Scandinavia 2016: Day 2, The Biking Evangelist

In 2016 we are leading 4 high school summer trips. You can read all about our Global Innovators trips or get in touch to ask us any questions about the programs. Our 2016 Scandinavia trip “Getting Americans on the Bicycle” focuses on innovation, start-ups and community in cities around the world. During the trip, students take turns writing a daily blog post to describe their project process and exploration, follow along here. Today, our first full day together as a team (we are Devon, Allison W., Allison Y., Everson, Eva and me – Alex) in Sweden, we walked around Malmö more and got an initial feel for the bike culture here in the city. After breakfast, we left the hotel to meet up with a self-proclaimed “biking-evangelist” named Jenny. Jenny and her husband are both cycling lobbyists and along with their small daughter, all advocate for the use of bikes in Malmö, and play important roles in ensuring that biking around the city is safe and efficient for everyone. Jenny took us around to key locations that would give good examples of why Malmö was different than other cities when it came to bikes. We visited the underground bike parking garage near the train station, which features a company called Move by Bike which provides logistics by massive electric cargo bikes for businesses and private individuals. Then we walked across Malmö to a new building being constructed with bikes being at the absolute top of the architects’ list of priorities. The innovative housing includes bike parking in each apartment, extra wide hallways to make bike-movement more convenient, and no car parking in the hopes that tenants will give up their cars completely. Finally, we walked to the Bike Kitchen and Bike Library, both of which encourage Malmö citizens to use bikes by making borrowing and maintenance as easy as possible.

Following our visit with Jenny, we ate lunch at a Whole Foods-esque market, then headed back to the hotel. At the hotel, we had our first meeting about the big project that we will be partaking in while with Atlas. As a group, we discussed challenges we would face when attempting to “Get Americans on the Bicycle”. Additionally, we came up with general solutions to each problem that we will potentially revisit later. As another ice-breaker and first activity, we also interviewed a partner about themselves, and from that information came up with a quick sketch of a bike and helmet that we thought they would enjoy riding with.

At the end of the day, we walked to dinner and ate at a very good small Swedish kitchen. We walked around the city a bit more after dinner and saw some very picturesque classic Malmö views, which we will certainly be seeing more of in the future.

What Did We Learn About the Design Process Today? In the first meeting of the trip, which occurred earlier today, the group was told what the main objectives of the trip would be, and we were given some loose ideas on how to go about implementing our ideas. Soon we will be seeing Copenhagen and comparing it to Malmö, especially to understand how cycling is managed in the two cities differently. With this information we will be able to start planning out how we each will go about performing our main goal: getting Americans on the bicycle.

What Does Design Mean To You? As one of our activities that we completed today, we were told to simply write out a list for sixty seconds of what each of us thought “Good Design” was. We heard many different answers including “catches your attention”, “colors that pop”, and “efficient”.  Through this activity it became more or less clear to me that “Good Design” is completely subjective, so as long as we can work together as a team to create a final result that we all like, the design will most likely be “good”, in our eyes at least.

-Alex

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