Cargo bikes are bicycles that are designed or modified to carry large or heavy loads, such as goods, tools, or passengers. They come in various shapes and sizes, such as tricycles, longtails, box bikes, or trailers. They can be powered by pedals, electric motors, or both. Cargo bikes are not a new invention. They have been used for centuries in different parts of the world for various purposes, such as farming, trading, or delivering. However, in recent years, cargo bikes have gained popularity and recognition as a sustainable and efficient solution for urban mobility challenges. In this article, we will explore some of the benefits of cargo bikes for urban logistics and family transportation, and provide some examples and best practices from around the world.
Urban logistics refers to the movement of goods and services within urban areas. It includes activities such as deliveries, pickups, waste collection, maintenance, or repair. Urban logistics is essential for the functioning and development of cities, but it also poses significant environmental, economic, and social problems. For example:
Cargo bikes can offer a viable alternative to motorized vehicles for urban logistics, by providing several advantages, such as:
Family transportation refers to the movement of family members and their belongings within urban areas. It includes activities such as trips to school, work, shopping, recreation, or visiting. Family transportation is important for the quality and satisfaction of family life, but it also poses significant environmental, economic, and social challenges. For example:
Cargo bikes can offer a viable alternative to motorized vehicles for family transportation, by providing several advantages, such as:
In conclusion, cargo bikes are bicycles that are designed or modified to carry large or heavy loads, such as goods, tools, or passengers. They come in various shapes and sizes, such as tricycles, longtails, box bikes, or trailers. They can be powered by pedals, electric motors, or both. Cargo bikes are not a new invention. They have been used for centuries in different parts of the world for various purposes, such as farming, trading, or delivering. However, in recent years, cargo bikes have gained popularity and recognition as a sustainable and efficient solution for urban mobility challenges. In this article, we explored some of the benefits of cargo bikes for urban logistics and family transportation: environmental, economic, and social. We also provided some examples and best practices from around the world. We hope that this article will inspire you to think about how you can use cargo bikes for your own urban logistics or family transportation needs.
Public spaces are essential for urban life. They are places where people can meet, socialize, relax, play, learn, and enjoy the city. They are also places where people can experience the benefits of cycling, such as health, happiness, freedom, and convenience. However, not all public spaces are equally bike-friendly. Some may lack adequate infrastructure, amenities, or attractiveness for bike users. Others may pose safety or accessibility issues for cyclists. How can we design public spaces that are more welcoming and supportive of cycling? How can we create public spaces that foster social interaction and well-being among bike users and other citizens? In this article, we will explore some of the key aspects and dimensions of bike-friendly public space design, and provide some examples and best practices from around the world.
One of the first and most important aspects of bike-friendly public space design is accessibility. This means ensuring that public spaces are easily reachable by bike, and that they provide adequate and secure bike parking facilities. Accessibility also means minimizing the barriers and obstacles that may discourage or prevent people from cycling to public spaces, such as busy roads, steep hills, or long distances. Accessibility can be improved by:
Another aspect of bike-friendly public space design is diversity. This means creating public spaces that cater to different types of bike users and activities, such as leisure, commuting, shopping, etc. Diversity also means ensuring that public spaces are inclusive and accessible for people of different ages, genders, abilities, cultures, and preferences. Diversity can be enhanced by:
A third aspect of bike-friendly public space design is comfort. This means enhancing the physical and psychological comfort of bike users in public spaces, by providing amenities such as shade, seating, water fountains, etc. Comfort also means creating a pleasant and enjoyable atmosphere in public spaces, by reducing noise, pollution, or congestion. Comfort can be improved by:
A fourth aspect of bike-friendly public space design is safety. This means reducing the potential conflicts and risks between bike users and other road users or pedestrians in public spaces, by applying appropriate traffic calming measures, signage, lighting, etc. Safety also means ensuring that bike users feel secure and confident in public spaces, by providing surveillance, enforcement, or assistance. Safety can be increased by:
A fifth aspect of bike-friendly public space design is attractiveness. This means making public spaces more appealing and inviting for bike users, by incorporating elements such as art, landscaping, architecture, etc. Attractiveness also means creating a sense of identity and belonging in public spaces, by reflecting the history, culture, or values of the local community. Attractiveness can be achieved by:
In conclusion, public spaces are essential for urban life and cycling. They are places where people can meet, socialize, relax, play, learn, and enjoy the city. They are also places where people can experience the benefits of cycling, such as health, happiness, freedom, and convenience.
However, not all public spaces are equally bike-friendly. Some may lack adequate infrastructure, amenities, or attractiveness for bike users. Others may pose safety or accessibility issues for cyclists. How can we design public spaces that are more welcoming and supportive of cycling? How can we create public spaces that foster social interaction and well-being among bike users and other citizens? In this article, we explored some of the key aspects and dimensions of bike-friendly public space design: accessibility, diversity, comfort, safety, and attractiveness. We also provided some examples and best practices from around the world. We hope that this article will inspire you to think about how you can improve your own public spaces for cycling and for living.
Copenhagenize Design Co. works hard to analyse and showcase the Top 20 large bicycle-friendly cities in the world for the Copenhagenize Index. But some smaller cities, with less than 600,000 inhabitants deserve to be highlighted for their ambitious measures in favor of urban cycling. Ghent, a Belgian city of around 250,000 inhabitants is one of them.
Clotilde and Cécile from Copenhagenize Design Co. cycled with Ghent’s Mobility Councillor, Filip Watteeuw to observe the positive impacts of the City’s new circulation plan.
New Circulation Plan Makes Space for Bicycle Users
The new circulation plan, implemented in April 2017, was the outcome of a two-year process where the City of Ghent sought to strengthen an existing sustainable mobility policy and to give back the streets to people. The plan was inspired by the Van Der Berg traffic circulation plan implemented in Groningen, the Netherlands in the 1970s.
The Groningen’s plan divided the city-centre into four sections, forcing car drivers who travel from one section to another to take the city’s inner ring-road, instead of driving through the local streets. This measure aimed to make motorists’ circulation more complicated and to promote other modes of transportation, like cycling.
“A pro-bicycle plan must have some anti-car measures” - Filip Watteeuw
Ghent took this approach a step further by enlarging the city’s pedestrian area and creating six distinct sections with no automobile accessibility between them without using the ring-road.
Prior to the implementation of the plan, the City of Ghent recorded that 40% of its rush hour car traffic was due to through traffic – cars not even beginning or ending their journeys in Ghent, but merely passing through. The plan aims to controlling this traffic and thereby improve local streets and enhance urban life.
“You can’t become a cycling city, if you don’t say something about cars. In order to increase the number of cyclists and develop a bicycle culture, it’s necessary to take some anti-car measures. If we get rid of the through traffic, you get fewer cars, more space for pedestrians and cyclists, and infrastructure gets an extra value” asserts Filip Watteeuw.
25% more bicycle users vs. 12% less cars
Despite clear goals for local quality of life, the implementation of this ambitious circulation plan has not been a smooth road. In the face of scathing critics, Councillor Watteuw stood firm, and does not regret this political choice to improve living conditions in his city. While leaders of local political parties and some inhabitants opposed to the plan complain about congestion in some streets, a survey conducted by the City revealed that many inhabitants living inside the ring-road consider the streets quieter, with more space for bicycles. People from 25 to 34 years old are the most satisfied.
A noticeable impact of this measure comes from some inhabitants who were quite reticent to this plan, but have already changed their routines by adopting new mobility habits. Generally speaking, 25% of Ghent inhabitants made a decision to change their mobility habits by purchasing an (e-)bike, subscribing to the local public transports or starting car-sharing.
The plan is already having significant impacts on transportation choices. In a year, the impacts of the plan are: 25% increase in bicycle users, 8% increase in public transportation ridership, 12% decrease in car traffic during the rush hour, even 29% less cars on the most important routes within the ring road and 58% in the residential streets. Moreover, 6 interviewed inhabitants out of 10 consider cycling as safer than before. This plan highlights that marketing and public engagement campaigns alone are not enough to make people change their transportation habits, but it is necessary to create the urban conditions which will incentivize changed behaviour.
Although some local shopkeepers worry about decreased revenue, the number of pedestrians in the city-centre did not decline since the adoption of the circulation plan. On the contrary, counters reveal a slight increase from 2% to 10% from August to October 2017 compared with 2016. In order to more accurately evaluate the impacts of this plan, the City has recently decided to increase the number of pedestrian counter locations. In addition to changes in pedestrian traffic, Ghent’s police found the number of traffic accidents have decreased by 25% in the city-centre since the plan implementation. Regarding the air quality, in February 2018 the results of a study will reveal the impacts of the new circulation plan.
4 million Euros were invested the past two years for the preparation and the implementation of the circulation plan, the massive communication related to it and the creation of two shuttles. For reference, a renewal of only one avenue would be more costly.
Enhanced Park&Ride and even more bicycle infrastructure
For people living in the outskirts of Ghent, the City is also enlarging their Park&Ride offer (from 800 parking spots in 2016 to 3,500 in 2018) in order to allow them to park for free and to switch to bicycles or a free shuttle which will lead them to the city-centre.
Where the car traffic has not been reduced and where cyclists and car drivers can’t share the space, the City knows a plan must still be conducted to improve the standard of cycling infrastructure. During the next six years, the City is going to improve cycling conditions beyond the ring-road.
In conclusion, Ghent’s circulation plan showcases that in a short period smart actions and a rather low budget can lead to positive impacts both in terms of mobility and quality of urban life.
Bicycle infrastructure in Ghent
by Cécile Delannoy, Daniel J. M. Hilhorst, Clotilde Imbert
For the last four years Copenhagenize Design Company has had the pleasure of calling Copenhagen’s Papirøen, or Paper Island, home. Alongside a handful of dynamic offices, studios, ateliers, galleries, and restaurants, we’ve watched as this tiny island smack dab in the middle of the city has grown from a collection of unassuming newsprint warehouses to a thriving destination.
The transformation of the island was part of an innovative urban planning experiment exercised by the City to open the formerly closed off island before it is developed into a rich man’s ghetto/architectural gem (depending on how you look at it). Of course much of the success of Papirøen is owed to a relatively recent investment in a string of new bicycle bridges, stitching the areas of Christianshavn, Nyhavn, and Holmen together.
The Island has served us well, hosting late night parties, international delegation visits, winter bathing sessions, impromptu meetings and drop-ins, harbour-front lunches, synchronized diving sessions (read fails), Master Class parties, not to mention a couple company milestones.
But as of this week, we’ve packed up all our gear and headed out to Nordhavn, a new corner of the city, with similar DIY, urban/maritime vibes that make Copenhagen such a fascinating city. And yes, the district is one giant urban development experiment with cutting edge sustainable energy solutions, mobility models, iconic wind farms, historic fortresses, and new urban spaces. Pretty much all an urbanism office could ask for.
Here’s to our future at Nordhavn, with new neighbours, landscapes, and of course, a rolling start to the forthcoming CPH Bike Hub. As always, our doors are open, so shoot us a line or drop by for a coffee, you can find us on the second floor of Sundkaj 7.
by Stephanie Patterson
Copenhagenize Design Company’s time at our very cool co-working space on Paper Island/Papirøen is sadly coming to an end – the island's old industrial buildings are being demolished to make way for a new residential development. We’ll miss the creative vibe in our office - and on the island - that we have experienced daily for over four years. Paper Island was a freestyle creative hub that captured the imagination of Copenhageners and visitors alike.
Harbour bathing is a regular, year-round activity at our office
Instead of resigning ourselves to tristesse, or to merely search for new offices, we decided to finally dust off an old Copenhagenize idea. Luckily, some ideas get better with age. Back in 2008, Copenhagenize Design Co. CEO Mikael Colville-Andersen envisioned that "Danish bicycle culture needs a physical home. A place where ideas can be fostered and discussed. A launch pad and showcase for Danish bicycle innovation". Colville-Andersen had teamed up with Marie Kåstrup - who is now the head of the bicycle programme for the City of Copenhagen - and developed a list of ideas that would place focus internationally and nationally on Copenhagen as a bicycle city. A list that included harvested ideas from abroad but also original ideas like establishing a bicycle center and even a bicycle museum. The mayor of traffic at the time, Klaus Bondam, embraced the idea and worked, for a time, on the concept of an Urban Showroom, without completing the idea. However, the original idea from 2008 led to the establishment of the Bicycle Innovation Lab, the first cultural center for cycling complete with a bicycle library and events. We wrote about the launch of BIL here back in 2011.
With the impending need for new offices, the idea has surfaced once again and this time a strong tailwind is pushing it along. Enter: CPH Bike Hub. With the growing global interest in reestablishing the bicycle as a feasible transport form in cities, Danish bicycle planning, social cycling innovation and product design - among other aspects of the cycling community - can benefit from gathering under one roof.
Statement of support from Gil Penalosa from 8-80 Cities, who regularly bring delegations to Copenhagen.
We are thrilled that the idea has now gained purchase and is in a serious development stage, moving steadily towards becoming a reality. We're pleased to have a long list of colleagues join us on board. The core development team, apart from Copenhagenize Design Co. includes Cycling Without Age and the Danish Cyclists' Federation and Leader Lab. A veritable dream team.
The idea for the CPH Bike Hub is not just sharing office space and innovation with colleagues. It also includes creating a destination for visitors. With all the delegations that come to Copenhagen to learn about bicycle planning, we have plans to develop a conference space to host them. Not just the delegations that Copenhagenize Design Co hosts, but also the City of Copenhagen and the Danish Cyclists Federation will benefit from having dedicated space to host visitors. Plans also include an exhibition space, a café/bar and meeting rooms.
Indeed, the City of Copenhagen supports the general idea of creating a space for cycling:
"The City of Copenhagen’s Bicycle Program welcomes all initiatives that will accelerate local innovation and product design in the field of cycling, bringing global attention to Copenhagen’s unique cycling culture. Establishing a physical meeting point for co-creation and showcasing will be valuable to the city as well as to the global community."
Marie Kåstrup, City of Copenhagen
Core Concepts for the proposed CPH Bike Hub.
We have seen the emergence of similar bike hubs in places like Barcelona with BiciClot and the Netherlands with the Dutch Bicycle Centre and we hope that the CPH Bike Hub will contribute to this growing trend and the global dissemination of knowledge and experience.
At time of writing, we are working hard with colleagues to establish the foundations of the CPH Bike Hub, secure financing and gather as many likeminded companies, organisations and individuals as possible. The list of colleagues continues to grow and includes the following:
· CYCLING WITHOUT AGE - Worldwide cycling non-profit for the elderly
· DANISH CYCLISTS' FEDERATION / CYKLISTFORBUNDET - National cycling NGO
· COPENHAGEN CYCLES - Global distributor of innovative bike trishaws
· LEADERLAB - Nordic sustainability business accelerators
· VELORBIS - Leading Danish bicycle brand
· MATE - Rapidly growing local E-Bike brand
· CYKELKOKKEN - Innovative and well-known Copenhagen cycling chef
· COH & CO - Sustainable materials bicycle producers
· SCANDINAVIAN SIDE CAR - Cutting-edge Danish cargo bikes solutions
· HOE360 CONSULTING - Danish green mobility consultancy
Morten Kabell – the former environmental and technical mayor of Copenhagen joined Copenhagenize Design Company in early January 2018 as COO and he is now also spearheading the work to establish CPH Bike Hub together with our colleagues. The timeline is still under development, but we are looking forward to letting the world know about the launch when the time comes.
Stay tuned. We're excited.
For more information about joining the CPH Bike Hub, email Morten at morten @ copenhagenize .eu
Classic traffic safety organisation narrative. "Stop cycling".
By Stephanie Patterson
With Mikael Colville-Andersen
In the diverse world of traffic planning, advocacy and various movements for liveable cities, there is an odd group of outliers who broadcast conflicting messages. While “traffic safety” organisations seem like a natural part of the gallery and of the narrative, upon closer inspection they exist in a communication vacuum populated exclusively by like-minded organisations. There is little correlation with those organisations who advocate cycling, pedestrianism or safer streets. The traffic safety crowd are in a world unto themselves, with little or no accountability for the campaigns they develop or the messaging they broadcast. They are often allied with insurance companies who clearly take comfort in working with others who embrace scaring the population at large through constructed fear.
In many ways, they are a classic subculture, with strong hints of sect-like behaviour. The English sociologist Roy Wallis argues that a sect is characterized by “epistemological authoritarianism”. According to Wallis, “sects lay a claim to possess unique and privileged access to the truth or salvation and “their committed adherents typically regard all those outside the confines of the collectivity as 'in error'”.
The American sociologists Rodney Stark and William Sims Bainbridge assert that "sects claim to be an authentic, purged, refurbished version of the faith from which they split". They further assert that sects have, in contrast to churches, a high degree of tension with the surrounding society.
We thought it appropriate to do a little communication meta-analysis of their techniques of the traffic safety subculture.
“If it is going to make any meaningful contribution to the reduction of danger on the roads, our criminal justice system needs to recalibrate away from the prejudice that motoring is innocuous and cycling dangerous and towards controlling the behaviour of those imposing greatest risk.”
Martin Porter - QC, personal injury lawyer and Author of the blog ‘The Cycling Lawyer’ made this statement in relation to a recent manslaughter charge that was issued to a cyclist in London who collided with a pedestrian, resulting in her death.
The final conviction of “wanton and furious” cycling brings up the question of how different road users are treated and perceived. Would someone driving a car receive the same level of punishment? Not likely.
Along with the legal system, traffic safety organisations are integral players in shaping how we view road users all around the world. The first thing we noticed was how all these organisations seem to ignore one of the key messages required to truly make roads safer.
