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2016 in Review

31 December, 2016 - 15:50


Here on the cusp of a new year, Copenhagenize Design Company looks back on our activities in 2016. All of our offices have been busy and we are, in retrospect, thrilled and humbled by the past 12 months.
Our offices in Copenhagen and France - the latter being the HQ for all our work in French speaking countries - have experienced an unprecedented level of work for client cities. Our new office in Barcelona is gearing up and our most recent new office, in Montreal, hit the ground running.
Here is a summary of our work in 2016.
Bicycle Planning and Coaching
Planning and coaching for client cities is, of course, still our primary focus and core competence at Copenhagenize Design Company. It is also in this area that we are experiencing an exponential growth in our client base.
City of Almetyevsk, Tatarstan, Russia



Starting with the City of Almetyevsk is obvious for us. It is simply the most exciting project we are involved in - and wilder than our wildest dreams. We were hired by the city after an email exchange back in October 2015, to develop a bicycle infrastructure network and strategy for this city of 150,000. We were no stranger to the task but we didn’t quite realise what kind of visionary client had hired us at the time.
Ayrat Khayrullin is the young, ambitious mayor who acknowledged the importance of a holistic bicycle strategy that values Best Practice, world-class facilities, constructive communication strategies and above all, dedicated cycle tracks. From the get-go, Khayrullin expressed one clear goal: to transform Almetyevsk into the most bicycle friendly city in Russia, one where he would feel confident sending his young year-old son off to school by bike.
In our preliminary meetings with the city, we quickly agreed on the process and the goals. 200 km of bicycle infrastructure in a cohesive network of Best Practice infrastructure. Nothing less. At our meetings in the city in Fall 2015, we were told that they wanted to get to work on construction in Spring 2016.
We developed a vision for a not-so-distant future Almetyevsk: “A place where the young and old, rich and poor, can cycle alongside one another on a safe and connected network of best practice bicycle infrastructure.” Some more quantifiable goals will help in guiding this vision forward into the future.
Construction on the project began in late May, 2016, coinciding with Russia’s annual bicycle parade day and a ribbon cutting ceremony, celebrating the first 50 km of Best Practice, separated bicycle infrastructure in a cohesive network.
Read more about the Almetyevsk project here.
City of Long Beach, California


With a large bicycle sculpture mounted on the side of their City Hall, the City of Long Beach has quite literally seized the title of “America’s most bicycle friendly city”. This year they’ve continued to champion the bicycle as a legitimate mode of transportation by bringing Copenhagenize Design Co. on board with two separate projects. The first has us advising the City not only on collecting new data on the who, where, why and hows of cycling in Long Beach, but ensuring the newfound data will be presented to the public in an accessible and informative manner. We’ve also been working with Long Beach’s endlessly impressive Department of Public Works, coaching them through more difficult infrastructure solutions from a bicycle user’s perspective.
The bicycle urbanism future in Long Beach is as bright as the sun that shines down on it.
City of Detroit


In the American city synonymous with the automotive industry, the bicycle is returning to the urban landscape. In a big way. Copenhagenize Design Co. has been brought onboard to develop a network strategy for Detroit’s greater downtown. Connecting the downtown core with surrounding universities, hospitals, cultural destinations and surrounding neighbourhoods, the project aims to introduce a network of protected, connected bicycle infrastructure. Accompanying the infrastructure plan will be public education campaigns presents cycling in a normative, accessible, and affirmative tone.
We are thrilled by the energy and drive coming out of the planning department and City Hall about remodelling Detroit into a city of the future.
City of Paris - Bike Share


The City of Paris has plans to upgrade and expand their much lauded bike share programme, Velib, farther into the Greater Paris area. Paris was one of the first major cities to launch a large-scale bike-share scheme in 2007. Almost 10 years later, the contract with the bike share provider had to be renewed and the City of Paris hired the French consulting firm Inddigo and Copenhagenize Design Co. to assist in defining the future of the scheme and the expansion into the suburbs of Greater Paris. Copenhagenize brought our focus on user-friendliness and an international benchmark of qualitative bike share programmes to the table. We presented new services and technology that have been developed to meet users’ expectations.
City of Paris – Cycling Superhighway

All the cool kids are thinking about bicycle superhighways as a transport solution and Paris is no exception. Copenhagenize Design Co. was hired by the City of Paris to provide a study on the current cycling climate and the upcoming plans for a network of protected cycle tracks throughout the city. Copenhagenize profiled cyclists and analysed seven intersections with our Desire Line Analysis Tool in order to provide the city with a comprehensive understanding of cycling conditions before turning the main boulevards into a network of safe infrastructure for bicycle users. In addition, we provided them with a range of international best practices to manage intersections that will allow the city to upgrade the current cycling climate in the city.
City of Bordeaux

The City of Bordeaux employed Copenhagenize Design Co. to organise workshops, an inspirational keynote and a study trip to Copenhagen - The City of Cyclists.
Before setting up an action plan for improving cycling conditions of their territory, Bordeaux Métropole asked us to provide advice and inspiration based on the Danish bicycle urbanism model. After attending a keynote in Bordeaux and participating in a study trip to Copenhagen, the politicians unanimously voted for an ambitious Cycling Strategy for the next four years in order to make cycling a comfortable and competitive means of transportation in the Greater Bordeaux area. Moreover, Bordeaux Métropole is working on developing bicycle-friendly areas which will be used to set up a new standard of both qualitative infrastructure and services for cyclists.
City of Strasbourg


Copenhagenize Design Co. and our partner, Inddigo, were hired by Strasbourg Eurométropole to advise the local authority on all topics related to cycling for the next four years. It’s exciting for us to work in a city where political will to develop cycling infrastructure has been consistent for many years. In 2016, this partnership started by the creation of a visual identity and a new wayfinding for the well-structured cycling superhighway network, VéloStras, running through the whole metropolitan area. We look forward to the next four years of work with Strasbourg.
City of Amsterdam
After working with the City of Amsterdam on Desire Line Analyses, we were tasked with designing urban solutions and ideas for how the city could inspire local cyclists and provide them with facilities that would both make them feel welcome and benefit safety.
Keynotes and Presentations

Regarding keynotes and presentations, we continued where we left off in inspiring cities and local stakeholder about the possibilities of taking the bicycle seriously as transport once again. Our CEO, Mikael Colville-Andersen, continues to do his renowned keynotes around the world, as he has done for the past eight years. Now, with our growing team in our international offices, we are reaching out to a broader range of audiences and sharing our experience, expertise and core philosophies. Between Mikael, James Thoem (Copenhagen), Clotilde Imbert (Brussels), Jordi & Marie Elisa (Barcelona) and Michael Wexler (Montreal) we have spoken at conferences in, among other cities, Berlin, Rome, Graz, Oslo, Salt Lake City, Barcelona, Denver, Cairo, Vancouver, Montreal, Bordeaux and Moscow.
Delegations and Study Tours

It’s one thing telling the story to audiences around the world. It’s quite another hosting delegations right here in Copenhagen. It is inspiring for us to be able to show Copenhagen for what it is, cycling around with groups from all over the world. There is no shortage of study groups and delegations making the journey to Copenhagen and Copenhagenize Design Co. is a primary choice for foreign engineers, planners, policymakers and student groups looking to decode the Danish bicycle urbanism model. In 2016 we hosted delegations from eight countries, with a total of over 250 participants.
The Master Class by Copenhagenize

Again this year we cast ourselves headlong into the Master Class fray in June. Twenty participants from four continents were selected to attend our three day, total immersion Master Class in the City of Cyclists. Sharing concepts, thoughts, and ideas with such an amazing group of participants remains one of our educational highlights year after year.
Exhibitions

This year saw an increase in the number of exhibitions that featured our work. - Bikeology Cycling Exhibition, Museum of Applied Arts, in Budapest, Hungary.- Bike To The Future, Design Museum Ghent, in Belgium.- Mutations Urbaines: la ville est à nous!, Cité des sciences & de l’industrie in Paris, France.
After such an inspiring year, all the crew at Copenhagenize Design Co. around the world are looking forward to 2017. Thanks to all our clients for making 2016 so brilliant. Copenhagenize the planet. And have a lovely day.
Categories: Views

Top Ten Design Elements That Make Copenhagen Bicycle-Friendly

8 December, 2016 - 17:54
Episode 01 - The Big Picture

Copenhagenize Design Company produced these short clips a couple of years back, filmed and edited by Ivan Conte, who was working with us at the time. They still get hits from various corners of the internet, so we thought we'd slap them together in one place. The Top Ten Design Elements that make Copenhagen a bicycle-friendly city.

Episode 02 - The Green Wave for Cyclists


Episode 03 - Intermodality


Episode 04 - Safety Details


Episode 05 - Nørrebrogade


Episode 06 - Macro Design


Episode 07 - Micro Design


Episode 08 - Cargo Bikes


Episode 09 - Desire Lines


Episode 10 - Political Will
Copenhagenize the planet. And have a lovely day.
Categories: Views

Hygge and the Firepit of Transport

27 November, 2016 - 14:26


The concept of "hygge" is, by all accounts, all the rage this year. A slough of books about “how to hygge” are on the market in the UK alone this year. The Guardian even endevoured to produce a good longread about the whole shebang. All to the amusement of Danes for whom the word is more of a ingrained feeling than a concept requiring an instruction manual.

Hyg. Hygge. Hyggelig.  This simple Danish word has captured many imaginations. Other languages have a similar word - gemütlichkeit in German or gezellig in Dutch but in Danish the meaning is taken to the next level. It often gets translated as “cosy”, but that is sadly inadequate. I’m going to get to how or if hygge relates to transport, but I need to lay down a baseline first.

My standing example when I have to explain the concept to foreigners took place when I was in my 20s. A group of male friends and I met at a friend’s flat on a dark, November evening with pizza and beer to watch a Champion’s League match. Cue the usual boy banter and piss-taking. Until one of the guys looked around and said, “Lars… don’t you have any candles?” Lars had forgotten. He promptly hopped up to get them and light five or six of them, adding a “sorry” as he sat back down. A calm settled over the group and the football evening continued.

In the winter months, candles are the prerequisite hygge prop. Indeed, Danes burn more candles than anyone else in the world. The focus on hygge in the international press -  and a slough of glossy womens’ magazines - however, seems to be focused on baking cookies and moping under a duvet on the sofa whilst wearing slippers/wooly socks and sweatpants like a rejected character in Sex and the City. If that is the image we’re going to get slapped with in Denmark, we need to do some serious brand damage control.

I’ve been asking other Danes for a couple of decades how they define hygge and I went on an asking spree before writing this article. While the general concept of hygge is etched delicately into the nucleus of our every cell, there is a slight divide in the interpretation, which may be a recent development. The debate is about whether you can hyg by yourself or whether you need to be at least two people.

If you ask the older generation, most are adamant that it takes at least two to hygge tango. Many members of the younger generation, on the other hand, are fine with the idea of being able to hyg alone. If you told me that you were home alone last night and enjoyed a good book on the sofa with a cup of tea, I won’t ask if it was hyggeligt, although you might offer the comment that you hyggede with yourself. Yes. It’s a bit confusing. Personally, I find it most hyggelig when I spend time with one or more friends. At the end of it all, you can declare to each other “good to see you! It was hyggelig!” Home alone on the sofa, there is no one to say that to.



Right then. How does this apply to transport? Copenhageners, rumour has it, are predisposed to transport themselves in great numbers by bicycle each day. 56% of the citizens of the Danish capital, at last count. Urban cycling is certainly the most anthropologically-correct transport form for city dwellers. It provides independent mobility but still allows for interaction - conscious or sub-conscious - with the urban landscape and, not least, the other homo sapiens that inhabit it with you.

To be honest, I’ve never heard anyone say that it was hyggelig to ride a bike to work. That might just be because we don’t often associate such things with transport. Avid cyclists will preach that cycling is “fun” as their primary messaging aimed at encouraging others to join their tribe. While I might, if forced, admit that cycling each and every day in Copenhagen is enjoyable, I would never use “fun”. Indeed, I’ve declared here on this blog that “cycling isn’t fun, it’s transport”.

Let’s slip under the surface for a moment. I dare to assume that the sub-conscious interaction with one’s city is one of the key strengths to growing and/or maintaining cycling levels. I’ve been asked in all seriousness several times through the years if cyclists wave at each other in Copenhagen - like I suppose they do in other parts of world where they are a rarity on the streets. However cute that might be, what a monumental task - waving at thousands of people all day long. And none waving back. But the subliminal sense of togetherness - something few realise - is there. The simple urban anthropological contentment at sharing a city with other humans - in a human form on a bicycle as opposed to boxed in and invisible in a car - is everpresent.

To be honest, in the hundreds and hundreds of interviews I’ve done about cycling in Copenhagen, no journalist has ever asked if there was an element of hygge to it. Until last week... thanks to the current hyggepocalypse that is raging. Many, many journalists, however, have asked about the correlation between being consistently ranked as the world’s “happiest” nation and our cycling habits.

First of all, on THAT note, the actual question asked in the survey is “are you content with your life?” Not quite the same as “are you happy”, is it? It gets morphed into headline friendly “happy” after the fact. Look at the Top 10 happiest nations for 2016. Seven of them - including all the Nordics - are countries with a high standard of living, cradle to grave health care, six weeks of annual holiday and strong secular cultures. Cycling doesn’t have much to do with it.

Hygge is not exclusive to the Danes, however. It is merely an extension of the firepit. Besides serving an important role for security, warmth and preparation of food, the firepit was the adhesive that brought a tribe together. After a long day of hunting and gathering or warfaring, it was around the firepit that the tribe would gather. To eat, talk, tell stories. I suppose the television has replaced the firepit in many ways. Nevertheless, Danes just keep on firepitting in their own way. Seeking out the simplicity of togetherness.


"Conversation cycling"

So cycling in itself may not be regarded as hyggeligt, but there are still ample opportunities to enjoy the company of a friend as you cycle, with Best Practice infrastructure and what we call “conversation lanes” in Copenhagen. Whatever the season.


