Amercian Students Rethink Copenhagen Neighbourhood Part 02

Copenhagenize - 24 January, 2014 - 05:00
Mikael, on behalf of Copenhagenize Design Co., is a teacher in the Bicycle Urbanism Studio led by urban liveability expert Bianca Hermansen at the Danish Institute for Study Abroad (DIS). Since 1959, DIS has given American students the chance to study in Denmark. Our Bicycle Urbanism Studio features American architecture students.

Mikael led a portion of the course involving a massive Desire Lines analysis of two intersections at either end of the Dybbøls Bridge in the Vesterbro neighbourhood. The students' final project was broader than that. They were given the task of rethinking the entire area. The wide swathe of unused railyards, access to the harbour and bicycle traffic through the area. 

Working with the students was brilliant and inspiring. Mikael was also an external examiner on the final projects at DIS. We thought it worthwhile to get the students to present their projects in short form. Showing off their abilities, ideas and visions. We'll divide them up into two articles. Here's the second one. 

Many of the students mention "Bicycle Snake - Cykelslangen". This refers to the coming elevated cycle track in the area. Here's a map of the area in question.

DAVID MITCHELL Our Urban Design Studio features the analysis of the existing bicycle infrastructure connecting Vesterbro, Fisketorvet Mall and the Fisketorvet Bridge and a proposal based on the information documented in our research.  The research component of the studio consisted of video taping bicycle behavior (monumentalists, recklists, and conformists), counting the number of parked bicycles by the hour, and documenting conflict zones.  These details, which are so often overlooked by the every day user, are the components that we, as designers, used to design.  This form of development is called "fact-based decision making" and is a form of research that I found to be enlightening.  At a personal level, I chose to focus on how to best resolve areas of conflict between cyclists and pedestrians, reduce automobile traffic, and facilitate the needs of families living in Vesterbro.  
A whopping twenty-four percent of residents in Vesterbro own cargo bikes.  This means that these people have found an environmentally friendly way to not only travel, but perform errands, whether that be grocery shopping, dropping off kids at friends' houses, or picking up flowers.  Improving safety conditions for these travelers is the driving factor behind my design.  Also, a statistically significant aspect of the project is how many users per day currently use the inconvenient staircase depicted below.  A staggering 4,700 users on the day of our observation.  And, with the installation of the snake, we can expect travelers between Vesterbro and the bridge to increase.
Nearly 5,000 travelers use this staircase to get to their final destination, daily.  Proposing a convenient and safe alternative to this is one of the demands of the project.
The plan proposed is meant to be a realistic reconfiguration of the site.  The bridge, which currently has a large void ought be filled.  With the creation of new space I propose a walking promenade with a series of overlook and nodal spaces which allows for people to sit and watch pedestrians go along to either the mall or Vesterbro.  Beneath the bridge, and expanding northeast and southwest is a park which connects with the larger context of Amagerfaelled.  Access would be gained from the s-tog platform or ramps descending from the bridge. 
Riders ascending to the level of the shopping mall are greeted by a bi-directional bike path, with distinguishable paving patterns, to clearly delineate spatial usage.  By combining the bike lanes, pedestrians are no longer at risk of accidents by bikers.  I have proposed to close down one of the ramps curving up to the plaza level and be replaced by a department store and a series of mom and pa shops which align the northeastern edge of the street.   
A section of spatial types along the proposed bridge shows which type of users are being provided for; green= pedestrian, yellow= bicycle, red= automobile, blue= bio-swale, and orange= nodal space.  This section cut goes through two nodal spaces, the larger of which overlooks green space to the northeast.


The area surrounding the Fisketorvet shopping center consists of zones of extremely high and extremely low use.  While the bridge crossing over the Dybbølsbro S-Tog station experiences such high pedestrian usage during afternoon and evening hours that people overflow sidewalks and crowd the cycling lane, the unused land below the bridge is left completely vacant for the majority of the day.  Additionally, most road space leading up to Fisketorvet is allocated to cars, even though car traffic falls far behind cyclist and pedestrian traffic during all hours of the day.
The Cykelslangen, or “Bicycle Snake,” is the current solution supported by Copenhagen municipality to improve cyclist flow through the Fisketorvet-Dybbølsbro area, yet this design fails to improve the livability of the neighborhood, nor does it increase resources for pedestrians who pass through the area.
Instead, the Inhabit—Habitat proposal seeks to remedy the Fisketorvet-Dybbølsbro area by creating accessible connections between retail, the harborfront, and open green space, while also improving storm water management and the natural habitats of the site.  Instead of simply remedying the cyclist route through the area, this proposal calls for a complete restructuring of the traffic hierarchy of the site.
First, by transforming the Dybbølsbro Bridge into a gradual ramp rising from the ground level of the Fisketorvet mall to cross over the S-Tog stop, cyclists could remain at ground level while traveling past the mall from Brygge Broen.  This, in turn, would eliminate the need for the Cycle Snake to be elevated.
Next, the car entrance to Fisketorvet would be relocated to the southwest side of the mall and the freeway along Kalvebod Brygge would be simplified and narrowed, making the northern side of Fisketorvet available for additional retail space reflecting a typical Copenhagen streetscape.

Finally, the unused land adjacent to the S-Tog stop would be allowed to return to a natural habitat, with inlets from the harbor uniting the park to the new retail development and the waterfront.  Through these measures, the disjointed spaces of the Fisketorvet-Dybbølsbro zone would be refitted to form a cohesive, environmentally conscious, accessible, and livable neighborhood center.


Urban Current: a surge of life through Dybbølsbro
With 26 total hours of recorded video footage made up of 13 hours of documentation at the Fisketorvet Shopping Center intersection and 13 hours at the Dybbølsbro intersection, a large amount of data and insight into how cyclists move through and within our site was observed.
First Impressions

From on-site observations and viewing of the video footage, the first thing I thought of was how this site did not seem to reflect the values of Copenhagen.  Cars and other vehicular traffic are placed ahead of cyclists and pedestrians. The infrastructure allows for easy and flowing car movement, while cyclists and pedestrians face crowded spaces, stairs, and other obstacles throughout the site.
The site also creates a large disconnect between the vibrant neighborhood of Vesterbro and the harborfront. While walking across the Dybbølsbro bridge, there seems to be no presence or atmosphere. The punctuation of the bridge in the Fisketorvet mall also does not add much to the site.
Proposed Solution
A 20 year plan that restructures the site will help to bring life back to the area. 
The first proposed action would be to make a huge infrastructural change. A bridge with infrastructure of separated lanes for cyclists and pedestrians should be built on both sides of the car lanes. Eliminating the bridge and flattening the infrastructure by Fisketorvet would result in a ramped structure that would curve to connect cyclists and pedestrians directly into the ground level next to the mall, creating a smooth connection. A new, normal intersection would be created. This change places the needs of cyclists and pedestrians ahead of that of cars and stays in line with the values of Copenhagen.
The next step in this plan would be to develop the empty land beneath the current bridge. Having a development of mixed-use buildings and great public streets and gathering spaces can bring a new vibrancy to the site. This development would also be able to pay for the large infrastructural changes that would occur prior to this. 
Although a large and ambitious plan, I think that this restructuring and development of the entire site would in the long run bring a new and exciting life to the site that would celebrate the everyday cyclists and pedestrians.

Copenhagenize the planet. And have a lovely day.
Categories: Views

American Students Rethink a Copenhagen Neighbourhood Part 01

Copenhagenize - 23 January, 2014 - 05:00
Mikael, on behalf of Copenhagenize Design Co., is a teacher in the Bicycle Urbanism Studio led by urban liveability expert Bianca Hermansen at the Danish Institute for Study Abroad (DIS). Since 1959, DIS has given American students the chance to study in Denmark. Our Bicycle Urbanism Studio features American architecture students.

Mikael led a portion of the course involving a massive Desire Lines analysis of two intersections at either end of the Dybbøls Bridge in the Vesterbro neighbourhood. The students' final project was broader than that. They were given the task of rethinking the entire area. The wide swathe of unused railyards, access to the harbour and bicycle traffic through the area. 

Working with the students was brilliant and inspiring. Mikael was also an external examiner on the final projects at DIS. We thought it worthwhile to get the students to present their projects in short form. Showing off their abilities, ideas and visions. We'll divide them up into two articles. Here's the first one. 

Many of the students mention "Bicycle Snake - Cykelslangen". This refers to the coming elevated cycle track in the area. Here's a map of the area in question.


Site Observations:
With 55% of Copenhageners commuting to work by bicycle (a number that is increasing every year) it is undeniable that investment in bike infrastructure is necessary and beneficial. However, these ventures cannot come at the cost of overlooking the communities in which they are implemented. While separated from the harbor front by the s-tog lines and abandoned space, Vesterbro is a thriving, young, diverse neighborhood that stands to be further connected to the greater Copenhagen area and Amager by the imminent construction of the Bicycle Snake (Cykelslangen).

Research and Implementation Methods:
By observing cyclist patterns, interviewing residents, and analyzing current neighborhood fabric and other neighborhood initiatives throughout Copenhagen, we identified points of conflict and potential and used these to formulate design solutions, ranging from specific infrastructure simplifications to an ambitious vision of the potential of the area as a sustainable and livable community. Overall the suggestions strive to keep in mind the fact that the modern Copenhagener experiences his neighborhood primarily on foot, on bike, or as a user of public transportation.

On Foot Observations:
Three main topics emerged from interviews of commuters at the Dybbolsbro S-tog station about their “favorite part of the Islands Brygge/Vesterbro area” and “what one thing they thought that the area could use”.  The love of the harbor and water in Islands Brygge was evident from suggestions to bring some aspect of the waterfront into the area. A desire for more and all-year-round sports facilities was prevalent in the younger residents. Most frequent (among pedestrians and bike users alike) was the request for more green and a greater connection to nature. All of these wishes are supported by previous and contemporary initiatives including the immensely successful harbor baths, the positive introduction of play/exercise areas such as Superkilen and Banana Park into previously undervalued areas, and the climate resilient initiatives in neighborhoods such as St. Kjeld.

On Foot Solutions:
Opening up the currently unused area next to the rail tracks to the harbor and creating a gentle slope that brings pedestrians to the level of Vesterbro would extend the pedestrian realm continuously from the harbor into the neighborhood. Linking these two dynamic areas in this way would not only gain a valuable green area (with potential for both programed and spontaneous activity), but would provide pedestrians and local bikers with an alternative to the commuter infrastructure, while still making the space visible and convenient for bikers coming from farther distances. The proposal looks toward a future when the car traffic through the area will become residential and the perceived need for the disruptive and unsustainable multi-lane highway that cuts through the area will be overshadowed by the potential for positive community space.

On the bicycle Observations:
In our research we confirmed that a large number of cyclists already use the intersections at the entrance to Vesterbro and in front of Fisketorvet and predict that the numbers will increase with the introduction of the Cycle Snake. The behavior of cyclists who broke or bent the rules at these intersections (20-30% during our rush-hour observations) was used as a basis for suggested improvements in safety and efficiency of the intersection.

