Dreams On Wheels rolls into City Hall

Exhibition explores cycling culture in London and Copenhagen

by Kevin Emery   September 2, 2009  

City hall london.jpg

An exhibition exploring contemporary urban cycling culture in London and Copenhagen was unveiled yesterday at City Hall as part of London’s summer of cycling.

The exhibition Dreams on Wheels is organised by the GLA and the Danish embassy in London, and is designed to share knowledge between the two cities where cycling is celebrated, and to encourage more people to try out two wheels.

The London incarnation, which will runs until October 2, is part of the build-up to the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen later this year, and other versions have been shown around the world.

Dreams On Wheels is curated by Etikstudio, with photographic contributions from Mikael Colville-Andersen.

Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, said: “There is more rain in Copenhagen than in London, yet cycling there has become part of the fabric of the city, whereas in London many are yet to join the cycling revolution.

“London is now taking great strides towards becoming a true cycling city, with record investment going in to provide the infrastructure needed to make biking even safer, accessible, and more convenient. I hope that this exhibition encourages more people to get in the saddle and savour the city’s sights.”

The latest figures show that the number of Londoners who choose pedal over petrol is on the up, with cycling on the capital’s major roads rising nine per cent over the last year.

Transport for London is investing £111 million in cycling this year, providing funding for safety programmes, training, events, and landmark schemes such as cycle superhighways and a cycle hire scheme.

Denmark's ambassador to the UK, Birger Riis-Jørgensen, said: "The best way to get around London is on your bike, and I enjoy how the road users respect and consider each other in the traffic.

"Danes write poems about the wonders of cycling.It is great that Londoners and Danes can now jointly explore the joys and challenges of safe cycling. To the benefit of our planet and ourselves."

PR aside, the reality is that right now, London ranks way below Copenhagen in terms of bike-friendliness. Last month, the BBC reported that bicycles account for a third of journeys to work, school or university in the Danish capital. According to Andreas Rohl, who heads the city's cycling programme, "everything you see in Copenhagen today is due to decisions taken back in the 70s and early 80s."

There's little doubt that the number of cyclists in London is growing, and that facilities are slowly improving. The inference from the Danish experience, however, is that it may be a decade or two before London's cyclists reap the full benefits of current initiatives on their behalf.