Lower the number of motor vehicles on the road, and slow them down. We call it Ignoring the Bull here at Copenhagenize Design Company.
Anyone who works in traffic planning or advocacy will find the lack of focus on the obvious to be rather bizarre. As it is now, the campaign language and programs promoted by the traffic safety organisations unabashedly victimise the individual (primarily pedestrians and cyclists) rather than speak out about the dangers of motorised vehicles. They also tend to ignore the one most obvious solution to lower road fatalities – a drastic reduction in the number of motorised vehicles on the road.
Even a nine year old can figure it out that this is the only way to go:
However, the traffic safety organisations have settled upon strategies that are as uniform as they are blatant in their support of the status quo. As the following images show, these trends are not limited to countries who have high numbers of road fatalities, but in fact the same rhetoric and messages can be seen globally.
(Left) Road safety Australia, again victimising the individual and making being a pedestrian a dangerous activity. (Centre) Road Safety Campaign in Spain - 1998, a good way to turn people off walking (Right) More Australian victim-blaming without addressing the problem.
The influence of road safety organisations clearly extends to municipalities, inviting them into their echo chamber, from where they point their fingers at the non-motorist population.
Signage in Frederiksberg, Copenhagen sends people on a wild detour and instructs them to cross at the designated crossing, putting motorist convenience above that of pedestrians and cyclists. A local response (right) clarified the municipality’s intentions with the added text: “Frederiksberg loves cars more than you”
Just take a look the recent ETSC Road Safety Performance Index (PIN) Conference held in Brussels in June 2017. The speaker list only represented the views of the car industry and road safety organisations which support it. Talk about an echo chamber.
Speakers from other disciplines and with different points of view on methods of change, such as experts in user behaviour, strategies about behaviour change, and advocates of increasing alternative transport modes were absent as they always are. A diverse selection of opinions would include people who are not interested in maintaining the car-centric status quo in our cities, so why invite them?
Whilst the organisations’ messages and actions vary based on their country or region of reference, there are common threads which we can see in a number of the road safety organisations campaigns, including:
- Consistent use of the car industry’s favourite phrase, traffic accident, rather than fatality or crash. The rise of the hashtag #crashnotaccident hasn't penetrated the walls of their echo chamber.
- The use of the phrase vulnerable road users without any corresponding reference to dangerous vehicles
- Programs indirectly or directly implying that walking and cycling are dangerous and freely using classic Culture of Fear techniques to scare cyclists and pedestrians
- Anti-distraction programs
- Anti-drink driving
- Anti-speed programs
Their baseline is clear. Cars are here to stay - everyone else either get out of the way or bubble wrap yourself. What this communication subculture doesn’t talk about is rather telling. Basically anything that would brand cars as the problem - or reducing the number of cars.
We don't know how many of you are aware that the United Nations declared the grand Decade of Action on Road Safety in order to tackle traffic deaths. Actually they declared it back in 2011. Have we saved millions of lives together, as they claimed we would? Nah. What has happened since? Lots of expensive campaigns from highly funded NGOs but absolutely no reduction in the number of traffic deaths worldwide.
We analysed the communication narrative used by a number of traffic safety organisations and present some of them here.
(Left) Series of graphics by FIA. None of them call for a reduction in the number of cars that kill. (Bottom center) FIA's helmet campaign. (Bottom right) Children with their shiny new FIA helmets.
(Top center and right) Images from the #staybright campaign insisting that pedestrians and cyclists dress up like clowns
Meet The FIA Foundation (slogan: For the Automobile and Society). They are the advocacy arm of the Federation Internationale de L’Automobile, who run the Formula 1 races. Their foundation is an international body funded by industry but also supported by heavyweight NGOs, UNICEF, UN Environment, the World Resources Institute and Save the Children. An organisation with this level of funding and recognition behind it should be leading the way in traffic safety, including sending the most effective messages and implementing the best programs to reduce fatalities. But they don't. Their primary focus is on glossy graphics telling everyone to bubble wrap themselves.
Unfortunately there are a number of unsaid things which we believe are key in combating the issue of road fatalities, including:
- Proposing any attitude change to the existing transport norms.
- In car centric cities – saying that we need to change our urban design to de-prioritise motor vehicles and make active transport a viable transport option, not just a recreational activity.
- Warning people about the inherent danger of driving a motor vehicle. Focusing on the fact that cars and cities don't work well together and that your risk of dying and/or killing others is remarkably high. Instead of scaring people away from bikes and walking, focus on inciting fear of driving
- In all seriousness, promoting and mandating motorist helmets, as the Australian government has recommended.
- Programs which restrict car usage or make driving more difficult.
- Campaigns for alternative transport options as the norm
- Campaigning for investment in alternative transport infrastructure
It's a tough sell. These organisations like FIA are clearly not interested in behavioiur change, but rather a continued acceptance of the car-centric status quo.
Global Health Observatory statistics from 2013 showed over 200,000 traffic fatalities occurred in both India and China. Between 30,000-50,000 fatalities occurred in Brazil, Indonesia, Nigeria and USA. Some of the countries with the highest rates of fatalities based on population size were Thailand, Iran, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and United Republic of Tanzania – all with fatalities between 15,000 and 25,000. We have taken a more in depth look at a few organisations across; INDIA - one of the countries with highest number of road fatalities, USA - the worst performing developed nation in terms of number of fatalities, and finally DENMARK - a country with low number of fatalities and generally good alternative transport options.
India. The country with the highest number of traffic fatalities of any nation annually.
With a fast growing economy, India has the opportunity to make wise infrastructure investments that improve its cities for its people. Lack of rules, crazy fast driving and cars being seen as indicators of social improvement, are all reasons why the road safety organisations are suggesting modifications to the existing infrastructure rather than addressing a change in attitudes to motor vehicles in India overall.
Due to the lack of diversity within the road safety authorities we see the same rhetoric over and over again. This recent #ipledge campaign wastefully uses highly influential cricket legend Sachin Tendulkar to spin the same old narrative. Pledging doesn't save lives.
#ipledge campaign by Aster saferoads based in India
This is an NGO who claim to be‘working with road safety to promote sustainable transportation India’ but it does not mention bikes at all in any of its activities and proposals to increase road safety. In its Road Safety Manual it provides instruction to road users including basic rules, how to drive safely and so on across 190 pages of the 200 page manual. The final 10 pages briefly mention the benefits of choosing another transport mode and how to look out for pedestrians, bike and rickshaw riders. Same old, same old.
A particularly gruesome example of the City of Phoenix spreading fear and victimising bike riders in one of their road safety campaigns.
Of all the developed countries in the world, the US is by far the worst performing in terms of road fatalities and injuries. Estimates from the National Safety Council recorded road deaths for 2016 at over 40,000, making it the deadliest year in nearly a decade. A study by Juha Luoma and Michael Sivak found several contributing factors to the US’ high road numbers of road fatalities. These included generally high speeds driven, low seat belt usage rates, high drunk driving rates, however the biggest reason:
Americans drive a lot and far and don’t look to be slowing down anytime soon.
We also know that vulnerable road users are increasingly making up the numbers of the death tolls. Car users’ share of road deaths in America fell from 42% in 2006 to 36% in 2015, while fatalities outside of cars (people on bikes, pedestrians and motorcyclists) rose from a quarter of the total to a third. So what are the road safety organisations doing to address this issue? All this shows is that cars are getting safer for those inside of them - but not at all for those outside. Mandatory external air bags on cars would be wise.
Department of Transport DOT
To be fair, the nationally run road safety authority has as of 2015 implemented the Safer People, Safer Streets: Pedestrian and Bicycle Safety Initiative and the Mayor's Challenge which encourage cities to improve streets for all people across seven different criteria. However, the same organisation stumbles by victimising policies such as helmet-first bike riding initiatives, ignoring reducing car usage and the danger of being behind a wheel - even if you are a safe driver.
AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety
Motoring organisations love traffic safety organisations for maintaining the status quo and placing focus on the dangers of transporting yourself in anything other than a motor vehicle. The AAA, like others around the world, focuses solely on either increased investment in road infrastructure or improved driver conditions. Research papers such as Safety Benefits of Highway Infrastructure Investments might have been a bit more valuable if it also took into account modes of transport other than cars and didn't spout off old-fashioned engineering "solutions".
The American Driver and Traffic Safety Education Association aims to be a leader in traffic safety education strategies. Alas - none of their strategies include choosing another transport mode when possible. Please start by educating people with some basic facts - fewer cars on the road, fewer deaths and injuries.
We’re not saying stop educational programs about safe driving - just give people a rounded education which presents all the facts.
FINLAND - The Finnish Road Safety Council
In Finland, this fear campaign from the Finnish Road "Safety" Council hit the streets in 2019. The poster reads: "Having ice cream without a cone is like riding a bike without a helmet". They have other goofy slogans like "Snapchatting without a filter is like..." You get it. They probably clapped their hands and giggled at how clever they thought they were when deciding upon this campaign.
But like all the rest, they do nothing to work towards drastically reducing the number of cars in Helsinki or other Finnish cities. They stick to victim blaming without any science harmed.
DENMARK - The Danish Road Safety Council
So while we have looked at two countries with particularly abominable road fatality levels, we can also be critical of road safety programs in countries with better track records. Denmark's road safety organisation Rådet for Sikker Trafik (Road "Safety" Council) recently released this video as part of there “use two seconds more” campaign- a fairly violent way to scare cyclists off their bikes. At the same time they continue to promote the wearing of a helmets in Denmark - compounding the message that bike riding is dangerous. Just another example of road safety organisations using the Culture of Fear in favour of the car. Classic.
This organisation uses the same tactics as others in their private club. They have little scientific understanding of bike helmets and, instead, copy/paste info they recieve from like-minded colleagues in Sweden and pass it off as their own. They claim to be against mandatory helmet laws but this recent document would suggest that they are gearing up for helmet laws. Aligning themselves with the likes of an American, Jake Olivier, in order to continue their branding of cycling as dangerous. Broadcasting with all the arrogance they can muster that a "meta-analysis" is conclusive proof only reveals they know little about the science.
This is also an organisation who advocates cutting down roadside trees for "safety" instead of vehemently advocating for lower speed limits. Indeed, they have no mention of the European trend of establishing 30 km/h as a baseline speed in cities on their site. They are, like all the others, totally disconnected from the current trends.
(Left) ("Keep an eye on the side roads" painted on cycle tracks, without any corresponding messaging for motorists on those side roads who are obliged by law to stop. (Center) 2017 campaign urging people to "use two extra seconds" at the intersection so they don’t get killed - instead of campaigning for existing infrastructure designs to keep cyclists safe. (Right) A 2017 helmet promotion campaign aimed at college students, together with an insurance company. Classic tactics.
Three other campaigns in Denmark aimed at dressing pedestrians and cyclists up as clowns with reflective clothing instead of limiting the destruction caused by motorists.
Campaigns for reflective clothing are also increasing in The Culture of Fear, despite a limited amount of science on the subject. No corresponding campaigns are in place for cars, even though black cars are more likely to be involved in accidents.
All the negative campaigns blaming cyclists and pedestrians for not equipping themselves with body armour and christmas tree lights would be more credible if the same effort was placed on motorists and cars. Traffic safety organisations can improve the message they are sending out to their citizens if they even the playing field and state in no uncertain terms how dangerous cars are in cities and how dangerous they are, generally. The culture of fear needs to be flipped on its head.
The Hiearchy of Hazard Control as applied to urban cycling. Bubble wrap solutions are the last resort.
While of course speed, drug and alcohol consumption, distracted driving, and badly designed roads can worsen the impacts, let’s not dance around the basic facts if cities and nations truly want to achieve Vision Zero. Providing an even distribution of alternative infrastructure options for people is clearly a key factor in making this change, but it also needs to go hand in hand with honest road safety initiatives that don’t misinform, misrepresent, or scare.
In short, as it is now, if these traffic safety organisations are only speaking to themselves, backslapping each other at closed conferences, and arrogantly exaggerating the effect of their tired, last century campaign strategies - as well as being so completely disconnected from the rest of us working to improve city life around the world - do we have to listen to them or give them any credibility?
Probably not. We can wonder, however, why they continue to recieve funding to broadcast flawed messages without any positive results and zero accountability.
Remember your reflective clothing in traffic.
Last week in Barcelona, the inagural svajerløb cargo bike race was held on a sunny Sunday in the Poble Nou neighbourhood. It was event organised pro bono by Copenhagenize Design Co's office in Barcelona in collaboration with the Rueda International Bicycle Film Festival, where Mikael Colville-Andersen was president of the jury. Mikael and Jordi Gali from Copenhagenize whipped together a not-for-profit race and were thrilled at the turnout - both passionate particpants and curious spectactors. A 400 metre course was set up in the morning and there were particpants enough for 3 heats in the two-wheeled category, four cargo bikes in the three-wheeled and four teams in the team relay. The film, above, sums up the day nicely.
For most of the 20th century in Copenhagen, a massive armada of cargo bikes were the backbone of transport in the city. A fantastic army of men and boys from the poor neighbourhoods made the city work. Men and boys who were also invisible in the social hierarchy. They were called svajere in Danish – or swayers if you translate it directly - because of the swaying motion of the huge, flatbed bikes when heavily laden. In 1942, a priest named Kristian Skjerring decided to change things for the better. He wanted to give these svajere a pedestal on which to stand. He organised what became known as a Svajerløb in the city – a cargo bike race for these bicycle messengers. He raised money through the races to send the young men to summer camps. They were the hardest working people in Copenhagen and Skjerring thought they deserved some respect.
The races become incredibly popular in Copenhagen. Thousands came out to watch. There was prize money, but really it was about honour, and winning the right to call yourself the King of Copenhagen – at least until the next race. These Svajerløb races were held until 1960, when cars and vans started to dominate goods transport in the city. In 2009, the race was revived in Copenhagen and are now an annual event. The city has 40,000 cargo bikes in daily use, so a revival was a no-brainer. Unlike the 1940's, the cargo bike riders are now families and people with goods to transport. The Danish brand Larry vs Bullitt, who produce the Bullitt cargo bike, were behind resurrecting the races for the tradition, the fun and as an obvious platform to sell their product. While the event has developed a Red Bull feel to it - corporate marketing disguised as an event - there are race participants using many other cargo bike brands on race day.
Cargo bike races are spreading fast, in tact with the rise of the cargo bike itself in cities around the world. There is now an International Cargo Bike Festival in Nijmegen, Netherlands each year. Apart from the recent race in Barcelona, we have registered on our radar races in Vancouver, Chicago, Paris, and Berlin, among others. In the Netherlands, family-friendly cargo bike events have taken place for many years. There is a new Facebook group called Svajerløb Global - The Cargo Bike Race Community - where people can share experiences and let others know about their upcoming races and share photos after they're done.
So why not arrange a cargo bike race in your 'hood? Help raise awareness about the usefulness of cargo bikes and have a fun day doing it. Here are the basics to get you started.
Designing the Course
- Design a circuit in a loop (as opposed to an A to B course). There is no set length, but in our experience 400 meters seems to be a decent number. There should be some challenging turns, a slalom section and a straight, home stretch. If you have the chance to incorporate a hill, all the better. This ain't no Sunday bike ride, sunshine. Although think about the potential participants when you gauge the level of difficultly. In the Copenhagen version, there are many spandexy dudes among the participants and the course is usually designed for them and for speed. If you want your event to be more inclusive and aimed to drawing the curious as well as the experienced, create a course that is well-balanced. We've seen courses with an awkward patch of sand in the middle. Mix it up, if you want. Just keep it realistic and safe.
- The stop and finish line should be the same and should be next to the loading zone, where the riders will load up their bikes - read more in The Rules, farther down. For the loading zone, you'll need some space for the riders in each heat to stop and where you can position the cargo they have to load.
- If you can, design the circular course so that the spectators are primarily gathered around the stop/finish line and loading area but also so that they see the bikes on the course as much as possible. It helps maintain a level of energy if the spectactors can keep an eye on the race.
- Depending on the width of the course you design, you can have between four and six riders in each heat or race.
- You can use various barriersr to design the course. Plastic traffic cones or bollards, chairs connected with plastic tape, fences, you name it. Whatever you can get your hands on.
We recommend using the original rules from the historical races in Copenhagen. The organisers of the annual race in Copenhagen these days stick to the same concept in order to maintain history and tradition, but also because the original rules are pretty cool. There are other cargo bike races at, for example, the bike messenger championships, but we'll stick with the historical rules here.
- The race consists of four laps. The riders wait on their bikes at the start line. The first lap is ridden empty. They speed around the course and, upon arriving in the loading area, they load up their bikes with the cargo. This is the fun part, which is why spectators should be positioned close to the area. Then the riders head out on three laps fully laden, until they cross the finish line for the fourth time.
- Depending on the number of participants, you can divide them up into heats. For example, the top two finishers can qualify for a semi-final or the final. Or top three. You'll figure it out. It's a hard race, so try to limit the maximum number of races an individual will race to three.
- Cargo: In the traditional races in the 1940's, the cargo often consisted of car tires, newspaper bundles, empty, wooden beer crates and sandbags. Cargo bike championships held in Paris in the 1920's and 1930's measured the weight of the cargo at 50 kg, although this was raised to 65 kg. Try to aim for between 35-50 kg as a rule of thumb. The cargo should not only be designed for weight. Make sure that you have items that oddly-shaped and difficult to secure to the bike. At the Barcelona race in October 2017, we had to be creative. Each rider had to load two plastic-wrapped bundles of water in 1 litre bottles (12 bottles in each), 5 kg bags of potatoes, another 3 litre bottle of water, a 5 kg bag of potting soil and a pack of 12 toilet paper rolls. We distributed the cargo to people after the race so we didn't waste anything.
- Riders can use bungees or inner tubes to secure the cargo if they want. They can also carry an item in their hand.
- After the bike is loaded and they head out on the last three laps, the cargo has to stay on the bike. If something falls off, the rider has to stop and pick it up, getting it back onto the bike before continuing.
- Categories: traditionally speaking, there was a two-wheeler race, a three-wheeler race and a team relay. In modern versions, we've seen the addition of a women's category and a vintage bike category. In some cities, vintage cargo bike are hard to come by, so you can make the call about whether to have this category. If there are cargo bikes with an electric assist, you can create a category for them, if you like. Then there is the team relay. In this event, four riders share one bike. Each of them do one lap, four in all, just like the other races. When the first rider arrives in the loading area, the team members help to load the bike and the next rider gets on. It is permitted to help push the new rider into motion.
- Next to the start/finish line and loading area, set up a table for the organisers and have some sort of board on which you can write the names of the riders in each race. Make race numbers that the riders have to put on their bikes so you can keep track of them. Pro tip: make them put the numbers on the side of the bike that faces the table as they pass. :-)
- Spread out the races to allow for time between races. You can do all the heats for the two-wheelers, then move on to the three-wheelers and women's race and then get back to the semi-finals or finals. Traditionally, the team relay is the last race.
Family-friendly Race Ideas
In order to make the race even more family friendly, there can be side events with a parent cycling with a child in the box. You can created a separate course designed for finesse cycling and balance. The kids can be equipped with a stick and you can hang large rings up on thread. The parent cycles the bike close and the kid has to spear the ring with the stick, collecting as many rings as possible to win. Another idea is a cargo bike version of the egg race. A parent, with a kid in the box, has to cycle an obstacle course balancing an egg on a spoon. Or maybe the kid holds the spoon. Maybe both. Be creative.
The race itself need not be an expensive affair. Sponsors are always handy, if you can get them. Try to make it an inclusive affair and invite as many cargo bike brands as possible - if not to race, then to exhibit their products in the interest of growing awareness of cargo bikes as solutions for urban living. Copenhagenize Design Co was involved in the cyclelogistics.eu project for three years and our partners arranged all manner of events with numerous cargo bikes to encourage citizens to try them out and get a feel for them, in cities around Europe. It really helps broadcast the message if people get to test them out.
The more events around the world, the better!
Here are some links to cargo bike history:
- History of the svajere - cargo bike messengers - in Copenhagen
- The original cargo bike messengers
- Brazil is a cargo bike capital
Copenhagenize Design Company has had the pleasure of hosting architect and urban planner, Ahmed Tarek Al-Ahwal, on an exchange from Egypt made possible by the support of the Danish Egyptian Dialogue Institute. He curated these photographs highlighting a long and proud history of using the bicycle as transport in his country.
By Ahmed Tarek Al-Ahwal
Egypt's President Sisi has been on a bike ride or two, like this one in 2014. He has said that Egyptians should cycle more and that the country can save 16 Egyptian pounds for each 20 km cycled. He has, however, failed to provide any infrastructure.
In the recent memory of some Egyptians, cycling used to serve a much wider group of users than today. Residents in Port Said, a port city on the Suez Canal, are proud that cycling used to be their main mode of transportation. Indeed, during rush hour, the ferries were loaded with the bicycles of employees going to work. It´s a narrative that is heard in many other cities, usually followed by remarks about how women and children used to feel much safer cycling in cities and how there used to be many more bike shops - especially those serving a double-purpose. Shops that were also garages that would clean, repair and store bikes overnight.
Stories of huge bicycle racks next to office buildings, factories and schools are heard across the nation, from the north to the south. The textile factory in Shebin, a city in the northern Nile Delta used to host one of those, which was removed after cycling disappeared under the weight of car-centric planning.
A bicycle rushing past an omnibus, Port Said, late 19th century.
Cairo, early 20th century
College Saint Marc students, Alexandria, early 20th century
Left: A magazine article about the opening of a factory in Qena, south of Egypt. Factories were associated with bicycles in the 1960s.
Right: Bike shops used to be a very common sight, catering to many clients. Port Said.
Caption reads: “University girls in Asyut are more practical than their colleagues, overcoming traffic problems by using bicycles” a quote from a magazine. Asyut 1960s.
Street scene, 1935.
Bicycles were a normal sight on the streets, at least through the 1980s.
See more historical photos from Egyptian cycling history here.
Cycling Persists in Egypt
“Change the way you commute” An advertisement in Tahrir square for vacation houses on the red sea coast. Summer 2016.
For many Egyptians, like other places around the world, cycling has become something unusual. Something subcultural, something done by poor messengers to transport goods, something for kids to do or a tool for advertising luxury, gated communities (photo, above).
Bike parking at a school in Assiout, Southern Egypt. Photo credits: Yusuf Halim.
In many areas in the south of Egypt and the Nile delta, one can, however, still witness a wide variety of bicycle users. In Assiout, in the more conservative south, one can still see huge bike racks in schools (above) and public buildings.
Bicycle user on a vintage bike. Photo credits: Osama Aiad
While in other cities, men in their 50s or 60s riding vintage bicycles serves as a reminder that cycling is not alien to Egyptian minds and culture.
Bread delivery man riding in a Cairo street while holding wooden trays and reading a newspaper. Source: facebook page; Everyday Egypt
When former bicycle users from this generation are asked about the reasons for the decrease in cycling modal share, they talk about the change of time, about the era where cars were much less and streets safer and you could feel safe about your kids rushing on their own through the streets. They also talk about the availability of bike racks near homes and work, and services around the city. All practical reasons that could easily be addressed by cities that aim to have less congested, less polluted streets with a better quality of life that is not exclusive to luxurious gated communities. Not to mention a healthy density and an economic alternative to sprawl.
Unlike the old era, attempts to build bike infrastructure in the few last years in Egypt haven’t achieved the required goals. Instead of being used as an example of how cycling doesn’t fit the Egyptian culture, these projects must be addressed critically.
A symbolic stretch of bike lane.
The bicycle lanes painted on the Shahid corridor, an 8-lane highway in the desert, 14 km from the center of Cairo and 3 km from the nearest residential low density suburban area doesn’t seem to be a logical location to start.
The UNDP project of cycling lanes in Shebin are often ignored by bicycle users; the lanes deal poorly with intersections, also they don’t provide enough safety for bike users from traffic and are very vulnerable to be overtaken by car parking.
Safety and the perception of safety is a main issue keeping down the numbers of bike users and, if not addressed properly with infrastructure, cycling will not rise again as transport in Egyptian cities.
The Bicycle Superhighway Network in Copenhagen Capital Region. Orange: Built. Black: Planned and financed. Dotted: Planned but awaiting financing.
The Capital Region of Denmark is continuing its investment in Supercykelstier - or Bicycle Super Highways. With five new routes completed on May 2, 2017, 115 kilometers have been added to the three initial routes. The goal is to make inter-municipality bike trips easier for the citizens of the region. The super highways are being developed on largely pre-existing cycle tracks.
In the Capital Region, 60% of all trips less than 5 km are made by bike. This falls to 20% for trips more than 5 km. While the region is great for intermodality, connecting bikes with trains, the plans for the Bicycle Super Highway network target increasing the latter number through constructing 28 routes that connect and pass through 23 municipalities. These will give bicycle users newer, wider cycle tracks, better street surfaces, pre-green lights, in addition to better lighting and traffic calming measures where needed. This will create 3 million more bicycle trips a year, which has the potential to reduce the number of car trips by 720,000 a year. This will save the region 34,000 sick days and give a 7.3 billion DKK (€1 billion) economic gain per year.
New routes, building on success
206km of the network will be finished by 2018, out of 467 km in total. The first two routes, Farumruten and Albertslundruten, have experienced a growth in the number of bicycle users of 61% and 34%, respectively, since they were built in 2012. Those two routes, in addition to the third one, Ishøjruten built in 2016, are hub to tip routes connecting Copenhagen Municipality with surrounding municipalities. The new five routes help shape the network; adding not only more hub to tip routes (Allerødruten and Frederikssundruten), but also ring routes (Indre Ringrute connecting Sundby to Østerbro, and Ring 4 ruten from Albertslund to Lyngby-Taarbæk) and a route between outer municipalities (Værløseruten).
The five new Cycle Super Highways have cost 154 million DKK (€20.7 million), while the same road length for motorist highways would cost 17.71 billion DKK (€2.38 billion). Municipalities expect an increase of 1.5 - 2 million bicycle users with the new routes running.
Copenhagenize Design Company's Idea Catalogue for all the municipalities in the Region, as commissioned by the Capital Region in 2014.
Dialogues and Efforts
The project came with challenges on both regional and local scales. Funding the superhighways required a particular approach; normally municipalities are totally financially responsible for building their bicycle infrastructure, but some of the municipalities couldn’t afford building the superhighways or preferred to cut it from their budgets. This caused a threat that more municipalities would leave the project as its rationality depends on its continuity through all municipalities.
The solution that overcome this, so far, has been a 50% state subsidy so that municipalities only have to cover 50% of the costs. However, challenges for this approach will rise again in the future as no municipal funding exists for the project after 2019. The experience of the two initial routes also highlighted responsibilities for the municipalities during the operation of the superhighways; the Gladesaxe and Furesø Municipalities - both on the Farumruten - improved lighting conditions, asking bicycle users what their favored type of lighting was. While the Allerød Municipality focused also on traffic calming measures; building a “2 minus 1” way on Bregnerød Skovvej, a road with one track for motorists and traffic in both directions.
The municipalities have reached an agreement where each of them is responsible for running and maintaining its own part of the route(s) in close dialogue with the others. The success and rationality of a superhighway is achieved by the success of each of its individual parts in different municipalities, which raises the question of what form this superhighway will adapt to in rural, forested or urban areas along the way. It also highlights the importance of bringing all municipalities on board and keeping both the inter-municipality and citizen-government dialogues ongoing.
The Mayor Challenge
In an attempt to convince some of the more sceptical mayors in the outlying municipalities, seven of them were invited to switch to the bike for their transport needs for one month. Their health was measured before and after and, based on existing cost-benefit models, the result was clear. On average they were 11 years younger, based on their improved health.
The Copenhagen Capital Region Bicycle Superhighway Network projected on Barcelona and London. This does not included the vast network of existing cycle tracks in the various municipalities, of which there are over 1000 km.
The Copenhagen Capital Region Bicycle Superhighway Network projected on Paris and Toronto
The Copenhagen Capital Region Bicycle Superhighway Network projected on Montreal.
For more information about the routes, check the website:
The City of Copenhagen released its latest mode share data yesterday and the numbers look fantastic.
62% of residents in the City ride a bicycle daily to work or education in the city. 21% take public transport, be it bus, metro or train. Only 9% drive a car - even though car ownership is around 25%. Basically, 91% of our citizens DON'T drive a car in the city - here in one of the richest countries in the world. All good, right?
You would think so, but even Copenhagen suffers from a serious case of Arrogance of Space. We took a section of Hans Christian Andersen Boulevard - the 1950s urban planning travesty that carves the Danish capital in two - and did a quick arrogance of space analysis.
It's the busiest street in the Kingdom with between 50,000 - 60,000 cars a day roaring past, most of them firmly in the "parasite" category. These are not people who live in the municipality and who therefore do not pay for the road space that we provide them. There has been talk for years of burying this street and reclaiming the space it occupies. While not a bad idea - albeit an expensive one - it wouldn't remove the cars from the city, since they would pop up out of the tunnel at some point.
As you can see on the graph, a whopping 64% of the transport space in Copenhagen is allocated to cars - both car lanes and curb parking. This is most apparent at the location we are looking at here.
When we map out the space allocated for cyclists, it looks like this. There are 26,400 cyclists along the boulevard on weekdays, according to the latest count in September 2016. Add to that around 10,000 who merely cross the boulevard from the side streets. Certainly not one of the busiest bicycle streets in Copenhagen but the numbers are respectable. On the map you can see how the infrastructure is part of a cohesive network.
Here is a snapshot of one light cycle in the morning rush hour from this location.
Here are the maps for the space occupied by bus lanes or trains, at left, and the space allocated to pedestrians, including squares. The trains are not relevant for this exercise, as they disappear underground, but buses are a key transport form on this corridor. 360 of them roll past between 7 AM and 7 PM. With an average capacity of 50 passengers, that would add 18,000 people moving back and forth along this stretch. And yet there is a severe lack of dedicated space for them.
Out of interest, here is a map of the "shared space". Not the classic and cute "shared space" that works in small, rural towns and residential neighbourhoods but merely parts of the transport area without separation.
What IS relevant is this. The amount of urban space given over to motorised vehicles. Most of it handed free to motorists who do not pay taxes in this municipality. Motorists, it is worth mentioning, already have it easy in Denmark. It's cheaper to buy a car today than during the oil crises in the 1970s and the same applies to gas, rendering the tax on cars here rather irrelevant. In addition, a resident's parking permit only costs around 750 DKK (€100) per year - despite the fact that a parking costs the city - and the taxpayers - around 50,000 DKK (€6,600).
Here is the complete map with all the transport forms together. The Arrogance of Space is clearly visible.
There is a total disconnect between how Copenhageners get around and how the space is divided up. This is not urban democracy on this boulevard at all. It is the same car-centric dictatorship that so many other cities in the world suffer under. Yes, it is safe to cycle along this stretch, on separated cycle tracks. But this is not transport democracy. This is not the Copenhagen that inspires so many people around the world.
If we valued public space in an economic sense as much as we value real estate value - instead of a massive majority subsidizing the transport habits of the few, we would be much better off. Here is just one idea of how to reallocate the space more intelligently.
We would be more rational and this city would be not only healthier and more dynamic - it would be the leader that it should be.
See more articles about Arrogance of Space with this tag.
|Copenhagen's Inderhavnsbro - Inner Harbour Bridge - Photo: City of Copenhagen|
It's no secret that Copenhagen continues to invest massively in bicycle infrastructure like no other city on the planet. The network is already comprehensive and effective but the City continues to add important links, especially over the harbour and the canals.
One of the more recent additions is the Inner Harbour Bridge - Inderhavnsbroen in Danish - that spans Copenhagen Harbour at a key, strategic and iconic point. It links the city center at the end of the postcard picture perfect Nyhavn with the Christianshavn neighbourhood and the southern neighbourhoods beyond.
It is one of a series of 17 new bridges or underpasses for bicycle traffic that have been added to the City's transport network in the past few years.
The Inner Harbour Bridge was riddled with problems and was extremely delayed, as you can read here. Now, however, it's been open since July 2016.
Let me be clear... I'm thrilled that we have a new, modern link over the harbour to accommodate bicycle traffic and pedestrians. I am over the moon that the number of cyclists crossing daily exceeds all projected numbers. The City estimated that between 3000-7000 cyclists would use the bridge but the latest numbers are 16,000.
It's a massive success. But sometimes you can see the forest for the trees. I'm sorry, but Inderhavnsbro is a stupid, stupid bridge.
It fulfills it's primary function of allowing people to cross a body of water. But it is a cumbersome, beastly thing that is completely and utterly out of place in the delicate urban, historical and architectural context of its location. A fantastic overcomplication of the simple, timeless art of bridges that open and close. Designed by an architect named Cezary Bednarski from an architecture bureau will roots in two countries where cycling is no longer mainstream transport, it has failed miserably in respecting the basic concepts of bicycle urbanism and the established standards for infrastructure and facilities. By the looks of it, Studio Bednarski didn't even bother to understand them.
The nickname for the monster is the "kissing bridge" and it is flawed in so many ways. After millenia with perfectly functional designs to cross water like drawbridges and swing bridges, this architect decided to overcomplicate the concept. The bridge meets in the middle, where the two sides "kiss". A nice, giggly idea on a distant architecture office desk but quite stupid in practice. It proved incredibly difficult to make the giggly idea work.
Crossing the bridge by bicycle involves two sharp turns - two chicanes. Chicanes designed by someone who doesn't ride a bicycle. Cyclists are shunted sharply and rudely towards the middle of the bridge and back out to the side again. Perhaps the idea of getting the two sides to "kiss" was too difficult with the length of the bridge or the width required to make the kiising part work. The quirky kissing idea is the primary objective, at the expense of common sense. The primary visual gimmick is that the glass panels change colour as the bridge opens. Oooh. Wow.
For a century, Best Practice standards for details like chicanes have been in place. We know what curvature works best for comfort and for safety. These chicanes pose serious problems and they are clearly visible for anyone to see. You can see from the bicycle tracks in rain that people just cut the corners of them.
A more serious concern is the many skidmarks you see on the bridge as you head downwards in either direction. I stop and study them every time I cross. Have a look when you cross. There are always fresh ones. They stop before the glass barriers, but I figured out why, as you can see in the photo, above.
People crown the bridge in the middle and then get speed up, but many people fail to realise that the architect wasn't capable of a straight line and they slam on the brakes and hit the glass. I don't know if anyone has gone over the edge into the water, but the physics provide a perfect storm.
Look at the glass barrier in the above photo. The City has realised there is an issue and have slapped up a large, red and white warning sign to try and help people realise that it's a dead-end.
If you need to put warning signs on a design, it is basically a crappy design. Period.
The grade to get up the bridge also ignores Best Practice standards for bicycle infrastructure. In this article you can read how most standards were established in the 1920s and 1930s. The architect probably thought "bike" and a spandexy dude on a race bike popped into his head. I have seen a few people get off and walk up the incline, but most just muscle their way up. The bridge is too steep. It is not designed for a mainstream bicycle city and the architect didn't bothering researching the fact that we have 40,000 cargo bikes filled with kids and goods in Copenhagen.
On all the other bicycle bridges in Copenhagen a simple boom will drop to the sound of a simple ringing bell to stop cyclists and pedestrians when the bridge is opening. Compare that simple design to the huge, groaning barriers that rise like creatures from the black lagoon on the Inderhavnsbro. Comical overcomplication.
Another detail is that there are no ramps on the stairs on the pedestrian side - unusual in Copenhagen - but necessary. That is easily fixed, compared the rest of the nightmare.
Is using municipal funding to experiment with giggly, freestyle designs really a good idea? The bridge was also funded by a philanthropic fund - but does that mean that we don't have to be rational when we get free stuff?
I can easily and rightfully criticize the architect who failed miserably at his task, but lest we forget there was a jury of Copenhageners who actually looked at this and voted "YES!" So there are many fools at this party.
There are so many moving parts that breakdowns will be inevitable. It's already happened a number of times. Ships have been stuck on the wrong side because it couldn't open. The little tent, above, appeared suddenly and was in place for more than a week. That's hardly good for mobility. A fancy schmancy bridge in Kiel, Germany, ended up having so many problems that another bridge was built next to it, to be used when the fancy bridge breaks down. Is that where we are heading in Copenhagen?
The bridge is nothing more than "magpie architecture". A shiny object that attracted the favour of the people who selected it. Seduced by bling and fake innovation instead of being guided by timeless rationality and basic design principles. It follows in the sad tradition of Squiggletecture, where bridges and facilities are designed by architects who don't understand the users.
What's more, in an attempt to appease the wealthy sailboat crowd, the City of Copenhagen agreed to let the bridge open 30 times a month - far more than the six times a month that the other main links over the harbour - Knippelsbro and Langebro -open. This bridge will be unreliable as a transport option for people who are just trying to get to work or education once the sailing season starts.
The basic principles of Danish Design - practical, functional and elegant - were sadly forgotten in the choice of this bridge. The shine will wear off and, I fear, we'll be faced with more expensive problems.
For the past three years, Copenhagenize Design Co., in team with 5 train and bike operators and 4 mobility consulting firms, have been working to develop intermodality between bikes and trains in Europe.
Why this mobility solution makes sense in our cities ?
Because all trips can't be made by bike, this combination is the best solution to compete with cars. Bike-Train-Bike or BiTiBi services combine energy efficient transport modes into one seamless transport service. Indeed, the bicycle is by far the most energy efficient transport for short distances. It allows to increase significantly the catchment areas around train station. The train, especially the low speed train, is the most efficient transport mode for longer distances.
The Dutch approach: bike parking and OV-fiets
With 26% of all daily trips achieved by bike, cycling is an integral part of daily life for everyone in the Netherlands. The country leads the way when it comes to the bike-train-bike combination. This began in the late 1990’s when Dutch train officials noticed old bikes were being parked and left at destination stations by passengers who used them for semi-regular trips. In response, an investment plan to enlarge and renew all cycling facilities at railway stations was passed in 1999. Safe parkings for almost 500,000 bikes are available at train stations and typically has direct connection to the platforms or the station hall. All these facilities make cycling to train stations an easy and attractive option.
By 2002, railway operator NS had already observed a 20% increase in passengers. Today nearly half of all train passengers take a bike to reach their station.
Key to the success of the BiTiBi combination in the Netherlands is OV-fiets. This public bike allows train passengers to reach their final destination by bike after disembarking. Launched in 2003, it is now available at 280 out of 410 stations across the country. These bicycles, in a classic Dutch design, are provided by the main railway operator NS. The same “OV-chipkaart” transit card that is used on trains, buses, metro and trams throughout the country is also used for renting an OV-fiets.
European development in Belgium, Italy, Spain and the United-Kingdom
Based on the Dutch approach, pilot projects were implemented in the regions of Barcelona, Milan, Liverpool and in Belgium. In all countries, projects successfully substituted trips made by cars with bike-train-bike transport. Due to the opening of bike parkings and/or the availability of bikes at stations, more bicycle users have been registered cycling to the stations, and some of them are new train passengers. Some of these bicycle users shifted from cars to this efficient combination due to the improvement of the services.
Here is an summary of the impacts of these services on mobility in the 4 pilot projects:
Positive results in the four European countries
These past years, following the implementation and the improvement of services, and the creation of an appealing communication, positive results have been witnessed in all countries.
In Belgium, the Blue-bike service is now available in 48 train stations over the country. It means that with a same member card, users can rent the same public bike, at the same price and conditions, each time they arrive in one of these 48 cities. In the pilot cities, we calculated than 22% of Blue-bike combined with train trips have replaced a trip formerly made by car.
In northern Italy, the train company Ferrovienord has launched a regional plan and will double the number of secure bike parkings at stations in the coming years. A couple of years ago, Como, a city of Milan area, built a well-designed bike parking for 90 bikes, with direct access on the platform, that should inspire many small and medium sized cities.
In the United-Kingdom, Merseyrail operates the urban railways in the Liverpool area and provides Bike & Go rentals and secured bike shelters. The company developed an attractive communication strategy to make its Bike & Go services visible as soon as train passengers disembark. Moreover, they developed a marketing strategy to facilitate companies to subscribe to the service for their employees and ease daily business trips.
To finish, in Barcelona area, plenty of promotional efforts have been aimed at companies/ The bike operator organised “Try a Bike & Ride to the Station” events and invited several companies to participate.
Building bike parking: 400% rate of return
Considering the basic expense of installing bike parking facilities and the different benefits they provide - mainly due to health benefit and air pollution reduction -, there is a 400% societal return on investment! In other words, society benefits four times as much as the cost of the bike parking facilities.
If this figure does not convince you to invest in bike parking and bike services, a booklet disseminating all the results is available here and the most important data gathered in the pilot projects are available here. For further information, you can also visit the BiTiBi.eu website.
Here is a poster designed by Copenhagenize Design Co to promote BiTiBi.
This article is written by Copenhagenize Design Company's former urban planner, Leon Legeland. Originally from the least bicycle friendly city in Germany, Wiesbaden, he has lived, studied and worked in Vienna, Malmö, Copenhagen and currently Berlin. He has a master in Sustainable Urban Management and is recently finished his second masters in Sustainable Cities here in Copenhagen. He now works in Berlin.
Last year we covered the state of cycling in Berlin. It’s time for an update. Berlin has a quite ambitious bicycle strategy and the city administration, on some level, understands that urban cycling improves the quality of life and that it needs to be promoted and supported. As cosmopolitan cities the world over, cycling rates in the last decade have been on the rise. The substandard infrastructure built to date has been partly responsible, but in order to get the 99% on bikes, Berlin will have to turn to best practice infrastructure. Progress is painfully slow and there is little in the way of best practice design. Most importantly, the people of Berlin seem to appreciate the benefits of cycling, cycling rates are rising, and people are demanding more action from the political power through a referendum.
Our blog post from April landed right in the middle of the heated debate around cycling in the German capital. We flattered the group around the cycling referendum and we annoyed the senate with provocations about their actions making Berlin a more bicycle friendly city. Revisiting Berlin nearly a year later, we take a look at the current state of bicycle planning in Berlin.
Thanks to the political pressure and activism of the cycling referendum group Volksentscheid Fahrrad [link], urban cycling became a key issue during the 2016 election campaigns. Consequently, the political powers had to incorporate the claims of the cycling referendum in their political agendas. We have to praise Volksentscheid Fahrrad once again for their activism, dedication and political prowess in bringing urban cycling to the political debate. Their communication and organisation can serve as an example for bicycle activism the world over.
Volksentscheid Fahrrad’s work is only one sign of progress in Berlin. The newly elected coalition of Social Democrats (SPD), Green Party (Bündnis 90/Die Grünen) and the Socialists (Die Linke) agreed in their coalition treaty on the implementation of a mobility mandate by Spring 2017. This mobility mandate is poised to be the most progressive mobility concept in entire Germany and it certainly has some promising goals and objectives. First, the cycling mandate, proposed in Volksentscheid Fahrrad’s referendum, forms the fundamental basis for the future of mobility planning in Berlin, calling for a sensible redistribution of road space in favour of bicycles through dedicated infrastructure.
The Mobility Mandate
As part of the coalition treaty a mobility mandate will be implemented.The coalition treaty and will be implemented in a mobility mandate. Even some of the most pessimistic cycling activists are rubbing their eyes in disbelief that this is actually happening. So what exactly does this new mandate say?
The City will invest in bicycle infrastructure along all main roads with a lane widths of two metres.
Additionally a network of cycling streets, where drivers have to yield and bicycle riders will be developed on side-streets
Dangerous intersections will be redesigned with improved safety for pedestrians and bicycle users alike.
100 kilometres of bicycle highways will be constructed.
The City is already testing green waves for people travelling by bike and is willing to expand the system on more arterial roads.
Bicycle parking will be improved with more bike racks throughout the city and large bicycle parking garages close to all main train stations.
And a tiny detail, Intersections will be altered to allow bicycle riders to make right turns on red lights.
As if that weren't enough, the city agreed on another prestige project to show their change in traffic planning paradigm. As of 2019, private cars will be banned from Berlin's 60 metre wide boulevard, Unter den Linden, as it’s transformed into a large space for flaneurs and cyclists. The only vehicles to be are allowed are buses, taxis and diplomatic cars. It's open for discussion whether Unter den Linden is the right choice for a pedestrian friendly transformation and it remains to be seen how the space will be designed and used or what effects it'll have on the surrounding streets, but the symbolic significance is without a doubt. And beyond an improved pedestrian realm in the centre, the extension of the Autobahn 100 will be stopped at Treptower Park, cancelling the previously proposed addition under the river Spree. The insanity of a ring road Autobahn is on ice. Let’s hope it dies there.
Beginning in 2018, this ambitious mandate will be financed with an annual investment of €51 million, or, €15 per person, per year. It’s worth noting that the current annual budget per person on bicycle infrastructure is €3.5. At this level of financial support, Berlin will finally rival other European like Paris or Madrid and their investments in bicycle infrastructure. The difference is that with an existing widespread acceptance and appreciation of the bicycle and a high bicycle modals share of 18%, Berlin has an advantage. This acceptance coupled with the forthcoming funding will surely make results..
All this sounds fantastic and we're wondering if it's just a lot of hot air to please the voters in the beginning of the electoral period. Can the City realise all their proposed plans and actions? If you look at the bicycle strategy from 2012 it is full of ambitious plans and states similar goals as the new mobility mandate. However, with these new goals being legally binding, the likelihood of achieving these new goals is greatly improved.
Nevertheless, Volksentscheid Fahrrad are a little reserved with their enthusiasm about the new mobility mandate. They see it as a huge step forward, but they will continue fighting for even tighter commitment to cycling. We were lucky to meet the two group members Peter Feldkamp and Tim Birkholz for a brief interview. They explained that Volksentscheid Fahrrad’ is missing a measurable quantification of the new mobility mandate. In contrast to their developed Cycling mandate, the mobility mandate does not have a clear time plan and assigned obligations. Further the quality and design of the infrastructure is not defined. And as we’ve seen time and time again, reliable infrastructure makes all the difference.
The path forward
Berlin, and Germany in general, suffers from a strong lobby for vehicular cycling, meaning these people think that cyclist belong on the road in the flow of cars and in accordance with the principles of riding a car. The dominance of bike lanes separated by mere paint common throughout the country shows this. The best-practice alternative, with a clear, physical separation through a curb, parked cars or some sort of other physical protection still faces criticisms and is rarely realised. Turning to Danish best practice, Volksentscheid Fahrrad has presented a design standard for the construction of bicycle infrastructure in Berlin. In comparison to their developed Cycling law, the mobility mandate by the senate does not have a design standard for the quality of the bicycle infrastructure.Though unfortunately, the bicycle mandate presented by the Berlin senate lacks a design standard, let alone one that prioritizes physically separated, dedicated infrastructure.
Under both the current standards and the proposed mandate, painted bicycle lanes qualify as sufficient infrastructure, no matter the speed limit or traffic flow of the neighbourhoods automobile lanes. And at just 1.5 to 2 metres wide, these painted lanes run between parked cars and moving traffic, far from a comfortable, accessible ride. And from a user experience perspective, cycling in the dooring zone of parked cars makes the lanes feel more much narrower. There’s a time and a place for painted lanes, but they should be reserved for slower, less busy streets.
The influx of painted lanes in Berlin over the past decade gave bicycle riders their needed space, but now it's time to move to the next level, to best practice. The City is currently preparing for a pilot project studying physically separated cycle tracks and test different materials and objects for physical separation. Here’s to hoping this pilot study helps shape a new design standard.
Another remaining issues is the lack of qualified personnel that can take over the task of transforming Berlin into a bicycle friendly city. The current institutions seem completely overstrained with missing and qualified planners to mediate between all relevant actors. An example for the catastrophic situation in the Berlin administration came up this fall. For 13 years now, a bicycle lane along Skalitzer Straße has been shovel-ready, but the involved actors can't get their shit together and roll out the infrastructure. What makes this a true debacle, is we’re talking a simple painted lane.
We know that in some instances we have 18th Century institutions facing 21st Century problems. But we also know that a 18th century invention can solve 21th century problems.
As a reaction to the chaotic planning status, Berlin wants to start a City owned planning institution that has the overview of current bicycle planning and construction activities. Further, a cycling alliance between the ADFC, Volksentscheid Fahrrad, the relevant districts, and the public transit organisation has been formed. However, they still need planners, engineers and designers to get the much needed work done.
The newly approved budget for cycling infrastructure will be in place from 2018 and the newly formed administrations and municipal planning departments are reforming after the elections. It will take some time to get things done, but Berlin is moving towards the right direction! For now we look really optimistic in the future.
We'll keep you updated…
Jennie Fasth is a cyclist, bicycle advocate and freelance writer based in Malmö, Sweden. She is currently a student at the University of Lund, studying geographic information systems. She is working towards her Masters degree in urban planning. This article of hers was first published on the Swedish website HappyRide.se and is republished here on Copenhagenize.com with permission.
OhBoy - The Swedish Bicycle House is Open
by Jennie Fasth
On 23 October 2015, the first sod was turned for what would become the first "cykelhus" - or "bicycle house" in Sweden. The development is named OhBoy and is located in the Western Harbour (Västerhamn) of the City of Malmö. Tenants have now gradually started moving in. What does the Bicycle House look like? Who are the residents and what do they think about their new and unique building? I decided to find out.
All 55 apartments are rented out and there is no doubt that bike-minded people were among the first to move in. Not all moving vans have arrived just yet, but there is no shortage of bikes. Along the access walkways, there are many regular bikes and cargo bikes. The bicycle garage is a beehive of activity, as well.
There are bicycles on every floor and, unlike traditional apartment buildings, bikes are more than welcome on the access coridors. The railings are reinforced and extra space has been designed in, allowing for wider bikes to fit - without conflicting with fire regulations.
Bicycle Pool and Cargo Bikes
Although tenants start to arrive there remains a lot to do on the house. Three places to tinker with bikes, will be available shortly, two outdoor and one in the basement. These will be provided with tools for residents to borrow. Tenants will also have access to a bicycle pool and three of the custom-made bikes arrived just the other day - from Danish DIY cargo bikemakers XYZ Cargo.
The architecture bureau Hauschild + Siegel has designed, built and will manage the Bicycle House. They spent a great deal of time finding solutions to make the building as bicycle-friendly as possible. The bicycle pool is no exception. In order to maximize the comfort for residents living car-free, they have ordered bikes from XYZ Cargo in Copenhagen. In addition to the traditional three-wheeler cargo bike, residents can borrow both a kindergarten cargo bike with room for six children and a bicycle taxi with room for two passengers. Even some folding bikes have been ordered.
These cargo bikes will have a separate parking area under a roof and next to the car park and the bike washing facility. After consulting with a landscape architect, an environmentally-friendly system has been developed. The traditional oil separator will be replaced with plants that will act as a filter in the cleaning process. Environmental considerations are consistent in the vegetation, the environmentally-friendly building materials and solar panels.
Bikes - Access All Areas
The kindergarten bike and the bike taxi are extra wide, but the building is designed for them. All doors are 10 cm wider than normal, which makes it possible for the residents to take their bike anywhere in the building. Even right up to their apartment door if necessary. In addition, every door is equipped with a door opener for easier access.
The architects have also thought about that all important turning radius in stairwells. Wider than in traditional apartment buildings. The bikes also fit easily into the elevators, which are wider and deeper than normal.
It is easy to understand why the access walkways are teeming with cargo bikes. It is so easy to take them with you up to your apartment. The residents don't have to unload the bike and then carry everything up to the apartment. This ease-of-use could not be easier.
You don't need to stop at the front door. The apartments are designed so that bikes can be wheeled right to your fridge, if you so desire. The apartment doors are also 10 cm wider than the norm. The kitchens are designed by Finnish company Puustelli and consist of cabinet doors in glazed birch (gray and white in most apartments) and the countertops are Finnish granite. All units are fitted with induction stoves, convection ovens, dishwashers and a washing machine.
The open floor plan provides plenty of opportunities to decide for yourself how you want to design the accessibility in your apartment. Interestingly, the walls and ceilings are concrete and it is not allowed to paint them. Picture frams and curtain solutions are provided by the building administrators. You'll need permission to drill in the concrete walls.
Regardless of which door the residents use to enter the building, bikes are thought into the design. All doors are wider and the elevator opens at front and back so you never need to turn your bike around.
Post boxes are available at the entrance and accommodate both large and small post. The idea is that the residents can shop from home - as so many people do - but also to make it easy to recieve packages. In addition to the cargo bikes, there is also a car share program included in the apartment.
A Car-Free Life
It is totally possible to just wander around the entire building all day and study all the cycling options and details. There are small touches everywhere that are part of the big picture in a building designed for people who have chosen a car-free life. We were able to meet some of the residents to hear why they moved into Bicycle House.
Ola Fagerstrom is an avid cyclist with many bike kilometres behind him. He has a cargo bike, a cyclecross and a mountain bike in his collection. He worked for a year at Danish cargo bike brand Larry vs Harry in Copenhagen, so it's no surprise that a Bullitt cargo bike was the one he chose. You'll see Ola whizzing around on it in Malmö. He sold his car two years ago and hasn't any reason to buy a new one.
Moving to the Bicycle House has only been a positive experience. Ola's son, Malte, used to have t ride 10 km a day to get to school in Western Harbour, and now has a much shorter journey. Ola enjoys the area's industrial feel and calm streets. He likes not having a building across the street and the view of Stapelbädds Park is harmonic, he says. Although there is still construction noise in the building, it is still very quiet. It is impossible to hear the local skate park or the traffic nearby.
Ola's bike expertise has been harnessed by the building's community and he has had the opportunity to take part in both the purchase of tools for the workshops and the bikes for the bicycle pool. Even though it has only been a few weeks since he moved in, Ola is thriving. He thinks it is fantastic to smoothly roll his fully-loaded Bullitt cargo bike into the elevator and park outside his front door.
The next resident we meet is Johanna Ekne. She lives and works in the building and will be responsible for the coming Bicycle Hotel and while the decision to move here was work-related, it was the design of the place that sold it to Johanna. Her family innovative thinking and a building dedicated to cycling felt right.
Moving boxes are not yet emptied and there is much to be done but Johanna loves it. The apartment is very different that the old house in Möllevången where she moved from, which had four flights of stairs and no lift. The family also had problems finding space for their bikes. Today, the bikes are parked outside their flat, which Johanna thinks is brilliant.
The family kept their car during the move but now have plans of selling it. Something Johanna looks forward to. "It will be great. Everything is easier by bike".
The family lives at the top of the building and the apartment has two levels. Each apartment on the 6th and 7th floor has a spacious terrace that will eventually be fitted with green barriers and flower boxes to provide some privacy.
For the residents who don't have a large terrace, the view can be enjoyed from the roof terrace. An orangery is being built and all vegetation will be in place by April 2017.
The Bicycle Hotel
Moving boxes are still arriving in a steady flow and most residents are expected to move in by the time the Bicycle Hotel opens. March 1. 2017 is the date that the 32 apartments on the ground floor will be ready for guests.
Bedrooms and bathrooms are on the ground floor and a kitchen and living room with work area are located upstairs. Guests have their own entrance with a little garden outside and, during the stay, will have free access to bikes. The reception will be on the ground floor of the building but the idea is that hotel guests will check in on their own. A communal laundry will also be included at the reception.
The hotel apartments are aimed both at those who want to stay longer and those who are just looking for a short term accommodation for the purpose of, for example, looking for work. All apartments are equipped with a desk and chair and free internet access.
Many amazing things are happening in Malmö's Western Harbour related to urban cycling. Several property owners are trying to reduce the number of cars and promote cycling, as well as generally making life easier in the area without a car.
None of them, however, have gone to the lengths as Hauschild + Siegel and the Bicycle House Ohboy. This will hopefully be the start of an urban trend where expensive (to build) car parking can be replaced with investment in sustainable living and environmentally-friendly mobility.
I took part in a radio debate last week. Four guests and a journalist. In that forty-five minutes, I experienced a number of things including, but not limited to, the anti-intellectualisation of our society, emotional propaganda, alternative facts, manipulative and selective choice of facts, The Culture of Fear and the negative branding of cycling.
You might expect I was on American or Australian radio. Nope. I was a 12 minute bike ride from Copenhagenize Design Company’s Copenhagen office - at Denmark’s national broadcaster, DR, on their flagship radio channel P1 Debat.
The occasion was a debate about bike helmets. The week before, a Danish media personality, Mads Christensen, tossed out a remark on a television programme about how he let his kids decide for themselves, at the age of eight, if they wanted to wear a bike helmet or not. His comments were simply based on rationality about real or percieved dangers in society. Nevertheless, they generated a great deal of debate on social media. A journalist and radio host, Bente Dalsbæk (The Journalist), decided to allocate 45 minutes to the subject.
Mads Christensen (The Rationalist) was there, of course. Also invited were Klaus Bondam (The Bike Advocate), head of the Danish Cyclists’ Federation; Torben Lund Kudsk (The Motorist), head of the Danish car lobby NGO, FDM; and yours truly.
I don’t often engage in discussions about bike helmets in Denmark and try to avoid them in other regions. I feel that it distracts from our work at Copenhagenize Design Company in designing infrastructure for cities. Like Chris Boardman - former pro-cyclists and policy advisor at British Cycling has said on BBC.com, "You're as safe riding a bike as you are walking," (a helmet is) "... not in the top 10 things you can do to keep safe."
I did this TED x talk in 2010 about The Culture of Fear related to bike helmets in order to NOT have to talk about it all the time.
This article by Howie Chong entitled Why it Makes Sense to Bike Without a Helmet is also well worth a read.
What has shocked me is that the debate about helmets is at such a primitive level in this country. Even in hard-core helmet promotion regions elsewhere in the world, I can engage in discussions at a much higher level. The hysterical social media reaction to comments like those by Mads Christensen would be balanced by people aware of science and practicing rationality. Not so here in Denmark. The reactions were overwhelmingly hysterical and ignorant. Not to mention completely unworthy of a well-educated nation like Denmark.
The 45 minute interview started with context, where The Rationalist explained his side of the story. He repeated his statement about rationality and risk assessment. When mountain biking the woods, he and his kids wear helmets. When cycling to the shops in the world’s safest bicycle nation or whatnot, he doesn’t and he allows his kids to make their own call. Sounds like an intelligent approach.
Like almost everywhere else, kids have a higher risk of head injury in cars and in playgrounds and for adults, cars pose the greatest risk followed by being a pedestrian, being at home, gardening, etc.
Yes, life remains dangerous, although we live in a safer society than at any other point in the history of homo sapiens. The Culture of Fear, however, is the bogeyman. We can still construct fear of anything - including cycling. And wherever we can scare people, there are products to be sold to them.
After The Rationalist outlined his point of view in the radio debate, The Journalist started to gather points of view, starting with The Bike Advocate. Klaus Bondam stated his organisation’s standard position. They strongly recommend helmets but are against legislation to make them mandatory. I pointed out that The Bike Advocate is the head of the only national bicycle NGO in Europe that actively promotes helmets.
It was then my turn to present my point of view. How science should be respected, how manipulating selective facts is fundamentally wrong. I did what I could with the short answering time allocated to me by The Journalist but I could see early on in the interview that it was rigged in favour of The Culture of Fear. Which made it a loooong 45 minutes.
All the strategy for one-sided debate was present. The Journalist threw out a statistic about how 60% of head injuries could be avoided with a helmet. No, not 60% of ALL head injuries - she only meant bike crashes. The Bike Advocate threw out another select statistic. With the looks on their faces when they did so, you really sensed that they felt they were nailing the debate.
The Journalist didn’t bothering questioning the statistic or the context of it in order to provide the listeners with a bigger picture. The Bike Advocate looked all pleased with himself at being able to quote a researcher name and the year of the study. While science is under fire in Trump’s America, there is another category that is equally detrimental to any debate. The One Study Argument. Just cast one study that produced one statistic into the debate and wham. You are portrayed as an expert. People who don’t know more about the subject have no response. Pity those poor fools. Let them bask in the glory of your One Study Argument greatness.
That is not how science works, however. The bigger picture is more important.
Why is the debate at such a primitive level here in one of the world’s great cycling nations? The answer is simple. Lack of information - or rather a strictly controlled and manipulated information flow. In the Danish context, we must examine the tightly controlled information flow. Like you, wherever you are whilst reading this, we have a road safety NGO in Denmark. They call themselves The Danish Road Safety Council - Rådet for Sikker Trafik (The Safety Nannies).
Via Yehuda Moon - http://yehudamoon.com/
This NGO is the puppet master controlling the flow of information about bike helmets. They have mastered the art. By doing so, they also contribute to the anti-intellectualisation of Danish society. They select one or two studies that adhere to their strict ideology and present it like the word of god to the masses. If individuals question it, the stats are merely repeated. The “60%” stat that The Journalist found and presented in the studio is their current one commandment carved in a stone tablet. It originates with the Norwegian Transport Economic Institute (TØI) and dates from 2004. It is perfect for them. It is a Scandinavian source from a fancy-sounding institute. Ironically, TØI has published other helmet-related studies since then and few would fit Sikker Trafik’s ideology. Better to ignore them and stick to the stat that works.
You don’t need to explain WHY climate change is a hoax. You just have to repeat it ad naseum. Much the same communication strategy as The Safety Nannies employ and hand off to lazy journalists and pundits. It is a sad, flawed strategy that only fans the flames of anti-intellectualisation in any society but if you look at it, it is a brilliant strategy from a communication point of view.
The Safety Nannies started their bike helmet promotion in the early 1990s in Denmark. Since then, cycling levels have continued to fall, which is what we have seen in many regions around the world. Danes are cycling more than 30% less today than in 1990. (If we got that 30% back, we could save over 1500 lives a year because of the health benefits of cycling, according to Professor Lars Bo Andersen of University of Southern Denmark, the most published academic about the health benefits of cycling)
The positive aspects of having a cycling population are rarely presented in the current debate in Denmark. They are not sensationalist enough for journalists, apparently. In the middle of the interview The Journalist held up a printed out photo that she harvested from Facebook of a woman with a head injury. It was like a image version of the One Study Argument. “See?! Look at THAT...” End of debate. Showing photos of tens of thousands of people lying in hospital beds suffering from lifestyle illnesses like diabetes, heart disease, etc, due to inactivity is considerably less glamorous and have no place in sensationalist journalism.
Another old chestnut was presented in the studio. 17,000 people visit a hospital each year as a result of a bike crash. I tried to put that number into context. The average in Denmark is 20,000, so I had calculated based on that number.
If 18% of the population of Denmark ride a bicycle to and from work or education each day, that is 1,008,000 trips a week, Monday to Friday. Multiply that by 300 work days a year and you get 302,400,000 trips by bike. We’re not even including the trips to the supermarket, cafe, cinema, etc.
If 20,000 trips end in a crash and a hospital visit, that means you have, in Denmark, a 0.0066138% chance of crashing and going to the hospital. The vast majority of those injuries are minor and the person in question is back on a bike in, at the most, a couple of days. Motorists, by the way, end up in hospitals much longer when they get injured in their preferred mode of transport.
According to the City of Copenhagen who endeavour to battle this Bicycle Misinformation War whenever they can, I have to cycle to work for 2800 YEARS before I get injured.
So where was The Bike Advocate during this onslaught of manipulation and alternative facts? Was he deftly and professionally countering all the arguments about cycling being dangerous? You would hope so. He was, however, all over the map, sending conflicting messages about cycling.
The Safety Nannies broadcast the number of 20,000 cyclists visiting hospitals to anyone who will listen. They are not content with that, however. They invented “mørketal” - or “dark numbers” as a way of further constructing fear about cycling. Cyclists also get hurt but DON’T visit the hospital and those dark numbers are an unknown. Yes. Cyclists who ARE OKAY and who have bandaids in their home after a minor mishap are now being used in the massive branding of cycling as an undesirable transport form.
The Bike Advocate presented the listeners with this concept of dark numbers. Instead of defending cycling from the onslaught, he helped polish the rifles and load the ammo. A little later, he threw in a mix of neutral and positive angles to confuse anyone who was listening. There was no clear agenda from Denmark’s national cycling NGO. They refuse to acknowledge what most other cycling NGOs in Europe know - that merely promoting helmets is detrimental to cycling levels.
Personally, I am sceptical when shopkeepers promote helmets. The Cyclists’ Federation has a bike shop. Several people in the industry cancelled their memberships back in the day when they opened a shop. The criticism was that an NGO for cycling should not promote one product over the other and remain neutral.
In another twist, we still have emails in our archives from late 2007 and early 2008 when The Safety Nannies started their hardcore, emotional propaganda about bike helmets. What tipped it for them was that they convinced the Cyclists’ Federation to get on board. Colleagues from our industry informed me that the latter were promised influence and access to future funding if they joined the helmet brigade. They continue to deny this to this day.
In Denmark, everything started with The Safety Nannies and their manipulated alternative facts are largely unchallenged by a society slowly dumbing down. Trump didn’t invent Trumpism, he just excels at it. Trump is merely a product of societal development. The same techniques are present everywhere. Interestingly, like Trump, The Safety Nannies in Denmark do not like being contradicted. They have actually spent time emailing journalists in Denmark and abroad about… me. Engaging in attempted character assassination with journalists and editors. Trying to discredit me. It is amusing. It only helps getting science printed and distributed. It also shows that their case is weak. You don’t go to all that effort if you are confident in what you are saying.
Current helmet wearing rates in Copenhagen are at 11%.
As we have come to expect, the debate also featured comments about “doctors and nurses say that...” Yet another technique in the debate. Who can doubt a medical professional?! They fail to realise that while those doctors and nurses excel at fixing people, they receive information about prevention from the same sources as everyone else. The one-way communication street from The Safety Nannies sends the same manipulated facts to doctors and nurses, too. Trust the medical professionals to make you better. Doubt the sources of their prevention advice. And notice that it is the trauma staff who get the best press. The doctors caring for those with lifestyle illnesses never get the same spotlight.
The debate wandered into cyclist behaviour and the others agreed readily that “something has happened… cyclists are behaving more badly than ever before”. This is as amusing as it is wrong. Cyclist behaviour is largely unchanged for at least 120 years. There are countless articles, letters to the editor and editorials about cyclist behaviour over the past century. Not least this satirical piece by Denmark’s most loved satirist, Storm P..
Perhaps it is time to realise that cyclist behaviour can only be changed if we stop forcing them to adhere to traffic rules and traffic culture designed to serve the automobile. We sending badminton players to play with ice hockey rules. It has never worked so it is time to think differently.
We have shown time and again with our Desire Line Analyses that behaviour among our cycling citizens is fine. Only 5% of cyclists smash through the traffic rulebook. Which is on a par with pedestrians and motorists.
A recent poll in Denmark outlined how ignorance of a topic can have dangerous consequences. This is a society where The Safety Nannies have a monopoly on the information about cycling. Danes were polled about whether they want a helmet law. A majority said yes. You don’t get that result in many places anymore due to the balance of information in the debate. Except in Denmark. The Safety Nannies and The Bike Advocate have been pushing helmets hard. Now they are under fire for not supporting a bike helmet law. They have shot themselves in the foot.
It was a tough room. Countering emotional propaganda with an arsenal of science and rationality is difficult. I was in the line of fire as the others did what they could to continue this branding of cycling in Denmark as dangerous, using all the techniques we know from around the world. I tried to highlight facts like the Australian government’s study about motoring helmets, but to no avail. I just hope some listeners got the point.
I didn’t get to industrial design, unfortunately. People have been led to believe that a bike helmet can withstand a meteor strike. They have never been informed that a helmet is designed to protect the head in non-life threatening, solo accidents under 20 km/h. Or that helmets are tested in simulations that resemble a pedestrian falling - which makes them perfect for… pedestrians and people in their home.
"A walking helmet is a good helmet"
Nor did I get to say that most serious head injuries are not a result of a lateral impact, but rather a rotational impact. Something bike helmets cannot deal with.
More people drown in Denmark each year than die in bicycle crashes. There is a missed financial opportunity there. Let’s pass laws making life vests mandatory within 2 metres of water. 35,000 Europeans die each year in cars. Think of the money to be made if we imported these from Australia (it is a real product).
It was a depressing debate session in that radio studio. Daily Mail tactics from The Journalist. Vague, conflicting and confusing messaging from The Bike Advocate. The Rationalist had his say, which helped, but at the end of the day, the sheeple will lean towards the strong-flowing current of misinformation from The Safety Nannies.
You may recall that The Motorist was in the room, too. He didn’t say much. He didn’t need to. Would you? You have a national radio program completely trashing your main competitor. Car sales are at a four year high in Denmark. Just stand there and let them do it.
I cycled back to the office and continued to work on our projects with cities who want to copenhagenize themselves. We’ll keep on keeping on. Designing their networks and infrastructure. Exporting the Copenhagen model. It is a good, transferable model. It is working to transform cities around the world. Embrace it. Everything else coming out of Denmark regarding negative branding, helmet promotion and The Culture of Fear… ignore it.
Go talk to the Dutch. Start with this article about Dutch Rationality Saving Childrens’ Lives.
In Denmark, we're heading down this road:
Guldbergsgade, Copenhagen, Denmark (MCA)
Bike Boulevards of Broken Dreams
by Holly Hixson
Holly Hixson has a background in Urban Planning and Psychology from the University of Oregon. She has interned in the Copenhagenize office in both Montreal and Copenhagen.
As an intern for the Danish urban design firm Copenhagenize Design Co., I’ve learned a lot about best practices in bike planning, about committing to those best practices rather than taking a half-step and calling it progress and about making bold moves toward a future you want for your city.
I’ve been able to ride on the best bicycle infrastructure in the world that is lively and overflowing with people, sheer proof that if you build it, and you build it correctly, bicycle users will come. Today’s reality on the streets of Copenhagen looks like what we want for the future of mobility in our cities. A future without hoverboards and flying cars but with regular people, using the bicycle as a tool, not because they are extraordinary humans but because they have things to do and want to get there quick. Simple.
My reality for the most part, looks a lot different than this. I’m from Portland, Oregon. I still get stuck places where a painted bike lane abruptly ends, I still feel unsafe, unsupported, even in what’s considered one of the most bike friendly cities in the U.S., growth is measured in half-steps; I know these streets weren't built for me. I’ve often found it most pleasant to resort to neighborhood streets elsewhere. Luckily, I live in a neighborhood that has made deliberate decisions about how these local streets should feel to a people on bikes.
Enter: the bicycle boulevard. Internationally, variations of this concept have existed since around 1980 when Germany began making bike priority streets - the fahrradstraße. Denmark, the Netherlands, and the UK have similar concepts, the cykelgade, fietsstraat, woonerfen among other bike priority streets incorporate traffic calming techniques have been great for filling in gaps in the bike networks. And let me stress: filling in the network. These quiet streets have been used as a tool to add to networks, not to create the backbone of them. Indeed, Copenhagen experimented with the idea in the early 90s and then promptly ditched them. Instead prioritizing bicycle infrastructure along the natural desire lines in the city - the streets leading to the city centre.
Netherlands (Herman Wouters, New York Times)
Esslingen, Germany (http://dasfahrradblog.blogspot.ca/)
Similar ideas have also been popping up (with varying levels of success) in North American cities such as Austin, Vancouver and Minneapolis. Often they are used as cheap and easy bicycle connections in lieu of real A-to-B infrastructure, but when designed properly, a bicycle boulevard that adds to a greater network can look like this:
Minneapolis, MN (koonceportland.blogspot.ca
Berkeley, CA (Carrie Cizauskas) (planplaceblog.com
James Mayer (OregonLive) Portland, Oregon (above)
They contain elements such as chicanes - raised curbs that narrow streets in a serpentine pattern so that drivers have fewer stretches of wide open space. In some spots, the road is accessible to only bikes and by car only for residents. Scattered throughout are small roundabouts, landscaping and extended curbs at intersections. Clearly marked signs remind cars they are not the top priority on these streets, tell people on bikes what’s nearby and of course there are LOTS of speed bumps. These solutions are all pretty simple: design spaces that calm car traffic and ease bicycle traffic. And do it on purpose.
Vancouver BC Fundamentals of bicycle boulevard planning & design, PSU (above)
On the other hand, when done half-heartedly, a bike boulevard can look like this: Wide open space, no traffic calming devices, no priority, just paint declaring it a bicycle boulevard.
Thatcher Imboden ( Minneapolis, MN
This example, brings me to Montréal. Here I was, interning at Copenhagenize’s North American office and what I’ve gathered is that Montréal, like Portland, is familiar with taking half-steps in the direction of progress. Putting in the largest protected cycle track network in North America, to their credit, makes a statement about the kind of future the city aspires to.
However, a city that anticipates over 200 cm of snowfall annually can’t be taken seriously as a leader in bicycle urbanism internationally if most of those protected cycle tracks and significant bicycle parking are taken out for half of the year. It goes without saying that cars do not face the same forced hibernation in the presence of snow. There is evidence of a change in that attitude, with much improved steps being taken in local maintenance so far this winter.
Bartek Komorowski (Montreal)
To put my experience in context, as someone new to the city, I’ve found it fairly easy to navigate the streets by bike. Neighborhoods like the Plateau are dense with apartments and destinations; restaurants, cafes, bars, shopping, public space. The quiet, narrow streets don’t give me priority but they also don’t make me feel largely unsafe or too small for the space. This is true on neighbourhood streets and seems to be a popular opinion given that the city of Montréal as a whole only has about 3% of people commuting by bicycle, while the Plateau has over 10%. It would not take much to greatly affect how people on bikes feel in this space, to give them priority over cars and to do this by using design. Simply painting shared lane markings on the street and dubbing it bicycle infrastructure though, is not enough. We know now what we have long suspected. Sharrows don't work.
The newest additions to the Montréal bicycle network (currently being pursued as pilot projects) are two bicycle boulevards, or vélorues, on Rue de Mentana and Saint-André. Both are great opportunities to add to the network and indicate priority and commitment to actual change in how people are getting around the city. Mentana and Saint-André are fairly quiet and narrow, one-way streets with parking on either side. As of now, there are the occasional speed bumps, signs saying that trucks aren’t allowed to access these roads and painted sharrows (shared road symbols) on the street. However, the paint used is not long-lasting thermoplast paint, so after just a few weeks of snow and slush, the symbols are already tattered and faded. And now, after a few months of winter - almost non-existent.
Holly Hixson (Rue Saint-André) left & Michael Wexler (Rue Mentana) right
Both vélorues cross several perpendicular streets, including Saint-Joseph - a 6 lane residential boulevard and a high volume East-West connector for cars, especially during rush hour. Down the center of Saint-Joseph is a narrow median with room for pedestrians and bikes to wait so as not to cross two-way traffic at once, diverting cars from taking Mentana or Saint-André all the way through. This space existed before the bicycle boulevard project began, already offering traffic calming to the area and continues to be very tight for bicycles and pedestrians to feel fully comfortable.
Holly Hixson (Rue Saint-Joseph)
One significant change here is the addition of four signals installed at the crossing of Saint-Joseph and Rachel streets which give bikes and pedestrians safe passage on a green light. Despite this, there are not yet signs that say bikes have priority. There are no new pieces of infrastructure or signs that limit the speed for cars. There are no other new traffic calming elements present.
Drawing on past projects that Montréal has done and a desire to continuously make progress for bicycles in the city, a pilot project can be helpful in improving existing assets and gaining public support for new ideas. Sure, these streets are fairly comfortable to ride a bike on, but only as much as they ever have been.
If money is being invested in the creation of vélorues, if the City desires political praise for doing something for bikes, then new infrastructure (especially pilot projects) must really show their commitment to innovation. In order for Montréal’s pilot project to be successful, these aspects of real traffic calming - for example new diverters, planters, chicanes, signage, and solid public outreach - need to be present from the start. There are plenty of examples to draw inspiration from.
via Marc-André Gadoury (Montreal)
Looking forward, let us not conform to a substandard “good enough” attitude, let's look to best practices and replicate those, and redesign space to speak for itself. We must abandon half-step attempts and instead take bold strides in the direction of progress. We commend the City of Montréal on the announcement of new projects like the 3km stretch of Copenhagen-style cycle tracks to be implemented in 2017 (see above), but wish that efforts like the new vélorues aimed for the same level of commitment to innovation.
Episode 01 - The Big Picture
Copenhagenize Design Company produced these short clips a couple of years back, filmed and edited by Ivan Conte, who was working with us at the time. They still get hits from various corners of the internet, so we thought we'd slap them together in one place. The Top Ten Design Elements that make Copenhagen a bicycle-friendly city.
Episode 02 - The Green Wave for Cyclists
Episode 03 - Intermodality
Episode 04 - Safety Details
Episode 05 - Nørrebrogade
Episode 06 - Macro Design
Episode 07 - Micro Design
Episode 08 - Cargo Bikes
Episode 09 - Desire Lines
Episode 10 - Political Will
Here on the cusp of a new year, Copenhagenize Design Company looks back on our activities in 2016. All of our offices have been busy and we are, in retrospect, thrilled and humbled by the past 12 months.
Our offices in Copenhagen and France - the latter being the HQ for all our work in French speaking countries - have experienced an unprecedented level of work for client cities. Our new office in Barcelona is gearing up and our most recent new office, in Montreal, hit the ground running.
Here is a summary of our work in 2016.
Bicycle Planning and Coaching
Planning and coaching for client cities is, of course, still our primary focus and core competence at Copenhagenize Design Company. It is also in this area that we are experiencing an exponential growth in our client base.
City of Almetyevsk, Tatarstan, Russia
Starting with the City of Almetyevsk is obvious for us. It is simply the most exciting project we are involved in - and wilder than our wildest dreams. We were hired by the city after an email exchange back in October 2015, to develop a bicycle infrastructure network and strategy for this city of 150,000. We were no stranger to the task but we didn’t quite realise what kind of visionary client had hired us at the time.
Ayrat Khayrullin is the young, ambitious mayor who acknowledged the importance of a holistic bicycle strategy that values Best Practice, world-class facilities, constructive communication strategies and above all, dedicated cycle tracks. From the get-go, Khayrullin expressed one clear goal: to transform Almetyevsk into the most bicycle friendly city in Russia, one where he would feel confident sending his young year-old son off to school by bike.
In our preliminary meetings with the city, we quickly agreed on the process and the goals. 200 km of bicycle infrastructure in a cohesive network of Best Practice infrastructure. Nothing less. At our meetings in the city in Fall 2015, we were told that they wanted to get to work on construction in Spring 2016.
We developed a vision for a not-so-distant future Almetyevsk: “A place where the young and old, rich and poor, can cycle alongside one another on a safe and connected network of best practice bicycle infrastructure.” Some more quantifiable goals will help in guiding this vision forward into the future.
Construction on the project began in late May, 2016, coinciding with Russia’s annual bicycle parade day and a ribbon cutting ceremony, celebrating the first 50 km of Best Practice, separated bicycle infrastructure in a cohesive network.
Read more about the Almetyevsk project here.
City of Long Beach, California
With a large bicycle sculpture mounted on the side of their City Hall, the City of Long Beach has quite literally seized the title of “America’s most bicycle friendly city”. This year they’ve continued to champion the bicycle as a legitimate mode of transportation by bringing Copenhagenize Design Co. on board with two separate projects. The first has us advising the City not only on collecting new data on the who, where, why and hows of cycling in Long Beach, but ensuring the newfound data will be presented to the public in an accessible and informative manner. We’ve also been working with Long Beach’s endlessly impressive Department of Public Works, coaching them through more difficult infrastructure solutions from a bicycle user’s perspective.
The bicycle urbanism future in Long Beach is as bright as the sun that shines down on it.
City of Detroit
In the American city synonymous with the automotive industry, the bicycle is returning to the urban landscape. In a big way. Copenhagenize Design Co. has been brought onboard to develop a network strategy for Detroit’s greater downtown. Connecting the downtown core with surrounding universities, hospitals, cultural destinations and surrounding neighbourhoods, the project aims to introduce a network of protected, connected bicycle infrastructure. Accompanying the infrastructure plan will be public education campaigns presents cycling in a normative, accessible, and affirmative tone.
We are thrilled by the energy and drive coming out of the planning department and City Hall about remodelling Detroit into a city of the future.
City of Paris - Bike Share
The City of Paris has plans to upgrade and expand their much lauded bike share programme, Velib, farther into the Greater Paris area. Paris was one of the first major cities to launch a large-scale bike-share scheme in 2007. Almost 10 years later, the contract with the bike share provider had to be renewed and the City of Paris hired the French consulting firm Inddigo and Copenhagenize Design Co. to assist in defining the future of the scheme and the expansion into the suburbs of Greater Paris. Copenhagenize brought our focus on user-friendliness and an international benchmark of qualitative bike share programmes to the table. We presented new services and technology that have been developed to meet users’ expectations.
City of Paris – Cycling Superhighway
All the cool kids are thinking about bicycle superhighways as a transport solution and Paris is no exception. Copenhagenize Design Co. was hired by the City of Paris to provide a study on the current cycling climate and the upcoming plans for a network of protected cycle tracks throughout the city. Copenhagenize profiled cyclists and analysed seven intersections with our Desire Line Analysis Tool in order to provide the city with a comprehensive understanding of cycling conditions before turning the main boulevards into a network of safe infrastructure for bicycle users. In addition, we provided them with a range of international best practices to manage intersections that will allow the city to upgrade the current cycling climate in the city.
City of Bordeaux
The City of Bordeaux employed Copenhagenize Design Co. to organise workshops, an inspirational keynote and a study trip to Copenhagen - The City of Cyclists.
Before setting up an action plan for improving cycling conditions of their territory, Bordeaux Métropole asked us to provide advice and inspiration based on the Danish bicycle urbanism model. After attending a keynote in Bordeaux and participating in a study trip to Copenhagen, the politicians unanimously voted for an ambitious Cycling Strategy for the next four years in order to make cycling a comfortable and competitive means of transportation in the Greater Bordeaux area. Moreover, Bordeaux Métropole is working on developing bicycle-friendly areas which will be used to set up a new standard of both qualitative infrastructure and services for cyclists.
City of Strasbourg
Copenhagenize Design Co. and our partner, Inddigo, were hired by Strasbourg Eurométropole to advise the local authority on all topics related to cycling for the next four years. It’s exciting for us to work in a city where political will to develop cycling infrastructure has been consistent for many years. In 2016, this partnership started by the creation of a visual identity and a new wayfinding for the well-structured cycling superhighway network, VéloStras, running through the whole metropolitan area. We look forward to the next four years of work with Strasbourg.
City of Amsterdam
After working with the City of Amsterdam on Desire Line Analyses, we were tasked with designing urban solutions and ideas for how the city could inspire local cyclists and provide them with facilities that would both make them feel welcome and benefit safety.
Keynotes and Presentations
Regarding keynotes and presentations, we continued where we left off in inspiring cities and local stakeholder about the possibilities of taking the bicycle seriously as transport once again. Our CEO, Mikael Colville-Andersen, continues to do his renowned keynotes around the world, as he has done for the past eight years. Now, with our growing team in our international offices, we are reaching out to a broader range of audiences and sharing our experience, expertise and core philosophies. Between Mikael, James Thoem (Copenhagen), Clotilde Imbert (Brussels), Jordi & Marie Elisa (Barcelona) and Michael Wexler (Montreal) we have spoken at conferences in, among other cities, Berlin, Rome, Graz, Oslo, Salt Lake City, Barcelona, Denver, Cairo, Vancouver, Montreal, Bordeaux and Moscow.
Delegations and Study Tours
It’s one thing telling the story to audiences around the world. It’s quite another hosting delegations right here in Copenhagen. It is inspiring for us to be able to show Copenhagen for what it is, cycling around with groups from all over the world. There is no shortage of study groups and delegations making the journey to Copenhagen and Copenhagenize Design Co. is a primary choice for foreign engineers, planners, policymakers and student groups looking to decode the Danish bicycle urbanism model. In 2016 we hosted delegations from eight countries, with a total of over 250 participants.
The Master Class by Copenhagenize
Again this year we cast ourselves headlong into the Master Class fray in June. Twenty participants from four continents were selected to attend our three day, total immersion Master Class in the City of Cyclists. Sharing concepts, thoughts, and ideas with such an amazing group of participants remains one of our educational highlights year after year.
This year saw an increase in the number of exhibitions that featured our work.
- Bikeology Cycling Exhibition, Museum of Applied Arts, in Budapest, Hungary.
- Bike To The Future, Design Museum Ghent, in Belgium.
- Mutations Urbaines: la ville est à nous!, Cité des sciences & de l’industrie in Paris, France.
After such an inspiring year, all the crew at Copenhagenize Design Co. around the world are looking forward to 2017. Thanks to all our clients for making 2016 so brilliant.
Mikael Colville-Andersen, is embarking on an exciting new project in parallel with his work in our Copenhagen office. Shooting has begun on his new tv series The Life-Sized City. With his series, Mikael hopes to bring citizen urbanism into the living rooms of city dwellers all over the world. With rising urbanization, our cities are in focus more than ever. For the first time in almost a century, we are looking at the development of our urban centres in a new and exciting way.
For 7000 years, ever since cities were first formed, they have been fantastic theatres for human activity. Yet for the better part of the last 80 years, our perception of cities changed. They were suddenly regarded as a series of mathematical models that required engineering to make them function.
Slowly but surely, we are once again focusing on cities as life-sized urban spaces. We are witnessing the re-emergence of cities that are attractive, healthy, interesting and efficient. Cities that do not leave us feeling awestruck and insignificant with their height and girth, but that rather inspire us at street level. They are, quite simply, Life-Sized Cities.
No city is perfect, of course. But some are farther advanced than others. Mikael will explore cities around the world and, instead of pointing fingers at their glaring flaws, we will seek out their pockets of life-sized goodness.
The promotional teaser trailer for The Life-Sized City.
The title for the series was inspired by Mikael’s daughter, Lulu-Sophia, whom he calls The World’s Youngest Urbanist. It was back in 2012 that Mikael started developing his idea together with his friend and executive producer, Nicolas Boucher, from production company DB Com Media in Montreal . Fittingly, over a bottle of red wine. After a couple of years of development, the series started to take form until financing for the first six episodes of Season 1 fell into place and shooting the first episode began in Medellin, Colombia in June 2016.
“The Life-Sized City is, for me, a way to continue my work looking at how we can improve all aspects of urban life and, at the same time, transport my experiences into the living rooms of people all over the world”, says Mikael Colville-Andersen. “It is important to erase the borders between cities and to provide transferable inspiration that citizens can borrow freely from in their local community”.
The first six cities in Season 1 are Medellin, Toronto, Paris, Tokyo, Bangkok and Ljubljana. A mix of city sizes and styles that present a variety of challenges when seeking out life-sized elements on the urban landscape. The Life-Sized City will present a gallery of the best and the brightest minds and projects that are making our daily lives better in our cities - from bottom-up to top-down.
Canadian broadcasters TV Ontario and Knowledge Network will broadcast the first season in Canada starting in September 2017, with other countries and regions around the world following suit afterwards. DBCom Media, among other programmes, produces the Waterfront Cities series and Island Diaries.
Follow The Life-Sized City on Instagram.
Like The Life-Sized City on Facebook.
We've been compiling a list of examples of how the automobile industry, since the bicycle returned to the public consciousness around 2006-2007, have been striking back. Using their advertising millions to ridicule not just bikes but public transport. It is the surest sign that they feel threatened by the return of serious competition. So threatened that they actively spend money on tackling it.
A few years ago we made a commercial - If Car Commercials Were Based on Fact, Not Fiction. Citroen did not like it at all and here's THAT fun story.
Here is a long list of examples of The Car Empire Strikes Back - dating from 2009 here on the blog. We'll add new ones here as they appear. And they will.
AUDI - NOVEMBER 2016
Ah, Audi. You can always count on Audi to strike back. This time they aren't ridiculing bikes or public transport (scroll to the bottom of this article). This time they're squatting and they went to Copenhagen to do it. The irony escapes no one. In their photo shoot - or rather photoshop - for something they call the Q2, they happily parked their last century technology on public squares, skateparks and on sidewalks. In a city where 56% ride a bike each day and only 14% drive a car. You can't make this up. But you can ridicule it. And upgrade their logo while you're at it.
Their copy is hilarious, too. "Somehow cool, somehow stylish, somehow "hyggelig", as the Danes say." Or this about the Superkilen square where they rudely engaged in arrogant and illegal parking:
"The Superkilen district in Copenhagen North-west unites different cultural influences with a combination of architecture, design and landscaping. The Audi Q2, of course, is not one of the permanent installations, but it still works."
Does it? DOES IT, work? You be the judge.
Thanks to Johannes in Finland for sending us the link.
FORD - NOVEMBER 2016
Does he deserve the new Ford Mondeo? Oh yes. He does. He had to ride an elevator with a smelly, sub-cultural cyclist dude. So of course, he does.
Amusingly, here's the opposite side of the coin. A commercial from the Dutch TV and Film School. Smug motorists in an elevator. Announcement says first, "Attention, the blue Saab is being towed." Then followed by, "Attention, the yellow Lotus is rolling towards the Saab". Or something like that. Cue smug cyclist.
VOLVO - MARCH 2015
The latest piece in our ongoing series writes itself. This time it's Volvo doing its best to draw your attention to the fact that motorists kill obscene amounts of people - including themselves - by placing the responsibility on cyclists and pedestrians. It's a smoke screen and this time it's sprayed on. It is Ignoring the Bull in Society's China Shop taken to the next level.
Volvo Life Paint. Seriously. Life paint.
But hey... it's not for the 35,000+ people killed by or in cars in the EU alone by Volvo and their Big Auto homies (around the same in the US and 1.2 million worldwide - not to mention the tenfold more killed by pollution from cars and trucks or the hundreds and hundreds of thousands more injured...).
And no, it's not rational ideas like helmets for motorists or making motorists responsible by forcing them to have external airbags.
It's spray on paint.
No, not for cars, even though black cars are most likely to be involved in collisions. No, it's not rational stuff like reflective paint on cars or health warning legislation on all automobiles.
It's for you on foot or on a bicycle because you are an irritation to motorists. You are a squishy bug ruining their paint job. You are a threat to their mobility dominance. You must be ridiculed with calls for reflective vests/clothing and a variety of ways to hate on pedestrians. Now you have the gift of Big Auto paint to spray on your irritating person.
I don't think we realise how slippery a slope it is we are on as a society when morons like this produce crap like this and actually get taken seriously.
Fortunately, we have a better idea for Volvo. Make Life Shine.
SMART - SEPTEMBER 2014
Yep. All this growing momemtum for liveable cities and civilised streets after almost a century of destructive, car-centric traffic engineering is really starting to irritate Big Auto. Smart is no exception. In an almost laughable direct extention of the automobile industry's invention of the concept of jaywalking (as highlighted in this TED talk), Smart decided to use "fun" and "gameification" in order to keep the sheep that are pedestrians down. Under the thumb. Under control. In the name, of course, of their kind of safety. They call it:
They are really grasping at straws, Big Auto. This generation is abandoning the automobile and so here comes the spin... new, smart generation... for loving the city. Those of us who love cities rarely have a love of the automobile. We're tired of death, injury, destruction. The new smart generation can see through Big Auto's attempts to spin things their way once again. "To hook them back to the car" as this former head designer at BMW actually told the crowd during his keynote.
So, funny dancing crossing lights to keep pedestrians "safe". Give me a break. 30 km/h zones like in over 120 European cities keep pedestrians and cyclists safe. Traffic calming does, too. External airbags on cars - placing the responsability on the potential murderers, too. Reducing the number of cars in cities is a no-brainer for the new, smart generation. Eliminating car ownership in cities altogether is actually a thing.
We who are new, smart and of this generation don't buy this blatant ignoring the bull. The paradigm is shifting. We are rejecting the car-centric streets that we inherited from the past century. Let the pedestrians dance wherever the hell they like in the Life-Sized City. It's the future of cities. It's back to the future, too. Seven thousand years of liveable cities will NOT be ruined by 90 odd years of deadly mistakes by traffic engineers and Big Auto, who have more deaths on their conscience that most dictators. The liveable city is rising once again, carried on the shoulders of a new, smart generation.
NISSAN - FEBRUARY 2014
Car companies are now intent on ridiculing other transport forms or lathering themselves up in a greenwashing frenzy.
It's usually a roll-your-eyes, comical experience. Nissan Denmark, however, have outdone themselves. They're banging the drums for their new Qashqai model here in Denmark. It started last year on September 4, 2013 when Nissan hosted a "café" in the centre of Copenhagen, letting people take the Qashqai for a test drive. In the middle of the day. In the City of Cyclists and near our many pedestrian streets and a main metro station.
Kieran Toms, who is interning with Copenhagenize Design Co. at the moment, reported from the front lines. He popped into the "café" with a friend. Kieran, being a modern young man from the UK, doesn't have a driving licence, but his friend took Nissan up on the offer of a test drive. The Nissanite who accompained him extoled the virtues of the car and especially the acceleration. Unfortuntely, they were paralysed in traffic - while hundreds and hundreds of bicycle users rolled part, oblivious to the wonders of last century mobility. Acceleration consisted of crawling ten metres at a time down the streets. Involuntary humour from Nissan.
Now Nissan are ramping up their campaign for their car. The film, above, starts with the classic car industry shot of a car alone on a road - like THAT ever happens in a city. The text fades in declaring the Qashqui to be The Ultimate Urban Experience. Which, in reality in Copenhagen, is staring out the window at the rear end of some other car whilst citizens ride bicycles or walk past you.
Then they declare they're "Unlocking Copenhagen" for a weekend in March and they've enlisted a minor Danish celebrity Mads Christensen (self-proclaimed biggest braggart in Denmark). He tells us that he'll be the keymaster for unlocking the city, driving around in a Qashqai and challenging the city. Something about all your questions will be answered as they "zig-zag" around the city in March. Totally vague.
The film features clips of Copenhagen, including loads of people riding their bicycles, unaffected by Nissan's marketing prowess. Yeah. Whatever. Remember to wave or ring your bell at Nissan and the Braggart when you see them stuck in traffic on the weekend of March 6-8, 2014. Compared to the other examples of Car Industry Strikes Back, this one is hilarious and rather lame.
MERCEDES - MAY 2013
Another day, another installment in our Car Industry Strikes Back series wherein the automobile industry, in their own quirky way, do what they can to ridicule the competition, be it bicycles or public transport.
This Mercedes commercial is - by car industry standards - just plain goofy. Let it be a sign that they're slipping up and getting a bit desperate. Two pro drivers, Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg, are cast in the roles of pro drivers who will never have careers as actors. The payoff at the end is classic Car Empire Strikes Back.
SMART - MAY 2013
Another fine example wherein we observe the desperate tactics of the car industry as they try to respond to rising cycling levels and public transport in their vain attempt to keep their dominant market share in this age of de-motorization.
This time it's Smart going for gold in this Portuguese commercial. Presenting us with worst-case scenarios from public transport and then having a young, hip-looking-ish man looking out the window at a Smart car rolling past - on an empty street at night. No traffic jams, nothing. Always amusing to see how car commercials try to get around showing traffic.
The tagline is SmartforTwo Public Transport. So now they're muscling in on the phrase Public Transport.
AUDI - DECEMBER 2012
Ahh. That most desperate of car brands, Audi. I think they are the car brand we've featured most in this series. They're at it again, this time in Finland.
It ends with the money shot, of course. The car in question flying along a road without any traffic. Free as a bird and at extremely high speeds. Everything preceeding the money shot is shots of poor bastards who don't have an Audi.
Including freezing public transport users at a bus stop (the leggy girl is clearly disenchanted with the guy for not having an Audi) and a man riding a thin-tired bicycle down a frozen road. Regarding the latter.... come on... the Finns know and they're not complete strangers to the bicycle. Any rural Finn worth their salt wouldn't ride THAT kind of bicycle in THAT kind of weather. This is the country that has the city of Oulu, for god's sake. Sure, it's not manipulation on the scale of BBC's War on Britain's Roads, but it's still bending the truth to serve an agenda.
A reader in Helsinki, Alexander, was kind enough to send us the head's up about this commercial, as well as to translate the titles:
"Talvi tulee taas" = Winter is coming again
"Älä taistele vastaan" = "Don't fight against [it]"
"Suomi. quattron koti" = "Finland. [the] quattro's home"
He also checked Shazam and found that the song used is "Prettiest World" by Daniel Nordgren. Prettiest world indeed. A world where walking is difficult, riding a bicycle is difficult, public transport is difficult and the only way to get around is in an Audi Quattro.
Desperate times for Audi. They're striking back.
LEXUS - DECEMBER 2012
Next up is Lexus. We've all heard that those pesky youngsters are driving less all around the western world. The demotorization of society is well under way. We know WHY they're not bothering to get driving licences. Damned social media. They can be sociable online instead of having to drive to the mall to hang out and suck on 40 gallon Cokes.
The car industry knows this all too well, too. So Lexus went for it. They want this to be a December to remember.
This December, remember: you can stay in and "Share" something or you can get out there with your friends and actually share something. This is the pursuit of perfection.
Buy the Lexus and you'll get a leggy girl begging to be with you. You'll experience traffic-free streets in major urban centres. You won't have to "share" those streets with ANYONE. Lexus is striking back. And, like so many of these commercials, it seems desperate.
CHEVY & DISNEY - NOVEMBER 2012
It's not going so good for Big Auto. Those pesky kids aren't bothering getting driving licences anymore. The Demotoriszation of society is in full swing. What to do... what to do... they gotta hook those kids - and everyone else - back to the car - as former BMW designer Chris Bangle said - while keeping a straight face in Melbourne. But how to strike back? How to sell some PEM? (Personal Emotional Mobility)?
Ah! Disneyworld! There's the ticket! We'll call it Test Track!
Get revved up for the exciting, re-imagined Test Track Presented by Chevrolet—the exhilarating driving experience, now designed by YOU! You'll feel like you're part of the Chevrolet design studio as you create your own virtual custom-concept vehicle. Then, put your design through its paces (at speeds of up to 65 miles per hour) on the exciting hills, hairpin turns and straightaways of the Test Track circuit.
And that's just the beginning of your adventure! After your "test drive" is over, you can:
- See how well your car performed and then race it over changing terrains and extreme conditions on a digital driving table
- Produce and share a TV commercial starring your "dream ride"
- Explore a Chevrolet showroom, complete with shiny new cars on display
You won't want to miss this interactive experience when it reopens in December 2012!
Check out the website!
Another, desperate last-ditch attempt to try and thwart the declining brand that is automobile culture? It's an expensive investment, but money is still around at Big Auto apparently.
Good luck with this.
SIXT CAR RENTAL - JUNE 2012
Having just returned from working in Brazil and Norway, this was a fun addition to my inbox. It's from the German global car rental company, Sixt. They cut refreshingly to the chase with their text, making it easier for us:
"To all those pioneers, idealists, eco-heroes and saviors of the world: You don't have to ride bicycles anymore".
Yes, they just wrote that. In all seriousness. In 2012.
So, now a car rental company is feeling the pressure from the rising levels of bicycle traffic. Perhaps this is a response to the recent, German Nationaler Radverksplan 2020, which aims boldly at doubling bicycle traffic in German cities.
As ever, it is a sure sign that the bicycle is back, here to stay and making the transport competition run scared.
BMW - MAY 2012
BMW is at it again. Sporty cyclists featured in the background. The text "Grace vs Pace" is prominent. But which is which? Does the car have pace and the cyclists grace? Or vice versa? We're not sure.
But the point is clear. Joy wins. The joy of driving a BMW far exceeds riding a bicycle. And now their calling it Efficient Dynamics. Less emissions. More driving pleasure. Greenwashing supreme.
FORD - MAY 2012
Our reader, Krzysztof in Gdansk, Poland, spotted this advert for Ford Poland in the Gazeta Wyborcza newspaper. You're going to love this desperate attempt by Ford to sell some vans.
The main text at the top left reads, "Ford Transit - a machine for saving money"
Then, below, Ford tries to alter reality by writing; "Delivery bicycles do not exist. You don't need to switch to riding a bike to save money."
Yes. They just wrote that. Delivery Bicycles Don't Exist. In all seriousness. And then they paid to have it published in a newspaper. If Poland has an advertising standards commission, someone should let them about this advert. Lying, as far as I'm aware, isn't allowed in advertising.
The text continues with optimistic texts about how you can "Save on buying", "save on petrol", "save on service", etc. "The usual blah blah blah you'd expect from a commercial", as Krzysztof put it in his email to us.
He continues, "Now I know commercials go a far way to bend facts and I know delivery bikes are not popular in Poland (in fact I've seen just 1 or 2 in
Gdańsk so far) but come on... I felt like someone was lying while looking me straight in the eyes. This ad is something I just couldn't pass by."
When you live in Copenhagen, with 40,000 cargo bikes and you are involved with the Cyclelogistics project to promote cargo bike use in European cities, this advert is so stupid it's amusing. As ever with this Car Industry Strikes Back series, we can see that they're worried. That they see the bicycle as serious competition. And well they should. It's last century versus this century and we're winning it.
Cargo bike delivery in Paris.
Vintage Russian cargo bike delivering flowers.
Left to right: Supermarket delivery bike in Montreal.
Citizen Cyclist in Copenhagen carrying stuff.
Royal Danish post.
Rio de Janeiro and Rio, again. Two of 11,000 cargo bike deliveries in that city.
Left to right: Copenhagener moving stuff to a flea market.
The Fruit Bike, Copenhagen.
Ice Cream Bikes at Copenhagen Zoo.
The Coffee Bike by Espressomanden, Copenhagen.
Cargo bike in Amsterdam.
Left to right: Newspaper bike, Copenhagen.
Cargo in Sao Paulo, Brazil.
Crêpes bike, Copenhagen.
Sushi bike, Copenhagen.
Bike repair bike, Copenhagen.
And so on, and so on. The Cargo Bike Culture photo set kind of thumbs its nose in the general direction of Ford.
VOLKSWAGON - DECEMBER 2011
Sandra from the always brilliant Classic Copenhagen blog spotted this here in Copenhagen. An installation commercial for the new Volkswagon Beetle. It translates as:
"Experience the wild animal" - or beast, perhaps - "on TheBeetle.dk".
As street ads go, I've seen better. And while this doesn't exactly fit into our Car Empire Strikes Back series, the 20-something creatives who thought this up and patted each other on the back afterwards have inadvertantly given us an image of our urban future.
Isn't this exactly what we're working towards? How we should finally - for the first time since the 1920's - stop ignoring the bull in society's china shop? Restricting the bull. Caging it. Taming it. Keeping it from killing, injuring and polluting. This campaign is anti-car without even meaning to be. Hilarious.
I'm happy to experience the beast on their (really quite cool) website. As long as they stay off our streets. And, for what it's worth, off our cycle tracks... that wide ass flatbed is sticking out over the track.
CHEVROLET COLOMBIA - DECEMBER 2011
On today's programme, we'll be travelling to Colombia, where Chevrolet desperately tries to reverse the tide of demotorisation and the rise of the bicycle.
If the 'oh so green' colour of the above graphics isn't cheesy enough, the text is:
"At the moment I ride a bicycle but with ChevyPlan I can now afford a car"
While Bogota's fame as a bicycle city from the early 90's is waning (police confiscating bicycles from cyclists who don't wear helmets, etc), the city is still more bicycle-friendly than many other places. A new bike share system has brought the bicycle back to the surface and this is how Chevrolet saw fit to react.
Offering citizens to bury themselves in debt, contribute to making the streets unsafe and adding to the emissions levels in Columbian cities. What a deal!
Here's the site for ChevyPlan Colombia. Be warned, ridiculous singing will blare out of your speakers. If you fancy letting them know that they're silly, here's a link to a contact form:
TOYOTA - NOVEMBER 2011
Here's the latest installment, this time from the land of the rising fun. Nippon.
Toyota, like the rest of the car industry, is worried about the increasingly negative perception of the automobile. After decades of transport dominance, the car industry is under threat, not least by bicycles as transport, but also public transport.
How to tackle it? Famous person. Ridicule. A slogan or two. A series of high-end commercials based on a much loved Japanese anime series.
Cue hapless (car-less) geeky guy on an outing with his girlfriend, using public transport. Enter cool guy with a Toyota who drives off with the girl. Geeky guy subservient in front of famous person character (Jean Reno as Doraemon) begging for four wheels.
FUN TO DRIVE, AGAIN.