Bicycle Ease of Use:
Between 8:00 and 9:00, near Vesterbro, cyclists bend and break the rules in an effort to find a faster route from the corner of Vesterbro to the metro station side. A Barnes Intersection is proposed to streamline the bicycle route and coordinate with the green wave. The morning crossing behavior is even more pronounced and reckless in the evening as cyclists come back from work or university. Green corners and up-lighting are proposed to protect bikers and pedestrians by coordinating traffic through the intersection.

Bicycle Safety:
At the Fisketorvet intersection, cyclists frequently turn left (as a car would) and cross traffic to save time and avoid the inconvenient roundabout. In order to avoid this dangerous situation, the roundabout is removed making the route more direct and the upper entrance of Fisketorvet a bicycle centered area (referencing the boost in revenue that was experienced in Nørrebro as a result of increased bike thoroughfare and parking). In the evening (the 17:00 to 18:00 rush hour), cyclists become more reckless and deviate from their prescribed path to find the fastest way home. To keep bikes together and off of the sidewalks, a wider, bi-directional route is created to the East with the intention of eventually closing the ramps to the East to car traffic.

By Train Observations:
The Dybbolsbro S-Tog station is currently underwhelming considering that it is the main hub used by the residents of Vesterbro and by those visiting the hip new area. The lack of consideration given to bikes (inconvenient/inadequate parking space, lack of even the traditional wheel channels on the stairs, and poor access for the bicycle commuters coming from the Vesterbro neighborhood) will only become more prevalent with the completion of the Cycle Snake. Additionally, the space platforms are drab and overshadowed by the bridge and vast surrounding area.

By Train Solutions:
If the language proposed for the new park is continued into the station, convenient, green ramps will replace the existing stairs and also act as bio-swales to mitigate the water runoff from the surrounding hardscape. To complete the rebranding of the station as an example of climate and neighborhood conscious design, it should be renamed “Vesterbro Station”. In considering all three scales of movement (walking, biking, and public transport) and three perspectives of intervention (infrastructure, livability, and sustainability) people-conscious communities can be created.


The young development near the water lacks the history and urban fabric of typical Copenhagen neighborhoods. To bring an identity to the area, the street typology of Vesterbro extends to the harbor and is recontextualized to respond to the water. Bikers can efficiently circulate through the site with added infrastructure allowing for smoothly curved corners and a ramp to replace the stairs. In addition, the inward facing mall opens onto the outside to mimic a Vesterbro commercial street.

As Copenhagen city strives to improve the connection between Vesterbro and Islands Brygge it is heavily investing in infrastructural improvements for cyclists, namely, the new Bicycle Snake. However, as the snake is currently being built, what remains uncertain is how the new cyclists will navigate the existing transitions on and off the snake.
Our twelve-hour study of the intersection outside of Fisketorvet Mall led us to identify potential cycle snake users, based on those who currently use the stairs and parking ramp. Our observation identified approximately 3,000 people who would be using the cycle snake; a number that is certain to grow once the snake is completed.
This proposal redesigns the spaces leading up to the cycle snake to accommodate the increasing number of bikers as well as pedestrians. Outside the Fisketorvet Mall, the space would be closed to car traffic, allowing pedestrians and bikers more space to travel along their desired paths. Car traffic into the mall would then be redirected to the southwestern parking entrance. Closing the roundabout to car traffic opens the space for public occupation and new programs.
Similarly, the connection from the cycle snake to Brygge Broen would be more clearly defined by a specific bike lane. Improvements such as bike-scale lighting and vegetation to provide wind protection would serve to improve the cycle route.

Copenhagenize the planet. And have a lovely day.
Categories: Views

Zwolle, nominee for best cycling city

BicycleDutch - 22 January, 2014 - 23:01
Zwolle is one of the five nominees to become best Cycling City of the Netherlands in 2014. Chosen from a long-list of 19 municipalities, these five municipalities compete to take … Continue reading →
Categories: Views

Dear Government, He is the Messiah, and you’re Very Naughty Boys.

The Lo Fidelity Bicycle Club - 22 January, 2014 - 14:57

‘Christ on a Bike’ by Alan Macdonald.

Taken from The Book of Boardman, Chapters 1-2014

The Prologue

And lo, the bicycle had traveled through the valley of darkness. Its riders treated as lepers, the poor and the self-righteous, who’s only sin was to get to work or school or a stable in BethnalGreen.

..And so it came to pass that a writer of scriptures for the Bloomberg Press was dispatched to chronicle yet further wisdom from the man now simply known as ‘The Messiah’ (formerly The Professor’). Although a blessed event called The Tour had been bestowed upon the land of Britain, nothing had been learned, particularly that which would benefit the women of the Islands.

The man now known as The Messiah had already gained popularity with his wisdom, speaking out against the rulers of the land whom reside at the Palace of Westminster in their luxury and ignorance.

He spake

“The MPs that sit on the transport select committee should be embarrassed by their performance yesterday in an inquiry that was meant to be about why six people died riding bicycles on London’s roads in the space of two weeks.

“In front of them sat experts from campaigning bodies, transport research and the police – all ready to get into a proper discussion – and yet the MPs demonstrated that they didn’t even know the most basic of facts. Evidence and statistics were bypassed in favour of opinions and anecdotes on sideline topics.

“Such a clear demonstration of lack of research and understanding at this level of seniority would, in any other business, be classed as negligent.

“This was an opportunity to discuss how we can make our roads fit for people to get around by bicycle, improving our nation’s health, the environment and cutting emissions. This will deliver benefits for everyone, not just cyclists, and to do it we need to transform infrastructure, tackle dangerous junctions and encourage people to use bikes to get around.

“I’d like to see a proper, fruitful evidence session, rather than opinion-based discussion, on how to protect and encourage cycling as a mode of transport. To that end I am going to write to the MPs on the committee asking them to meet with British Cycling representatives to get to work discussing the real issues that can lead to the transformation of not just cycling, but the environments that we live in.”

And there was much procrastination at the Palace of Westminster as one Parliamentary Forum begat another and another with empty words and shallow promises. For it is easier for a cyclist to enter an Advanced Stop Line via the inside of an HGV than it is for a Politician to enter a reasoned cycling debate.

The Messiah spoke unto the Bloomberg Chronicler stating that these Blessed Islands need better cycle paths, especially in urban areas with more junctions instead of circuitous routes around Lake Galilee.

He spake

“The government has a difficult choice. There is a finite amount of space so to make better cycle lanes you are going to alienate others. It’s a scary change and it could lose votes.”

“In New York there was the political will for change. In the U.K. it’s more like positive apathy…Prime Minister David Cameron says he wants to make Britain a cycling nation, but what good is that if you have no participation target, no strategy and no funding commitment”.

And The Messiah spoke more wisdom unto a Chronicler from against the money lenders saying..

“There’s a £5.6 billion annual Highways Agencies budget for roads with a continuous revenue stream versus £128 million allocated for cycling and only committed for two years,” he said. He also pointed out that there’s no monitoring of local authority activities, even though they are the agencies that often deliver local routes.

“I think you’ll struggle to find any business that says it can achieve its goals with that kind of strategy/commitment backing it up, you’d be laughed out of the bank.

“For any business to succeed, you define your target; where you want to get to. You then define how you are going to achieve that target in great detail and then you measure your progress closely, adjusting your strategy accordingly when you meet unforeseen circumstance. It’s that simple. Hence I said ‘positive apathy’.”

and The Messiah bestow upon the land Four Commandments to deliver us from Evil.

“A statement from the government saying ‘we want cycling and walking to be our preferred means of transport in the UK. We will legislate, design infrastructure and spend accordingly’.

“A nationally set of defined targets and timescale to define what that will look like.

“A dedicated and consistent part of the budget to achieve this. £10 a head (half that of the Kingdom of the Netherlands) would be a start.

“A national monitoring scheme to assess progress.

“Or put even more simply: commitment.”

And all eyes turned to Patrick McLoughlin and Robert Goodwill.

And God wept.



The post Dear Government, He is the Messiah, and you’re Very Naughty Boys. appeared first on Lo Fidelity Bicycle Club.

Categories: Views

Tricked Out Rides: Which Bicycle Accessories are Right for You?

Copenhagenize - 22 January, 2014 - 13:58

In need of some extra carrying capacity on your ride? Don't know where to start? CycleLogistics has got you covered.

As you are hopefully already aware, CycleLogistics is an EU-funded project that aims to reduce the energy used in moving goods around cities. We try to influence businesses, delivery companies and private individuals to turn off the engine and pedal their way around town instead. As a part of this project, we ran consumer tests to help the average citizen become more aware of the products out there to help them equip their bikes for more intense transport.  Our consumer tests judged 5 categories of products - cargo bikes, bike trailers, bike baskets, pannier bags and rear shopping trolleys, evaluating 4 or 5 popular brands and products based on their function, price and design. These tests are a pretty big deal - this is one of the first times that anyone has consolidated this much information on such a range of bicycle products and accessories.

There's quite a lot of variety out there in terms of available products. For instance, do you need a cargo bike to cart your children around? Or perhaps you own a small business and need to move products all over town? Maybe you just like carrying an extra passenger? Do you need a front basket to hold your overloaded purse? Or your four-legged friend? Will your pannier carry your daily groceries, or maybe your laptop? These tests prove that different designs fit different needs. You might even discover an item you hadn't even considered before, such as a shopping trailer that you can bring into the store with you and then simply hook on your bike before you head home.

The Danish Cyclists' Federation oversaw the consumer tests on behalf of CycleLogistics and the European Cyclists' Federation, so you can trust that the organizers really know their stuff. The tests were carried out over the course of 5 days by 5 individuals or small companies who use bicycles on a daily basis. Participants were told to simply incorporate the product into their daily routines and then rate them based on how well they did their job. These test users are therefore experienced and knowledgeable while also entirely unbiased in their reviews.

The full results from each of the 5 category test are available for download here. Want to read it in your native language? No problem! CycleLogistics has produced a consumer test report in 7 different languages, available for each and every category. Be sure to read them through and share them with your networks - spread the word, find your favorites and see how these products work for you.

For more info on CycleLogistics be sure to check out the website and follow us on Facebook and TwitterCopenhagenize the planet. And have a lovely day.
Categories: Views

The problem with the word ‘cyclist’

As Easy As Riding A Bike - 22 January, 2014 - 08:30

The news that the police should use some discretion and not issue Fixed Penalty Notices to anyone who rides a bike on a footway, irrespective of the local context, the type of person riding, and how they are behaving, was predictably greeted with a degree of outrage and hysteria – outrage and hysteria whipped up, deliberately or otherwise, by the British press.

