Information for Prospective Participants
2013 Green Lane Project International Study Tours - Frequently Asked Questions
The Netherlands June 2 - 8, 2013 - Portland, San Francisco, Chicago
Denmark September 22 - 30, 2013 - Memphis, Austin, Washington DC
The Netherlands and Denmark are internationally renowned for safe and integrated multi-modal transportation and elegant urban design. Steady investments in bicycling and transit have enabled Dutch and Danish cities to realize multiple benefits beyond just personal mobility, such as preserving roadway capacity and reducing maintenance costs, improving public health, strengthening local economies and supporting vibrant public spaces. In both countries, close to one out of three trips is made by bike, and in central urban areas, bicycle mode share approaches 50%. Led by the Green Lane Project cities, practitioners and policymakers are currently “translating” and adapting best practices for bicycle transportation inspired by the Netherlands and Denmark for use on our unique American streets.
It wasn’t always this way in the Netherlands and Denmark. Both European nations have overcome challenges similar to contemporary U.S. cities in transforming their streets. Dutch and Danish cities struggle with design, funding, building public support and balancing competing interests for limited public space just as U.S. cities do. Extracting practical, relevant lessons for American cities is the core objective of the study tour.
Visiting Dutch and Danish cities offers American city leaders a chance to experience a fully realized, mature bicycle transportation network in action — something not yet possible in North America. Professionally guided hands-on site visits, exchanges with European experts, and comparing notes on best practices with fellow U.S. leaders offer participants an insider’s perspective on the rapidly evolving field of bicycle transportation. Delegates return home engaged and inspired to lead with fresh ideas for improving the safety, convenience and comfort of bicycling — and overall mobility — in their cities.
Who should attend?
A maximum of four delegates from each of six Green Lane Project cities — Chicago, IL, San Francisco, CA, Portland, OR, Memphis, TN, Washington, DC and Austin, TX — will be invited to participate in 2013. The delegation mix will vary from city to city, but the most successful delegations will include at least one elected official/policymaker, executive leadership from a transportation agency, and technically-minded staff with deep knowledge of local projects. State or regional officials, project engineers, planners, community and business leaders, or other local thought leaders could also be valuable additions to the delegation. In all cases, participants should be open to new ideas, engaged in transportation and/or urban quality issues, and likely to occupy long-term leadership roles.
What will a typical day be like?
Busy! Each day will include visits to European cities that are at the forefront of bicycle planning, policy and facility design. Typically, meetings and presentations with local elected officials, city staff, and transportation professionals will precede a hands-on bicycle tour of the host city. There will be time for discussion with locals about how the projects are planned, designed, funded and implemented. The trip will function as a rolling meeting; Regular debrief sessions will help the group capture good ideas and strategize about adapting lessons learned to green lane projects back home. Delegates should expect to be fully committed during the study tour, active from 7 AM to 10 PM daily.
To get a sense of what the trip will be like, see:
- Writer Jay Walljasper accompanied a previous study tour and wrote a detailed account.
- Agendas from previous years’ study tours are available on the Events page.
What does it cost?
The cost to delegates is airfare from your home city to either Amsterdam or Copenhagen. Flight prices vary, but for most delegates this will be between $900 and $1600. All on the ground expenses are fully funded by grants from the Green Lane Project for up to 4 delegates per city.
It’s an “airplane to airplane” scholarship — from the moment you get on the plane at home until you get off the plane at the end of the trip, expenses are covered. Included are six nights single occupancy hotel room, nearly all meals (the exception being the final night of the trip, when delegates are free to explore the city on their own), all ground transportation, course materials and professional guide services — all the things Bikes Belong and the Green Lane Project have provided during past study tours. What’s not included are transportation to and from your home airport, hotel incidentals (phone, mini-bar, laundry), any food outside of group meals, and personal spending.
Delegates are encouraged to seek local grants to cover their air travel. Local foundations, community groups, businesses or business groups are potential sources. If fundraising is a challenge, talk to us. We’re committed to assembling the best quality delegations and are willing to assist and collaborate with participants to secure funding.
What places will the trips visit?
