Course Syllabus

Bicycle Urbanism

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Semester & Location:

 Summer 2022, Session 3 - DIS Copenhagen

Type & Credits:

 Core Course - 4 credits

Core Course Study Tours:


Major Disciplines:

 Sustainability, Urban Design, Urban Studies


Most classes will be spent visiting sites via bicycle, so confidence in cycling is mandatory

Faculty Members:

Bettina Werner (current students please reach out to faculty via Canvas Inbox)

Time & Place:

Mon-Fri 09:00–17:00 in TBD

Description of Course

This class examines the best ways a city can encourage and accommodate bicycle traffic in the present and future. The course will use Copenhagen as the main case study and will examine how a city can integrate bicycling into urban planning and design. The course will look into the spatial components of creating a bikable city, effects of bike use on health and environment, policies for developing bicycle infrastructure and programs, best practices in bicycle facility design and implementation, and implementing bicycle policies and plans through the lens of education, finance, political, and public acceptance. The course will also include a study tour to the Netherlands, which will provide a platform for a comparative study of bicycle infrastructure and bicycle culture between Copenhagen and the Netherlands.

Learning Objectives

  • To develop a sound historical and current theoretical and working understanding of the ways a city can encourage and accommodate cycling as a dominant mode of transport in the present and future.

  • To acquire the ability to recognize, understand, and recreate the key principles of high quality bicycle network design and what is needed to get over the 10% modal hump.

  • Using the theories and perspectives learned in the course, students will master the ability to analyze, communicate, and shape the relationship between urban design, public life, and bicycle infrastructure.

  • Through use of human centered design research, students will develop a mastery of urban research methods allowing them to effectively assess and propose changes to bicycle and urban environments.

  • For students to construct a theory and framework on which they can effectively discuss and critically assess the economic, social, public-health, environmental, and time-efficiency benefits of bicycle urbanism. 


Bettina Werner

M.A. Applied Cultural Analysis, Copenhagen University (2016). BA (Political Philosophy), Uppsala University, Sweden, with a minor in Indigenous Studies from UNSW, Australia.

Bettina is a native Swede living in Copenhagen. She is co-founder of COurban design collective and has worked on a wide range of projects for both public and private clients. Projects include data collection, socio-cultural analysis and research, co-creation and citizen participation at many different scales, as well as educational seminars and masterclasses. With DIS since 2016.

Approach to Teaching

During the course Copenhagen will be used as an ‘urban laboratory’ to study how bicycle policies, strategies and programs are physically manifested in the urban environment. Class room lectures will be supported by weekly field trips by bicycle. The teaching approach is that 1:1 learning and first hand experiences will provide a higher quality understanding of the complex nature of the course topics. The daily class format will be a workshops style set up, which allow students to be more independent in their learning, yet follow the course framework. Teamwork is an integral part of the course framework, and students will work in interdisciplinary teams, reflecting the reality of how urban change takes place in the professional sphere. 

Field Studies

Lectures will be supported by weekly field trips by bicycle. All topics will be covered both by literature, lectures and field trips. The field trips will include mapping and observation exercises. All course assignments will be based in these findings and investigations. The individual student notebook/sketch book will be a central element in the learning experience. The notebook/sketch book will collect information, both notes from readings, lectures and the field trip exercises, this way producing a personal ‘Bicycle Urbanism Encyclopedia’. 

Expectations for Study Tours

  • Participate in all activities
  • Engage in discussions, ask questions, and contribute to achieving the learning objectives
  • Respect the destination, the speakers, DIS staff, and your fellow classmates
  • Represent yourself, your home university, and DIS in a positive light

While on a program study tour DIS will provide hostel/hotel accommodation, transportation to/from the destination(s), approx. 2 meals per day, and entrances, guides, and visits relevant to your area of study or the destination. You will receive a more detailed itinerary prior to departure.

Travel policies: You are required to travel with your group to the destination. If you have to deviate from the group travel plans, you need approval from the program director and the study tours office prior to departure. You are free to return to Copenhagen on your own if you choose to do so, but must stay with the group through the last visit and inform your study tour leaders of your plans in advance. 

Expectations of the Students

All students are expected to be independent learners/thinkers, good observers, and capable & comfortable riding a bicycle. The course will move at a fast pace and with a high rigor, and attendance at all class sessions “ready to roll” will be essential to student’s success in the course. Urban planning and design is a multi-disciplinary field, and students are thus expected to bring their unique perspectives to class discussions from their respective areas of study. The mix of backgrounds of students is what makes this a strong course.