A small part of the problem here is down to the word ‘cyclist’, which tends to conjure up in the mind of the average Briton an image of a young or middle-aged man, wearing odd-looking clothing, and travelling ‘at speed’ (although not faster than motor traffic) – or, failing that, a teenager or ‘youth’ tearing around antisocially on a mountain bike. Giving these cyclists ‘permission’ to ride on pavements is plainly not a good thing.

There are obvious reasons for this association – these are, usually, nearly the only types of ‘cyclist’ most people will see on a day-to-day basis. Other types of cycling – other types of people cycling – have largely disappeared in Britain, thanks to the hostility and/or inconvenience of our road system.

The Daily Mail chose to illustrate their news item about discretion on pavement cycling with this (old) picture -

A burly-looking man travelling purposefully on the pavement, which has plenty of people on it. If there is a kind of person who should be on the road – and who probably couldn’t complain about getting a ticket – this is it. Hardly appropriate to illustrate the issue.

The Daily Mail could, of course, have used a different kind of ‘pavement cyclist’ – one like this, for instance.

A ‘cyclist’ on the pavement

This is the kind of discretion that is being advised by the minister for cycling – not forcing young children to share space with motor traffic when they pose little or no danger or inconvenience to anyone walking.

Unfortunately when we hear the word ‘cyclist’ we don’t immediately think of very young girls riding tiny bikes with pink baskets. ‘A cyclist’ is not a child.

But it is this trickiness about the word ‘cyclist’, and what it suggests, that is part of a wider problem. When plans talk of ‘improvements for cyclists’ the public will unfortunately, and inevitably, have an image of the type of people cycling now, not the people who could be cycling, if conditions were right – people like them, or their children. ‘Why are we doing things for cyclists?’ they might ask – why are we doing things for a tiny minority of people, and strange ones at that, who wear funny clothes. 

There is no easy way out of this – for us to stop thinking about ‘cyclists’ in this way will require wholesale changes to the way our roads and streets are designed, so that the word ‘cyclist’ will encompass everyone and lose its divisiveness. But in the meantime it’s probably helpful to avoid using ‘cyclist’, when reasonably possible – not because it’s  intrinsically bad, but because it has unhelpful connotations.

Doubtless at some point in the (hopefully near) future we can reclaim it.

Categories: Views

Respect for the Cargo Bike Riders of Rio

Copenhagenize - 22 January, 2014 - 07:49

As you will have seen by now, here at Copenhagenize Design Co. we are currently in the midst of a crowdfunding campaign, raising money to organise a cargo-bike race in Rio de Janeiro, in order to raise the profile of the under-privileged cargo-bike riders of the city. But why do we want to raise their profile? And why do they need their profile raised?
As you may remember, a couple of years ago our partners in Rio de Janeiro, the NGO Transporte Altivo did an extensive cargo bike count of the city. This showed that each and every day in Rio, there are over 11,000 cargo bike deliveries. It also showed how hard they work: loads in excess of 200kg are not uncommon.
Why is this important? Well, Brazil’s economy is growing at breakneck speed, and by 2016 it is set to be the world’s 5th largest economy. Cargo bikes are vital to the cities that power this growth, connecting the country's otherwise car-clogged urban environments and ensuring Brazil’s powerhouse economy keeps ticking over.
This economic growth has led the middle class population to increase by over 40% but not everyone has been swept along in this great new wave of Brazilian prosperity. Although Brazil has changed drastically, and overall inequality has slightly decreased over the last ten years, there are still large pockets of poverty and deprivation, and Rio is one of the most unequal cities in the world. As the opportunities offered by the city grow, so too does its allure, and so too does rural to urban migration. Rio now has a population of over 11 million but simply can’t keep pace with the level of growth and new arrivals to the city often end up in favelas on the hillsides of the cities, in ‘temporary’ housing that soon becomes their permanent home. It is here where the vast majority of cargo-bike riders come from. Whilst conditions in many favelas have improved a little in the last few years, they are still extremely poor neighbourhoods, where the average monthly income is $180 a month, barely half the official minimum wage.
The prizes for our cargo-bike races, which will be funded by our crowdfunding campaign, will amount to two months’ wages for the victors and in conjunction with local businesses, we will also include household items such as fridges or mattresses as prizes: vital products that with rising prices in Brazil are becoming increasingly unaffordable for the poorer population.

But of course, it’s not specifically about the winners. Though making a difference to their lives will be fantastic, we’re not doing this to just benefit a small handful of the thousands of cargo bike riders. Merely by drawing attention to the impact of these seemingly modest, but nevertheless significant prizes, helps to illustrate the difference in economic reality between the rich and the poor in Brazil.
But it of course goes beyond prizes.
Firstly the poorer residents will, both metaphorically and literally, no longer be hidden away in the narrow winding streets of the favelas, out of sight and out of mind. It is a lot harder to ignore society’s inequalities when they are right in front of you. As the widespread riots in Brazil last year showed, not everyone has been included in Brazil’s progress, and discontent is rife. Enabling society to see their poorest members in a different light will be a positive step towards increased equality, and towards the inclusion of the cargo bike rider’s neighbourhoods in the plans, hopes and dreams of the new Brazil that any journey round Rio de Janeiro reveals is being constructed at immense speed.
Secondly, the importance of the cargo bike will also be brought out into the open. The cargo bike will no longer be associated with some unseen and faceless ‘underclass’. It will be associated with real people, whose endeavour is admirable and vital. Their cargo-bikes will be recognised as the vital tools for the city that they are.

The future of transport, and as a consequence, of the city, will eventually be more about the bicycle than the car. It simply has to be. Rio can barely cope with the present number of cars, let alone any further growth. The cargo bike riders are doing it right. But as well as lacking basic opportunities in their neighbourhoods, they are also lacking even the most basic cycle infrastructure and this is no way to encourage more people to bike.
In our CycleLogistics work we have seen that 51% of all motorised deliveries in Europe could be made by Cargo-bike. Rio has such a high number of cargo-bike journeys that it could be seen as one of the cargo bike capital of the world. But it risks going backwards if it follows the mistakes made by European cities in the past: of a growing middle class leading to growing car ownership, leading to clogged roads, and cities that are not life-sized but instead car-centric, un-liveable and un-loveable. The roads are so congested that a 10km bus ride in the suburbs of the city takes 90 minutes. The widespread protests that took place across Brazil last year were set off by a 20¢ increase in bus fares, showing firstly the precariousness of everyday life in Brazil, but also the massive importance of good transport infrastructure. Cycling is the best way to get from A to B in any urban environment and anything that helps to increase this needs wholehearted support.
Creating a cycling culture in a city does not happen overnight. Car ownership in Brazil is still growing, but reappraising the role of the bicycle in its society can only lead to vast improvements. Cargo-bike riders hold the key to a better Rio de Janeiro, for everyone.Our race will be held at the Copacabana, one of the most famous locations in Rio de Janeiro. Situating our race here will show the whole city that the cargo bike riders and their neighbourhoods should not be forgotten, and neither should the most useful tool available for creating liveable cities: the humble bicycle.

Copenhagenize the planet. And have a lovely day.
Categories: Views

Desire Lines in Værnedamsvej - Part 03

Copenhagenize - 21 January, 2014 - 05:00
Part 1: Introduction - Desire Lines on Værnedamsvej 
Part 2: The Desire Lines tool applied to an asymmetric intersection (Værnedamsvej, Gammel Kongevej, Svanholmsvej)

Here we get to focus on a major abberration in the street layout of Copenhagen. An intersection where bicycle users - and basically everyone else - have no normal way to cross the intersection. Indeed, the junction Værnedamsvej, Vesterbrogade and Frederiksberg Allé, is complex and not completely regulated by traffic lights. Generally, it's a bit weird.

What contributes to the confusion is the fact the municipal border between Copenhagen and Frederiksberg zig zags bizarrely through the area. It is also worth noting that ALL the bicycle infrastructure in place is on the Copenhagen side of the intersection. Frederiksberg hasn't bothered to do much at all. Except for seemingly wishing to priortize cars.
Here are the results of our observations made in October 2013 during the morning rush hour.
Southern intersection - Heading out Værnedamsvej
The bicycle users exiting Værnedamsvej followed an amazing 11 different Desire Lines. Compared with the less complex junction at the other end of the street, the number of trajectories recorded is more numerous (11 vs. 7). Let’s figure out what the bicycle users do when they must follow their own instinct and urban desire lines.

The 183 bicycle users observed headed to four different directions:
  • turned left on Vesterbrogade (41%)
  • turned right on Vesterbrogade (17%)
  • headed straight across to Oehlenschlægersgade (36%)
  • turned right on Frederiksberg Alle (7%) – this last Desire Line doesn't require any comment as it is the simplest one.

    Turning left on Vesterbrogade
    You can see the complexity of the intersection on the map. No clear, straight lines are in place. The majority of the bicycle users leaving Værnedamsvej turn left on Vesterbrogade (41%) - heading for the city centre. They cannot, however, reach the traffic light without using the crossing or cycling against traffic. That’s why 80% of these bicycle users bike or walk their bike on the sidewalk in order to reach the pedestrian crossing further down Vesterbrogade. Indeed, they try to follow the shortest trajectory and head normally towards the direction they want to reach without making a detour. Classic Desire Line behaviour.
    In the first Desire Lines report – the Choreography of an Urban Intersection, we created 3 categories of cyclists: the Conformists, the Momentumists and the Recklists. Once again we noticed that only a very few “recklists” take a direct bend through the intersection (Line E).

    Turning right on Vesterbrogade

    Basically, there is no legal and safe way to turn right on Vesterbrogade by bike. All three Desire Lines used by the bicycle users break the traffic rules. Only those bicycle users who get off their bike and walk on the two-stage crossing act legally. 

    53% of the cyclists reach the sidewalk and then the cycle track on Vesterbrogade. They wait at the traffic light and then continue straight on. It's not a bad way to do it, but it certainly isn't bicycle-friendly and it also forces them to use pedestrian space, which is at a premium here. Especially in the afternoon in this densely populated neighbourhood, when bicycle parking and a sausage wagon take up even more space.

    29% use the pedestrian crossing, completely or partially. Some of them get off their bike but a majority cycles. 18% take the shorter but also less safe trajectories, cycling against the car traffic.
    We noticed that when cyclists felt uncomfortable, they quite often get off the bike and act as a pedestrian. At the very least, using the pedestrian infrastructure becomes a solution for them. But is it far from the optimal solution for everyone.

     Heading straight down Oehlenschlægersgade

    Bicycle users continuing straight on to reach Oehlenschlægersgade have the same problem as the ones turning left or right on Vesterbrogade: how on earth do you get to the traffic light? In this situation, almost half of them cycle through the car lane.

    These maps clearly show that the junction is not designed for bicycle users leaving Værnedamsvej, despite the fact that it is a fairly major A to B route, as well as being a desirable destination.

