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Unique cycling culture makes Odense favorite selection

2010. 19 April

The unique cycling culture of Odense, the birthplace of famous Danish fairytale writer Hans Christian Andersen, has made the city a favorite selection for the World Expo 2010 in Shanghai, said a project manager for Odense's pavilion in the Urban Best Practice Area (UBPA) of the expo.

( "About two years ago, for the first time we heard about the expo, we heard about this special UBPA area, where cities can exhibit.
That's over two years ago from now, and about a year ago we had the confirmation that we were invited to participate in the expo," Helle Thylkjaer told Xinhua.

"Compared to the other cities participating in the UBPA, I think we are the smallest. We have about 200,000 inhabitants in this city. I think we were invited for our title as a cycle city, very prominent cycle city and a city of fairytale writer Hans Christan Anderson," she said.

For the first time ever, Denmark will be represented by both a national pavilion and an urban pavilion at a world fair. Odense has been invited to participate in a special UBPA, which covers 15 hectares. Out of a total of 113 applicants, Odense was one of 55 shortlisted.

The title of the Odense Pavilion is set as "The Revival of the Bicycle" and the pavilion was selected for participation on the basis of the project: Odense Cycle City. The city will showcase Denmark's unique cycling culture from Andersen's birthplace at the pavilion with an area of 500 square meters and a 150-meter-long cycling track.

The exhibition will describe the life of contemporary residents of the City of Fairy Tales, with individual stories, and deliberate choices about cycling, intelligent solutions to safety, exercise and health, combined with the tale on Danish quality, design and technology.

Early in the 1970s, when many cities were experiencing an increase in private cars to replace bicycles, Odense, the third largest city in Denmark, began to build bicycle lanes. Currently, Odense has a 550 km bicycle lane network.

The municipal government has taken a series of innovative initiatives to promote bicycle riding. Bicycles are more and more widely used as citizens' preferred mode of travel, which results in many positive effects such as increased public health, an improved urban environment and a reduction in carbon emissions.


"We had a four-year plan about 7 years ago to promote the use of a bicycle instead of cars, and other kinds of traffic," said Thylkjaer.

"We make new bicycle path and lanes, we make it more easy to use the bike, we make a lot of restrictions for car use in the city. We made a lot of campaign to make children use the bike to the school, and make the roads to the school much safer. We taught people the health consequences of exercise, why it was good to use the bike instead of the car."

The city has made a mobility plan to regulate traffic in the inner city, discouraging car travel in the inner city.

This is a traffic plan for the next 10 years, she said.

"We are still making a lot of campaigns, doing what we can to promote biking. Within three years, we had over 20 percent of people using their bikes, 25 percent of trips are made on bike, and we have a goal for the next 10 years to reach 38 percent," she said.

In order to do that, the city government is doing a lot to promote the use of bicycle in the inner city, for instance building new roads for cyclists.

"We have self-service counters for free renting of cycles. We have fountains of drinking water and safe bicycle parking. We make the traffic rules, the light regulation so that when you are on bike, you are the first to move. So we make it attractive to be on bike because it is the easiest and fastest way to get to the city."

She said the city has received funding from the central and state governments for bicycling initiatives.

"With the new mobility plan, we will have fewer cars, more public transport, more bicycles and pedestrians. Not a total ban of cars in the city, of course, but in the inner city, the inner ring, there will be fewer cars," she said.


As for the design of the pavilion in Shanghai, she said the designer made it "a very light pavilion you can look through, and filled it with a lot of exciting bicycles."

"I invite all the Chinese people to come visit us at the UBPA section and take a ride on one of our bikes and come to our small city," said Thylkjaer, who returned from the UBPA site a week ago.

According to the official website of the World Expo 2010, in the Odense exhibition area, a demonstrative bicycle lane will be built with related traffic control devices installed properly to simulate traffic control.

Odense is expected to provide a modest amount of bicycles as traffic tools in the UBPA. Visitors may tour the site by bike and experience the environment friendly bicycle ride.

Odense will also demonstrate its contributions in promoting bicycle riding. According to the preliminary plan, a series of bicycle-related themes will be showcased outdoors, such as urban environmental planning, new technology, new life style, development in tourism, public health and safety, environmental protection.

The layout of the exhibition area looks much like the shape of "Sunny face" described in a Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale.

The most advanced interactive technology will be used to enhance interactivity and experience in the exhibition. In the center of the exhibition area, a riding school will be organized for kids.

Xinhua Source: