June 3, 2018 marked the first official World Bicycle Day recognised by the United Nations.
In Denmark, 50% of the population are active cyclists. The Danish cycling culture is as old as the bicycle itself and since the 1880s Danes have used bicycles as the fastest, easiest and most environmentally friendly way to travel around their cities.
#DenmarkInNY spoke with Marianne Weinreich, chairperson of the Cycling Embassy of Denmark, about the wonders of cycling, how cycling contributes to Danish society and how it can help achieve the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.
DKNY: What is the mission of Denmark’s Cycling Embassy?
MW: Our mission is to promote transportation cycling all over the world and promote Denmark as the leading cycling country when it comes to cycling know-how.
The UN General Assembly recently declared June 3rd as International World Bicycle Day. Why is important to celebrate the bicycle globally?
Because the bicycle is a green, healthy, efficient mode of transportation in cities and a means to create more livable cities and happy people.
What does the newly recognized World Bicycle Day mean for your work?
It underlines that the bicycle is a means of transportation that needs to be taken seriously worldwide and provides a platform for further promotion as such.
In what way can cycling help achieve the Sustainable Development Goals?
Re-introducing the bicycle in urban transportation can pave the way for reaching the Sustainable Development Goals — including Goal #11 (Sustainable cities and communities) as well as Goal #3 (good health and well-being).
Denmark is world famous for its cycling culture. In your view, how does cycling contribute and enhance Danish society?
Everybody bikes in Denmark — children, elderly, rich, poor, students, businessmen and women, moms and dads, the Royal family. The bicycle is thus a symbol of our democratic, homogeneous society where the gap between rich and poor is small, a society where we all count regardless of our status and where we feel safe and happy and have no need to armor ourselves in huge cars.
New York is a busy and heavily trafficked city but has made big gains over the past 10 years in developing a cycling culture. What recommendations do you have for New York cyclists who want to broaden the reach of the cycling culture?
A network of safe cycling infrastructure is the corner stone in creating a cycling culture. Combine that with promotion of cycling as everyday means of transportation by showing that cycling is for everybody and does not require special bikes or special clothes. And provide people who do not cycle the possibility to try it out for a period of time — the benefits of cycling is best experienced. And stop talking about cycling as a war on cars — cycling is about creating livable cities and happy people. And as more people cycle, there will be more room in the streets for everybody.