    Southern intersection - Heading into Værnedamsvej

    For the bicycle users heading into Værnedamsvej the situation is clearly different since specific bicycle infrastructure has been designed for them. We noticed that the number of Desire Lines is less numerous (11 vs. 8). Most of all, we noticed that when bicycle infrastructure is well thought out, a clear, primary trajectory appears. One or two other minor lines are followed by a few bicycle users. It can be bicycle users using the pedestrian crossing to avoid to wait the red light or a small number of “Recklists”. 

    Coming from Vesterbrogade and Oehlenschlægersgade and turning left in Værnedamsvej (56% in total)

    Coming from Vesterbrogade and turning right into Værnedamsvej (32% in total)

    Coming from Frederiksberg Allé and turning left into Værnedamsvej (12% in total)

    In addition, these numbers allow us to determine that, in the morning, bicycle users head in a clear, main direction: 30% of the cyclists head out of Værnedamsvej at this intersection and 70% enter the street. The street is an important east-west route for bicycle users.
    Stay tuned... in the next part we'll present our Copenhagenize Fixes based on these observations.Copenhagenize the planet. And have a lovely day.
    Categories: Views

    The Ridiculous Sky Cycle by Norman Foster

    Copenhagenize - 20 January, 2014 - 10:56

    Elevated cycle track network - Netherlands 1950s.

    There's been a bit of chatter of late about a (not very) new idea for bicycle "infrastructure" in London. None other than architect Norman Robert Foster, Lord Foster of Thames Bank, OM Kt, has dusted off a student's idea and launched it upon an unsuspecting world.

    Rendering of the Sky Cycle

    Now of course this isn't a good idea. This is classic Magpie Architecture. Attempting to attract people to big shiny things that dazzle but that have little functional value in the development of a city. Then again, Foster is a master of building big shiny things.

    Ideas like these are city killers. Removing great numbers of citizens who could be cycling down city streets past shops and cafés on their way to work or school and placing them on a shelf, far away from everything else. All this in a city that is so far behind in reestablishing cycling as transport that it's embarrassing. With most of the population already whining about bicycles on streets, sticking them up in the air, out of the way, is hardly going to help returning bicycles to the urban fabric of the city.

    With urban planning, now more than ever before, heading back to the future - back to when cities were life-sized places with rational and practical solutions for moving people around - ideas like these stand out like a sore thumb.

    As Canadian author Chris Turner said on Twitter:

    "You say that as if Foster and the starchitect league have ever attempted to understand how streets work in general."


    Foster grew up on this street south of Manchester, back in an age when Manchester had around 20% modal share for bicycles. Instead of realising that modern urban planning is seeking to return our cities to their pre-car state, he insists on dishing up city-killing, Bladerunner fantasies. You would hope that Foster would seek back to his roots and embrace the kind of city he grew up in.

    The first things that popped into my head upon hearing of this idea:

    The Price
    £220 million pounds for the first 6 km stretch from Stratford to Liverpool Street? Seriously? For that price any urban planning firm could propose a world-beating transport plan for London, the city could pay to implement it and there would still be change leftover for schools, social programmes or whatever else. What an obscene amount of money to spend on Magpie Architecture.

    Bicycle Anthropology
    I've read that the estimated average speed would be 24 km/h up there in the Sky. The average speed for Citizen Cyclists in Copenhagen and Amsterdam is 15 km/h. That's the speed that a few hundred thousand people sub-consciously settle upon whilst cycling through a city. There are those who go faster, sure, but understanding basic bicycle anthopology should be at the forefront of our thinking.

    Bicycles belong at street level. Bicycle users are just pedestrians on wheels, not to be confused with motorised traffic. Creating safe, separated infrastructure on our streets is the way forward. Back to the future. Bicycles are the most effective and powerful tool we have for re-building our liveable cities.

    The Sky Cycle seems to focus on the 1%. The spandexian demographic. It will never get built, of that we can be certain, but if play Foster's fantasy game, there would be a few bicycle users using it. But nowhere near the numbers that have been predicted.

    The Sky Cycle idea also disregards another basic fact in city transport. Decades of experience in Denmark and the Netherlands has determined that the majority of bicycle users will cycle up to seven kilometres. The number of bicycle users drops dramatically in the 8-15 km zone. Indeed, under 10% of bicycle commuters entering the City of Copenhagen are coming from the 8-15 km zone. The Bicycle Superhighway project in Copenhagen, aimed at upgrading existing infrastructure in this zone in order to encourage more to cycle from this zone is a great idea, but they are only expecting an increase of about 10,000 cyclists when it's completed. A great number, to be sure, but unlike the Sky Cycle project that boasts of the 5.8 million Londoners living within 10 minutes of the Sky Cycle, they are realistic about numbers of potential bicycle users and their behaviour.

    Oh, and in doing so they will spend between £45 million and £96 million. Not for a 6 km stretch, but for 28 routes through 20 municipalities of a total of 500 km in length that will span the entire network spanning the entire Greater Copenhagen region.

    The Sky Cycle will be the greatest transport flop in history, simply because it fails to understand the importance of bicycle traffic in urban planning. Also because it's a stupid idea, but hey.

    New Wine in Old Bottles
    It's not a new idea. Look at the drawing at the very top. Stuff like this has been around for awhile. Has it ever been built? No. Rationality ended up winning the day. The California Cycleway in Pasadena, built in 1900, was a similar idea, one that provided an A to B route from Pasadena to Los Angeles, but even it only lasted a couple of years and ended up being sold for lumber.

    The City of Calgary has had a pedestrian walkway system in their downtown core since 1970 called Plus 15. Another city-killing idea that strangles street life. I can recommend watching waydowntown, the urban planning mockumentary by Gary Burns, which is unflattering towards the Plus 15, to say the least.

    Just Do What Other Cities are Doing
    Funny how the rising stars of bicycle urbanism like Paris, New York, Chicago, Bordeaux, Barcelona, Dublin, Seville, etc etc, haven't bothered with lofty starchitect visions. They just rolled up their sleeves, dusted off their rationality and started tackling their urban problems with infrastructure and traffic calming measures.

    While Foster and too many others are obsessed with commuting instead of bicycle culture, others cities are on the fast track to going back to the future. Using far less money and getting far better results much quicker.

    Absolutely everything we need to reestablish the bicycle as transport and to modernise our cities into more liveable urban spaces has already been invented a century ago.

    De 28 ruter på samlet set ca 500 km. rutenet, er vurderet til at koste mellem 413 mio. kr og 875 mio. kr - See more at: 28 ruter på samlet set ca 500 km. rutenet, er vurderet til at koste mellem 413 mio. kr og 875 mio. kr - See more at: so many others dazzled by the fact that this idea has been pushed forward by Norman Robert Foster, Lord Foster of Thames Bank, OM Kt, I refuse to be blinded. It's a ridiculous idea that shits all over the efforts of so many of my colleagues around the world who know better.

    Remember, this, Norm... you're only as good as your latest idea.Copenhagenize the planet. And have a lovely day.
    Categories: Views

    Desire Lines on Værnedamsvej - Part 02

    Copenhagenize - 20 January, 2014 - 05:00

    Part 1: Introduction Desire Lines on Værnedamsvej
    The northern intersection is a bit odd and rather asymmetrical. It is also clearly very car-centric. By applying our Desire Line tool, we quickly discovered that there are a variety of unconvential ways that bicycle users emply to cross it. Here are the results of our observations.
    Northern intersection - Heading out of Værnedamsvej
    The map shows the cyclists leaving Værnedamsvej at the northern intersection. On this morning in November 2013, 381 bicycle users went through the junction between 07:30 and 08:30. There are three basic directions they headed in:
    • heading straight down Svanholmsvej
    • making a left turn up Gammel Kongevej
    • making a right turn down Gammel Kongevej.

    Going straight down SvanholmsvejA majority of the bicycle users (54%) heading out of Værnedamsvej at the north end during the morning rush hour continue straight down Svanholmsvej (Sn). Despite that sounding like a pretty straightforward approach, bicycle users followed three different Desire Lines in this direction.The main trajectory (S3) is used by 90% of the cyclists going straight down Svanholmsvej. Once the light turned green, bicycle users simply followed a straight line across the intersection.The second Desire Line (S2) shows that bicycle users swing to the right in order to follow the crosswalk in order to cross the intersection. The observations didn’t show any obvious reason for this behaviour. We think it is because the intersection is a large expanse of unmarked space due to the irregularities in the layout. Feeling like you are alone in a big empty space may cause bicycle users to seek some structure, like following the crosswalk, in order to indicate to the other traffic users what their intentions are.Some cyclists (5% of all commuters going straight) made a bend to the left (S1). Most of the bicycle users that followed this Line were proceeding faster than normal through the yellow light. They made this bend in their trajectory in order to avoid the cars that had already started off the light on the right on Gammel Kongevej.In conclusion, even though the two streets are not aligned, there are no specific rearrangements to implement regarding this direction. 90% of the bicycle users moving from Værnedamsvej into Svanholmsvej follow the simplest, most straightforward trajectory across the intersection.

    Turning left onto Gammel KongevejThe map shows that 21% of the cyclists leaving Værnedamsvej made a left turn up Gammel Kongevej, following three different Desire Lines.Usually when people in Copenhagen make a left turn at an intersection, they perform the so-called “Copenhagen Left” - or box turn. This involves crossing the intersection and waiting ahead of the crosswalk to continue to the left.
    At this location, because of the crooked design of the streets, Vœrnedamsvej isn't on a direct axis to Svanholmsvej, bicycle users avoid the unnecessary detour and make a direct turn. 64% of all people turning left aim for the corner of the street, which is the direct line (L3). This seems like the most logical route to take, except that the bicycle users end up crossing the flow of car traffic. There is nothing at the intersection to communicate with the motorised vehicle drivers - like blue bike lanes on the ground. The 22% of all bicycle users making a left turn onto Gammel Kongevej (L2) appeared to have a higher speed than most other cyclists. This appears to cause them to ‘cut corners’.The trajectory L1 shows people using the crosswalk on the left. This often happens when bicycle users arrive at the intersection when the pedestrian light is green. They directly cross Gammel Kongevej by acting as a pedestrian: slowing down to pedestrian speeds or swinging one leg off and proceeding like a scooter. Once again, we are convinced that this behaviour is due to the size and vagueness of the intersection, causing them to seek structure.In conclusion it is, in this situation, complicated and unlikely that we can force the cyclists to make the usual Copenhagen Left. Making a direct turn is quite safe, but the coordination with the cars can be improved.
    Turning right onto Gammel Kongevej25% of the bicycle users who leave Værnedamsvej turned right on Gammel Kongevej. They followed the traditional Desire Line for right turns and this trajectory does not call for any remarks. There is the question of turning right on red, however, which the police in Copenhagen will not allow, even though it is a bicycle-friendly feature in Paris and other French cities, Basel and many Belgian cities. As we often see, bicycle users turned right on red at this intersection, doing so slowly and always prioritising pedestrians. All very undramatic.