Copenhagen will be used as an urban laboratory to test and explore theories discussed in the course. As bicycle urbanism is a burgeoning field crossing several disciplines, strong engagement in this course will position students as thought leaders on the topic. Students will develop the ability to conduct human centered design research exercises, as well as the ability to think critically about bicycle urbanism in the context of concrete sites and streets in the U.S. and Europe.

Team spirit: All students are expected to be helpful and pay attention to your fellow classmates, especially in relation of the field trips and mapping/observation exercises. Sharing information and experiences is a mandatory class room expectation: together we know more.




Engaged Participation


Assignment One - Reflection Journal


Assignment Two - Observation Exercise and Analysis


Assignment Three - Final Project: Improve Mobility in the US


Class participation accounts for 25% of the grade. Students are evaluated on their success in building on other students’ remarks and questioning thoughtfully the reading material as well as the field trips. Voluntarily speaking is crucial to the success of the course for everyone. By voluntarily, we mean not having to be called upon to participate.

The mapping and observation exercises in the city’s urban spaces will be graded on the quality of the information gathered rather than an aesthetic qualities of the notation/sketching techniques. No former drawing/ diagramming skills are required. The findings from the exercises will form the base of information from which the final paper will be created. To be eligible for a passing grade in this class, students must complete all of the assigned work.

Disability and Resource Statement

Any student who has a need for accommodation based on the impact of a disability should contact the Office of Academic Support ( to coordinate this.  In order to receive accommodations, students should inform the instructor of approved DIS accommodations within the first two weeks of classes.



Attendance (showing up on time, “ready to roll”), thorough and timely reading of the materials and participation are essential to a meaningful engagement in this course. If you miss two classes the Director of Teaching and Learning, and the Director of Student Affairs will be notified and they will follow-up with you directly. Absences will jeopardize your grade and your standing at DIS. Allowances will of course be made in cases of illness, but you will need to provide a doctor’s note.

Assignments and Late Policy

Our priority for assignments is for students to gain knowledge and master skills that will make you adept at understanding the urban environment around you. The assignments are structured to build upon each other towards a cumulative final assignment that allows you to demonstrate your knowledge and skill mastery from the entire semester. 

Students will be assisted in mastering these skills through a 3 course assignments which involve guided self reflection, peer feedback, and personal feedback from professors. Effective use of these assignments and the different methods of feedback be critical to your success throughout the semester. Timeliness is also essential. Assignments that are not submitted by the due date will not receive written feedback. 

Electronic Devices in the Classroom

Electronic devices, mainly cameras (on your smart phone or separate) and computers will be used regularly in the course. You are trusted to use these for note taking and taking photographs, and for course related activities.

Academic Honesty

Plagiarism and Violating the Rules of an Assignment

DIS expects that students abide by the highest standards of intellectual honesty in all academic work. DIS assumes that all students do their own work and credit all work or thought taken from others.   Academic dishonesty will result in a final course grade of “F” and can result in dismissal. The students’ home universities will be notified. DIS reserves the right to request that written student assignments be turned in electronic form for submission to plagiarism detection software.  See the Academic Handbook for more information, or ask your instructor if you have questions.

Course Summary


How can cities promote greater health and quality of life?

What role does bicycle urbanism play in this?


From bicycle evangelism to pragmatic transportation planning.

How can cities be designed for mobility and freedom of movement?

What is our experience of moving ourselves through cities?

What is the public cost effectiveness and energy efficiency of different transportation modes?



How does transportation planning improve/damage democracy and what role does the bicycle play in this?

How can we provide physical access to basic needs (work, groceries, schools, hospitals, green spaces) regardless of economic status?


How can we create a transformation process for car cities?

What can we learn from the transformation process of Copenhagen?

What is the role of prototyping in creating urban change?


During this module we will visit the Netherlands and synthesize lessons learned in a week long applied group project. During the study tour we will investigate the transformation processes and conduct a comparative assessment of bicycle infrastructure in various cities. This comparison will help us develop a critical lens of how different Danish cities have approached mobility and bicycle urbanism. In the final project we will apply theories explored in the course to specific sites in the U.S. In groups, students will develop bicycle strategies for specific neighborhoods, translating best practices from Denmark to the U.S. context.


Academic Regulations  

Please make sure to read the Academic Regulations on the DIS website. There you will find regulations on: 

DIS - Study Abroad in Scandinavia -

Course Summary:

Date Details Due