This Game’s Prize is Better Cities

You don’t have to be a transportation policy nerd to love a new board game that highlights ways to create better cities for the 21st century through bicycling.

Okay, maybe you do. A little.

Still, the beauty of this riff on the children’s favorite Chutes & Ladders (I played it for hours when my kids were little) is that it makes ideas about building pleasant, safe, human-scale cities accessible to anybody. The messages inscribed on the familiar tiled layout function both as humorous political commentary and as a primer, or roadmap (or bike lane), if you like, to ways that promoting bicycling and reducing automobile use enhance urban living.

The project was conceived by Mikael Colville-Andersen, founder of  Copenhagenize and Copenhagen Cycle Chic, who consults on urban bicycling planning and design. He reached out to his friends Doug Gordon, founder of the urban cycling blog, Brooklyn Spoke, and designer Erik Griswold in Los Angeles, for added inspiration.

Copenhagenize Board Game

Thus, some of what is seen here will be familiar to readers of debates over transportation policy in the New York City popular press. Landing on “Comprehensive bike share system launches” jets the player 23 spaces forward, while “Police crack down on cyclists, but ignore motorists” sends one whizzing 37 spaces downward. By the way, a bicycle helmet law also triggers a downward whoosh! Learn why Colville-Andersen famously opposes legislating helmet use here.

Gordon says one way to view the game is a lighthearted, forward-looking antidote to classic, car-centric board games.

The Game of Life, for example, has players moving a car through all of life’s different stages, from birth to marriage to home ownership to retirement,” Gordon observes. “You couldn’t come up with a better symbol for 20th century American life if you tried.”

At the same time, the game serves to simplify ideas about the possibilities of transformation. “We often over-think what it takes to make livable, safe, and pleasant urban environments,” Gordon says.  “Reducing these things to short ideas shines a light on how easy change can be, at least if you allow it to be easy.”

The game is free. Click here to download a PDF. Then add your own die and game pieces. You were looking for a new post-Thanksgiving-dinner diversion for the family, weren’t you? Change is good.

Tags from the story

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *