Here's two good ideas from Norway and Denmark.
Norwegian Bonus for Riding to Work
Employees in the southern region of the Norwegian Public Roads Administration [Statens Vegvesen] are rewarded for riding their bikes or walking to work. They can look forward to an extra week of holiday per year.
Senior Engineer Rune Gunnerød rides to work more or less all year round. The right clothes, a good bike and good, cleared bike lanes have made it possible - now it is just pure pleasure.
The offer from Vegvesenet is part of a larger environmental strategy. Employees who bike or walk to work recieve 4 hours free each month and that adds up to a week of holiday in the course of a year. In addition, the employees must exercise four hours a month in order to qualify.
"By encouraging people to bike or walk to work we ensure that they get exercise and, at the same time, relieve the pressure on the traffic net", says District Chief Roar Gartner in Vestfold.
The journey to and from work is the greatest burden on the traffic net, he says. However, he admits that the physical bonus of choosing the bike over the car is the most important motivations factor.
"Everyone needs exercise and we count on our employees gaining better health and fewer days off with illness, says Gartner. There are plans to start up in other regions in Norway.
Danish Proposal for "Cyclist Wages"
In Denmark, the Socialistisk Folkeparti [SF] - one of the nation's largest political parties - has always been known for it's environmentally friendly policies and proposals.
They came up with a clever one eariler this year, aimed at reducing illness. In short, reducing VAT on healthy foods and paying people to ride their bike to and from work.
Danes should be healthier and illness should be prevented rather than treated. SF proposed paying cylists 1.78 kroner [€0.23 / $0.36] per kilometre to commute by bike. Companies and the city would pay the wage which should be tax-free for workers and tax-deductable for companies.
There hasn't been any action on this proposal as of yet, but since the party publicised it there has been a national election and SF enjoyed a massive increase in seats, so let's hope it lives again.
Via: Jyllandsposten [12.02.2007]
It was really only a question of time before someone developed a fashionably-designed solar-powered bike light.
Owleye Solar Headlight is the name of this Taiwanese wonder. While many bikes, here in Denmark anyway, now come equipped with Reelights or cheaper equivalents there must be many people who could benefit from using the detachable solar light in their outdoor pursuits.
It's lightweight [80g], water-resistant and suitably bright. You get up to eight hours of run time [16 hours in flashing mode] when fully charged. In a hurry? Three hours of full sun charging gives five hours of full light.
Just leave it in the window sill when you're not using it and it is always ready to go.
There is also a model that comes with a USB Quick Charge function, so you can supplement the solar rays with energy from one of your computer's USB ports if you're really in a hurry.
The lights are in distribution in Europe - we heard about them in Sweden - and the company's website has some info as to where you can get them in Europe here.
Not surprisingly, the very cool Mountain Equipment Co-op in Canada is ahead of the game and they sell them for $19.50 on their website.
Row of new bikes for sale outside a local bike shop in Copenhagen.
As one might expect in a cycling nation, bike sales are healthy. According to the Danish bicycle industry, the good people of Denmark bought 500,000 new bikes in 2006. Not bad for a country of 5.3 million people.
It appears to be new record. We here at Copenhagen Bike Culture Blog are guessing that the number will increase in 2007 since we seem to be seeing a lot of new bikes on the streets.
The average price of a bike in Denmark in 2006 is 2900 kroner [€386 / $580], which is up from 2500 kroner in 2005.
The increase in sales causes a boom for bike workshops, too. While Danes [along with the Dutch] cycle more than any other nation - 1000 km a year per capita - most people can't be bothered repairing their bikes themselves. Whether it is a flat tyre or a rusty chain, Danes prefer dropping them off at a local bike shop.
The result is a shortage of bike mechanics in the Danish kingdom. It is estimated that 100 bike mechanics are needed nationwide to keep up with the demand.
Berry Worn Saddle, originally uploaded by [Zakkaliciousness].
A little winter bikealiciousness.
Bike Transport Bike, originally uploaded by [Zakkaliciousness].
Another great Copenhagen shot.
A Christiania cargo bike transporting... well... cargo bikes.
A couple of days ago the Copenhagen Police starting handing out free bike lights to cyclists who choose to interpret the traffic laws in their own special way.
Cyclists who are stopped for traffic violations will still recieve a citation that will cost them 500 kroner [€66 / $100] but the police have 1000 bike light sets that they will give to the cyclists in question.
The bike lights are worth 140 kroner [€18 / $28] and the 1000 sets should last well into the new year.
With that said, there is not that much visible enforcement of cyclists in Copenhagen. A couple of times a year the police have week-long 'raids' during which the concentrate their efforts on cyclists.
During the last 'raid' in July they handed out 777 citations. Read about the preferred laws that cyclists overlook here, in this previous post.
Once in awhile there are calls for increased focus on cyclists and citations. The discussion always ends with, "how do you police so many cyclists effectively and cost efficiently?" It would take enormous resources.
At the very least it is publicised when the police will be having a raid week, so cylcists have a chance to behave a bit better and avoid a citation.
Juletree, originally uploaded by [Zakkaliciousness].
Jul is approaching quickly. The bike lanes are busy with people transporting all manner of seasonal items. Trees, presents, what have you.
Just another day in the life of a cycling Copenhagen.
Here's another tree transport photo from the bike lanes
Velorbis Shine, originally uploaded by [Zakkaliciousness].
My new Velorbis Scrap Deluxe bike on its first day out in the city.
It is so dreamy to ride, sitting high and proud on the bike lanes. So wicked cool, in fact, that I merely rode it around yesterday, throughout the city. Just because. No A to B. No fetch this, buy that. Just a ride.
Velorbis is building up their distributor network abroad at the moment, so the Scrap Deluxe - as well as their other fine models (my wife just got herself a Victoria) - should be coming soon to a bike shop near you.
It retails for 6500 kroner in Denmark (€860 / $1300)
It's amazing how many people the past two days have stared at the bike and, if the opportunity arose, commented to me about how cool it is.
And cool it is.
15 accidents per year in Copenhagen's most dangerous intersection has been reduced to just one.
The results are quite concrete after Copenhagen City redesigned the intersection at Gyldenloevsgade and Soegade by The Lakes in inner Copenhagen a year ago.
In Copenhagen, many intersections have both traffic lights for cars and separate ones for bikes. The solution was coordinating the bike traffic lights to change to green a couple of seconds before the cars. A simple solution.
It is worth noting that the intersection is a major cycle artery for bike commuters. Over 25,000 cyclists a day on weekdays cross the intersection. If you calculate that there are 260 weekdays in a year, that means that 6,500,000 million bikes cross the intersection annually. With that in mind, 15 serious accidents is not a bad statistic. Reducing that to one is spectacular.
The intersection in question:
Via: DR P4
Once they get started, there's no stopping them. The City Council in Santiago, Chile is planning to implement 1000 km of bike paths and lanes in the city.
Public transport in Santiago leaves much to be desired, which has caused a massive increase in bicycle traffic.
Over the past four years there has been a 17% increase of of cyclists in the centre of the city. At the same time, interest groups have pressured the city council to do something about better conditions for the cycling inhabitants.
The authorities have now promised the sum of 48 billion Chilean pesos [€67 million / $96 million] over the next three years to build 1000 km of bike lanes and paths.
The drastic increase in cycle traffic also means that Chileans are buying more bikes - and those who can afford it prefer quality European bicycles.
If anyone out there can tell us more about this fantastic, blossoming bike culture in Chile's capital, please do so!
The Danish newspaper 24timer tested five of the most popular cargobikes on the bike lanes, together with an expert from the Danish Cyclist's Union.
If your family has grown without the paycheque following suit you don't need to walk your kids to kindergarten. Cargobikes cost almost 100,000 kroner less than a Fiat Panda and there is no problem with parking or polluting motors.
Even though an untrained eye will think they look alike, they are quite different, so making a careful choice is important for the cargobike beginner.
”The Winther Kangaroo is the test winner because the cargo bay is roomy and very safe. In addition, it is almost impossible to tip the bike on corners.
The Sorte Jernhest can turn on a dime because the back wheel turns, but that can be tricky for a beginner”, says Allan Carstensen from the Danish Cyclist's Union.
If your budget can't quite handle the price tag on the test winner, which is the most expensive of the five cargobikes, there are cheaper alternatives.
ROOM FOR TWO KIDS AND THE GROCERIES
”Nihola is well-designed, has good driving qualities and, even though the cargo bay is a bit smaller, there is still room for two children and groceries”, says the expert.
Even though Nihola is the test's smallest three-wheeled cargobike, they may be readers who are loathe to see themselves as a cork on the bike lanes, with a horde of grumpy cyclists behind them.
If that's the case then the Dutch Cargobike will help. It is a two-wheeled bike based on the old bike delivery concept.
”Even though you'd think that the three-wheelers were best at cornering, it was actually the Cargobike. It's long, penis-extension shape appeals mostly to men, but women can easily manouvere it around the streets. The advantage is that it isn't much wider than a normal bike”, says Allan Carstensen.
If your family grows to Volkswagon minivan size, you don't need to park the bike permanently. The classic Christiania bike comes in versions with room for no less than four kids.
Have a good ride.
Winther Kangraroo – The Volvo of the bike lanes
17.500 kroner [€2300.00]
5 Bike Bells out of 5
Manouverability: The steering system is solid and reliable and it is almost impossible to tip the bike over. Good for cargobike beginners.
Space and gear: The cargo bay is gorgeous, with two seats and good seatbelts.
Functionality: The two seats can easily be removed and used, for example, on the beach in summer. The kickstand is at the front of the cargo bay so the bike doesn't tip when the kids climb in. It is easy to manouvre when not biking, since it is no problem to lift the bike from the back and do the 'wheelbarrow'.
Safety: The cargo bay has the safest upper frame in the test, which provides protection if you tip over. The brakes are hydraulic, providing a unique and solid braking feeling. They work well and are easy to keep in good shape.
'Urban Street cred': Winther is the Volvo of cargobikes. It sends more of a 'suburban' signal than the other cargobikes.
14.000 kroner [€1850.00]
4 bike bells out of 5
Manouverability: Good because the wheels turn independently, underneath the cargo bay. This provides excellent manouverability.
Space and gear: There is a great bench for the kids with good 5-point seatbealts which are easy for everyday use.
Functionality: Excellent design. The cargo bay is a bit smaller than other makes, since the wheels have been given space to turn.
Safety: There is no footbrake, as on all the other makes. There are two cable brakes. They wear out quicker and require more maintenence. The classic bike light holder on the side pulls the marks down a bit, since the lights are getting phased out.
'Urban Street cred': The bike gives a lot of street cred. The wheels turning underneath the cargo bay are very fancy.
16.500 kroner [€2200.00]
3 bike bells out of 5
Manouverability: Rated medium, since the cargo bay is heavy and turns with you.
Space and gear: There is plenty of space in the cargo bay, and the bike comes in versions with space for up to four kids.
Functionality: Very good. The bike is also good to manouvere with when not cycling.
Safety: There is little upper framework for safety in case of tipping. The brakes are fine, but the cable system requires maintenence.
'Urban Street cred': Very good, as it is this cargobike that gives people visions of themselves in a romantic light, cycling with children and fresh tulips.
14.195 kroner [€1890.00]
3 bike bells out of 5
Manouverability: Extremely good, because the back wheel turns instead of the front wheels. Perhaps a little too lively for cargobike beginners.
Space and gear: No seats for the kids. A mattress and a pillow to lean against. Seats are available as extras.
Functionality: There is a double chain system on this cargobike. Maintenence is slightly more demanding.
Safety: The standard seatbelt isn't the best, but a better version can be purchased. The upper frame isn't that solid. Good braking system. The bikelight holder is a bit passé, now that so many new bike lights are on the market.
'Urban Street cred':
The most trendy of all the bikes. The turning back wheel is still fancy.
14.750 kroner [€1950.00]
4 bike bells out of 5
Manouverability: By far the easier to ride. This Long John- type cargobike from Holland is almost like riding a normal bike. It doesn't take up as much space on the bike lanes.
Space and gear: Smaller cargo bay but a good 3-point seatbelt.
Safety: Good seatbelts, but no good upper frame if an accident occurs. Built-in dynamo bike lights.
Functionality: Not really possible to lift the back end, which makes it difficult to manouvere when you're not riding.
'Urban Street cred': Quite smart, although very few are seen on the streets. It's long, penis-extension shape appeals mostly to men, but women can easily manouvere it around the streets.
Journalist: Christian Kornø from 24timer.
Translated by The Copenhagen Bike Culture Blog.
Much of this blog and our sister blog Copenhagen Cycle Chic is about a cycling life for 1.7 million Copenhageners.
We are loathe to forget those hardy souls who live farther out of the city and yet choose to ride to work.
One such group north of Copenhagen is called Cykelbussen - or The Cycle Bus. It's a simple concept, really. Several people in the same area - Allerød, Birkerød, Farum og Værløse - would rather ride that take the motorway or the trains.
What could be easier than arranging to commute together? And ride at a comfortable pace, taking turns to shield each other from the headwind. A long, cosy cyclo-commuting train - riding the 20 km to the city in about 35 minutes. Which is easily the same time it takes to drive or train.
This being Denmark, there are wide bike lanes along the motorway for the whole route, so it makes it easier and safer. And the group isn't in for the speed - they ride at a tempo that anyone can match. It's all about cycling, not racing.
The group has regular 'bus stops' where they meet in the mornings. You can just meet up and off you go towards the city.
Rumour has it that other informal groups have formed along other routes, too.
What a way to go. Good luck to The Cycle Bus!
www.cykelbussen.dk - Their website is in Danish, but there is one link in English.
Advertise, originally uploaded by [Zakkaliciousness].
There are three things on this photo that are typically Copenhagen. One is the child's seat.
The other two are how to advertise in a bike culture. The seat cover is something you see quite often. You fetch your bike at the racks and discover that all the seats are covered with a free seat cover with a logo or slogan printed on them.
On the bike above it was a free seat cover encouraging donating blood to a blood bank.
Free seat covers are a good thing. They're free, they're practical and useful.
On the back rack is a piece of paper. It's a advert for a bike shop offering repairs. All too often you fetch your bike at the racks only to find leaflets or adverts stuck to the back rack. This is often irritating, especially during national elections when the faces of different parties are stuck to your bike.
But the point is when you have so many bikes in the city, and so many people riding them, these types of advertising are great ways to reaching an audience.
One of our readers brought our attention to the photo on the right, taken by Otzonski on Flickr. The photo on the left is taken near here, in Copenhagen - traffic lights for bikes at an intersection.
It is cool to see the same lights in action in Berlin - on Karl-Marx Allée - with a wonderful personalised touch that you really only find in the fantastic Mitte area of the city.
Here's the Copenhagen version of the lights in action:
What you see is a classic Copenhagen bike lane. In this instance there is a lane for riding straight on as well as a turning lane for bikes crossing to the left. It's not a normal intersection, just a crosswalk for people heading to the metro station and for bikes crossing to get to the Copenhagen Business School and the bike path down the hill.
The traffic lights are visible. On the right of the photo there are the two lights for the different directions - straight on or turn left. And, on the median, there is another light for the left turners.
Now here's a shot that really hammers home a Copenhagen Yule moment. Dad transporting the family tree in his Danish cargo bike - in this case a Christiania Bike - on a lovely, wide bike lane.
The Danish [and Swedish and Norwegian] word for Christmas is 'jul' which morphed into 'yule', etymologically speaking, in English. It's the name of the original winter solstice festival that had existed for centuries before the Catholic church moved Jesus' birthday to Decemeber in order to trump the celebrations of other cultures and faiths.
Ironically, the word for wheel is 'hjul', pronounced just like 'jul' - both of which are pronounced much like 'yule'. [Are you really still reading this?! :-)]
So it is only appropriate that we wish our readers 'Glædelig [H]jul'! - meaning all at once, Happy Christmas and Happy Wheel.
The dad in the photo above was followed by his two kids and wife - a happy family heading home to decorate the tree:
Actually, I was at a Christmas lunch at Danish Broadcasting Corp. and was rather occupied with the consumption of food and drink when I bumped into Ole in one of the exterior atriums at the broadcaster's headquarters.
It's a massive party involving over 2500 people and Ole was invited in to sell espresso coffee to the masses.
What a cool bike. Just when you think you've seen everything in Copenhagen, something like this shows up. I had a good chat with Ole, the mastermind behind the concept. All of his coffee-making gear can fit inside the cargo bike and he doesn't need electricity to run the show. It's all run on natural gas.
He tells me he spent ages finding the right gear and, most importantly, the right bike. With Denmark being the home of the cargo bike there were several makes to consider. He narrowed it down to three: the Nihola, the Christiania bike and the Black Iron Horse [Sorte Jernhest in Danish.]
The choice fell on the latter, as it can handle 150 kg in the cargo bay, whereas the Nihola and the Christiania bike can only handle 100 kg.
He customised it himself and now rides around to events to sell his tasty coffee.
Go, Ole, go! Danish design at it's best: simple, elegant, practical. We look forward to more mobile coffee bikes on the streets of Copenhagen.
Copenhagen is about to start testing a new system of diode lights aimed at reducing the danger of bike-vechicle collisions at four particularly dangerous intersections.
Blinking diodes [similar to the photo above on a Copenhagen bike lane] are placed in the asphalt on the final stretch towards the intersection and, when a cylists passes a sensor, the lights start to blink and warn motorists to the fact that a cycle is present.
There has been a problem with large trucks turning right and hitting cyclists (who have the right of way) continuing straight on. A study by consultancy company Trafictech shows that the cyclists are visible in the truck's mirrors, but the drivers often forget to check.
The combined cost of a serious accident involving a single cyclist is 1.7 million Danish kroner [€225,000]. It only costs 200,000 kroner [€26,000] to install these lights at an intersection.
In the Danish town of Grenaa they are testing another system for reducing the same kind of accidents.
300 bikes were installed with a tiny R-fid chip and a battery, placed on the handlebars.
When the bikes approach an intersection, the R-fid triggers a warning sign for cars and trucks. The animation above can explain it better than I can... :-)
The City of Copenhagen has decided to double the current bicycle budget. Normally there is 75 million Danish kroner a year [€10 million / $15 million] but now they are chucking in an extra 75 million.
The reason? Making Copenhagen the world's unrivalled bike capital by 2015, as well as the leading environmentally-friendly city by the same date.
The cool thing is that the extra 75 million is earmarked for "spoiling" the city's cyclists and it is the people who get to decide how the extra money will be used. Now THAT is a gift that keeps on giving.
So... what do the cyclists of Copenhagen want? Two workshops were held and the public was invited to bring suggestions and ideas to the table. The City's Technical and Environmental Commission will work out the costs and figure out which items on the wishlist are possible.
This is a list of some of the ideas presented by citizens. The headline was "The City in 2015 - how does it look?"
A CYCLING MEKKA
Cyclists have conquered the streets
There are few accidents
There is room for both fast and slow cyclists
Cyclists get a tax break for riding
The main boulevards are now underground tunnels for cars.
Cycle tunnels under and bridges over the harbour
Bike paths all the way along the harbour, on both sides
Bike motorways straight to the city centre
Cycling allowed in all green areas (some parks are bike-free zones)
Three lane bike lanes for different speeds
Green Wave system on all traffic lights
Trendsetting bike design
Bikes that symbolise who I am
Our City Bikes are gorgeously designed
Beautiful routes with great views
More trees planted along bike routes
More bike events
Creation of service stations along bike routes where you can pump your tyres and charge bike lights
The City loans out free bikes
Free City Bikes to all Copenhageners
Free bike lights
Mandatory warning sounds on busses when turning
Cycling courses for locals and tourists
A city without bike locks
No bikes left behind
Everyone checks over their shoulder before turning
Cycling training tracks for kids
Everyone is friendly and smiles
Many smart bike racks
Fantastically gorgeous bike parking
Newly-invented multistory bike parking
Bike racks with attached service centres
More covered bike racks.
Sure, we're spolied already after almost a half a century of urban planning and investment in infrastructure, but it is interesting to see what our citizens would choose if they had the opportunity.
Which they do.
There is a very cool website called Copenhagen X
- Your shortcut to an evolving city. It highlights all the architectural and design developments in Copenhagen.
This is just plain funny.
A great post from over at Freewheeling Spirit wherein they mock Karl Lagerfeld something rotten, all the while writing about his newly designed bike for Chanel.
$12,500 for the new Chanel bike. How many of those dollars are linked to the designer's name? Probably too many.
Over at Velorbis, the upstart bikemaker with the next generation of bespoke bikes, the production of a limited-edition bespoke bike called The Marshall will also demand a deep pocket.
During the London Cycle Show 2007, VELORBIS proudly unveiled their new limited edition bicycle, ‘The Marshall’, hand-built by world-renowned German frame builder, Uwe Marshall. Based on the popular design of the Churchill classic Gents model, the bicycle features a hand-polished stainless steel frame which weighs only an amazing 1.8 kgs. The bicycle also has a stainless steel fork, fully chromed components (rear carrier and mudguards) and a hand-sewn leather coat guard made by an authentic saddle maker/tanner, which is the first of its kind in the world.
Only 12 of these beautiful “The Marshall” bicycles will be custom built to order per year. ‘The hand build bicycle has a price tag to reflect its uniqueness - £4,000 /€5900.
This limited edition VELORBIS bicycle is like a priceless work of art that evokes an image of a bygone era – timeless in style yet fully contemporary in functionality, equipped with ‘best in class’ components and accessories for modern living and commuting.
Good luck, Chanel, with your bike. We'll stick to the Velorbis, thanks.
