Danish cyclocross champion shows U.S. city leaders the best in bicycling
June 23, 2011
UCI-ranked cyclocross racer and four-time Danish national champion Joachim Parbo spent this week working to make bicycling in the U.S. safer when he hosted a delegation of key American transportation officials touring Aarhus, Denmark through the Bikes Belong Foundation’s Bicycling Design Best Practices Program.
During a period of unprecedented momentum for urban bicycling in the U.S., the Bikes Belong Foundation is leading a fact-finding trip to Denmark to bring home European transportation best practices. Nine city leaders from Boston, Los Angeles, and Seattle are spending a week in four Danish cities, including Aarhus, from June 18-25.
In addition to his status as an elite cyclist, Parbo works a day job in Denmark’s second-largest city making sure that bicycling is comfortable and safe for anyone who wants to ride. He inspects the city’s vast network of more than 300 miles of protected bikeways and also leads educational and promotional efforts to teach bicycling skills to children and other beginners.
“By overcoming small daily obstacles like flat tires, poor-fitting bikes, and rusty chains, more people will in turn enjoy riding their bike – and will end up riding more often,” Parbo said.
American cities are hungry to learn how to make everyday bicycling safe, comfortable, and easy for everyone, like it is in Denmark where more than one in four trips are made on two wheels. The goal of the trip is to study successful Danish facilities and policies and then adapt them to the unique American landscape. Cities such as Aarhus have been able to save money on road building and maintenance, reduce traffic congestion, improve the health of their residents, and create a lively urban atmosphere by encouraging bicycling for short trips.
This is the fourth European expedition for the Bicycling Design Best Practices Program, which is supported by SRAM, the Taiwan Bicycle Exporters Association, REI, and the members of the Bikes Belong Coalition.
“This program aims to inspire the U.S. development of innovative, cost-effective bike facilities that will get more people riding bikes more often,” said Bikes Belong vice president Bruno Maier, who is also on the trip. “We know that city, state, and federal officials and transportation engineers will be inspired by seeing the best that Europe has to offer. They’ll return home with new enthusiasm and new ideas.”