There can certainly be bicycle-related hygge, but the bicycle is merely a prop that makes it possible. Like chatting outside a bar in a cargo bike.


Cykelkokken at work.

Copenhagen's renowed Bicycle Chef - Cykelkokken - Morten serves up gourmet food from his cargo bike and my god it's hyggelig. Holding hands with someone you love while cycling is also hyggelig, but again... the bike is a mere prop.


Bring your own bbq.

I would argue that on some level, cycling is the firepit of transport. People gather at red lights. Not eating, talking or telling stories with each other, but they are elbow to elbow with other members of the urban tribe.

A long series of firepit moments in the morning rush hour.

Warming themselves with the tightly-woven urban fabric on a deep but important sub-conscious level.

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

The Life-Sized City TV Series

16 November, 2016 - 12:09
While Copenhagenize Design Co. focuses on working with client cities around the world, our CEO, Mikael Colville-Andersen, is embarking on an exciting new project in parallel with his work in our Copenhagen office. Shooting has begun on his new tv series The Life-Sized City. With his series, Mikael hopes to bring citizen urbanism into the living rooms of city dwellers all over the world. With rising urbanization, our cities are in focus more than ever. For the first time in almost a century, we are looking at the development of our urban centres in a new and exciting way.

For 7000 years, ever since cities were first formed, they have been fantastic theatres for human activity. Yet for the better part of the last 80 years, our perception of cities changed. They were suddenly regarded as a series of mathematical models that required engineering to make them function.

  Slowly but surely, we are once again focusing on cities as life-sized urban spaces. We are witnessing the re-emergence of cities that are attractive, healthy, interesting and efficient. Cities that do not leave us feeling awestruck and insignificant with their height and girth, but that rather inspire us at street level. They are, quite simply, Life-Sized Cities.

No city is perfect, of course. But some are farther advanced than others. Mikael will explore cities around the world and, instead of pointing fingers at their glaring flaws, we will seek out their pockets of life-sized goodness.

  The promotional teaser trailer for The Life-Sized City.

The title for the series was inspired by Mikael’s daughter, Lulu-Sophia, whom he calls The World’s Youngest Urbanist.  It was back in 2012 that Mikael started developing his idea together with his friend and executive producer, Nicolas Boucher, from production company DB Com Media in Montreal . Fittingly, over a bottle of red wine. After a couple of years of development, the series started to take form until financing for the first six episodes of Season 1 fell into place and shooting the first episode began in Medellin, Colombia in June 2016.

 “The Life-Sized City is, for me, a way to continue my work looking at how we can improve all aspects of urban life and, at the same time, transport my experiences into the living rooms of people all over the world”, says Mikael Colville-Andersen. “It is important to erase the borders between cities and to provide transferable inspiration that citizens can borrow freely from in their local community”.

The first six cities in Season 1 are Medellin, Toronto, Paris, Tokyo, Bangkok and Ljubljana. A mix of city sizes and styles that present a variety of challenges when seeking out life-sized elements on the urban landscape. The Life-Sized City will present a gallery of the best and the brightest minds and projects that are making our daily lives better in our cities - from bottom-up to top-down.

Canadian broadcasters TV Ontario and Knowledge Network will broadcast the first season in Canada starting in September 2017, with other countries and regions around the world following suit afterwards. DBCom Media, among other programmes, produces the Waterfront Cities series and Island Diaries.

Follow The Life-Sized City on Instagram.
Like The Life-Sized City on Facebook. Copenhagenize the planet. And have a lovely day.
Categories: Views

Massive Passenger Increase After Bikes Allowed Free on Trains

14 November, 2016 - 14:36

So what exactly happens when you're a major train operator and you suddenly make it free for passengers to take bikes on your trains? We know that some rail operators in various parts of the world would have you believe that chaos would ensue and that they would lose passengers. Numbers from Greater Copenhagen and Danish State Railways (DSB), however, seem to indicate that the opposite is true.

The S-train network that serves Greater Copenhagen is arguably the most integral part of the public transport mix in the region. Buses, Metro and regional trains are vital parts of the network, but the red S-trains stretching out into Europe's third-largest urban sprawl are in many ways the backbone.

The S-train network - with 2 Metro lines at bottom right.

Bicycles were allowed on the trains for a fee, which was never prohibitive. Until 2010, that is. In that year, DSB announced that bicycles would be made free on all their trains. They announced it with pride and in style and launched a comprehensive awareness campaign with creative solutions.

DSB made the decision based simply on a business case model. They figured that more passengers - both commuters and users travelling in their free time - would take the train with their bikes if it were free. Six years later... how's THAT working out for them?