We found this little video over at Youtube. Here's a good example of rush hour on the bike lanes of Copenhagen.
This stretch of road heading out of the city centre is one of the most used. It will get on average over 25,000 bikes per day.
We have a post about Daily Bike Traffic Volume in Copenhagen here.
Another little made-for-web video from the bike lanes of Copenhagen.
We love getting emails. This one popped into our inbox a couple of days ago. We'll let Alfred explain:
"From my reading Copenhagen Cycle Chic every day I have gotten the idea that the bicycle itself may be interesting to you, perhaps not as much as the riders, but nonetheless still an interest. If that be the case I invite you to check out a few photos of a very bright Schwinn 1977 ladies bike which I recently found and posted to a Schwinn Forum.
I am a retired man in Iowa, USA and have a hobby of finding old bikes (I usually prefer 3-speeds with the Sturmey Archer hubs although I do grab the occasional derailler bike) in the charity resale shops. I clean and refurbish the bikes and once in awhile offer one for sale. Otherwise I ride one or two every day. Kinda fun being out on 25-40 year old bikes. Anyway, this old pink Schwinn was just too unique for me to pass up."
What a wonderful set of photos, Alfred. Thanks for thinking of us. We do like the bikes, too, don't worry. And it is great to gain insight into foreign bikes like the Schwinn you lovingly restored above. Thanks again!
Where would you put your bum if you had to choose?
In Denmark almost 4000 people die each year from pollution from cars. That number is ten times higher than those who are killed IN the traffic.
According to a recent study, breathing the pollution from the automotive traffic is more dangerous than merely being the traffic.
3400 people die each year from illnesses directly related to the particles released from the exhaust of cars. On top of that there are 200-500 people who die prematurely from heart disease and high blood pressure caused by the noise generated by traffic.
Research done by the Danish Regions has produced these figures. A member of the organisation, politician Carl Holst, is quoted as saying: "...the government's Infrastructure Commission should fight more for reducing the catastrophic consequences of cars pollution."
Generally the study is yet another strong argument for increasing the collective traffic and bicycle traffic, which should play a greater role in the future, especially in the cities.
Professor Steffen Loft from the Institute for Public Health at Copenhagen University shares the concern.
»It's simple logic that every time we move a motorist off the roads and onto a bike, a bus or a train we reduce the level of dangerous particles in the exhaust."
It has long been known that motorist INSIDE their cars inhale more dangerous fumes than cyclists and pedestrians. Now this study will hopefully place more emphasis on encouraging more cycling and public transport usage.
There is already a law in most Danish cities the states motorists must turn off their engines when parked or idle. A good start.
VIA: politiken.dk among others.
There was a recent headline in one of the papers about how the number of private cars in Denmark has surpassed 2 million for the first time.
There are 5.3 million people in Denmark, so that number doesn't seem so frightful. Danes enjoy the fastest average speed in their cities in Europe, which seems to denote that our roads are not particularly overcrowded.
The reason is, of course, our bike culture, especially in the cities. When 36% of Copenhageners ride their bikes each day and another 35% use public transport, that is a large number of people NOT sitting in a car each day.
I'm not that worried about the increase in private car ownership. If I lived in a country town, or out in the suburbs, I may need one. The fact of the matter is that living in Copenhagen, a car is just not necessary.
There is a lot of talk around the internet about how cars are so expensive and heavily taxed in Denmark. It's true. Road taxes and environmental taxes are steep. Some people will have you believe that this is why Danes don't have cars - the price. This is not my experience. If you came here from North America, with the troubled dollar in your pocket, you couldn't afford a car. But car prices reflect our standard of living. Car ownership is not out of reach for most.
If I look at my wider circle of friends, many have cars. It seems that once you have kids, you get a car. It's easy to drive to the summer house for the weekends, or to drive out to visit friends in the evening, or to go skiing in Sweden for the day.
It's practical. Most of those who have cars, however, ride their bikes to work each day, transporting their kids on bike seats to kindergarten. Cars are troublesome with regards to parking and they are slower than bikes.
They are mere substitutes for bikes. Transport extensions. This is quite the opposite in other countries, where the bike is the extension.
In Copenhagen most of the people living in the neighbourhoods surrounding the city centre do not own cars. Between 60% and 80% of these people live without one. The bike infrastructure provides them with more than adequate means to use their bikes.
