The Immersion Effect: Four Cities’ Progress in Four Months

Last September, 8 80 Cities and Knight Foundation hosted 28 leaders from 13 American cities in Copenhagen for a week-long immersion. Some of the participants chose to literally immerse themselves in city by jumping into the freezing cold harbour (twice!). There must have been something in the water, because just four months after the trip, we’re already seeing the effect of the Copenhagen immersion ripple across the USA.

We caught up the folks from Long Beach, Tallahassee, Charlotte, and Miami to learn more about the exciting projects they’ve initiated or improved as a result of their time with us in Copenhagen.

Long Beach, California
Participants: Amy Bodek, Director of Development Services & Pat West, City Manager at the City of Long Beach










– Long Beach has planned several bike infrastructure improvements including:

o The city’s first pedestrian and bike counter along a 5-mile, beachside bike path by May 2015
o 15 “fix it” stations and 16 hydration stations by early March 2015
o 17 miles of new bike boulevards by September 2016
o “Delineators” to provide additional separation between bike lanes and automobile lanes
o A bike master plan. The consultant for the project will be announced in the coming weeks.
o On-going plans to work with Copenhagenize to develop data collection strategies and possibly redesign two complicated intersections. Copenhagenize’s 2-day visit in February will include a reception with bike stakeholders and regional mobility partners.










– The City of Long Beach is also implementing various measures to improve Long Beach’s “swimability”, including:

o 14 swim ladders throughout Long Beach’s bay front to encourage safe access to the water. This idea was a direct “steal” after Pat and Amy jumped into Copenhagen’s harbor. (Amy agreed to do it only after she saw the swim ladder and knew she could safely get out). Traditionally seen on floating lake piers, these ladders will be the first ladders installed within a public bay and marina environment in the US.
o Signage and markers along the swimming buoy line in Alamitos Bay, which will establish a 500 yard, protected swim line in the bay. This will be the first open water, permanent swim course in the US.

Tallahassee, Florida
Participants: Megan Doherty, Principal Planner & Cherie Bryant, Planning Director at the City of Tallahassee










– Megan and Cherie incorporated left turn boxes, a standard in Copenhagen, into the design of Tallahassee’s first protected bike lane.

– As Planning Director, Cherie has been championing the inclusion of high quality bicycle facilities in new road designs.

– Tallahassee’s bike and pedestrian counter will be installed as early as May 2016. This will allow city staff to use a more data-driven approach to planning and managing their streets.

– After hearing founder of the Better Block project speak in Copenhagen, Megan and Cherie are looking to invite Jason Roberts to host a Better Block project in Tallahassee. Better Block projects engage community members in building prototypes of their ideal street. These demonstrations are an effective engagement and advocacy tool for more permanent changes.

Charlotte, North Carolina
Participants: Jordan Moore, Director of Bike Programs at Sustain Charlotte & Tony Lathrop, Chair of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Planning Committee










– Charlotte will host its first-ever official Open Streets program on May 1st, 2016. Jordan is on the route planning committee.

– Tony is leading the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Planning Committee’s endorsement of 10 Livable City policy themes. The people-friendly themes include: designing public spaces for all ages and abilities and making them active, providing transportation choices (bike, car, transit, walking), and recognizing the unique identity of existing places.

– Tony and Jordan are working together to implement a pilot for “The CLT 3rd Way”: a separated bike lane running the length of 3rd St., connecting two greenways.

– Once a month, Sustain Charlotte will use traffic cones to section off 10-15 miles for a pop-up bike path that will connect to the aforementioned CLT 3rd Way pilot bike path.

– The “WTF (We are The Future) We Vote” mobile app encourages people to vote by matching users with candidates that are most aligned with the user’s ideals. Sustain Charlotte will roll out a version called “WTF We Bike” that will focus on candidates’ stances on biking and pedestrian issues.

Miami, Florida
Participants: Francis Suarez, Commissioner, City of Miami & Malik Benjamin, Managing Director of Institute of Collaborative Innovation LLC

– Commissioner Suarez is currently negotiating an MOU that would transfer jurisdiction of neighborhood roads from the County to the City. This would allow the City to more swiftly implement traffic calming measures which would increase neighborhood walkability and safety.

– Commissioner Suarez is exploring the possibility of burying the I-395 underground and building much needed park and green space at grade level in order to create a more walkable, connected downtown while providing Miamians with their very own “Central Park”.

– Malik is working with local partners to pilot a linear park alongside the Florida East Coast railway tracks from downtown to Little River. The project is planned to begin in Summer 2016.

– Malik has been chosen as a Knight City Finalist for two proposals:

o DomiNest: Transforming Miami’s iconic Domino Park to bring people from diverse backgrounds and ages together for a game of dominoes
o ONTourism: Creating an Office of Nerd Tourism to provide information and activities for people interested in learning while traveling in Knight Foundation Cities

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