The Netherlands delegation will spend time in the Dutch cities of Utrecht, Amsterdam, Rotterdam, and 's-Hertogenbosch. The Danish trip will be based in Copenhagen, with visits to Odense and Aarhus. Both itineraries will allow exploration of a range of urban scales in cities with a variety of urban and suburban conditions and very high levels of bicycle use among all populations.
What are the exact travel dates?
Delegates will depart on Saturday, June 1 for arrival in the Netherlands on Sunday, June 2. The study tour will conclude in the afternoon of Friday, June 7, with return travel on Saturday, June 8.
Delegates will depart on Saturday, September 21 for arrival in Copenhagen on Sunday, September 22. The study tour will conclude in the afternoon of Friday, September 27, with return travel on Saturday, September 28.
What if I’m not used to riding a bicycle?
Northern European transportation bicycling happens at a casual, sweat-free pace (around 10 mph). Bicycling is a mainstream, everyday way of getting around for men and women of all ages. A combination of infrastructure, policy and culture make riding a bike a very comfortable, low-stress experience. The ability and willingness to ride is a prerequisite for participation. Fundamental skills such as starting, stopping, signaling, turning and moving in a straight line are essential for safety. If you haven’t ridden a bicycle recently, don’t worry. Going for practice rides at home to brush up on your skills and fitness will prepare you. We will be using high-quality, upright bikes to get around in cities (just like the locals do) each day in all weather conditions, traveling up to 15 miles a day. If you have concerns about riding, please contact us. We’ve welcomed delegates of all levels of bicycling experience on past study tours.
Can I extend my trip with personal travel?
Yes! In fact, it’s encouraged. The study tour will be a rigorous and intense program with very limited time for personal exploration. Taking a few days to travel on your own before or after the trip is highly recommended. We’ve spent a lot of time in Northern Europe and can gladly provide travel recommendations or ideas if you wish.
Can my spouse/significant other join me?
No. Our group size is strictly limited in order to travel efficiently, and the program will be very full and focused on translating European concepts to help our green lane projects succeed. However, we encourage your spouse or significant other to join you for personal travel before or after the study tour.
Where will we stay?
Accommodation will be provided in high-quality, centrally-located hotels in Utrecht and Amsterdam in the Netherlands, and Copenhagen and Odense in Denmark.
How will we get around?
Group travel will take advantage of the rich intermodality of the Dutch and Danish transportation systems, combining rail for inter-city travel with bicycles, walking and streetcars for local site visits.
What about weather?
The maritime climates in the Netherlands and Denmark are generally mild, with spring and fall day temperatures typically reaching highs the 50s and 60s and lows at night dropping to the 40s. Clouds are likely, and showers are a possibility on any day at any time of year. We will ride bikes each day regardless of weather, and the locals’ technique of riding with an open umbrella is surprisingly easy to master.
What to wear?
No special clothing is required for riding a bicycle. Northern European dress tends to be informal but chic and cosmopolitan. Nice jeans, slacks and comfortable shoes along with fitted shirts, blouses and a weather-resistant jacket is a good choice most days. A rain jacket, gloves and a packable umbrella are a must. A scarf or hat is also a good idea for cooler days. Daily wear should emphasize comfort for moving around and layers for variable conditions. Pack light for easy travel – we will be switching hotels at least once. Laundry services will be available at hotels.
How is the study tour funded?
Scholarships to attend the study tour are offered by the Green Lane Project, a program of the Bikes Belong Foundation, a 501c3 non-profit organization. Funding for the Green Lane Project comes from a variety of sources, including the SRAM Cycling Fund, Shimano, Volkswagen, the Bikes Belong Coalition, The Taiwan Bicycle Exporters Association, and the Saris Cycling Group.
What is the Green Lane Project?
The Green Lane Project is a partnership of six U.S. cities working to create next-generation bicycle transportation networks. The Project offers strategic assistance to the six focus cities to help them achieve their goals of building world-class bicycle infrastructure on city streets that is inviting, safe and comfortable for everyone. The Green Lane Project leads study tours and workshops for transportation professionals and policymakers to study, experience and be inspired by the most advanced bicycling environments in Europe and North America. The Green Lane Project is an initiative of the Bikes Belong Foundation, which works to make bicycling safer and more accessible for all Americans.