How Cycling Could Make Our Cities More Sustainable

Following in the footsteps of countries such as Holland and Denmark, many countries are aiming at making cycling a common mode of transport. But, the most challenging task faced by many urban planners is how to make cycling easier, more fun and accessible? In our interview, Johanna Holtan, co-founder of a growing cycling global movement shares how we can make the world more sustainable through reducing the barriers to cycling.

How to create a more bike friendly environment

There are countless reasons why people do not cycle. While big infrastructure is central to the cycling experience, there are plenty of other barriers (often hidden) that impact our journeys from storage to how we market cycling to what we wear on our bikes. These smaller barriers often prevent people from getting on their bikes. And it is not just about cyclists but other road users as well.

What if we created a space where cyclists, non-cyclists, architects, urban planners, designers, developers could gather to explore these barriers? And what if this space was not just about the barriers, but about creating solutions together?

By bringing together individuals, organizations and governments to collaborate, share skills and prototype new ideas around cycling – it is possible to create a healthier, more active and sustainable community.

Solving issues around cycling as a community

An initiative has created a 48-hour event in Glasgow (as well as Beirut and Melbourne) which brought together 150 cyclists, developers, designers, makers and others interested in active transport. During the event, participants brainstormed challenges, developed ideas – ranging from digital, physical, policies to campaigns/events – and actively built prototypes to test their solutions.

Over the course of the weekend, 31 hacks were created addressing the barriers we face on the roads. These were uploaded to an open source catalogue for the world to see and use. One of these solutions involved a penny and a rubber band which helps women make their skirts ‘bikeable’. It went viral with nearly 3.3 million hits of their short film and showcased in countless international publications.

Other cities have adopted this model and the event is now being run in nearly 40 more cities across the global over the same weekend in June.

What makes this approach to future mobility unique?

This approach harnesses the grassroots energy around innovation by tooling up citizens to take a pro-active, DIY perspective to making cycling easier, more fun and accessible. It is inspired by similar models which have been used for service design, sustainability and culture.

By using design thinking and putting people at the heart of new ideas and strategies, we can realize different perspectives on how cycling can be made more accessible. The solution often lies in the problem.

Leave a comment: Have you been part of a similar cycling event? Share your experience with us.


Please note that this article expresses the opinions of the author and does not reflect the views of Move Forward.