GuelphToday has received the following letter from a Guelphite concerned about the environment and how cycling safety affects it.
A sojourn in Denmark this summer was an inspiring eye-opener. Copenhagen is a role model of a densely populated, yet liveable city where there are vibrant public spaces, diversity of culture, history & fascinating architecture, swaths of greenery, and accessible and sustainable mobility.
Cycling is deeply ingrained in the Danish psyche - but it hasn't always been so. Half a century ago automobiles reigned supreme. Now over 2/3 of Danes rely on their bicycles as a means of transportation to work and school. It is not uncommon to see up to four children being ferried in a cargo bike.
Alongside the roads carrying motor vehicles, there are designated wide bicycle pathways, and parallel to them are the pedestrian sidewalks. Cars, cyclists and walkers flow smoothly in the same direction, not intersecting and thereby reducing the risk of collisions. The Danes' strict obeyance of traffic signals and speed limits further increase safety.
Yes, Copenhagen is mostly flat terrain, and their winters are not as bitter or snow-laden as the ones in southern Ontario. However, this urban mobility, which is paralleled across all Danish municipalities, is fundamentally possible because the Danes, as a society, have prioritized cycling, along with other forms of public conveyance.
They have built the infrastructure to accommodate diverse modes of transportation. Cars exist in Denmark but are not centre-stage.
It behooves us Guelphites to create better conditions for cyclists to connect work, home and school - for the sake of our well-being and our environment. It is imperative that in our respective roles as drivers, cyclists and pedestrians we are attentive to our surroundings.
By the way, in Denmark, wearing a helmet while cycling is optional.
- Pia K. Muchaal