'Rather well' would be an understatement. The number of passengers taking a bike on board rose from 2.1 million to 9 million. A total, whoppping passenger increase of 20%. And it continues to rise.

The loss of income from ditching the bicycle ticket has been paid off several times over with the increased passenger numbers. It is estimated that almost 10% of passengers now take a bike with them.

Indeed, when asked in a survey, 91% of passengers were positive about the possibility to take bikes on the trains. 27% of the cyclists on board responded that they wouldn't have travelled by train if they couldn't take their bike with them. 8% even said that they travel more by train now that it is free.

In May 2009, before it was free, 188,000 bikes were taken on the S-Train network. A year later, after it was free, 630,000 bikes were taken on board. And that continued to rise.



In order to meet the demand, DSB redesign the compartments on all their trains and created so-called Flex Zones with fold up seats and bike racks beneath each seat. They adjusted the seating on all trains, as seen in the graphic, above, and now every train has a capacity for 60 bicycles.


The redesign also included a comprehensive reworking of pictograms and the implementation of a one-way system to ease conflicts when bikes are rolled on or off the train. The spacious bicycle compartments are located in the middle of the train set, since DSB research showed that the seating in the middle of the train was less popular with passengers.



Providing more bicycle parking at stations, especially the main stations in the Capital Region, remains a challenge. Nationally, bike parking at train stations is at a high capacity and on this point, Denmark lags behind cities in the Netherlands. Although Dutch national rail operator NS prefers having customers travel without their bikes and therefore parking at stations is more of an issue for them.

Nevertheless, Copenhagenize Design Co. has proposed 7550 bike parking spots behind Copenhagen Central Station with this design.


Continuing with their work to encourage bicycles on trains, DSB has toyed with the idea of putting bicycle pumps on board trains, but so far they have gone with bicycle foot pumps integrated with advertising facilities outside their stations.

A pragmatic approach coupled with a cool, business decision has paid off for DSB. The bicycle should and must be integrated at every step of peoples daily lives if a city is to be truly bicycle-friendly.

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

The Bicycle Made for Cities

7 November, 2016 - 14:51

If you lined up every bicycle ever built since the 1880s, the vast majority would look much like the one above. Easily 75%. It would probably be black, with three speeds, a chainguard and coaster brakes. Since the 1970s, bicycles designed for racing or touring or climbing hills have increased in popularity but when it comes to transport in cities and towns, nothing beats the upright bicycle. There are many reasons for why it became - by far - the most popular bicycle design in history. The simplest one is that it appeals to regular citizens and has been well-suited to urban life for over a century.



As the Danish author, Johannes Wulff, wrote in "Paa cykle" in 1930;
"One sits on it either straight-backed, as though you're at a festive dinner party, or hunched foward, as though you just failed an exam. All according to the situation, your inclination or your inborn characteristics."

For the purpose of this article, we're going to a festive dinner party. To explore, over cocktails, why upright bikes - the norm in mainstream bicycle cities like Amsterdam and Copenhagen - should be promoted more for city living. They have been sadly neglected for many years by a rather singular focus on cycling for sports or recreation. Now, however, bicycles are back as transport and bikes for the 99% are an important aspect of growing cycling levels. Brent Toderian and Chris Brunlett tackled this subject well in their recent joint article - In Praise of the Upright Bike.



Sitting up straight, like your mother taught you, can easily apply to transport and has distinct safety benefits. In an upright position, your centre of gravity is in much the same spot as it is when you are walking. Homo sapiens have been around for about 200,000 years and prior to that, other upright-walking species spent around 2 million years evolving this all-important centre of gravity to near-perfection. Our centre of gravity is quite handy in helping us get around. It is something that we use every single day in almost every move we make. We're quite good at it. In fact, science seems to indicate that sitting up straight is good for you.

A quick glance at the people on the bicycles in the montage, above, and you see that little distinguishes the cyclists from pedestrians. All the centres of gravity are pretty much the same. Remove the bicycles with questionable photoshop skills and very little changes, apart from oddly bent knees.

Compare this to the riding position on, for example, racing bikes. The upper body is pitched forward, which causes the centre of gravity to shift. In this position the point is dangling in mid-air somewhere over the crossbar. Just think about braking sharply. Your body must battle to keep the weight of your upper body from chucking you forward, which is unnatural for homo sapiens. In an upright position, your body knows how to re-adjust itself for this sudden stopping motion, much like when you stop suddenly when walking or jogging.

The racing position is great for people who... well... race or who like to go fast. Works perfectly for them, which is super. If you look at mainstream bicycle cities, the majority of people don't wish to adhere to this way of riding, prefering to merely use the bicycle as a quick and easy tool for getting around.