If there is automotive traffic on the streets, it is commuters from the distant suburbs. Which is the best reason for the proposed Road Pricing scheme in Copenhagen - similar to London and Stockholm. If they want to drive through my neighbourhood, they should pay for it.
It's something I rarely think about... the fact that up to 80% of the people with whom I share a neighbourhood rely on their bikes or public transport to get around. And, when I do think about it, it is rather extraordinary. I love Copenhagen.
ccc_Bike Rack Berlin, originally uploaded by [Zakkaliciousness].
Deliciously cool bike rack in Berlin. Slots for the wheels and chains with which to weave through your wheel and attach your lock.
ccc_Posterbike by Nihola, originally uploaded by [Zakkaliciousness].
A Nihola posterbike in the flesh on the streets of Berlin.
Important Issues Facing Copenhageners, originally uploaded by [Zakkaliciousness].
There are important issues facing the good people of this city.
All too often you buy a beer all too close to closing time. The bar/nightclub closes at 5 or 6 in the morning. You have to leave.
You manage to sneak your beer out. But then there is the question of finding a morning bar - the kind that open when the bars close so you can keep drinking and, at some places, have some breakfast before you go home to sleep it off. You know one place. Your mates know another. You discuss. You finally decide. You all get on your bikes.
So. How does one transport that sneaked out beer?
Finally... we got around to slapping a Gorillapod - flexible camera tripod - onto one of our bikes. Setting the film function to 'time lapse' and hitting the bike lanes.
It's a simple, funky little film. A journey from my place to the City Hall Square and back again another way. Just a quick 6-7 km journey in the lovely winter sunshine.
On bike lanes the entire way. It's worth noting that I rode in the afternoon. During rush hour you'd see hundreds more bikes. We'll try to get out one day to capture this Copenhagen phenonemon.
Until then, enjoy this one.
We've been pretty good about avoiding blatant, shameless self-promotion so far. But we felt the need to include this email and the photo that was attached to it. It's from Stephan, from the Dutch Bike Co. in Seattle. About as far from Copenhagen as you can get, and yet we share common passions and goals. Oh, and the climate is basically the same, too.
"Thanks so much for your great writing and photos. I really enjoy your weblog, it is an inspiration to many of us working to change the transportation psychology here in Seattle.
Attached is a shot of my friends (and partners in the Dutch Bike Co. Seattle) David and Julie Schmidt riding through the historic Ballard district of Seattle. I also ride a Bakfiets (one of our shop bikes) which I now enjoy riding more than any other vehicle, two-wheeled or four, motorized or not.
I believe our success in Seattle will result from illuminating, celebrating and reintroducing people the joy and beauty of cycling. Your work accomplishes that and inspires us to do so too.
It's us who should say thank you, Stephan! We're so pleased that you dig our blogs. We're just two guys who ride to work each day and take photos of the things we see around us. So knowing that it has some sort of effect is brilliant.
With all that said, we feel a bit odd about posting a photo of a Dutch bike here on this Danish bike blog, but we'll get over it. And we plan on lobbying Stephan and his partners to change the name of their company to the Danish Bike Co. and to start importing Danish bikes to Seattle. We'll keep you posted on our progress... :-)
If you have the time do give them a mouseclick and check out the Dutch Bike Co.'s website here.
And blog here.
Visitors to this blog, and our other blog, are well aware the Copenhagen is the world's cycling capital.
The City of Copenhagen has recently launched a campaign with the goal of making Copenhagen an unrivalled 'eco-metropole' by the year 2015. Here's their website, in English.
While our bike culture is, by and large, up and running, there are improvements to be made. There are in all four areas of focus if Copenhagen is to become the most environmentally friendly city in the world over the next 7 years.
1. World's best bicycling city
2. Centre for global climate policy
3. A green and blue capital city
4. A clean and healthy metropolis
It's an interesting and exciting campaign. Living in Copenhagen, you are well aware of environmental issues. In my backyard, for starters, there are garbage containers for household garbage as well as separate containers for batteries, glass, metal, plastic, newspapers and last but not least, cardboard.
At the head of the harbour there is a long row of off-shore wind turbines that signal Denmark's role as the world's leading producer of wind technology as well as the world's leading user of wind energy. This row of 20-odd turbines provide Copenhagen with 3-5% of her energy.
Further south down the Straight between Sweden and Denmark, there is a massive off-shore wind farm under construction. Swedish-owned but the power will be flowing to both countries.
There's a lot of hype here about Copenhagen hosting the next major climate summit in 2009. The Kyoto Agreement will be replaced by the Copenhagen Agreement. If they all agree, of course... and so the city is working towards branding itself as this Eco-Metropole.
