Talk looks at Copenhagenizing Nanaimo

Bike to Work Week special event in Nanaimo to feature world leader in urban cycling design as special guest speaker.

A special Bike to Work Week promotional event will point out ways Nanaimo can become a more cycling-friendly city.

Andreas Røhl, Copenhagen’s bicycle program manager, will discuss ways to make Nanaimo more cycling friendly at Copenhagenize Nanaimo, a presentation at Nanaimo Museum Thursday (May 24).

Røhl is working in Vancouver temporarily with Urban Systems Ltd., helping develop a transportation master plan for the city and helping on transportation projects for other cities in western Canada.

Røhl focused on policies and strategies to improve cycling conditions in Copenehagen, which included simple ideas like footrests at stoplights so cyclists don’t have to completely disengage their feet from their pedals.

Amir Freund, transportation planner for Nanaimo, said 30 per cent of Copenhagen’s commuters now pedal to work and another 35 per cent use public transit. In Nanaimo, less than two per cent of commuters cycle and about three per cent take the bus.

“We’re just showing how Copenhagen has done something that is amazing and if we would follow some of those steps and we realize what the potential is, then we may reach that sometime,” Freund said.

Freund said many of the barriers to cycling lie in how people view commuting modes.

“For example, here we tend to think of someone who cycles as a ‘cyclist’,” he said. “Somebody who drives, is he a ‘car-ist’? It’s just people commuting to work with a different mode. They don’t have to be a ‘cyclist’ wearing those tight pants. So, it’s a question of general perception and promotion of the cycling option.”

But a city also has to provide the facilities for cycling, Freund said, which Røhl will also discuss.

An additional guest speaker is Brian Patterson, of Urban Systems, who specializes in pedestrian planning, bicycle planning and design, traffic calming and travel-demand management.

Patterson will discuss cycling and pedestrian commuting systems already being used in other cities on the Island and Lower Mainland.

The presentation happens at 5-7 p.m. at the Nanaimo Museum, 100 Museum Way.

For more information about Bike to Work Week events, please visit the Bike to Work Nanaimo website at www.biketowork.ca/nanaimo. Bike to Work Week is May 28 to June 3.

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