Complete Streets Plus ____(?)_____

Forgive us if the mind wanders a bit on a chilly spring Friday morning… but this is one of those posts about Copenhagen.

We spend a lot of time thinking about Complete Streets here at Make Communities. Not only is it part of the day job to work to help communities make their streets safe, accessible and equitable for all users – young and old, rich and poor, weekend warriors and those with mobility impairments — but it’s also a big part of how we try to live when (ok, if) we put the work away come Friday evening.

Getting around by bike or on foot, sometimes it can be frustrating enough just to overcome the challenges of infrastructure that doesn’t fully support getting from here to there while leaving the car at home. When your thoughts are focused on getting from A to B, though, it can be difficult to consider that our streets can be both places for transportation and be places of fun and even whimsy.

Which brings us back to Copenhagen…

Not far from the main drag of touristy Nyhavn with crowds embarking on canal tours or taking in the action from dockside cafes, is an incredible and incredibly simple piece of outside-the-box urbanism. Behold: the sidewalk trampoline!

CPH trampoline1Now, we haven’t checked in the index, but we’d bet our bike shorts that the sidewalk trampoline doesn’t show up in even the most recent version of the NACTO guidelines.

CPH trampoline3

Thanks to Google Maps, you can actually get a great before and after of this site. Which was part of a larger promenade project that installed a cycle track, benches, pavers and trees.

Take away the trampolines and this is still a great project.

Add the trampolines, and this is an experience that people will remember for a lifetime.

Though your local DOT may actually black out a little bit if you suggest a trampoline in your next street reconstruction initiative, what other ways can you think of to add the unexpected, the unforgettable and the fun into your community’s next project?

CPH trampoline4


*And, no, bike helmets aren’t required, or even recommended. In fact, there’s no signage or supervision at all. The helmets are just the result of a quick transition out of the cargo bike and onto the trampoline.


**Also, the name of this post is a play on the from the League of American Bicyclists National Bike Summit’s theme “Bikes+” earlier this month. Check out the great responses the conference attendees came up with here.

It’s not always about Copenhagen, but sometimes it is.


The NYTimes recently ran an article about public interventions to reduce risks for children. Pediatrics Professor Aaron E. Carroll highlights the too common disconnect between program funding for the greatest public health risks and those that may be more sensationalized.

Carroll references a recent Journal of the American Medical Association article that focuses on Denmark’s response to confronting the most common lethal threats to children; with car crashes at the top of the list. Though the article rightfully acknowledges programmatic interventions success in reducing childhood fatalities, it should also be acknowledged that Denmark’s deliberate and ongoing investment in people centered infrastructure is also to credit for a nation-wide decrease in car related deaths of young people – a stunningly successful 85% reduction.

Denmark was not always known as a bastion of livable streets and the bike capital of the world. Beginning as early as the 1960s, an active and committed response to the increasing number of children killed by cars helped create the political will to change the way the country builds its cities and towns: people are prioritized.

But the battle has never been car vs. bike, it was and is fundamentally about creating safe and welcoming environments where kids can be kids; people can be people; and cities can be cities.

The sad fact remains that car crashes kill more than 35,000 people annually in the USA and are the leading cause of death for Americans between the ages of 5 and 25 (killing 8,835 kids in this age group in 2010 alone).

Creating complete streets that don’t prohibit, but tame car traffic not only benefits pedestrians and cyclists, but drivers and non-drivers of all stripes by creating safer, more inviting places and, yes, keeping more kids alive.