Urban Cycling Cultures – How Copenhagen, Izmir and Malta Are Pushing Their Limits of Active Mobility

16.01.2023, Regina Schröter

Redesigning urban areas to favor active mobility remains a fool-proof way to reduce emissions and improve everyone’s well-being in urban areas worldwide. In the third article, we check out three different approaches to how to push for more cycling – in Copenhagen, Izmir and Malta. [Urban Mobility Explained (UMX)](http://bit.ly/3OZ5g57), the new YouTube channel powered by [EIT Urban Mobility](https://www.eiturbanmobility.eu/?utm_source=ATU), is bringing to you short and easy-to-follow videos that showcase cutting-edge concepts in urban mobility throughout Europe and the world. All Things Urban partnered up with UMX for this article series, for you to broaden your horizon in urban mobility best practices from Europe and around the world. Enabling more people to cycle safely in cities is the holy grail when it comes to sustainable urban mobility transformation. The benefits are undeniable – cycling in cities improves air quality, reduces car congestion, and improves citizens’ physical and mental well-being, whilst benefiting them financially by saving their money from the costs of car ownership. But how do you get started with creating a cycling culture and infrastructure? # IZMIR: FROM MILLIONS OF CARS TO A CYCLING CULTURE Let’s take a look at Izmir: the third biggest city in Turkey with around 4.3 Million inhabitants is facing 1.4 percent population growth and 1.7 percent more cars in the future. Consequently, the Izmir Transportation Master Plan 2030 was created together with a new department within the municipality to implement the action plan. Introducing to you Özlem Taskin Erten, the Director of the Sustainable Transportation Planning Directorate, who will explain this action plan step by step: <iframe width="960" height="540" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/AIek6-VXM8E" title="YouTube video player" frameborder="0" allow="accelerometer; autoplay; clipboard-write; encrypted-media; gyroscope; picture-in-picture; web-share" allowfullscreen></iframe> Izmir has developed a holistic and integrated strategy to ensure that cycling is promoted across many areas. Despite having successfully implemented numerous actions, such as electric bicycle storage, a shared street design and bus driver safety education, Özlem Taskin Erten reflects critically: “Only when a bicycle culture is adopted can a city truly be called a cycling city”. So we can expect Izmir to have even more up its sleeves to reach its goal of becoming a cycling city. # COPENHAGEN: CAR-FREE STORYTELLING FOR SUCCESS Copenhagen is considered to be one of the most bike-friendly cities in the world and has been successfully promoting cycling – and restricting car use – since the 1980s. “So what else is there to do?” you might ask. Today, the car remains the main competitor for cycling because the car industry has perfected its storytelling: “They created an idea that cars equal freedom, even if urban car driving means un-freedom a lot of the time.” says Malene Freudendal-Pedersen, Professor of Urban Planning at Aalborg University. Watch the video to learn from Copenhagen how it is utilizing storytelling as a tool to design future car-free cities: <iframe width="960" height="540" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/M0QUU6WJERQ" title="YouTube video player" frameborder="0" allow="accelerometer; autoplay; clipboard-write; encrypted-media; gyroscope; picture-in-picture; web-share" allowfullscreen></iframe> Next to using their city branding – “I bike Copenhagen” – to promote cycling as the preferred urban transportation for citizens and visitors, we learn about other storytelling tools in the video. One of them being the power of experience. “Car-free days are a way to experience an alternative future or temporary [...] where citizens can experience how a car-free future might look like.” explains Wiebke Müller, Innovation Lifecycle Officer at EIT Urban Mobility. Lastly, when powerful stories are embraced and accepted by the public, it becomes easier for urban planners to convince politicians to implement new planning policies in the city. # MALTA: GETTING THE WHOLE COUNTRY ON THEIR BIKES In Malta, a small island country and dense urban area in the Mediterranean Sea, most daily commutes are less than 6 kilometers (equaling 3.7 miles). Sounds like a country destined for having a cycling culture – wouldn’t 85 percent still use a car for these short distances! Maria Attard, Head of Geography & Director of the Institute for Climate Change and Sustainable Development at the University of Malta, explains that creating awareness of which distances can be easily covered by walking or cycling was the first step in Malta’s journey to become a cycling country. Watch the video to learn about their great success in promoting active mobility with Travel Totems: <iframe width="960" height="560" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/t5FBP1vnivo" title="YouTube video player" frameborder="0" allow="accelerometer; autoplay; clipboard-write; encrypted-media; gyroscope; picture-in-picture; web-share" allowfullscreen></iframe> Now that we have taken a look at three different approaches and levels of establishing a cycling culture, there are no excuses left for waiting any further with designing car-free futures. What Copenhagen, Izmir and Malta all have in common is tackling the challenge from multiple levels: creating awareness and support amongst citizens whilst getting politicians and municipalities on board for investments and policy changes. So no matter if you are working in a government, private company, or NGO or you are engaging as an activist– you can get started right now with activating a cycling culture in your city. Learn everything you need to know on Urban Mobility Explained – [subscribe here](http://bit.ly/3W2Sm8p)! Curious about more knowledge in urban mobility? Check out our previous articles in this series on [The Future of Mobility – What Every Urbanist Should Know about Electric Vehicles, Data Spaces and Autonomous Driving](https://www.allthingsurban.net/blog/TheFutureofMobilityAutonomousDriving) and [Women in the Streets – How to Make Urban Mobility Safe and Accessible for All](https://www.allthingsurban.net/blog/Women-in-the-Streets-–-How-to-Make-Urban-Mobility-Safe-and-Accessible-for-All). {{Pic1: This article is sponsored by EIT Urban Mobility — an initiative of the European Institute of Innovation and Technology working to encourage positive changes in the way people move around cities in order to make them more liveable places. }}