ZIPCAR - OCTOBER 2011
There is a car share company in the States called Zipcar. Car sharing is good. I use a car share programme here in Copenhagen - okay... only about 2 times a year, but hey. It's there when I need it. Once again, it's interesting to note and track the rising resistance of the car industry and related auto-centric industries to the rise of the bicycle in our cities. It comes as a bit of a surprise that Zipcar would go after bicycle culture in a campaign, but here they are, doing it. Zipcar is, of course, on Twitter, if anyone is interested.
It was Jym Dyer on Twitter who pointed us in the direction of Zipcar's "Sometimes you just need a Zipcar" campaign, pictured above in situ, from his photostream on Flickr. As he puts it:
"These people apparently live in a world where bike messengers don't exist, so nobody has figured out how to carry papers on a bicycle. Apparently baskets, racks, xtracycles, worktrikes, and bike trailers don't exist either, because you have to carry architectural models on your handlebars. The only alternative, apparently, is a 5-door car. Architects who can't envision carfree spaces are a big part of the problem.
Indeed. The campaign also has a Facebook page where you can add your own dialogue to the photo. I suggest everyone get in there and turn back the automobile tide with their wit. Because there are a whole lot of misconceptions in there.
Jym also pointed out that the architectural model the woman is holding - besides being butt ugly - has an entire ground floor dedicated to car parking. Sooooo last century.
So. How would these well-dressed - and shockingly visionless - architects get to their meeting? Zipcar obviously can't envision how the bicycle has been used for over a century in our cities. Let's help them out, shall we?
At left: Two lawyers outside the Copenhagen City Courts, carrying all manner of legal documents on their bicycles.
At right: A decent front rack - with or without a box - could make it simpler to transport the architectural model - and other things.
Front racks come in a variety of sizes - I even use it for transporting my kids' bikes from time to time. And everything else under the sun.
Here's an average load for me and the kids. Two plants, two metal cupboards, a doll and a bunch of other stuff on the Bullitt.
Like Jym said, what about bicycle messengers? Either a traditional cargo bike or a larger version, like La Petite Reine in Paris (pictured), or a variety of other versions.
Zipcar isn't just playing the anti-cycling card. They're slapping a whole bunch misconceptions out there.
Oh puhlease. Zipcar's advertising people really should get out more often.
Thankfully I've never experienced this cliché but the last two times I've moved flats, I did it on cargo bikes:
And you may remember this film of our friends moving flat in Barcelona by bicycle.
Transporting musical instruments by bicycle?
At left: A musician arriving at a café in Copenhagen for a gig. A couple of those Christiania bikes and those boys need not take the bus.
At right: A musician setting up to play on a square in Copenhagen with his cargo bike as transport.
Here's a Copenhagenize Flickr set about music, musical instruments and bicycles.
Okay, this one is, in a way, one of those things that's not like the others. To get to the lake/stream, you may want something more than a bicycle depending where it is. But why wouldn't that canoe fit on the subway? They could just stand up, pressing it against the ceiling. If they DID want to transport it by bike, it wouldn't be THAT difficult.
That yule tree is not that much shorter than the canoe and that sofa is certainly less handy - and heavier.
Now here's a question. Do Zipcars come with detachable bike racks as standard? Nah. Didn't think so. Every taxi in Denmark must be equipped with two bike racks. If you need a taxi and have a bicycle to transport, the driver gets out and takes out the rack from the trunk, sticking it into the standard holder on the back of the taxi. Wouldn't THAT be a good idea for Zipcar and other car share programmes?
How about just be a little bit forward-thinking and selling car share WITH bicycles? We blogged about a great little film from Dublin that promotes combining the two. The bike share programme Go Car teamed up with Bear Bicycles.
By the way, I've heard that Paris is getting a large-scale Zipcar-ish car share programme with electric cars. Don't Zipcars still run on oil? Sheesh. Isn't it 2011, or what?
GENERAL MOTORS - OCTOBER 2011
Addendum: Later in the day this post was written. After a bit of a Twitter storm, The Los Angeles Times reports that General Motors is withdrawing the bicycle portion of their campaign. Which is great news, although it's kind of like the rebels taking a minor city when Gaddafi stills controls Tripoli.
Thanks to the eagle eyes at the League of American Bicyclists, this General Motors campaign was spotted - and spanked accordingly. "Reality Sucks" is their campaign title. It offers discounts to college students who want to buy a car. This is another example of Copenhagenize's "Car Industry Strikes Back" series. Most instances of the car industry, or automobile insurance companies, are subtle and use imagery to underline their point that cycling is geeky, only for poor souls and can't compete with the sexed up car ownership world. This GM campaign spells it out, revealing the inner desires of the car industry faced with stiff and growing competition from bicycle traffic.
Stop Pedalling, Start Driving.
Yes. They're worried. Yes. They're desperately trying to cling on to a fast-changing market. No. They don't seem very capable of doing so. It would be amusing if it wasn't so pathetic. GM has a list of Environmental Principles on their website. This is prime material for The Daily Show.
As a responsible corporate citizen, General Motors is dedicated to protecting human health, natural resources and the global environment. This dedication reaches further than compliance with the law to encompass the integration of sound environmental practices into our business decisions.
We are committed to actions to restore and preserve the environment. (Meaning: We'll put tiny bandaids on the mass destruction we have caused over the past century in your cities and countryside. Oh, and the Great American Streetcar Scandal? No comment.)
We are committed to reducing waste and pollutants, conserving resources, and recycling materials at every stage of the product lifecycle. (Meaning: Because this will increase our profit margin)
We will continue to participate actively in educating the public regarding environmental conservation (Meaning: we'll do everything we can to manipulate people into staying in our cars and ridicule all other forms of transport).
We will continue to pursue vigorously the development and implementation of technologies for minimizing pollutant emissions. (Meaning: As long as it stills involves oil and we can still keep selling cars)
We will continue to work with all governmental entities for the development of technically sound and financially responsible environmental laws and regulations. (Meaning: We will spend outrageous amounts of money lobbying politicians to keep them on our side)
Be sure to read Bike League's piece on the GM campaign here.
Addendum: The next day after General Motors got caught in The Perfect Twitter Storm.
Giant bicycles produced this bicycle-friendly version of the ad.
NEW ZEALAND LOTTERY - SEPTEMBER 2011
Thanks to Su Yin, loyal reader in New Zealand, for sending us this advert for a lottery. Poor guy on the left. Relegated to riding a bicycle but if he wins the lottery, he can have CARS! This is not the Car Empire here, but it still underlines the perception of status of owning a car.
MAC - SOUTH AUSTRALIA CAR INSURANCE - AUGUST 2011
This is an actual campaign. Amazingly, it is from a governmental organisation in South Australia - MAC, or The Motor Accident Commission.
"The Motor Accident Commission (MAC) is South Australia’s Compulsory Third Party (CTP) insurer and provides $400 million each year in compensation to road crash victims.
MAC also manages the State Government’s road safety communications program and provides sponsorship funding for projects that aim to reduce the number and impact of road injuries and deaths."
This fits perfectly into series. It is so car-centric that you'd place your money on the car industry if you had to guess who produced this Lose Your Licence and You're Screwed campaign. Thanks to our reader, Tony, for sending this along to us.
What a brilliantly anti-bicycle campaign. A large sum of money was spent on hammering home the point to young people that bicycles are lame and that cars the only real, credible option for life in South Australia. We beg to differ:
They also produced a series of commercials for this campaign, like this one.
DUTCH CAR INSURANCE - JUNE 2011
Okay, calling this advert "striking back" is perhaps a bit of an exaggeration but as Marc from Amsterdamize points out, the auto-insurance company behind the film apparently thinks that driving on bike lanes and sidewalks is perfectly acceptable urban behaviour.
In other not-so-striking striking back news from auto-related people, we know that Cycle Chic has been a great inspiration to many over the years.
We find it, however, odd that we have inspired the website Be Car Chic, too. The site is a rather feeble attempt to brand automobiles as chic here in the Age of Demotorization.
If you look at the URL - becarchic - it looks like the name of one of the chemcials that cars emit in our cities. But I digress...
Sure, it's a tiny little website - more of a weak nipple flick than a 'striking back' but it shows the same tendency that we're seeing all over the world. All the focus on more liveable cities, bicycle transport and public transport has pushed the automobile industry and their disciples into a corner for the first time in two or three generations.
Let's face it, cars aren't chic. Some cars are cool, sure. My first car was a 1967 Ford Mustang and I have a thing for the BMW 2002 Alpin, but using a form of transport that pollutes our cities with emissions and noise, that scares our citizens and kills pedestrians and cyclists, that costs us billions in road maintenance and that takes up space that could be used for reestablishing liveable streets will never be chic.
What it is slowly becoming - once again for the first time since the first Anti-Automobile Age - is socially unacceptable. And that is both inevitable and perfectly acceptable.
AUSTRALIAN CAR INSURANCE - MARCH 2011
One of our readers, Stephen, sent us a link to this beauty on twitter. It's an advert from Australia. A company called NRMA who sell car insurance and provide roadside assistance, et al.
This is just fantastic. It says it all. All of this global focus on not only bicycles but public transport, pedestrianiam and other tools for re-building liveable cities are making these people nervous. So nervous that they made an advert trying to hard-sell urban automobile culture.
You may have noticed that this blog is rather bicycle-oriented so here's a photographic response - using photos from our archives - of how all the situations above can be solved with human-powered transport. Off we go...
Situation: The man with the table:
Situation: People in costumes at a busstop.
Nothing wrong with taking a bus, but at 0:58 of the City of Cyclists video there's a shot of kids in a cargo bike wearing costumes heading to a party.
Situation: Father and son going to rugby practice:
I had a load of other football training gear on my bicycle, too.
Situation: High heeled shoes:
Or the Bicycle & High Heels tag over at Copenhagen Cycle Chic.
Situation: Bus passengers:
Nothing wrong with public transport. But here's a photo of buses and a cargo bike.
Situation: Leaf blower:
The ad agency who developed this advert are already getting kind of desperate and they're only 14 seconds into their silly ad.
Situation: The man with the umbrella:
Apparently the NRMA advocate high-speed driving in urban areas as well as dangerous driving like buzzing the curb. Sooo last century.
There are loads more bicycle and umbrellas with this tag over at Cycle Chic. If we're sticking to the theme, here's a video of an umbrella getting blown the wrong way.
Situation: Science project falling.
Okay, it ain't a science project, but it could be. There are loads of cargo photos in the Copenhagenize Cargo Bike set on Flickr. (Boy, is this ever an easy blogpost.)
Situation: Shopping bag breaking with a dog.
Loads of shopping ... and a dog. Don't forget the "40 photographs of dogs and bicycles in 6 countries" over at Cycle Chic.
Situation: Man with the shopping cart carrying something.
Yep. Too easy. Once again, allow me to refer you to the Cargo Bike set on Flickr.
More Shopping on Bikes
HYUNDAI - FEBRUARY 2011
Copenhagenize is proud to present the most expensive bicycle advertisements ever made.
Produced by Hyundai, they show us once and for all how people need to 'snap out of it' and stop being hypnotised sheep just driving around our once liveable cities. These are not yet finished editing, however. The above film needs to have the title card reading 'BORING' removed in order for the message to be complete. All the films need insertion of a new pack shot at the end. Of a bicycle, of course.
Oh yeah, new voiceover:
"Snap out of it. The 125 year old bicycle. Think about it. "
Here's the shot from the storyboard that we're working on for the end of each commercial.
KIA CANADA - JANUARY 2011
Another interesting advert fra a car company. From KIA Canada.
"After all, we started out making bicycles. Sharing... that's how we can all drive change..."
Ford is suddenly advertising their origins as a bicycle manufacturer. It's the positive, penultimate message in the advert. Goodness me. Is the car industry accepting the reemergence of the bicycle? Are they trying to change motorist behaviour with their message?
Or are they just capitalising on a trend in order to look warm and understanding? Whatever the case, "share the road" is a lame slogan. "Build protected infrastructure now" is much more appropriate. Cars and bikes shouldn't share the same space.
CITRÖEN - 2010
A Citröen advert filmed in Copenhagen. Firstly, you don't see people on bicycles with Asian-style kleenex masks on their face, but hey.
After all the recent adverts from the car empire, this is a new angle.
It's cheesy, sure. People sucking in great lungfuls of clean air, revelling in the pure goodness of the Citröen. Embracing each other as they marvel at the car. Sheesh.
Let's just say it's refreshing not to be under attack from the car industry and be pleased that none of the cyclists hopped off their bike and into a car. At the end of the day the advert is quite positive. They're trying to show and tell that this car will - apparently - make the air in our cities cleaner and that is something that the people on bicycles (and everyone else) will benefit from.
MERCEDES - MARCH 2010
This is brilliant "Car Empire Strikes Back" marketing from Mercedes. After watching it if I had to choose between sitting in a Mercedes or riding all sub-cultural like that - give me the Mercedes anyday.
As I highlight in my lecture Marketing Bicycle Culture - Four Goals to Promote Urban Cycling the car industry learned everything they know about marketing their products from the bicycle industry, which pre-dated them.
They have spent a century perfecting the art of marketing and now that they are faced with real competition - the rebirth of urban cycling - they are tweaking their adverts accordingly.
The acting in the above advert is abysmal, but the point is clear. It reinforces the misconception of urban cycling as being a lawless, adrenaline-based and sub-cultural pursuit. The smug tone is brilliantly devised and executed. It's effective in the way it avoids featuring Citizen Cyclists and instead employs a caricature of a 'cyclist'.
I'd rather see a regular citizen. From the 99%.
Unless we start learning from the car industry's marketing brilliance, as they once learned from the bicycle industry, the battle is lost before the foot hits the pedal. Marketing urban cycling for regular citizens like we market every other product - positively. At every turn.
Begone fearmongerers and nanny-state PSAs. Let's sell this properly. For more liveable cities, for the public health, for The Common Good.
VOLKSWAGON - NOVEMBER 2009
The Car Empire strikes back again. My friend Troels found this Volkswagen advert in an glossy book about great advertising campaigns from around the world.
In it, Volkswagen are keen to show off various features on their cars. In this case, Energy-Absorbing Door Padding. To illustrate this exciting feature, they highlight one of the great irritations that motorists face in the urban environment, visible at just left of centre in the photo.
Fortunately for the motorist getting out of his fine vehicle he has invested in German engineering to reduce potential damage to his vehicle. Nevermind that he didn't bother to check his mirror before getting out or that the inattentive man on the bicycle risks injury from what we are led to assume will be an imminent collison. Energy-absorbing door padding will save the car from too much damage.
It's clearly 'ignoring the bull' and placing responsibility on the vulnerable traffic user, no doubt about it. Funny, if this happened in Denmark or Holland, the motorist would be at fault if a collison occured. Then again, the cyclist would have been provided with safe urban mobility on wide, separated bicycle infrastructure intelligently placed to the right of the car, with ample room for a door zone.
Here in Denmark, when driving with my kids, the mantra they most often hear when in a car is "watch out for bikes!" when we are parked and are getting out of the vehicle. If only I had 10 kroner for every time I've said it to my son over the past seven years... And we are rarely in cars.
As a result, he has learned to open the door a crack and peer out to see if the coast is clear of bikes before opening the door further. Volkswagen must despise people like us who don't wish to test doors against impact.
BMW - OCTOBER 2009
Here's an ad for BMW that gently caresses all the emotional heartstrings. Just listen to the speaker's manuscript:
"Joy is efficent, dynamic and... unstoppable." [meaning... we're not going anywhere, so don't get any funny ideas...]
"We realised a long time ago that what you make people feel is just as important as what you make."
"At BMW we don't just make cars... we make joy."
And on their website:
“On the back of this three-letter word, we built a company. We don’t just build cars. We are the creators of emotion. We are the guardians of ecstasy, the thrills and chills, and all the words that can’t be found in a dictionary. We are the Joy of Driving. No car company can rival our history, replicate our passion, our vision. Innovation is our backbone but joy is our heart. We will not stray from our three-letter purpose. This is the story of BMW. This is the story of joy.”
Not a single motoring helmet in sight in that advert. How odd.
If only cities and towns working towards increasing modal share for bicycles could learn from these basic marketing techniques that the auto industry have perfected. Hire a decent company to develop campaigns. Far too many municipal brochures/campaigns are too geeky to attract the attention and interest of the broader population.
If we're going to sell this urban cycling thing, we need to change our direction.
AUDI - OCTOBER 2009
This advert from Audi is a signal from the auto industry that they are under pressure AND that they are willing to fight back. This is where the entire Car Culture Strikes Back series started. With a bang.
In the lecture I'm travelling about with at the moment, I highlight how the auto industry learned all the tricks of postive marketing from the bicycle industry a century ago. They have fine-tuned the art form and they rarely make mistakes. They know exactly how to highlight the positives of their products. On the other hand, we have forgotten how to highlight the positives of urban cycling and we bizarrely ignore the overwhelming Good News in our efforts to sell the percieved negative sides of riding a bicycle. It's hardly surprising that the auto industry are among the more fervent advocates for helmet laws. They know competition when they see it and they go for the throat in branding cycling as dangerous. It sells, quite simply, cars.
From a marketing perspective the advert above is pure brilliance. It capitalizes on the general perception in western societies that 'environmentalists' are kooky, nerdy hippie types who eat raw organic beet root for breakfast.
The environmental lobby has had 40 years to brand themselves well and have failed horribly. While people are perhaps aware of the issues, very few people are actually doing anything about it. That's why this type of advert is so easy to invent. 30 seconds of pushing all the right buttons on their opponents and all the right buttons on the general population.
Amazingly, the Audi overtakes the hippie-mobile Volvo on a curve. Not exactly traffic safety conscious, are they?