Ever wanted to learn about how Amsterdam, Copenhagen, and other cities became the cycling cities they are today? Every year many study abroad courses include Amsterdam in their program and focus specifically on bicycling.
It’s fair to say that creating these bicycle-friendly cities didn’t happen over night, and it wasn’t easy. There also wasn’t just one single plan that paved the way. History, policy, culture, social movements were all parts of the equation. If you want the 6-min version, check out this video by blogger Bicycle Dutch. Coming later this summer is a mini-MOOC (massive online open course) produced by the Urban Cycling Institute at the University of Amsterdam.
If you need university credits and are looking for technical courses then check out those offered by DIS Copenhagen, Northeastern U, and UW-Platteville. The course offered by Texas A&M provides a unique political and knowledge-building curriculum. These courses spend from 1-2 weeks in the Netherlands, and some (like DIS) are based in both Copenhagen and Amsterdam.
If you’re up for a challenge, go for Planning the Cycling City – also known as #PCCAMS. This is much longer than the others (3 weeks – June 17-July 5), includes academic knowledge, and it’s also not “taught” in the traditional format. Participants use the city of Amsterdam and specific curated experiences (laid out by the directors) to inform their learning, then come to class each day ready to apply their experience to theory. This course is for graduate students and entry level professionals. (Application deadline: 15 March)
Finally, if you’re looking for a more quick and dirty experience then a Masterclass might be a better fit. These are usually 3-5 days and are aimed at professionals and politicians. To our knowledge, the 3-day Copenhagenize Masterclass based in Copenhagen is the closest you can get (next class: June 25-27). Or, if you’ve got the budget, there’s the Danish Cycling Embassy’s Bikeable City Masterclass (May 14-18). Of course you can stop by Amsterdam and give us a shout on your way in or out. We’re always up for a ride and a coffee!
(Know of more courses? Tell us in the comments and we’ll add it to the list!)
(photo: Copenhagenize Design Co.)
I always love a trip to the other cycling capital of the world – Copenhagen. While leading a urban cycling study tour, I was able to spend 10 days in the city, exploring many new streets, restaurants, and bike bridges. But there’s never enough time, right?
I noticed many differences between the Dutch and Danish bike culture. For example, the Danes, it seems, tend to take care of their bikes – I don’t think I ever saw one rusty old bike with barely any air in the tires. The bikes in Copenhagen are clean, shiny, and well-maintained. The Danes also ride much faster than the Dutch. Biking in this city means business – a serious trek from A to B. No messing around and no chit chat. There were even signs all over the city saying “Keep to the right and look over your shoulder if you want to overtake.” Wow! Yes, sir. Nevertheless, it’s still great fun to cycle in this city. Here’s our top 4 reasons we love Copenhagen.
1) The city is a magnet for gorgeous people. Seriously, gorgeous people. With impeccable style. People-watching is taken to a whole new level here. Anywhere you go, at any time of day, people take care to look effortlessly stunning. It’s like, “Oh this rag? I just woke up and grabbed the first thing I could. It’s nothing, really.”
2)Food is incredible. The Danes know how to eat well. Every meal I had was designed with such care and attention to detail. Fresh fish, heirloom vegetables, perfect sauces, poached asparagus – all was delicious. Favourite restaurants included: Vespa, Madklubben, Marv og Ben, any vendor at the Torvehallerne or Copenhagen Street Food, and Nose to Tail.
4) Danish details. I love biking in this city for all the little details, like angled trash cans and foot rests for cyclists. The lovely Cycle Snake bridge that seamlessly flows through the urban fabric. How nice and civilised! They don’t call it Danish Design for nothing.
One of my favourite spots to work is Brazuca Coffee on Ferdinand Bol and Ceintuurbaan. Not only do they offer excellent and curiously strong coffee – but it comes with a fantastic and exciting view of one of the busiest intersections in Amsterdam. And will only get busier with the new metro line opening up across the street.
Watching all the movement on this intersection is mesmerising. It looks like a whole lot of chaos – with people walking, driving, cycling all over the place – but it’s actually highly organised. I never see any crashes, or even close-calls.
Now that’s what I call entertainment.
This picture is my 300th picture for you! Wanna see them all? See here my whole collection..
Cyclisticly yours, Aude
Taco grew up in the east of the Netherlands, but while visiting his aunt in Amsterdam as a child he immediately fell in love with the city. Taco loves the beauty of the city centre with its canals but most of all he likes the city’s cycling culture. That’s why he became bike entrepreneur and founded the Dutch bike company VANMOOF. VANMOOF’s mission is to create the perfect urban bike and convince people all around the world to travel by bike instead of by car.
In 2009 Taco and his brother Ties founded VANMOOF. Now, five years later, you see their bikes a lot in Amsterdam’s streets and they are sold in more than 30 countries around the world. Taco: “We want to be more than just a bike brand. We want to be a movement. A movement for change. The ’MOOF’ part in our name comes from the word movement. VAN we just added to give it some Dutch flavour. Our mission is to get more cyclists on the streets in inner cities globally. Because more than half of the world’s population lives in city centres, there is an increasingly heavy burden on traditional means of inner city transport. The bike is the solution for inner city mobility. At VANMOOF we pursue only one goal: help the ambitious city dweller worldwide move around town fast, confident and in style.”
“My love for Amsterdam started very young. I think I was only 7 years old when visited Amsterdam for the first time, to sleep over at my auntie’s place. She lived in the city centre, in a neighbourhood that was still a bit rough. But I loved it. And I still do. I love the hustle and bustle on the streets, the beauty of the canals and I like its relatively small size. It is a perfect city to go for a walk (and a bike ride of course!).”
‘City council, stand up for bikes!’
“Amsterdam is the cycling capital of the world, but we have to be careful not to lose our great cycling culture. At the moment it is not changing for the better. That is why the city council should really make a statement and stand up for bikes.” The main problems according to Taco are the lack of space for the cyclists and bike theft: “There are often too many cyclists sharing the bike lanes. The city council should give them more space by taking space from the cars. The historic city centre should be car free.”
The war against bike theft
Another problem is bike theft: “Many people in Amsterdam use cheap bikes, they are afraid a nice bike would get stolen. Because they don’t care about their bikes and because their bikes are of bad quality, many bikes are left on the streets in the bike parking spaces. If bike theft would be less, then people would buy a better bike, a bike they would care about and that they can use for many years. This would reduce of lack of bike parking space. It would also be better for the environment; no throw-away bikes, but bikes that last for many years.” That is why VANMOOF is developing GPS and GSM integrated in their bikes. “All our electric bikes already have GPS and two of our bikes that were stolen in the US were found back through the GPS. We work with Vodafone and to make ‘find my bike’ as much used as ‘find my iphone’.”
Cycling in New York and London
“I cycled in many cities all over the world. My favourite city to cycle in is New York. Not many people realise how nice it is to cycle there. But it is flat, you can cycle through the whole of Manhattan, and of course enjoy Central Park by bike.” London is the worst city Taco cycled in: “I am simply scared to death when cycling in London. The fast driving cars are not used to cyclists and the sidewalks are so high, that you have nowhere to go when you feel an unsafe situation is coming up.”
Want to know more about VANMOOF? Check out their website!