    Northern intersection - Heading into Værnedamsvej
    This map shows data of all the cyclists entering Værnedamsvej at the north side during the morning rush hour. In total, we counted 230 cyclists and they arrived in the street from three different directions:
    • right turn from Gammel Kongevej
    • straight across from Svanholmsvej
    • right turn from Gammel Kongevej

    Right turn from Gammel KongevejThe majority of all bicycle users turning into Værnedamsvej made a right turn from Gammel Kongevej (65%). The people entering the street from this direction used the Desire Line Ln. This route does not show any complications.
    Coming straight from SvanholmsvejOnly 12% of bicycle users entering Værnedamsvej come from Svanholmsvej (Sn). Svanholmsvej is a one-way street for all traffic (south to north) but it is often used by cycling citizens in both directions. Bicycle users who come out have to wait at the corner of Svanholmsvej and Gammel Kongevej. It is not an official waiting area for cyclists doing the Copenhagen Left, which is obviously an oversight by the City of Frederiksberg. Because the sidewalk is extended here, and the street is narrow, there is not a lot of space for waiting bicycle users. Also, there is no traffic light for bicycle users wishing to go down Værnedamsvej. This lack of space causes a conflict between the waiting bicycle users and cars entering Svanholmsvej. It is unclear to all traffic users what the hierarchy is here, with no clear markings.

    Bicycle users waiting at Svanhomlsvej corner and using the pedestrian crossing light to know when they must cross the boulevard.

    Turning left from Gammel Kongevej23% of people turning into the Værnedamsvej turn left from Gammel Kongevej. The map shows us that there are four different ways to take this route. At this intersection, the important point to figure out was how many bicycle users perform the Copenhagen Left to cross this intersection?
    In fact, 50% did so, by waiting at the corner of the Svanholmsvej for the next green light. Fewer people (27%) use the crosswalks – either the first or the second one - to get across Gammel Kongevej when the pedestrian light is green. 
      There is a very small number of people who directly cross the entire intersection. This is only done when there is a gap in car traffic and the passage appears safe.

    Generally speaking, the data collected during the afternoon rush hour show the same Desire Lines but the proportions are different.

    The trajectories and the behaviour of the bicycle users at this intersection allow drawing the two following main conclusions:First, the Copenhagen Left is a major and effective feature of the cycling habits in the city - as well as being the law – and few cyclists bother to cross an intersection directly. When the streets are not aligned it remains an habit for half of the cyclists to do the Copenhagen Left even if no bike box is painted on the ground.
    Secondly, at the corner of Svanholmsvej and Værnedamsvej the space is too narrow to accommodate the number of cyclists waiting. It creates a potential conflict with the cars.

    Stay tuned to discover the Copenhagenize Fixes resulting from these observations.
    Many thanks to Leike, Dutch intern at Copenhagenize Design Co. for her hard work. Copenhagenize the planet. And have a lovely day.
    Categories: Views

    House of Commons Transport Select Committee Session on Cyclist Safety

    Road Danger Reduction Forum - 18 January, 2014 - 20:17

    Along with others such as the CTC we made a submission in January 2013. Here it is:

    INTRODUCTION:The Road Danger Reduction Forum was formed in 1993 to promote the idea that the civilised approach to safety on the road is to reduce danger on the road at source, namely from inappropriate use of motor vehicles, as part of the promotion of a sustainable transport policy. Support for RDRF is from local authorities that have signed the Road Danger Reduction Charter and bodies representing cyclists, pedestrians and proponents of road danger reduction. Supporting cycling safety has been a key plank of the programme of the RDRF.

    Dr. Robert Davis, Chair RDRF 13th January 2014 CONTACT:



    ·        Cycling is in an inherently safe mode of transport with a low casualty rate. However, there is significant danger from use of motor vehicles towards cyclists – and other road users – which should be properly addressed as a basic requirement of a civilised society.

    ·        There is a need for a fundamental cultural change towards seeing inappropriate use of motor vehicles towards others as the key problem for cyclists and all other road users – one which has never been properly addressed. Emphasising the relative lack of danger from cyclists towards others – the real “cyclist safety” issue – is key towards doing this.

    ·        Cycling as a form of basic, inherently safe transport (with a  low casualty rate) engaged in by normal citizens wearing everyday clothing should be supported by whatever means are necessary, including provision of appropriate highway and off-road infrastructure, home cycle parking and accessible accessories etc.

    ·        Existing road traffic law relating to danger from drivers of all kinds should be massively increased for the good of all road users’ safety. Law and rule infractions should be assessed in terms of their association with the potential to harm others and prioritised accordingly.

    ·        Law enforcement will require appropriately deterrent sentencing, based primarily of licence endorsement and loss.

    ·        Highways and off-road environments can be re-engineered to reduce danger towards cyclists. This should be vigorously pursued at locations such as large gyratory systems. However, it should be understood that drivers must expect to be in the vicinity of cyclists on the vast majority of roads and streets, and for their potential danger to be regulated and controlled accordingly.

    ·        A variety of methods to reduce danger from HGVs can and should be employed, whether engineering the vehicle or its environment. As with everything else, the central issue is a cultural change towards focussing on problems arising from the danger from (inappropriate) motor vehicle use/ Technological changes are of secondary importance to this, and cannot anyway be introduced properly unless this is understood.



    2.   Is cycling safe, particularly in towns and cities?


    2.1.          The safety question – a paradox: We believe there is an apparent, but not actual, contradiction at work here.

    2.2.          On the one hand, cyclists are at risk from a wide variety of law- and rule-breaking behaviour by motorised road users. Much of this has been exacerbated by accommodating these behaviours in traditional forms of highway design and also motor vehicle design. This kind of danger should be seen as simply intolerable and unacceptable. This should be based not just on the fact that people are dissuaded from cycling by danger – although this does occur – but because it is simply wrong: the behaviours concerned are often illegal and frequently endanger other road users as well.

    2.3.          On the other hand, it is important to stress that cyclists in the UK, and particularly in urban areas, have very low chances of being seriously injured, and even lower ones of being killed. Overemphasising the chances of being hurt distorts the picture of cycling, not least in inhibiting people who wish to cycle from doing so – denying them health benefits due to fear of danger. A feature of an anti-cycling culture is the persistent tendency to see cycling as “the problem”. Part of this is the “dangerising” of cycling, seeing it as an activity which is inherently hazardous, particularly if there are any motor vehicles anywhere nearby.

    2.4.           It is absolutely central to any successful strategy that this state of affairs is seen as the paradox it is. Cycling, particularly in the areas where there is a lot of cycling already, should be seen as the low-risk activity it is. This should not, however, detract from promoting a step change in reducing danger to cyclists from motor vehicular traffic, by whatever means – law enforcement and sentencing, training, highway and infrastructure engineering – are necessary.

    2.5.           The safety question – Safety in Numbers (SiN): We think that the experience of London, with a dramatic reduction in cyclist KSIs per journey in the last decade, shows that change has been achieved through SiN. For example, approximately the same number of cyclists is killed in collisions with lorries, with at least a doubling of the amount of cycling in the areas where most deaths occur, and an increase in lorry use. Denying this mechanism denies an important positive step forward, and unnecessarily dissuades people from cycling: stopping them from cycling can have a deleterious effect not just on their health but on the safety of other cyclists. However:

    (a)   This does not mean that SiN on its own will deliver enough of a  decline in danger

    (b)   SiN is particularly unlikely to be effective on roads with very few cyclists and high speed limits, as well as with particularly incompetent drivers or drivers unwilling to drive properly.

    (c)   Those responsible for danger – whether highway authorities, individual motorists, motor manufacturers or others – should still be held accountable. Danger should be seen as unacceptable whether or not a collision occurs.

    2.6.           The safety question – measuring danger: An aggregate measure of cyclist casualties or casualties per head of the population is at best useless, and at worst misleading. The measures to be used are:

    A.    Cyclist KSIs per journey or distance travelled – this is the minimum acceptable measure.

    B.    Ideally this measure should be refined to consider the proportion of cases where a third party is at fault – there is a qualitative difference between cases where this happens (e.g.  the result of careless driving) and where a cyclist is clearly at fault (e.g. being intoxicated and falling off a bicycle)

    C.    Objective measures of danger. Some locations, such as multi-lane junctions with high-speed motor traffic, have obvious high levels of hazard. These locations can be assessed by measures such as the Cycle Skills Network Audit, where locations are assessed in terms of the level of Bikeability skills required to cycle there.

    2.7.          Finally, there is an ambiguity in the use of the words “safe” and “dangerous”. We believe that attention should be directed towards dealing with danger at its source – from the inappropriate use of motor vehicles. It should be emphasised that although there is some degree of danger from cycling towards pedestrians and other cyclists, ti is minimal compared to that from motor vehicular traffic.  Cycling, in that sense, is a very safe mode of transport.


    3.   What can central and local Government do to improve cycling safety? 


    3.1.          Traffic law and enforcement:

    3.1.1.     This is the key element missing from cycle safety strategies such as The Times campaign.

    3.1.2.      There should be a massive increase in the amount of law enforcement, focusing on behaviours that lead to predominant causes of cyclist KSIs: Overly close overtaking; careless opening of car doors, not watching out for cyclists in general and at junctions in particular, and generally poor standards of driving. Most collisions involve typical motorists, rather than the minority of extremely bad drivers, although enforcement should also be applied here, backed up by deterrent sentencing.

    3.1.3.      While misbehaviour by cyclists, such as failing to obey traffic signals, should be addressed, enforcement should focus on behaviours most likely to endanger others – namely from rule- and law-breaking motoring – which will be of general benefit to the safety of all road users.

    3.1.4.      Although we do not have the space to describe the moral and legal basis for this here, it will be necessary to consider stricter liability for motorists involved in collisions with cyclists and with pedestrians, to back up law enforcement.



    3.2.          Highways and off-road infrastructure.

    3.2.1.      It is likely that most cycling will continue to be in proximity to motorists on the public highway, who should expect cyclists to be sharing the road with them.

    3.2.2.     However, some features such as one-way gyratory systems and roundabouts and inherently inimical to cycling safety.  The aim should be to remove such features of the highway environment, or at least to provide safe and convenient alternatives for cyclists in those areas. Reduction of motor vehicular capacity of the network in such situations is fully justified, if it is the only way to reduce danger to cyclists and support cycling.



    3.3.        Cycle Training

    3.3.1.      RDRF supporter Councils in York, LBs Lambeth and Ealing have been foremost in the “new wave” of cycle training starting in the late 1990s and designed to build cyclist confidence in real world conditions. The right kind of empowering cycle training can, we believe, increase amounts of cycling and reduce cyclist casualty rates through a Safety in Numbers effect. However, we are concerned that much supposed training does not conform to the spirit of National Standards (now “Bikeability”) cycle training and does not create confidence and an awareness of cyclists’ rights as well as responsibilities.

