Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Hej från Sverige!

Greetings CNT 2010! I hope you are all as excited as I was when we began the carbon inventory two years ago. It was certainly an eye opening experience for me, and I am excited to see the improvements your fresh points of view will bring to this iteration of the project. While I am disappointed that I won’t have a chance to be doing any hands on with you, I can’t say I am disappointed to be here in Växjö.
Often called the “The Greenest City in Europe” (a title given to it by the BBC and adopted by over 500 other media organizations), Växjö has been making strides for several years to cut its carbon footprint and become more sustainable. I can see the efforts that are being made all over. However, they are often so well integrated they are not terribly obvious. The first thing that really stuck out to me was all the bikes.

I arrived in the city on a cold snowy night and when I got off the train there were people biking on the main street in the city center, right there with all the cars. The weather here is very similar to Wisconsin and as I am typing right now there are still people biking past me through the snowy campus mall. The bicycle parking on campus is abundant and often covered. Even though nearly all of the University’s 15,000 students live on campus, there are very few parking lots for cars. Walking along the lake into the city center people from youth to retirement age, men and women, all bike past. When I discovered the statistic that, as of 2006, 40 percent of households in Växjö didn’t own cars, I wasn’t too surpised.


  1. It's inspiring to hear of a city being so dedicated to "being green." I couldn't even imagine my family not having a car!

  2. Wow! That's really neat. And to think so many families in the United States have two or more cars. With 40% of households not owning a car, there has to be a strong underlying cultural force. How does a city or even a whole country come to that standard of striving toward envrionmental sustainability? I think it has to come from the people themselves. Is there any possiblity of that happening in the United States or Wisconsin or Eau Claire? Just a thought...

  3. Isaac, great to hear from you! Those photos are wonderful--I'm going to pass them on to the current committees who are talking about transportation & parking challenges, and of course to the CCI folks and others who are brainstorming about bike parking on campus. It sounds likely that you'll be seeing all kinds of new ways to approach these issues, so consider yourself enlisted for future photographic details ; )

    We're just getting started with our discussion of the transportation survey--as you'll be able to tell from the blog posts!

    Thanks again--take care and have a great semester!

  4. Just thinking about bikes, do they make them with "winter" tires, so to speak? Is that something that schools like Ripon, who provide bikes to their students also provide, and that we'd be able to provide students with as well? I don't know a lot about bikes, but I'm imagining riding a bike along the icy paths of Eau Claire (or Sweden!) in the middle of winter could get pretty dangerous unless you had the right kind of equipment...

  5. I had a chance to talk this morning with one of the faculty in kinesiology who's also a pretty avid biker--even in winter. He reports that (1) regular mountain bike tires are actually pretty good in winter biking, but (2) there ARE also studded bike tires you can buy for winter use. I just did a random google search (note: I did not call this "research"!) and came across this site for icebiking.

    (Aside: I know what we need to do to make these links clickable--which is to enclose the URL with the right HTML code markers--but I'm having trouble getting it to work. If anyone figures it out, let us know.)


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