Since 2009, study tours have been a core element of PlacesForBikes, a program that
helps quickly build and connect great places to ride. Study tours are highly effective
tools for catalyzing the vision, courage, and momentum necessary to change the way
streets work at home.
The CityBuilders Symposium use the backdrop of world-class urbanism to frame a
rolling 5-day workshop and conversation about how to transform U.S. streets. It will help
innovative planners, engineers, executive staff, elected officials, community and
business leaders draw on the experience of global leaders and U.S. peers to develop
their own unique visions for thriving cities and people-focused places.
The trip will combine meetings with government officials and transportation experts,
hands-on site visits by bike, and facilitated strategizing on how to implement the best
ideas in the U.S. context. The content balances the micro (planning and designing
neighborhoods where bicycling is appealing for all ages and abilities) to the macro (the
role of streets in making great communities and cultural anthropology). The emphasis is
not on bicycling as a goal in itself, but as a tool for better cities.
Past study tours have visited cities in the Netherlands, Denmark, Spain, Germany, and Canada. PeopleForBikes continually seeks new places of inspiration and is willing to explore opportunities for study tours in other locations throughout the world.
The most effective delegations include senior leadership from multiple sectors and agencies. Because of the importance of political leadership in project implementation, it is strongly recommended that delegations include both elected officials and agency staff from public works, transportation, or other departments tasked with designing and maintaining city streets. Public sector staff and officials typically form the backbone of a delegation, along with leaders from the private, academic, institutional, non-profit and philanthropy sectors. Having a broad representation of leaders from different vantage points on the city results in rich conversations about how to adapt the best ideas from Europe to opportunities at home.
Delegates do not need to be regular bike riders or outspoken advocates for cycling, but should be open to new ideas, have influence in transportation and/or urban quality issues, a have a strong desire to be proactive about making their city a better place. During the study tours, most group travel will be on bikes.
The experience is personalized, collaborative, and intensive. During the course of the week, participants will travel to different locations around Europe for an insiders’ perspective on European urbanism and form deep collaborative partnerships with peers from across the U.S. Delegates return home with a clear and inspired vision for how their city could be better, a new network of allies and collaborators, and strategies to speed the implementation of local projects.
“A study tour provides an unparalleled opportunity to learn about how to make your city more liveable, dynamic, vibrant and more successful. It was invaluable for ideas, inspiration, building relationships and for motivating others to get involved. What we accomplished in 5 days – the level of commitment and excitement – would have taken months back home.”
– Brian Payne, President at Central Indiana Community Foundation, Copenhagen 2015
“You look at the examples as you’re traveling around and you immediately think back to an area in your own city and you go ‘Hey, we could this here or here.’ You think in the small scale of what you can do … You think about ten years from now and what do you want your city to look like, 25 years from now. You see it from a micro level; you see it from a macro level, the only way you actually get to see it, is to be here.”
– Bill Peduto, Mayor of Pittsburgh, Netherlands 2014
If you are interested organizing a trip for local officials or joining an established trip with other U.S. leaders, please send an inquiry to Kyle Wagenschutz, Director of Local Innovation firstname.lastname@example.org.