cycle culture / Cycling Education / cycling infrastructure / Education / European best practice / Mobility / the netherlands / United States / urban mobility design / workshop

How Not to Adapt Best Practices from Europe

At the end of February Integrated Mobility Advisor Mary Elbech was invited to provide a guest lecture to students at the University of North Carolina, sharing her international knowledge on best practice and common mistakes applying them in North America.

Communities across North America are looking to Europe for inspiration and advice. We at Mobycon are obviously happy to be along for the ride. Unfortunately, what we’ve noticed though, is that what has worked so well in countries like the Netherlands is quite often adapted incorrectly or put to use in the wrong context on this side of the Atlantic.


This is why we were extra pleased to have the opportunity to right these wrongs through a guest lecture: How Not to Adapt Best Practices from Europe. The lecture was for students taking the Complete, Safe, Equitable Streets course, led by Professor Tab Combs at the University of North Carolina’s Department of City and Regional Planning.

The lecture was presented in three-part focusing on:

Throughout all three parts, what was particularly exciting to witness was how the students naturally veered towards the topics of equity. Our vision at Mobycon is to inspire and create people first streets, so these discussions were in perfect harmony with how we approach our work. Even with something as technical as, say, intersection design, our next generation of planners are taking a human-centric approach. We believe our future is in good hands.

The photo above features on of my favorite slides. It reminds us that at every step of the process – from vision to network to intersection design – our starting point is (clockwise, from the top right): “Who are the people in the area?” and, “What activities are they doing?” Only after that do we think about the modes that might serve those people and activities best, and the infrastructure that best facilitates the movement of those modes.

When we begin with this way of thinking, we’re bound to start adapting better.


Mary also recently participated on a panel at the UNC Clean Tech Summit, focusing on the new era of mobility. Here are a couple photos of here in action.

If you would like to learn more about the panel, her guest lecture at UNC or to discuss a workshop focused on How Not to Adapt Best Practices from Europe, contact Mary Elbech.

Mary Elbech

‘To me, the most important parameter when working with mobility is always the human experience.’

Integrated Mobility Consultant
+1 (704) 740-0614