How has Odense empowered its citizens?

Odense is the third-largest city in Denmark. It has a population of 175,245. The modal split in Odense is 19% walking, 27% cycling, 26% public transport and 28% private motor vehicle.


Odense is a flat city and the distances are optimal for walking and cycling. Despite this too many inhabitants choose to use their car for most trips and do not consider walking and cycling as attractive alternatives to their car. A main challenge is that car ownership is increasing and costs for purchasing and having a car (fuel, insurance, etc.) are decreasing.


The City of Odense had an overall objective of reducing the number of trips done by car and increasing the number of trips by foot or cycling. The main focus was on short trips below 5 km, of which 39% were car journeys. The aim for Odense in EMPOWER was to encourage citizens to walk or bike more often when travelling these short distances by using incentive schemes that focused on trip tracking, challenges, battles and gamification. The target group was all the citizens of Odense and campaign material was distributed to all 95,600 households.


Three different campaigns were implemented during the project:

  1. A Bike Friend cycle campaign for school children aged 10-14 (Cykelven)
  2. A Go Bike cycle campaign introducing a cycling coach (Ta’Cyklen)
  3. A walking challenge (Gådysten) using Endomond

All three campaigns were based on apps using tracking for registration of walking and cycling trips. Motivation for participation in the campaigns was the opportunity to win rewards. In each case, campaign winners were drawn from among the tracked trips – the more trips each person registered the greater their chance of winning.


The goal for the Cykelven/Bike Friend campaign was to get 10,000 students taking part. Out of the possible 12,000 students, 4,563 downloaded the app and created a user profile. This was a great success with more than 38 % of the target group actually taking part in the campaign. 26 % of the participants stated that they cycle more now than they did before the campaign started. In total, the campaign from September 1st 2016 to June 19th 2017 resulted in 144,797 cycle trips being tracked, 255,549 km cycled and 4,563 pupils from class 4 to 7 participating.

“Ta’Cyklen” (Go Bike) is a personal cycle coach app. for adults and the aim was to achieve downloads by 10,000 citizens. During the EMPOWER campaign 3,861 citizens downloaded the app, which was promoted intensively through social media campaigns, outdoor marketing, 1:1 marketing and through household distributed marketing. The lessons learned are that it is very difficult to encourage Danes to download an app that they themselves do not see the need for and that it was easier to promote a gamification app among young students than adults. Furthermore, there were fewer technical issues with Cykelven compared to Ta’Cyklen .

A lot of stakeholders have been involved with the project. There has been a great collaboration with 34 schools in the municipality, educational institutions, main work places in the municipality, supermarkets, events and activity centres. The campaign has also engaged in a dialogue with citizens about their mode of transport on short trips. Despite the relatively low number of adults downloading Ta’Cyklen the results shows that the inhabitants in Odense have changed some of their short trips from car to walking or cycling.

The results of EMPOWER in Odense are:

  • An approximately 4 %-points mode shift from CFV (car) use towards cycling and walking on short trips under 5 km.
  • 11 % reduction in the use of conventionally fuelled vehicles measured by VehKM in Odense from 2014 to 2016.
  • 200 million less car km per year or 548,000 less car km per day compared to the before situation. While car km was reduced by 11 %, cycle km increased by 22 % and walking km increased by 33 %.
  • In the same period, car trips’ share of all trips under 5 km was reduced from 39 to 35 % which is equivalent to 6,000 fewer car trips per day or 2,190,000 fewer car trips per year.
  • The share of cycling school children went up from 55.9 % to 59.4 % while the share of children driven by car decreased from 23.4 % to 20.6 %.

After EMPOWER, the city of Odense will continue implementing Cykelven in schools as the app was well received by the school children aged 10-14. The apps/campaigns Ta’Cyklen and Gådysten will not be implemented again but the marketing channels through work places and educational institutions will be used in future cycling campaigns.


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