It would be fantastic if they pull it off.
The country's second largest party, the Social Democrats, have proposed that all new bikes are delivered with bike lights in place.
The cycling spokesman [yes, our political parties have cycling spokespeople] suggests that this will reduce the number of accidents involving cyclists who have forgotten their lights at night.
The Danish Cyclist Union supports the initiative, although they don't think a law is necessary if bike shops start doing it themselves.
They also suggest that the buyer gets to choose the lights, instead of a standard set, because personal choice is important. This will also increase safety.
There has also been talk of legislating use of bike lights 24 hours a day. In Scandinavia, and in the Netherlands, among other countries, cars must have their lights on at all times, and it has been so for many years.
There was a great deal of research that showed that safety increases if the lights are on in the daytime, too.
There is still no definitive study that shows the same will apply to bikes. Although so many people are now using Reelights- or cheaper copies - so they are lit up during the day, too. Can't be a bad thing.
More bike light posts in this category.
Takes Two to Tandem*, originally uploaded by [Zakkaliciousness].
We're seeing more and more of these cool parent/kid tandems around the city. We believe they are Kompagnon - a German design.
We'd be interested to hear more about this bike if anyone has info.
I believe we've waffled on about how kids in Copenhagen ride from a very young age. This bike is one of many ways to transport your kids around town until they can ride by themselves.
They say the mail must get through, and here in Copenhagen it gets through on bikes. Posties like this cool dude riding up ahead of me are a common sight in the city, zooming around on their superbly functional bikes getting the job done and staying fit in the process.
The Royal Danish Post uses specially designed Christania Bikes, complete with a hinged cover.
Oh we like a spot of vintage, we do. The classic bike posters of France and Italy are splendid works of graphic design.
We like them so much we slapped some on a screensaver - 1024 x 768 - in case anyone shares our passion.
We have one over at Copenhagen Cycle Chic, too, but we're that clever that we changed the text on this one.
The fact that cycling is healthy is not a newsflash.
However, as we highlighted in a previous post over at Copenhagen Cycle Chic, about why this city rides bikes so much, the majority of Copenhageners don't ride primarily to save the world or because they're health fanatics.
According to the study:
54% ride because it is easy and fast.
19% ride because of the benefits of excercising.
7% ride because it is cheap.
6% ride because it is handy.
1% ride because of the environmental benefits.
Nevertheless, the Copenhagen City Council - in their Biannual Cycle Report - had the consultancy company Trafitec rate the societal and health aspects of our bicycle culture. While these figures are specific to Copenhagen, based on our current levels of health and welfare, the results and stats are interesting nonetheless.
Just the facts:
- Physically active people live ca. 5 years longer than the physically inactive.
- Physically inactive persons suffer on average for four more years from lengthy illnesses.
- Cycling has the same effect on health as other types of excercise. Four hours of cycling a week, or roughly 10 km a day is a fitting level - luckily for us, this is the average bike usage in Copenhagen - back and forth to work and running errands.
The study from Trafitec shows that 1 extra cycle kilometre produces, on average, 5 kroner in health and production bonus for society.
Increased cycling levels in Copenhagen therefore has a great potential for improving our health levels. [Exchange rate: 1 DKK = $1 / 50p / € .66]
Here are two scenarios that illustrate the positive connection between cycling, health and economy.>
1. If Copenhageners rode 10% more kilometres each year:
- This would be an increase of 41 million extra cycling kilometres each year. [At the moment we ride 1.2 million km each day in Copenhagen.]
- The health system would save 59 million DKK per year.
- We would save 155 million DKK in lost production manhours (due to illness)
- There would be 57,000 fewer sick days in the workplace each year. That would be a reduction of 3.3%.
- 61,000 extra life years
- 46,000 fewer years with lengthy illnesses.
2. One extra kilometre of bike lanes on a road:
Building bike lanes on streets with an average of 2,500 bikes and 10,000 cars each day would bring 18-20% more bikes on the stretch of road.
Including a drop of 9-10% in the number of cars and 9-10% fewer accidents and injury.
- A saving of 246,000 DKK in the health sector.
- A saving of of 643,000 DKK in lost production.
- A collective fall in health, production and accident costs each year totalling 633,000 DKK.
- The extra kilometre would give 170,000 more cycle kilometres each year.
All that from one extra kilometre of bike lane.
On your bikes.