    3.3.2.        Due to a continuation of the kind of beliefs prevalent under old style “cycle proficiency”, trainees may be presented with dubious ideas about supposed inherent dangers of cycling and incorrect advice about equipment such as hi-viz and cycle helmets. We believe it is essential to show that campaigns to promote cycle helmet and hi-viz use evade and confuse the issues which should be concentrated, as well as having a dubious or absent evidence base.


    3.4.        Motorist training and cultural change.

    3.4.1.   We believe that cyclist safety is just one part of the issues stemming from inappropriate motor vehicle use. The problem is just one part of the problem of road danger. As such, changing motorist behaviour is of benefit not just to cyclists but to all other road users.

    3.4.2.   Motorist training has to change from being a confidence booster building unjustified feeling of pride, to one of awareness of responsibilities towards to other road users.

    3.4.3.     Compulsory re-testing of drivers every five to ten years should be a requirement for general road danger reduction. An absolutely fundamental requirement is to achieve a cultural change where motorists realise their obligation towards cyclists as human beings with as much – if not more – right to use the road. Rarely regarded as of significance by transport professionals, we believe it is worthwhile examining prejudice and bigotry about, and displayed to, actual or potential cyclists. Negative attitudes among motorists can exacerbate the potential to endanger cyclists or other road users, as well as putting off potential cyclists from cycling.

    3.4.4.      Negative attitudes and abuse towards cyclists should be countered. These can include those with regard to “paying road tax”, or the supposed superiority of driving as a transport mode due to motorists having passed a driving test. As with other elements in this programme, there is a need to address more general transport policy issues than just those immediately relating to cycling.


    3.5.        Other support for cycling.

    3.5.1.   Because of the low casualty rate, massive health benefits towards cyclists and others, reduction in environmental and other problems, cycling as a form of everyday transport should be properly supported.

    3.5.2.   In addition, as explained in 2 above, increasing the amount of cycling is part of dealing with the issue of danger towards cyclists.

    3.5.3.   This should include not just provision of attractive highway and off-road environments, but also the realisation that inappropriate behaviour towards cyclists will become less socially tolerable.

    3.5.4.   It should also include:

    3.5.5.   Programmes to address other issues limiting take up of cycling, such as inadequate secure and convenient home cycle parking,

    3.5.6.   Difficulty in accessing affordable bicycles and cycle accessories.

    3.5.7.   This has been partly addressed by programmes associated with cycle training, such as London Borough of Ealing’s Direct Support for Cycling programme.



    4.   Goods vehicles and professional drivers.

    4.1.          In London a combination of cyclist Safety in Numbers and pressure on a group of motorists (HGV drivers) has resulted in significant  reduction of the chances of cyclists being hurt or killed.

    4.2.          However, this process needs to be accelerated by

    ·        Retro-fitting design features on lorries which reduce the chances of cyclists and pedestrians going between the lorry body and tarmac. Such devices have not yet been properly considered.

    ·        Installing infra-red or other sensors as the best form of technology to allow drivers to be aware of cyclists. Such devices should be linked to black box devices to be used in criminal and civil proceedings after collisions.

    ·        Installing cyclist-activated braking systems to sensors to provide real safety.

    4.3.          Extension of existing provisions to limit use of HGVs in urban areas during rush hours should be considered ,although this is of minor significance compared to other measures referred to.

    4.4.           In the absence of such features it will be necessary to massively increase law enforcement and raise sentences for HGV drivers who break the law.

    4.5.          Ultimately the freight issue, although 50% of cyclist deaths in London (and a large proportion outside) involve lorries, is still a small part of the overall danger to cyclists. The problems ultimately come back to the behaviour of the person in charge of the vehicle posing more of a threat to others, whether a lorry driver, or in most cases the driver of another motor vehicle. Changing their behaviour has proved to be the most effective way of increasing cyclist safety.




    Categories: Views

    Craft Brews on Craft Bikes

    Copenhagenize - 18 January, 2014 - 13:47
    The EU-funded CycleLogistics project has been up and running for a few years now, working to promote the use of cargo bikes for inner city goods transport. As part of the project, we here at Copenhagenize reach out to local shops and businesses and offer them a free cargo bike for a month. In that time, they use the bike as it fits their company needs and hopefully at the end of the trial period they'll realize all the amazing benefits and invest in one of their own.

    Here in Copenhagen, and around the world, Mikkeller has been a pioneer of the craft beer scene. Their innovative brewing styles and flavors can be found around the world, and in Copenhagen these exciting beers are a welcome change of place for beer lovers craving something other than a Carlsberg. Needless to say, we were thrilled to hear that they wanted to try out a Bullitt cargo bike as part of the CycleLogistics project.


    During the months of November and December, the guys and gals at Mikkeller rode the bike around town for a wide range of small deliveries. They had the extra benefit of a Bullitt with an electrical assist component, meaning this bike could really move. As Thomas Schøn, one of the bike's primary users at the micro-brewery put it, "I feel like Superman on this bike!"

    In addition to its regular deliveries, Mikkeller has recently started a pilot brewing system a short distance from their flagship bar in the Vesterbro neighborhood of Copenhagen. This means that Thomas must cart kilo after kilo of malt, hops and other brewing ingredients back and forth between locations. He notes that while it's simply too far to walk with 40 kilos in tow, starting up a car to travel just a few blocks feel ridiculous. The cargo bike is the ideal solution to this all-too-common urban conundrum. While it's certainly true that in Copenhagen it's generally easier to move about by bike than by car, the use of cargo bikes continues to rise less-obvious cities both in Europe and around the world. Delivery services, small businesses and regular individuals and families continue to see the benefit of 2 (or 3!) wheeled transit. While the CycleLogistics project will come to a close later this year, you can bet that here at Copenhagenize we'll keep on promoting the limitless uses of the indomitable cargo bike.

     Copenhagenize the planet. And have a lovely day.
    Categories: Views

    Inadequate infrastructure causes injuries. Better infrastructure prevents them. Learning from two minor crashes.

    A View from the Cycle Path - 17 January, 2014 - 15:41
    My mother lives in Burnham-on-Sea in Somerset, England. Just before Christmas, my mum was involved in a crash while cycling. She had right of way when turning right on a mini roundabout. A driver coming from her left drove into her without seeing her. My mother was following the line shown in red. The crash happened at the blue cross. See it on Google Maps. The driver who hit my mother is notDavid Hembrow
    Categories: Views

    Our final Friday TED talk: Jason Roberts on how to build a Better Block

    ibikelondon - 17 January, 2014 - 08:30
    Great news! If you haven't yet got hold of tickets for next Thursday's presentation, film and panel discussion by Danish urban expert Jan Gehl, more tickets have just been released.  They might not be the best seats in the gorgeous Hackney Empire Theatre, but it means you will get in to see Professor Gehl present his film, The Human Scale, in person.  Tickets have been selling like hot cakes, and over 1,000 people will now attend this one off evening of all things streets, people, cities and cycling.

    We've been counting down the weeks till next Thursday's film night with a different urban planning TED Talk, and this week it is the turn of transport campaigner, "Better Block" coordinator and Dallas resident Jason Roberts.

    A parade in downtown Dallas,  circa 1900, from The Commons on Flickr
    If you're like me when you think of Dallas you think of enormous highways, sprawling ranch mansions, stetson hats and, um, J.R Ewing.  I certainly don't think of good urban planning practise and streetcars.  So what can a a sprawling city in Texas teach London, I hear you ask?  Read on, and find out...

    We've featured Jason Robert's TED Talks here on ibikelondon before, back in 2012, but it provoked such an incredible reaction last time that we thought it was a fitting conclusion to our Friday TED Talk series.  At the time, commenters wrote "This guy should be voted in as the next president", and "it makes you realise everything can be changed".  
    Why?  Because Jason is the embodiment of "being the change you want to see", and he's not just changing his surroundings, but empowering people to do the same all across America, and indeed the world.

    If that's not a lesson for every livability campaigner going, I don't know what is.
    Tune in, and enjoy some lunch time learning...

    Jason Roberts is the co-ordinator of the Better Block project - check out a map of their grass roots projects here and their instructions for a better city block here.

    Why not check out our previous Friday TED Talks?

    Jeff Speck lays out his vision for the walkable city
    James Howard Kunstler on the ghastly tragedy of American suburbs
    Sir Tim Berners-Lee on the year big data went global (and how cyclists were involved)
    NYC transport commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan on New York's not so mean streets
    Mia Birk on getting Portland Oregon to pedal more, and gaining health along the way.

    Jan Gehl will present "The Human Scale" at Hackney Empire Theatre on January 23rd 2014 - buy your tickets online now
    If you can't make it, the film is available to buy on DVD in the UK here

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    Categories: Views

    Desire Lines on Værnedamsvej - Part 01

    Copenhagenize - 17 January, 2014 - 05:00

    Copenhagenize Design Co. has once again put our Desire Line analysis tool to good use in studying the behaviour and trajectories of bicycle users crossing a major intersection. We started with our Choreography of an Urban Intersection and have also applied it to studying a shared pedestrian/cyclist space in Islands Brygge. Based on the analysis of these “Desire lines”, we study and then propose changes to create urban spaces tailored for humans – cyclists and pedestrians.Today we can present a new case: a lively, neighbourhood street with a name unpronouncable to foreigners (like most streets in Copenhagen): Værnedamsvej.
    Værnedamsvej is a lovely little street lined with small shops and cafés/restaurants. These businesses and the French school, with around 800 students, create a bustling environment. Years ago the street was nicknamed Butchers Street (Slagtergade) because of the many meatmongers. Now, because of the French restaurants and the school, it's nicknamed The French Street. 

    One of the street's intrinsic features is that the border between the municipalities of Copenhagen and Frederiksberg zig zags down the street. Few people know where the border runs and it doesn't really matter to them - or to us. This municipal divide has been the reason, however, that the street hasn't been redesigned and modernised. There has been talk of it for a couple of decades, but the two municipalities haven't been able to figure it out. 

    The street has a fantastic old-school neighbourhood feel but it is also a key route between the two municipalities. There are many cyclists using the street on their A to B journeys despite the lack of infrastructure. Regular bikes and cargo bikes. Also, the many pedestrians suffer from hopelessly narrow sidewalks. 
    Here is a brief technical description of Værnedamsvej:
    • 190 meters long and 12 meters wide;
    • link between two main streets (Gammel Kongevej and Vesterbrogade – both are two-way streets with cycle tracks)
    • connected to the main street Frederiksberg Allé
    • a part of the street is one-way for cars and the other is two-way for cars
    • there is no dedicated infrastructures for bicycle users (no bike lane or even bike racks).
    This street is one our favourites in the city and we've been looking at it for ages. Finally, the two municipalities have decided to do something about it and a redesign is in process. We thought we would analyse the street ourselves.

    Redesigning the street is one thing. It works relatively well as it is. Bizarrely, it's a 50 km/h zone, but the many pedestrians and cyclists serve to slow it right down to a human speed. We have been looking at the street itself, but we quickly realised that whatever redesign ends up in place, it is completely and utterly irrelevant unless the two intersections at either are dealt with first.