Acceleration on upright bicycles is also much easier, simply because your centre of gravity remains, largely, the same. You just stand up and assume even more of a walking posture - or at least leaning forward as you would when running - pulling on the handlebars as opposed to pushing down on them. As the young woman illustrates.


Much the same physics applies to the simple but important task of keeping an eye on what's around you, including traffic. Walking down the street and turning your head to see if the bus is coming is not far removed from sitting upright on a bicycle and turning your head to perform a shoulder check. Your balance is stable.

Try sitting at a table and lean over it, as though you were on a racing bicycle. Then try to perform a shoulder check. Odds are you'll be mostly checking your shoulder, as opposed to the traffic. If you want to get a clearer view, you'll have to shift your centre of gravity to the side. Rather unnatural for humans, not to mention unstable. Sure, you could look under your arm, like racing cyclists do, but then you're removing your vision almost completely from what's ahead of you. Not advisable.

While you're at the table, leaning over, try looking straight ahead. Your neck is not in a comfortable position the way you have to keep it lifted up. This isn't a problem you'll have when you're sitting up straight.

All of this is basic physics. A ten-year study of bicycle accidents featuring elderly cyclists in Sweden by Ulf Björnstig at Umeå University resulted in him advocating step-through frames and lower seat heights. April Streeter over at Treehugger did a piece about this: Swedes Conclude: Girls' Bikes Safer

Besides the safety aspects of the upright bicycle, the design encourages you to have a look around your city when you ride, instead of speeding off. You'll notice more on your daily ride and, indirectly, contribute to strengthening the weave in the urban fabric. An increased sense of community is not a bad added value.

Interesting, the rapid growth in sales of bicycles that feature "Easy Boarding", or a frame that makes it even easier to get on or off the bicycle, is an indication that the upright bicycle is experiencing yet another renaissance. Originally designed for the elderly, these easy boarding models are quickly going mainstream, thanks to their ultra low frame.


When you do it right, your city's cyclists are indistinguishable from pedestrians. A little taller, perhaps, a little quicker as they pass, but that's about it. If we are to grow cycling in cities, we need infrastructure, of course. But we also need societal mirrors held up for citizens. Seeing only sub-cultures whizzing about and sticking out like a sore thumb in their "uniforms" does little to encourage regular citizens to choose a bike for transport. Seeing people looking just like you, however, changes the perception of cycling in cities. It creates a springboard for people to leap elegantly into new transport habits. Habits that improve the quality of life in cities, keep people healthier and tighten the weave on the urban fabric.Copenhagenize the planet. And have a lovely day.
Categories: Views

The Car Empire Strikes Back - Complete Anthology

6 November, 2016 - 12:59
We've been compiling a list of examples of how the automobile industry, since the bicycle returned to the public consciousness around 2006-2007, have been striking back. Using their advertising millions to ridicule not just bikes but public transport. It is the surest sign that they feel threatened by the return of serious competition. So threatened that they actively spend money on tackling it.

A few years ago we made a commercial - If Car Commercials Were Based on Fact, Not Fiction. Citroen did not like it at all and here's THAT fun story.

Here is a long list of examples of The Car Empire Strikes Back - dating from 2009 here on the blog. We'll add new ones here as they appear. And they will.

FORD - NOVEMBER 2016

Does he deserve the new Ford Mondeo? Oh yes. He does. He had to ride an elevator with a smelly, sub-cultural cyclist dude. So of course, he does.


Amusingly, here's the opposite side of the coin. A commercial from the Dutch TV and Film School. Smug motorists in an elevator. Announcement says first, "Attention, the blue Saab is being towed." Then followed by, "Attention, the yellow Lotus is rolling towards the Saab". Or something like that. Cue smug cyclist.

VOLVO - MARCH 2015

The latest piece in our ongoing series writes itself. This time it's Volvo doing its best to draw your attention to the fact that motorists kill obscene amounts of people - including themselves - by placing the responsibility on cyclists and pedestrians. It's a smoke screen and this time it's sprayed on. It is Ignoring the Bull in Society's China Shop taken to the next level.

Volvo Life Paint. Seriously. Life paint.

But hey... it's not for the 35,000+ people killed by or in cars in the EU alone by Volvo and their Big Auto homies (around the same in the US and 1.2 million worldwide - not to mention the tenfold more killed by pollution from cars and trucks or the hundreds and hundreds of thousands more injured...).

And no, it's not rational ideas like helmets for motorists or making motorists responsible by forcing them to have external airbags.

It's spray on paint.

No, not for cars, even though black cars are most likely to be involved in collisions. No, it's not rational stuff like reflective paint on cars or health warning legislation on all automobiles.

