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PHOTO CAPTION: Hong Kong street car.

Toward More Mobile Cities

Innovative Metropolis conference highlights global city approaches to moving people and goods more sustainably and efficiently.

Published: 28-Feb-2013

Sustainable urban transportation — sidewalks, bike lanes, and public transit like subways, buses, and street cars — are all central to successful urban development, but no one size fits all. Smart cities large and small are using different approaches, but all are focused on improving the quality of urban mobility. At the Innovative Metropolis conference organized by the Brookings Institution and Washington University in St. Louis, Oliver Schulze, Schulze + Grassov; Jonathan Solomon, Associate Dean, Syracuse University School of Architecture; and Chandra Brown, President, United Streetcar, Portland, Oregon, explained how three very different cities — Copenhagen, Hong Kong, and Portland — have created world-class sustainable transportation systems.

Copenhagen is a “micro-metropolis, filled with tall, good-looking people,” said Schulze. Copenhageners “get up every day at 6.30am and eat oatmeal.” There is a real sense of continuity in the Danish culture. Almost everyone gets on their bike to commute to work. “There’s no lycra, we just use our bikes.”

Copenhagen has mastered the “art of soft ways of getting around” — walking, biking, and public transit. He said these “slow means of transportation actually allow you to engage the city.” Biking also builds autonomy and individual development, particularly among kids. “Half of kids bicycle to school every day.” This mobility is a form of emancipation.

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