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The Danes did it, so can we

JA Edwards asks why green transport advocates keep comparing the UK with Denmark.

I was privileged to visit Odense, Denmark, a year ago, with a group of school students, as part of my work on the Sustrans Safe Routes to School pilot project in Colchester. Odense has high levels of cycling despite being a town built on rolling countryside which is far from flat. Its topography and climate must be similar to hundreds of towns and cities in the UK.

The reason we like to compare the Danish situation with our own is that they faced similar transportation and environment issues about 20 years ago. Without a strong cycling tradition to build upon, they have now achieved 20% of all journeys by bike.

The other important example from the Danes is the cultural and attitude changes towards alternatives modes of transport. The Danes' 85% reduction in child mortality from road accidents, from the highest rate in western Europe, has not been simply a matter of infrastructure provision, or restricting the mobility of vulnerable road-user groups.

Rather than dismiss the Danish example as flatland dreams, we should be prepared to learn from the successful changes that they have made.

Andrew Budd (M), transportation officer, environmental services, Colchester Borough Council, PO Box 885, Town Hall, Colchester CO1 1ZE.

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