It's for you on foot or on a bicycle because you are an irritation to motorists. You are a squishy bug ruining their paint job. You are a threat to their mobility dominance. You must be ridiculed with calls for reflective vests/clothing and a variety of ways to hate on pedestrians. Now you have the gift of Big Auto paint to spray on your irritating person.

http://www.volvocarslifepaint.com/

I don't think we realise how slippery a slope it is we are on as a society when morons like this produce crap like this and actually get taken seriously.

Fortunately, we have a better idea for Volvo. Make Life Shine.

SMART - SEPTEMBER 2014


Yep. All this growing momemtum for liveable cities and civilised streets after almost a century of destructive, car-centric traffic engineering is really starting to irritate Big Auto. Smart is no exception. In an almost laughable direct extention of the automobile industry's invention of the concept of jaywalking (as highlighted in this TED talk), Smart decided to use "fun" and "gameification" in order to keep the sheep that are pedestrians down. Under the thumb. Under control. In the name, of course, of their kind of safety. They call it:


They are really grasping at straws, Big Auto. This generation is abandoning the automobile and so here comes the spin... new, smart generation... for loving the city. Those of us who love cities rarely have a love of the automobile. We're tired of death, injury, destruction. The new smart generation can see through Big Auto's attempts to spin things their way once again. "To hook them back to the car" as this former head designer at BMW actually told the crowd during his keynote.

So, funny dancing crossing lights to keep pedestrians "safe". Give me a break. 30 km/h zones like in over 120 European cities keep pedestrians and cyclists safe. Traffic calming does, too. External airbags on cars - placing the responsability on the potential murderers, too. Reducing the number of cars in cities is a no-brainer for the new, smart generation. Eliminating car ownership in cities altogether is actually a thing.

We who are new, smart and of this generation don't buy this blatant ignoring the bull. The paradigm is shifting. We are rejecting the car-centric streets that we inherited from the past century. Let the pedestrians dance wherever the hell they like in the Life-Sized City. It's the future of cities. It's back to the future, too. Seven thousand years of liveable cities will NOT be ruined by 90 odd years of deadly mistakes by traffic engineers and Big Auto, who have more deaths on their conscience that most dictators. The liveable city is rising once again, carried on the shoulders of a new, smart generation.

NISSAN - FEBRUARY 2014

Car companies are now intent on ridiculing other transport forms or lathering themselves up in a greenwashing frenzy.

It's usually a roll-your-eyes, comical experience. Nissan Denmark, however, have outdone themselves. They're banging the drums for their new Qashqai model here in Denmark. It started last year on September 4, 2013 when Nissan hosted a "café" in the centre of Copenhagen, letting people take the Qashqai for a test drive. In the middle of the day. In the City of Cyclists and near our many pedestrian streets and a main metro station.

Kieran Toms, who is interning with Copenhagenize Design Co. at the moment, reported from the front lines. He popped into the "café" with a friend. Kieran, being a modern young man from the UK, doesn't have a driving licence, but his friend took Nissan up on the offer of a test drive. The Nissanite who accompained him extoled the virtues of the car and especially the acceleration. Unfortuntely, they were paralysed in traffic - while hundreds and hundreds of bicycle users rolled part, oblivious to the wonders of last century mobility. Acceleration consisted of crawling ten metres at a time down the streets. Involuntary humour from Nissan.

Now Nissan are ramping up their campaign for their car. The film, above, starts with the classic car industry shot of a car alone on a road - like THAT ever happens in a city. The text fades in declaring the Qashqui to be The Ultimate Urban Experience. Which, in reality in Copenhagen, is staring out the window at the rear end of some other car whilst citizens ride bicycles or walk past you.

Then they declare they're "Unlocking Copenhagen" for a weekend in March and they've enlisted a minor Danish celebrity Mads Christensen (self-proclaimed biggest braggart in Denmark). He tells us that he'll be the keymaster for unlocking the city, driving around in a Qashqai and challenging the city. Something about all your questions will be answered as they "zig-zag" around the city in March. Totally vague.

The film features clips of Copenhagen, including loads of people riding their bicycles, unaffected by Nissan's marketing prowess. Yeah. Whatever. Remember to wave or ring your bell at Nissan and the Braggart when you see them stuck in traffic on the weekend of March 6-8, 2014. Compared to the other examples of Car Industry Strikes Back, this one is hilarious and rather lame.

MERCEDES - MAY 2013

Another day, another installment in our Car Industry Strikes Back series wherein the automobile industry, in their own quirky way, do what they can to ridicule the competition, be it bicycles or public transport.

This Mercedes commercial is - by car industry standards - just plain goofy. Let it be a sign that they're slipping up and getting a bit desperate. Two pro drivers, Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg, are cast in the roles of pro drivers who will never have careers as actors. The payoff at the end is classic Car Empire Strikes Back.

