As Session 3 comes to a close, I am now able to reflect on my time in Bicycle Urbanism. Even though I’ve been here for a little over two months, I didn’t have my bike the whole time, and I can now say that cycling truly changed my experience in Copenhagen.
My class emphasized the importance of bicycling from a cultural perspective, a sustainable perspective, and an urbanism perspective. Coming to Denmark I knew that cycling was a part of day to day life, but I didn’t really fully understand it until I became a cyclist myself. Owning a bike in Denmark integrated me into the city. It forced me to learn my way around and take on something I was scared to do when coming here. I was intimidated when I first got here and saw cyclists in the bike lanes. I thought I would mess up a rule or get in someone’s way. After biking my way through Copenhagen, however, I truly see why Danes cycle all the time and will miss seeing cyclists everywhere when going back to the states.
In my class I felt like I could see Copenhagen cohesively. When I first arrived I had no idea how to navigate this seemingly huge city. But biking everywhere familiarized the city and adjusted me in the best way to feel like a local. I now get annoyed at random people walking in the bike lane!
In the best way, my class inspired me to create change in cities. My instructor Bettina along with our guest lecturers taught my class how a city’s infrastructure shapes the city as a whole. I have loved being here for the whole summer because I was able to see how all of the things I learned about actually worked. Especially in my Bicycle Urbanism class, I was able to bike to all of the places we discussed in class. I wasn’t only shown them on a screen, but I was able to go to these places and see how they work and be told why they work and don’t work. Mike from the bicycle federation of Aalborg passionately explained how he felt the cycling infrastructure of Aalborg affected its citizens. I feel so much closer to the topics I’ve learned about because I’ve lived in it and experienced it myself.
My classes empower me to do better. My communications background combined with the knowledge I’ve learned in the courses I’ve been taking here confirm that I can make a change. Little by little, step by step, I can create change. My teachers with incredible backgrounds taught me how to ask important, hard questions and challenge things we don’t agree on. I feel inspired now more than ever to take this information back to America and transform the world I currently live in. I want to create safe bikeable cities and eliminate the ideology that everyone needs a car. One of the best things I’ve experienced in Copenhagen is not having my car for two months. I can rely on public transportation and it continues to be fast and easy, and it can be in America too! I’ve loved meeting some of my best friends in my classes, and getting to know people on a deeper level through challenging conversations.
At my home university, my major has not required me to take classes similar to ones I have taken here. Taking these classes has been eye opening and continues to motivate me to continue learning and go into a future job regarding sustainability and urban development.
While being here I have also been fortunate to discuss these important topics with some of my family members. Learning even more from my family members and talking about my options and what I’ve learned even furthers my interest in the topics. I’ve loved living so close to them and being able to hang out with them as though we’ve been living so close our whole lives. Talking and hanging out with them feels like it’s been something I’ve done my whole life.