Last week I returned from my winter tour of the capital cities of the Nordic nations: Reykjavic, Iceland; Oslo, Norway; Copenhagen, Denmark; Stockholm, Sweden; and Helsinki, Finland. Over the next few weeks, will be sorting and sifting through my thoughts about the trips, searching for better understanding of cities, both Nordic and those on the Canadian Prairies.
The first thing I noticed is that these Nordic Cities are not the same as my home city, Edmonton. The way we moved around was totally different.
We chose to stay in apartments in neighbourhoods in close proximity to the city center in each city. We were able to get groceries and all services within a couple minutes walk from each location. We were able to access public transportation in most cases right outside the building, or at most a 3 minute walk. We noticed each city had schools everywhere. We noticed streets that were alive with people and business. We noticed an explicit infrastructure for bicycles (and the bicycles!) on busy streets, along with cars and buses and trams and trolleys.
These city amenities are found in tiny pockets in Edmonton. They are are everywhere in these Nordic cities.
In contrast, our arrival was significant time in a car, stuck on a highway, then a freeway.
Over the next few posts, I will dig into two city patterns at work here: one that aims to serve the movement of cars, an other that aims to serve the movement of people. The cities were designed for different purposes.
The city planner in me needs to dig into what is different about there and here.