    The southern intersection is one of the biggest brain farts in Copenhagen. It's a nightmare and completely ignores the natural Desire Lines of cyclists and pedestrians. The intersection also straddles the municipal border, so that probably explains the fall of reason and the rise of half-hearted municipal comprimise.

    At the corner of Værnedamsvej, Vesterbrogade and Frederiksberg Allé, cyclists simply cannot cross the intersection “legally”. They must use through a car lane with oncoming, turning cars or get off their bike (in principle) and pretend they are pedestrians, using the two-stage crossing.

    To redesign this street, Copenhagen and Frederiksberg municipalities need to work together. This street deserves it. It is a model of lively and meaningful urban atmosphere in a dense, residential district. It's a life-sized street, nestled in between two main boulevards. With a few rearrangements people would enjoy the urban life in even better conditions.
    We're pleased that the two municipalities have finally agreed to act. We're all for it. In our point of view, however, the first thing to do to improve this street is to fix the intersections. er that, the street can be tackled. 

    We tracked the Desire Lines of the bicycle users and mapped them and now we're going to proposed solutions based on these important factors.
    The study is divided in 5 blogposts:
    • Part 1: Introduction
    • Part 2: The Desire Lines tool applied to an asymmetric intersection (Værnedamsvej , Gammel Kongevej, Svanholmsvej)
    • Part 3: The Desire Lines tool applied to a complex intersection (Værnedamsvej, Vesterbrogade, Frederiksberg Allé)
    • Part 4: The Copenhagenize Fixes - our proposals to make the intersections life-sized
    • Part 5: the Copenhagenize Fixes - our proposal for a redesign Værnedamsvej
    Copenhagenize the planet. And have a lovely day.
    Categories: Views

    Spectacular Zoetermeer Cycle Bridge

    BicycleDutch - 15 January, 2014 - 23:01
    Never before was a picture re-tweeted, discussed and re-published so often as the one I took last Friday of the new cycle bridge in Zoetermeer near The Hague. I usually … Continue reading →
    Categories: Views

    Consistency on helmets

    As Easy As Riding A Bike - 15 January, 2014 - 08:49

    Note: some of what follows isn’t actually true. But only slightly.

    In a move that has caused controversy in the pedestrian community, James Cracknell has come out in favour of a law to make it compulsory to wear a helmet when you walk across the road.

    Speaking on the Sportlobster programme, he said

    I was cycling down Route 66 in America, and a fuel truck hit me. His wing mirror hit the back of my head. The truck hit me at 70mph, and I would be dead without the helmet I was wearing.

    But I’ve been thinking. What if I’d been hit hit by that truck while I was walking at the side of that road? Surely a helmet would have saved me in exactly the same way?

    You know, we need to protect our heads when we’re on the road. Not just while cycling. But also while we’re walking. Use your head. Wear a helmet.

    Cracknell admitted that, when it comes to helmets,

    The pedestrian community is strangely ‘anti’ being told what to do. So you can’t have legislation that you should wear a helmet, because it’s an invasion of your rights to do what you want.

    However, he was quick to point out that there’s no real downside to wearing a helmet for crossing the road.

    But what’s the worst that can happen if you wear a helmet? There’s no downside, apart from maybe having slightly messy hair. That’s it. Whereas the upside is enormous.

    And if you think it’s an invasion of your privacy, or someone telling you what to do, to wear a helmet when you walk across the road, imagine having someone wipe your arse for the rest of your life. That is the downside. Or not even surviving! The best thing that could happen is that someone has to wipe your arse for the rest of your life. I would choose to wear a helmet, and have slightly messy hair.

    Actor Ralf Little – also appearing on the programme – was quickly won over by Cracknell’s faultless logic.

    Why wouldn’t you wear a helmet for walking across the road? What’s the worst that can happen? You’re out walking anyway. Who cares what your hair looks like? It doesn’t matter.

    Indeed. Messing up your hair is trivial, compared to the risk of suffering a catastrophic brain injury, if you get hit by a driver. He continued -

    I follow James’s missus Bev, and she’s been tweeting over the last few days about Schumacher, and the need to wear a helmet when you cross the road. And the anger – this bizarre anger – from people, this response of going ‘how dare you’, this real vitriol she’s been getting… All she’s saying is, ‘listen, it would be a good idea if everyone was safe when you are on the road.’

    Quite right. It would be a good idea if everyone was safe when they are on the road. Just protect your head. What kind of idiot would object to that?

    Cracknell also pointed out the extra importance of wearing a helmet while walking across the public highway. Racing drivers wear helmets on racing tracks, where they are surrounded by drivers who are competent and know what they are doing. However -

    On the road, you don’t know what anyone else is going to do.

    Wise words. Racing drivers are highly trained, whereas drivers on the road are amateurs, and are more likely to crash into you when you walk across the road. They might not be wearing their glasses, and hit you on a pedestrian crossing, causing catastrophic head injuries. Or they might be travelling at 55mph in a 30mph zone, and hit you on a pedestrian crossing, causing catastrophic head injuries. You don’t know what anyone else is going to do. 

    It’s simple, says Cracknell. What’s the downside? Wear a helmet when you cross the road.  How can anyone argue against something that will save your life? How?

    Please do read Beyond the Kerb’s piece The Brick Wall, if you haven’t already

    Categories: Views

    Are you brave enough to ride the boards in London's Olympic velodrome? Less than 50 days until you can find out!

    ibikelondon - 14 January, 2014 - 08:30

    It's less than 50 days to go until you too can ride the boards on the London 2012 Olympic Velodrome, and race where Laura Trott, Sir Chris Hoy and Victoria Pendleton broke records and won medals on the fastest cycling track in the world.

    Since the Olympic and Paralympic Games the affectionately dubbed "Pringle" has been in mothballs as the grounds around it are prepared for the visiting public.  The Olympic BMX course has been re-jigged to make it more suitable - and less back breaking - for mere cycling mortals, whilst a floodlit 1 mile road cycling loop has been built out from the Velodrome, across the river Lea on a new bridge and in to the heart of the Olympic park.   

     Developer's rendition of how the finished VeloPark should look (in less than 50 days!)
    Meanwhile the neighbouring massive temporary structure that formed the basketball arena during the Games has been taken down, and the ground cleared.  Tucked away at the back of the velodrome - where catering trucks and dignitary's cars loitered during the Games - a landscaped mountain biking track is being put in place with the help of a few very large diggers to make flat old east London slightly more mountainous.  All this sits within the greater Lee Valley Park, which is stuffed with cycling routes and river towpaths for longer rides.

    At the heart of the "Lee Valley VeloPark" (and how I wish they'd called it the Hoy Thigh Thunderdrome instead, but still...) the Velodrome itself is sure to be the star attraction.  This is where Team GB won 7 out of a possible 10 gold Olympic medals, plus one silver and one bronze, and the Paralympic track cycling team netted an additional 15 medals; 5 golds, 7 silver and 3 bronze.

    The 1 mile cycling circuit under construction surrounding the Velodrome.
    The 250 metre track, which banks at a vertigo-inducing 45 degrees, is surrounded by seating for 6,000 spectators.  The finish line is 5 metres further down the home straight than usual, meaning riders can power harder to the end, netting faster times as they go.  The track bed itself was constructed with 56km of Siberian pine, and is held in place with some 350,000 nails; designed by Ron Webb shortly before his retirement it was the fastest track he built after delivering the Dunc Gray Velodrome in Sydney for the 2000 Olympics, and the velodrome used for the 2004 Games in Athens.

    Competitive track cycling returns to the Velodrome on March 14th for 3 days with the 5th round of the national Revolution Series taking place.  Some tickets are still available, but are shifting fast since Ed Clancy, Laura Trott and Jason Kenny confirmed they will race.  My experience of watching the Track Cycling World Cup here in 2012 makes me certain that the atmosphere will be electric throughout the competition.  (Though on a slightly more sour note I have no idea why tickets to the Revolution Series in London are a whopping £15 per adult MORE expensive than tickets to the Revolution Series events held in Manchester and Glasgow earlier this year)

    Competition returns to the Velodrome on the 15th March - but the public can ride there from the 4th March onwards.
    But before then, and for those who don't just want to watch the pros going round and round but would like to take to the track themselves, vouchers for one hour taster sessions are already available to buy (although again I note that an hour long adults taster session at the national track cycling centre in Manchester will set you back just £11 whereas the equivalent in London comes in almost three times more expensive at £30)  Financial quibbles aside, it will be a massive thrill to ride these boards, especially if you spent a certain two weeks in August 2012 glued to the television watching every track event that happened, not to mention that Keirin race.

    I was passing through the Olympic park at the weekend and took the above photographs of the Velodrome and the new road cycling circuit under construction; tarmac was being laid, trees and shrubs planted and floodlights were being installed.  

    Excited?  You bet I am.  Roll on the 4th of March!
    Categories: Views

    There is no ‘us’

    As Easy As Riding A Bike - 13 January, 2014 - 12:32

    A few months ago I had a bit of a near miss with a driver who, in essence, failed to expect me to come around a corner on a bicycle. Likewise, I failed to expect him to appear so suddenly – a function of the speed he was travelling at.

    He was driving straight ahead into a parking space, and I was cycling straight ahead, in a path perpendicular to his. I had arrived at our point of conflict first, and he was going far too fast for the situation, but (fortunately) slow enough to be able to brake and avoid hitting me.

    I instinctively yelled out as this occurred, principally, I think, out of genuine concern that I was about to be crashed into. Then, reasonably calmly, I remonstrated with the driver – a thick-set elderly man in a Jaguar – about being a bit more careful. This didn’t get the desired response – instead I was told to look where I was going, and given some abusive comments for good measure.

    With hindsight, I probably should have just pedalled away at this point, but his abuse prompted me to ask whether he would talk like that to the elderly ladies who cycle on this bit of road – ladies he could well have encountered instead of me.

    The conversation then took a bizarre twist. The man was parking up in front a shop (recently closed) which he had owned with his wife, and he saw fit to regale me with the number of times ‘elderly ladies’ had nearly been run down by cyclists on the pavement outside his shop. The implication was that I was somehow responsible, by association, because I was using the same mode of transport. That I was reckless and irresponsible by default.

    But – quite obviously – this had absolutely nothing to do with me. I have never ridden past his shop on the pavement, nor have I terrified grannies.

    Somebody else was responsible. Yet the conversation had switched from a discussion about the actual danger he had just posed to me, to a general one about how ‘cyclists’ behave. I was no longer an individual – I had become a manifestation of general cycling wrongdoing.

    This isn’t the first time something like this happened. In another instance, a year or so earlier, I followed a driver into a car park to ask him to give  a little more space the next time he was overtaking someone, only to be told that ‘you jump red lights’.

    A psychological explanation of these kinds of responses must lie in the fact that people who cycle are a minority – a very small minority – of the general population. It is much easier to stereotype people when they are a minority, and to lump them together into one homogeneous mass.

