=isch&tbo=u&source=univ&ved=0ahUKEwjX8vyI2rTSAhUS6GMKHZeHCPUQsAQILQ

HenryBG 11:26 am 02 Mar 17

Will these ambassadors be removing Canberra’s hills and temperature extremes and reducing the average cycling trip distance by 70% in order to make Canberra more like their hometowns?

Here in the real world, the average Canberra commute is 10km further than the average commute in Copenhagen or Amsterdam, and usually includes hills.

This is the reason why so few Canberrans use a bicycle, so this is what needs to be addressed.

Holden Caulfield 11:10 am 02 Mar 17

wildturkeycanoe said :

Yet again another push for increased cycling for Canberra, based on the success stories from Amsterdam and Copenhagen. I’m sorry to say that apart from the geographical differences, there are also the climatic factors to consider in trying to convince Canberra to follow their lead.
The European climate rarely gets into the low twenties during summer, whereas we had it so hot this year that bees were dying and hives melting. Warnings from emergency services for the public to keep hydrated and hide from the extreme heat go against the principle of riding to work and back daily, at least during summer heatwaves.
There is a downside to an increase in cycling for our little city, patronage of public transport. How will Capital Metro keep its balance sheets in the positives, when everyone ditches the tram for cycling instead? How can a government promote a free mode of transport which is in direct competition to a “new” technological wonder that hasn’t even left the station?
I also wonder how our cycling infrastructure would handle half the working population riding everyday instead of driving or catching the bus. Where would everybody park for one? How do they share the paths, with a massive increase in bikes?
I’m sure somebody will get a warm, fuzzy feeling from this announcement about foreign diplomats promoting cycling, but I am not going to jump up and down in excitement.

I agree with the negative points you’ve raised in terms of comparing Canberra with the oft-cited cycling utopias of Europe, but I don’t think anyone is expecting a huge shift or change in behaviour. For example, even a 1% increase in cyclists regularly commuting would still be around more 4000 Canberrans on bikes every day. I think GovCo would be pretty happy with a sustained increase like that.

Anne Treasure 7:39 am 02 Mar 17

bruce_lord said :

Anne Treasure said :

bruce_lord said :

local1 said :

If we leveled all the hills in Canberra more would ride bikes. Copenhagen and Amsterdam are flat.

I enjoyed riding riding around Copenhagen with a 1 speed bike and perfect cycling temperature.

I’m all for increasing cycling patronage across all of canberra, but I’m concerned pedal power focus their energies and lobbying into the areas where their pedal power board members live, work and study. A former colleague of mine quit his membership of the group when told his cycling issues weren’t considered as important as a board members.

Hi Bruce, thanks for commenting. You’ve raised a very serious accusation here, and I’m happy to address your concerns.

Pedal Power’s Advocacy Team of volunteers seeks to deal with cycling issues wherever they arise in the Territory. But our team of volunteers can’t cover everything. So they set priorities. The top 3 for 2017 are missing links across the network, separated cycling infrastructure and connections to and through the town centres – you can see these and the rest here: http://www.pedalpower.org.au/advocacy/ (under “Read our Advocacy Priorities for 2017”)

We always welcome people who can help with our advocacy work. If you’d like to learn more, so you don’t have to rely on 3rd hand reports on Pedal Power, please get in touch at advocacy@pedalpower.org.au

Thanks I will try and look up the bloke I mentioned and see if he wants to send you an email. He certainly felt unhappy he paid his yearly membership and was told his bike paths from home to Tuggeranong town centre wasn’t worth fighting for.

Thanks Bruce. In recent years our Advocacy group has contributed to the Tuggeranong Town Centre, Erindale & Calwell master plans, and have worked on the South Quay development and the redesign of Anketell St. The lack of an active volunteeer on the Advocacy Infrastructure Team who has local knowledge has limited our efforts there, so we would welcome with open arms a member from Tuggeranong. It would be great if your mate could get in touch.

bruce_lord 9:45 pm 01 Mar 17

Anne Treasure said :

bruce_lord said :

local1 said :

If we leveled all the hills in Canberra more would ride bikes. Copenhagen and Amsterdam are flat.

I enjoyed riding riding around Copenhagen with a 1 speed bike and perfect cycling temperature.

I’m all for increasing cycling patronage across all of canberra, but I’m concerned pedal power focus their energies and lobbying into the areas where their pedal power board members live, work and study. A former colleague of mine quit his membership of the group when told his cycling issues weren’t considered as important as a board members.

Hi Bruce, thanks for commenting. You’ve raised a very serious accusation here, and I’m happy to address your concerns.

Pedal Power’s Advocacy Team of volunteers seeks to deal with cycling issues wherever they arise in the Territory. But our team of volunteers can’t cover everything. So they set priorities. The top 3 for 2017 are missing links across the network, separated cycling infrastructure and connections to and through the town centres – you can see these and the rest here: http://www.pedalpower.org.au/advocacy/ (under “Read our Advocacy Priorities for 2017”)

We always welcome people who can help with our advocacy work. If you’d like to learn more, so you don’t have to rely on 3rd hand reports on Pedal Power, please get in touch at advocacy@pedalpower.org.au

Thanks I will try and look up the bloke I mentioned and see if he wants to send you an email. He certainly felt unhappy he paid his yearly membership and was told his bike paths from home to Tuggeranong town centre wasn’t worth fighting for.

Anne Treasure 6:44 pm 01 Mar 17

bruce_lord said :

local1 said :

If we leveled all the hills in Canberra more would ride bikes. Copenhagen and Amsterdam are flat.

