27 leaders from Knight cities to visit Scandinavia on study tour

Communities / Article

Copenhagen, Denmark, during a 2015 Knight cities tour. Photo by Kyle Kutuchief.

This October teams from nine Knight communities will join an annual study tour of Copenhagen, Denmark, supported by Knight Foundation. For five days, 27 civic leaders and innovators will visit the Danish capital, a city that consistently ranks in the top five of the most livable cities in the world.

Study tour participants will experience how Copenhagen designs and programs its parks and other public spaces to attract residents and will explore how well the city accommodates both pedestrians and bicyclists.

The study tour is an annual event organized by 8 80 Cities, a nonprofit that focuses on creating more vibrant, healthy, and equitable communities.” Since 2014 more than 50 civic leaders from Knight communities have visited Copenhagen and Malmo, Sweden, through the program. Many participants have reported that that experience inspired specific changes in their home cities.

Lisa Nuszkowski, executive director of Detroit Bike Share and a participant in the 2014 study tour, attributes the city’s first protected bike lane to be a result of the tour, as well as increased support for creating more bike infrastructure and space for pedestrians, an observation echoed by  Brad Dick, Detroit’s director of general services.

“Copenhagen gave me a whole new look at mobility and how we move people,” he said. “We are now installing bike racks at our park renovations.”

This year’s teams represent the cities of Detroit; Duluth, Minnesota; Macon, Georgia; Miami; Milledgeville, Georgia; Philadelphia; San Jose, California; and Tallahassee and West Palm Beach, Florida.

The invitees include:


  • Janet Attarian, deputy director, Detroit Planning and Development Department
  • Lauren Hood, director, Live6 Alliance
  • Jed Howbert, executive director, jobs and economy team, Detroit mayor’s office






  • Michael DiBerardinis, managing director, city of Philadelphia
  • Sarah Stuart, executive director, Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia
  • Clarena Tolson, deputy managing director for transportation and infrastructure, city of Philadelphia

San Jose  


West Palm Beach  

  • Scott Kelly, assistant city administrator, city of West Palm Beach
  • Nick Uhren, executive director, Palm Beach Metropolitan Planning Organization

The nine teams were selected from a field of entrants from 21 Knight communities.

To win a slot on the study tour, cities fielded two- to three-person teams composed of senior civic, government and private-sector leaders. Each team presented their city’s answers to the following questions: 1) If you had the political will and public support, what could your team accomplish in your city to advance biking and walking in 48 months? 2) What is proof that you can get this done? 3) For previous participants, how has your city applied the lessons learned in the 2014 and 2015 study tour? 

Leaders from 8 80 Cities and a representative from Knight Foundation selected the winning cities based on: the ambition of the city and team and what they sought to accomplish in their community; the composition of the team; and the community’s capacity and commitment to execute its plans and to build on current projects and past success.

The review panel also extended special invitations to members of the teams from Charlotte, North Carolina; Columbia, South Carolina; and Grand Forks, North Dakota:

·      Debra Campbell, assistant city manager, Charlotte

·      Tameika Devine, councilwoman at large, Columbia

·      Mike Brown, mayor, Grand Forks

Benjamin de la Peña is director of community and national strategy at Knight Foundation. Email him via [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @benjiedlp.