    I’ve explored before how a Kurdish friend felt the need to write to national newspapers to explain that not all Kurds in the UK are like this man, who killed a girl on a zebra crossing, and left her to die. Rationally, it didn’t make any sense at all for her to have done this, because a calm examination of the facts would serve to demonstrate that Kurds in the UK are probably about as well-behaved as everyone else. But I can understand why she did it – the story was headline news for some time, and might have served to create the impression – in the heads of bigots – that all Kurds are like the man in question, especially when not many people in the UK are Kurds, and none of them is well-known.

    The attitudes of the two men who responded to me with the misdeeds of other people who were riding bikes are essentially enabled by the fact that cycling is a minority mode of transport, and therefore a ripe target for those people cannot differentiate – or choose not to differentiate – between individuals. If I had been walking, and we had got into a discussion about how their driving had endangered me, it would have been obviously nonsensical for them to respond with the misdeeds of other people walking around – perhaps someone who had bumped into a granny, or someone who had knocked over a pram while walking along. It would have been laughable. But precisely the same form of response seemed acceptable and serious to these two, purely because I happened to be cycling, instead of walking.

    It’s deeply odd, and probably worthy of being explored in more detail. But what is just as odd is that people who apparently seek to advance the cause of cycling as a mode of transport – people who cycle themselves, and want to see more of it – actually accept the logic of these kinds of arguments. They think that drivers have a poor attitude towards cycling precisely because some other people break the rules while cycling, and that, consequently, the way to address this is to attempt to stop people breaking rules while cycling.

    These arguments will often in appear in the form ‘giving us a bad name’, or that ‘we’ (‘we’ being anyone who rides a bike) ‘can be our own worse enemy’. The logic is that cycling has a bad reputation – which manifests itself in bad driver behaviour around people cycling – and that this bad reputation flows from the fact that ‘we’ are quite badly behaved as a group. Superficially, it therefore seems obvious that to improve this situation we have to stop people on bikes from breaking the law.

    The latest example of this kind of argument appeared in the Times in December, in a piece written by James Kennedy. He wrote

    What I am arguing is that in the absence of exceptional circumstance we expect everyone to obey the laws of the road. I completely believe that were we to achieve this then cycling becomes safer and more popular in every sense of the word.

    If they felt [cyclists] were “playing by the rules” all road users would be more likely to be considerate of cyclists’ needs – at the ground level drivers would be less angry with cyclists and would give them more space on the road on a day-to-day basis, and at the legislative level everyone would be a hell of a lot more amenable to cycle safety law changes if the popular consciousness wasn’t so pissed off with cyclists in the first place.

    The re-categorisation of cyclists as being within the road rules and the weight of expectation of behaviour that comes with it is the only way that we will make sure everyone gets along, and we keep the eggs on the plate and off our hands.

    Roads on which everyone gets along are safer roads. That will only happen when we’re all playing by the same rules.

    Once again, we have the call for us to ‘get our house in order’, as a way of gaining respect, and as a way of ‘re-categorising’ ourselves as being law-abiding. To stop giving ourselves ‘a bad name’.

    The basic, essential problem here is that there is no ‘us’. It might seem like that, because being a persecuted minority tends to push people together, but there really isn’t. We are all individuals. It is completely futile to expect ‘cyclists’ as a group to somehow behave perfectly, or even behave slightly better.

    Human beings are miscreants. We get away with what we can get away with. The fact that some people pedal through red lights isn’t a function of them being a cyclists, it’s a function of them being a human being. All the rules, laws and guidance in the Highway Code are consistently broken by just about everybody, all the time, whether they are driving, walking, cycling or catching a bus. We break speed limits, we park in the wrong places, we pedal on pavements, we don’t look before we step into the road – in short, we do things badly, whatever mode of transport we are employing. Statistics consistently show that people cycling are no worse when it comes to law-breaking than anyone else.

    Yet for some reason it is only the misdemeanours that people commit while they are cycling that contribute to a wider hatred of everyone who rides a bike.

    So not only is it futile to expect ‘cyclists’ as a group to behave better than anyone else, we’re misdiagnosing the problem in the first place. You – an individual who happens to be cycling – are not hated and despised by a particular driver because they saw someone else on a bike doing something bad the other day, or last week, or last year. You are hated because they don’t understand you, because you are in their way, and because you are easy to stereotype. These issues of lack of understanding, conflict, annoyance and stereotyping will persist even if – by some holy miracle – we manage to ensure that no person on a bike ever jumps a ride light, anywhere.

    When you exhort ‘us’ to stop jumping red lights, or to stop cycling antisocially, all you are really succeeding in doing is reinforcing the impression you are attempting to eradicate. You are engaging in precisely the same kind of stereotyping.

    Categories: Views

    Visiting Trondheim

    Copenhagenize - 10 January, 2014 - 16:26

    I travelled to Trondheim, Norway earlier this week, to give a keynote at the Tekna Kursdagene conference. This engineering "Course Days" conference has been held for over 50 years in the city. There are many categories for many branches of engineering, including urban development and - the category I was speaking at - traffic. I was, unfortunately, unable to take in other categories like "Fatigue of risers and pipelines - offshore" or "Lavkarbonbetong/Miljøbetong". Hey, you gotta stick to what you know.

    While I was in the city, I simply had to have a look around. I've heard so much about Trondheim through the years. The number of trips by bicycle is pushing 10% and, by all accounts, it is one of the best bicycle cities in Norway. While Trondheim is trying to move forward, the rest of Norway is lagging behind and is like the USA of Europe with its focus on automobile infrastructure and unwillingness to embrace more intelligent transport forms.

    So here's a little bicycle urbanism travel reportage from the oh so beautiful city of Trondheim one January day in 2014.

    Allow me to get a bit excited about this pedestrian/cyclist bridge right off the bat. It's a great place to start. Nice design over the river with bold pictograms. Getting TO the bridge by bicycle wasn't at all intuitive. Bicycle users had few facilities on the approach and have to use the pedestrian crossing.

    The bridge reminded me of another bicycle/pedestrian bridge in Trondheim and of one of the most brilliantly positive campaigns we've seen in the past six years. Read about THAT right here.

    I love the flower boxes hanging on the side and would enjoy seeing them in full bloom in the spring and summer. Low and behold, in the middle of the bridge, was a text that warmed my heart. Directly inspired by Copenhagenize Design Company's communication template developed for the City of Copenhagen's Bicycle Office. It reads, simply, "Thank you for cycling" (Takk for at du sykler).


    One thing that put Trondheim on the bicycle urbanism map was their Bicycle Lift. We wrote about it back in 2007, with a little film. Now it was time to see it. Except, uh, it was closed for the winter. Oh well. As a few people said on Twitter, "Make sure you see the bicycle lift that nobody uses!". So I did. It was a great idea back in 1992 and has been useful for a whole lot of hype. But I can't see how this has been a game changer, apart from the branding value.

    The bicycle lift was renovated a couple of years ago and a French company took over the production of them. I've seen these bicycle lifts exhibited at a number of conferences/fairs since 2009. Has anyone ever seen one implemented in a city since 1992?

    Nah. Thought so.

    It was, however, fun to see it. On the photo at right, a citizen is just muscling his way up the hill on a vintage upright bike, past the out of service bicycle lift.

    On the way back from dinner, I saw something quite cool. A grade-separated cycle track. In NORWAY! Not very wide, but hey. It was there. My colleague with whom I was walking back to the hotel with commented that technically it was iillegal to ride on it. Apparently the State Road Directorate - Statens Vegvesen - still think it's 1961. In the handbook they publish (recently updated), such Best Practice infrastructure isn't allowed.

    Indeed, in the Q&A at my session at the conference a woman from the Road Directorate said in no uncertain terms - responding to a question about why Best Practice isn't in the book - that "you can't just take ideas from other countries and import them to Norway."

    She actually said that. So... Norway rejects Best Practice bicycle infrastructure based on a century of experience. Surprise, surprise... the country is one of the only ones in Europe where cycling levels are falling.

    So these stretches in Trondheim, where the cycle track continued and was accompanied by a stretch of traffic buffering cobblestones, as well as skirting around a bus stop (at right) are subversive protests thumbing their nose at the Norwegian State Road Directorate. Activism in Asphalt. We approve.

    The report that Copenhagenize Design Co. and Civitas produced for the Norwegian Transport Ministry in 2012 (pdf link) was commissioned by the Ministry simply because they were tired of hearing the same old, same old, last century, car-centric nonsense from the Road Directorate.

    On to the old neighbourhood of Bakklandet. Quaint, wooden houses along the river. Cobblestones galore. But a couple of nice strips of pavement tiles for cycling down the street. It's in the details sometimes.

    Peering through the open door to a back courtyard with both offices and homes, I spied the bicycle rack, at left. The weather was unseasonably warm when I was there. There were impressive numbers of people still riding bicycles all over the city, but it's clear that many have also hung up their wheels for a couple of months. At right, some lovely bicycles remain on the street, ready to go.

    Some more infrastructure. Painted lanes, albeit with a reddish colour, are seen many places in the city. Most run along the sidewalk, like they should.

    At left, however, is a bit of a brain fart. Here the bike lane forces bicycle users to act as a buffer to protect the parked cars on the right. Looking at the stretch of street, it really wouldn't have been so difficult to have continued the bike lane along the sidewalk, leaving the cars on the left. Protecting cyclists instead.
    At right, another stretch of bike lane over a bridge. Reassuring.

    The Clarion Hotel and Congress is a shiny new hotel on the harbour from 2012, designed by Norwegian architects Space Group. It is a splendid building from top to toe.


    What really frustrates me is how architects design a building in excruciating detail and then forget to plan for bicycle parking. The result? Someone who actually understands mobility needs has to put up a bike rack outside the excruciatingly designed building. Usually a bike rack that doesn't match the architectural integrity of the building, just one that works. Because they need it in a hurry.

    There were two bike racks from Cyclehoop a couple of hundred metres away from the hotel. I love them but while they may not fit exactly the design of the Clarion, they would certainly look better out front.

    It boggles the mind that so many architects - by and large city dwellers - fail to plan for the stuff that is going to end up in front of their building. In many cases, stuff they can control. Stuff that that is needed. Stuff that is going to end up there anyway. Like bike racks.

    Where is the architect that plans for this eventuality and designs cool, practical bicycle parking in line with the total architectural vision to avoid unecessary ugliness in the form of cheap racks?

    Then there's the new bridge over the railway by the central station. LOTS of stairs. And yet, no simple addition of a ramp for bicycles. In a city with almost 10% of trips by bike. It boggles the mind.

    It's not rocket science. Build it in from the blueprint stage, or add it afterwards. Preferably option #1.

    Last but not least, a couple of lovely Cyclelogistics encounters to calm me down. Two trailers, both used for advertising. A climbing center and a strip club. Hey, don't think Norway is boring. Copenhagenize the planet. And have a lovely day.
    Categories: Views


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