“It’s like riding a bike.” This perennial phrase reminds us that once we’ve learned a skill, it becomes second nature—etched into our brains and muscle memory. This summer, University of North Carolina executive MBA students traveled with the Global Entrepreneurship Lab to Denmark and put that saying to the test.
At the urging of Grubb Properties CEO Clay Grubb, professor Ted Zoller, director of UNC’s Entrepreneurship Center, organized a meeting with the team that’s helping cities around the globe build more bicycle- and pedestrian-friendly infrastructures: Copenhagenize Design Co. While learning about the team’s innovative approach and forward-thinking Nordic urban design, the students got to go for a spin through the world’s most bicycle-friendly city and visit Copenhagen startups.
“Our group was full of executives, many in their 30s and 40s, some of whom hadn’t been on a bike in decades,” explained Zoller. “They were surprised at how foreign it felt to balance on two wheels, but quickly found their bearings. By the end of the day, they said if they could, they would do all their business meetings by bike.”
Glen Lennox is hoping to make commuting by bicycle second nature to more Chapel Hill residents when it brings the Copenhagenize model to town.
Copenhagenize Design Co. is working with the Glen Lennox team and the Town to plan a community that welcomes bicyclists and walkers with safer and more convenient pathways.
One goal of bringing this model to Glen Lennox is to create an entrepreneurial hub in Chapel Hill. “Entrepreneurs and start-up employees are drawn to healthy lifestyles, and enjoy vibrant environments where they can live, work and play,” said Zoller. “We’re excited that Glen Lennox has an offering that will be attractive to companies looking to grow or relocate here.”
During the planning stage of its projects, Copenhagenize studies traffic patterns in an area and creates a visualization of the routes people take to get to work, home and shops. The team then makes recommendations for the most efficient movement of cars, bikes and people. In major cities worldwide, solutions have ranged from raised walkways, divided or protected bike lanes, integrations with bike or scooter shares, and better crossways at intersections.
Tim Jezisek, vice president of development at Grubb Properties, noted that “Many Millennials are not interested in owning cars. Copenhagenizing the Glen Lennox community will make us the first in the Carolinas and the southeast to give people the healthy lifestyle they’re craving.”