Ulrich News – August 2014

1. How did Copenhagen create a bicycling culture?

This month, I dropped my son off for a fall semester of study abroad in Copenhagen. One of the most striking features of the city is the bike culture. About half of Copenhagen’s residents use a bicycle on any given day. This is remarkable because although Copenhagen is flat, is cold in winter, gets a lot of rain, has nasty winds, and is full of narrow streets. One might assume that the city has a very long history of bicycle use, going back to say the 1900s when bicycles first became widely available. Not so. The remarkable use of bicycles is the result of efforts applied only over the past 40 years or so. Some call it culture, but mostly the culture is the result of impeccable care, deliberate experimentation, and continuous improvement in the actual design of the infrastructure that supports bicycling. The net result is that bicycling is just a better transportation solution than the other alternatives.

I’ll give just two examples. Copenhagen has implemented a “green wave” on four major routes in the city. If you ride at 20 kph (12 mph) you will never hit a red light. All lights are timed to support bicyclists not cars. (Spruce Street, the main route West for bikes in Philadelphia also has a green wave — but for cars and it is set at 33 kph (20 mph), too fast for bikes. The routes with green waves have little LED powered lights in the street that turn green when you are in the wave. How cool is that? Another example is tiny, but indicative of the care taken: trash cans are mounted on poles and angled at about 30 degrees with the opening towards the cyclist to allow easy disposal of trash from the bike. There are too many details to mention. Let me point you to a series of fascinating videos from the design consultancy Copenhagenize that explains these design choices. Here is the one on micro details. Wow.

Karl enjoying the Copenhagen bike culture.

2. The new Wharton Business Radio studio

Thanks to an amazing team at Wharton, we now have a brand new studio for Business Radio Powered by the Wharton School, where I serve as Channel Director. Here you see host Dan Loney and our engineer Dion Simpkins (or at least the back of his head). If you’re visiting Huntsman Hall, check it out right next to the Locust Walk entrance.

New studio for Business Radio powered by Wharton.

New studio for Business Radio powered by Wharton.

3. Back to School

Even after 26 years of being a professor, I get excited when school starts. The weather is still great. The students are happy and relaxed. The only catch is that syllabi have to be finished and classes prepared. I try to make as many of my teaching materials public as possible. I use the Canvas learning management system, and there is no paper-based syllabus. If you’re curious how that works, and what my fall courses look like, here they are.

Technology Strategy (for MBA students in the Wharton Semester in San Francisco Program)

Product Design and Development (for Executive MBA Students)

If you’re just starting school — teacher, student, or parent — have a great semester!