Mayor Teresa Tomlinson and state Department of Transportation board member Sam Wellborn have been invited to be a part of a transportation study trip to Copenhagen, Denmark, courtesy of the Knight Foundation, Tomlinson announced this week.
The trip, from August 23-29, will study building more livable, sustainable and engaged cities, according to a release Tomlinson sent out Monday. It will include a master class at the Copenhagen studio of Gehl Architects, meetings and tours with Copenhagen public officials.
“I’ve been hearing more and more people clamoring for a complete bike grid in Columbus,” Tomlinson said. “And more and more corporations and CSU have been expressing interest in becoming bike-friendly companies, so it’s something that we have to pursue to attract and maintain a modern workforce and to attract and retain good employers.”
Columbus leaders first learned of the Copenhagen trip while on a recent similar trip to Chicago, dubbed a “Doable Cities” trip. There, Betsy Covington, president of the Community Foundation, local liaison to the Knight Foundation, learned about the trip and a “competition” of sorts that would select nine Knight cities that would participate.
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“Knight is particularly interested in how cities increase economic mobility for their citizens and better attract and retain workforce talent through proven transportation planning techniques,” Covington said. “When the Community Foundation saw the opportunity to apply for Columbus representation on the Copenhagen study trip, I jumped on it.”
Tomlinson said including Wellborn, the longest serving member of the state DOT board, helped Columbus get selected because he provides vast experience in transportation planning from a state perspective.
“The Knight Foundation is really into new transportation infrastructure,” Tomlinson said. “This trip is a step toward getting Knight cities into using new techniques and ushering in a new era in transportation planning. Bike trails, pedestrian trails and residential planning to get people living closer to where they work.”
The trip will also include a side trip to Malmo, Sweden, to explore its transformation from an industrial port city to a burgeoning high-tech economy.
Malmo’s transformation from a blue-collar port city to more of a high tech community is akin to Columbus’ transformation from a traditional manufacturing economy to include more technological industry, Tomlinson said. So there will be lessons learned there that can be applied here, she said
The Knight Foundation is paying for all aspects, travel, accommodations and meals, of the trip, Tomlinson said. No taxpayer funds will be used.