“Nordic Cycle Cities”- Cycling on the agenda in 11 Nordic municipalities

By Pavlina Dravecka / Updated: 17 Feb 2015

The strategic and systematic promotion of cycling has been the main objective for 11 municipalities in Denmark, Norway and Sweden who took part in the inter-regional bicycle project “Nordic Cycle Cities”.

Over the past three years, 11 small and medium-sized municipalities have developed methods and tools to help them meet the challenge of getting more citizens to jump on their bikes.

Prior to the project, ad hoc planning and a focus on physical infrastructure often characterised their work. Thus, each municipality sought to implement a more systematic and holistic approach to cycle planning, secure political ownership and establish an effective organisational framework.

Bicycle accounts, strategies, and plans of action

Instrumental to the success of the project was the preparation of three strategic documents: bicycle accounts, a bicycle strategy, and a bicycle action plan. These answered the following questions: “Where are we?”, “Where are we going?”, and “How do we get there?” This work involved administrations, politicians, and citizens in each of the municipalities, as well as local politicians who subsequently approved the documents.

For the Swedish municipality, Mölndal, the work has resulted in a much greater focus on cycling. Ulf Bredby, Project Manager in Mölndal, Sweden, says, “For us, participating in Nordic Cycle Cities has meant that cycling has been put on the agenda both among politicians and government officials to a much higher degree than before. Working out the action plan has given us a clear idea what to do within seven different focus areas.”

For many of the project managers, the project has resulted in more resources being made available for cycling.

“For us in the region of Kristiansand, I think the most valuable thing has been the development of a bicycle strategy and action plan. It has been an important task that has meant that we have allotted large resources for building cycle tracks. The objective of doubling the modal share of cyclists within 10 years has also been incorporated into other plans and strategies”, says Siri Gilbert from the Municipality of Kristiansand, Norway.

Kids and commuters

The 11 municipalities focussed on two particular target groups: children and commuters. The trend in all three Nordic countries is that fewer and fewer children are learning how to deal with traffic. This is a major concern since experience shows that good cycling habits developed in childhood continue into adult life. A large percentage of the workforce in Denmark, Norway and Sweden have less than 5 km to work. Also our choice of transport mode to and from work often determines our travel habits in relation to other activities. Exchanging experiences between municipalities has also opened the eyes of the Swedish and Norwegian partners to the use of training bikes at bicycle events, as a way of engaging children. It also inspired participants to develop their own campaign concepts.

Many workers in businesses located in the 11 municipalities have noticed the increased efforts to support cycling. For example, Mölndal established a network for businesses focusing on how to get more commuters to cycle to work.

All the participating municipalities used the Nordic Bicycle Day on 21 April 2010 to organise local events. At the same time, a number of facilities were put in place, such as bicycle racks, bicycle counters, water fountains, air pumps, signs and information boards, to offer better services to cyclists.

At www.nordiskecykelbyer.dk(link is external) all interested parties can download instructions for the preparation of bicycle accounts, strategies and action plans used by the 11 municipalities, read more about the work of the task groups, and download a magazine presenting the results of the project.

Further information about the preparation of bicycle accounts, strategies and action plans can be found at nordiskecykelbyer.dk and in the summary report.

Article by Dea Seeberg, VEKSØ Mobility