I enjoyed riding riding around Copenhagen with a 1 speed bike and perfect cycling temperature.

I’m all for increasing cycling patronage across all of canberra, but I’m concerned pedal power focus their energies and lobbying into the areas where their pedal power board members live, work and study. A former colleague of mine quit his membership of the group when told his cycling issues weren’t considered as important as a board members.

Hi Bruce, thanks for commenting. You’ve raised a very serious accusation here, and I’m happy to address your concerns.

Pedal Power’s Advocacy Team of volunteers seeks to deal with cycling issues wherever they arise in the Territory. But our team of volunteers can’t cover everything. So they set priorities. The top 3 for 2017 are missing links across the network, separated cycling infrastructure and connections to and through the town centres – you can see these and the rest here: http://www.pedalpower.org.au/advocacy/ (under “Read our Advocacy Priorities for 2017”)

We always welcome people who can help with our advocacy work. If you’d like to learn more, so you don’t have to rely on 3rd hand reports on Pedal Power, please get in touch at advocacy@pedalpower.org.au

Maya123 5:47 pm 01 Mar 17

wildturkeycanoe said :

Yet again another push for increased cycling for Canberra, based on the success stories from Amsterdam and Copenhagen. I’m sorry to say that apart from the geographical differences, there are also the climatic factors to consider in trying to convince Canberra to follow their lead.
The European climate rarely gets into the low twenties during summer, whereas we had it so hot this year that bees were dying and hives melting. Warnings from emergency services for the public to keep hydrated and hide from the extreme heat go against the principle of riding to work and back daily, at least during summer heatwaves.
There is a downside to an increase in cycling for our little city, patronage of public transport. How will Capital Metro keep its balance sheets in the positives, when everyone ditches the tram for cycling instead? How can a government promote a free mode of transport which is in direct competition to a “new” technological wonder that hasn’t even left the station?
I also wonder how our cycling infrastructure would handle half the working population riding everyday instead of driving or catching the bus. Where would everybody park for one? How do they share the paths, with a massive increase in bikes?
I’m sure somebody will get a warm, fuzzy feeling from this announcement about foreign diplomats promoting cycling, but I am not going to jump up and down in excitement.

Extreme weather compared to the Netherlands. I don’t think so…
https://www.google.com.au/search?q=cycling+in+the+snow+in+the+Netherlands&client=firefox-b&sa=X&biw=1687&bih=989&tbm=isch&tbo=u&source=univ&ved=0ahUKEwjX8vyI2rTSAhUS6GMKHZeHCPUQsAQILQ

As someone who cycled to work all year, we have nothing to compare weather wise, to an extreme winter in the Netherlands. Our discomfort of our summers don’t compare to the discomfort of their winters; not to mention slippery snow and ice to cycle on.

bruce_lord 12:27 pm 01 Mar 17

local1 said :

If we leveled all the hills in Canberra more would ride bikes. Copenhagen and Amsterdam are flat.

I enjoyed riding riding around Copenhagen with a 1 speed bike and perfect cycling temperature.

I’m all for increasing cycling patronage across all of canberra, but I’m concerned pedal power focus their energies and lobbying into the areas where their pedal power board members live, work and study. A former colleague of mine quit his membership of the group when told his cycling issues weren’t considered as important as a board members.

local1 9:36 am 01 Mar 17

If we leveled all the hills in Canberra more would ride bikes. Copenhagen and Amsterdam are flat.

Anne Treasure 6:36 am 01 Mar 17

Holden Caulfield said :

While there are a number of factors that means Canberra (and Australia, more broadly) will never compare with Copenhagen or Amsterdam, for example, there is a lot we can learn. This seems like a good use of having diplomatic staff on our doorstep from who we can seek inspiration and information.

Absolutely – the Ambassadors are both really enthusiastic about getting both the community and community leaders involved, and using the knowledge of their respective countries to raise the profile and access to riding a bike for the health and wellbeing of Canberrans. Having Embassies involved is a format that we’re leading the world in, so that’s also pretty exciting.

wildturkeycanoe 9:18 pm 28 Feb 17

Yet again another push for increased cycling for Canberra, based on the success stories from Amsterdam and Copenhagen. I’m sorry to say that apart from the geographical differences, there are also the climatic factors to consider in trying to convince Canberra to follow their lead.
The European climate rarely gets into the low twenties during summer, whereas we had it so hot this year that bees were dying and hives melting. Warnings from emergency services for the public to keep hydrated and hide from the extreme heat go against the principle of riding to work and back daily, at least during summer heatwaves.
There is a downside to an increase in cycling for our little city, patronage of public transport. How will Capital Metro keep its balance sheets in the positives, when everyone ditches the tram for cycling instead? How can a government promote a free mode of transport which is in direct competition to a “new” technological wonder that hasn’t even left the station?
I also wonder how our cycling infrastructure would handle half the working population riding everyday instead of driving or catching the bus. Where would everybody park for one? How do they share the paths, with a massive increase in bikes?
I’m sure somebody will get a warm, fuzzy feeling from this announcement about foreign diplomats promoting cycling, but I am not going to jump up and down in excitement.

Holden Caulfield 1:04 pm 28 Feb 17

While there are a number of factors that means Canberra (and Australia, more broadly) will never compare with Copenhagen or Amsterdam, for example, there is a lot we can learn. This seems like a good use of having diplomatic staff on our doorstep from who we can seek inspiration and information.

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