SMART - MAY 2013

Another fine example wherein we observe the desperate tactics of the car industry as they try to respond to rising cycling levels and public transport in their vain attempt to keep their dominant market share in this age of de-motorization.

This time it's Smart going for gold in this Portuguese commercial. Presenting us with worst-case scenarios from public transport and then having a young, hip-looking-ish man looking out the window at a Smart car rolling past - on an empty street at night. No traffic jams, nothing. Always amusing to see how car commercials try to get around showing traffic.

The tagline is SmartforTwo Public Transport. So now they're muscling in on the phrase Public Transport.

AUDI - DECEMBER 2012

Ahh. That most desperate of car brands, Audi. I think they are the car brand we've featured most in this series. They're at it again, this time in Finland.

It ends with the money shot, of course. The car in question flying along a road without any traffic. Free as a bird and at extremely high speeds. Everything preceeding the money shot is shots of poor bastards who don't have an Audi.

Including freezing public transport users at a bus stop (the leggy girl is clearly disenchanted with the guy for not having an Audi) and a man riding a thin-tired bicycle down a frozen road. Regarding the latter.... come on... the Finns know and they're not complete strangers to the bicycle. Any rural Finn worth their salt wouldn't ride THAT kind of bicycle in THAT kind of weather. This is the country that has the city of Oulu, for god's sake. Sure, it's not manipulation on the scale of BBC's War on Britain's Roads, but it's still bending the truth to serve an agenda.

A reader in Helsinki, Alexander, was kind enough to send us the head's up about this commercial, as well as to translate the titles:
"Talvi tulee taas" = Winter is coming again
"Älä taistele vastaan" = "Don't fight against [it]"
"Suomi. quattron koti" = "Finland. [the] quattro's home"

He also checked Shazam and found that the song used is "Prettiest World" by Daniel Nordgren. Prettiest world indeed. A world where walking is difficult, riding a bicycle is difficult, public transport is difficult and the only way to get around is in an Audi Quattro.

Desperate times for Audi. They're striking back.

LEXUS - DECEMBER 2012

Next up is Lexus. We've all heard that those pesky youngsters are driving less all around the western world. The demotorization of society is well under way. We know WHY they're not bothering to get driving licences. Damned social media. They can be sociable online instead of having to drive to the mall to hang out and suck on 40 gallon Cokes.

The car industry knows this all too well, too. So Lexus went for it. They want this to be a December to remember.

This December, remember: you can stay in and "Share" something or you can get out there with your friends and actually share something. This is the pursuit of perfection. 

Buy the Lexus and you'll get a leggy girl begging to be with you. You'll experience traffic-free streets in major urban centres. You won't have to "share" those streets with ANYONE. Lexus is striking back. And, like so many of these commercials, it seems desperate.

CHEVY & DISNEY - NOVEMBER 2012

It's not going so good for Big Auto. Those pesky kids aren't bothering getting driving licences anymore. The Demotoriszation of society is in full swing. What to do... what to do... they gotta hook those kids - and everyone else - back to the car - as former BMW designer Chris Bangle said - while keeping a straight face in Melbourne. But how to strike back? How to sell some PEM? (Personal Emotional Mobility)?

Ah! Disneyworld! There's the ticket! We'll call it Test Track!

Get revved up for the exciting, re-imagined Test Track Presented by Chevrolet—the exhilarating driving experience, now designed by YOU! You'll feel like you're part of the Chevrolet design studio as you create your own virtual custom-concept vehicle. Then, put your design through its paces (at speeds of up to 65 miles per hour) on the exciting hills, hairpin turns and straightaways of the Test Track circuit.

And that's just the beginning of your adventure! After your "test drive" is over, you can:

- See how well your car performed and then race it over changing terrains and extreme conditions on a digital driving table
- Produce and share a TV commercial starring your "dream ride"
- Explore a Chevrolet showroom, complete with shiny new cars on display

You won't want to miss this interactive experience when it reopens in December 2012!


Check out the website!


Another, desperate last-ditch attempt to try and thwart the declining brand that is automobile culture? It's an expensive investment, but money is still around at Big Auto apparently.


Good luck with this.


SIXT CAR RENTAL - JUNE 2012

Having just returned from working in Brazil and Norway, this was a fun addition to my inbox. It's from the German global car rental company, Sixt. They cut refreshingly to the chase with their text, making it easier for us:

"To all those pioneers, idealists, eco-heroes and saviors of the world: You don't have to ride bicycles anymore".

Yes, they just wrote that. In all seriousness. In 2012.

So, now a car rental company is feeling the pressure from the rising levels of bicycle traffic. Perhaps this is a response to the recent, German Nationaler Radverksplan 2020, which aims boldly at doubling bicycle traffic in German cities.

As ever, it is a sure sign that the bicycle is back, here to stay and making the transport competition run scared.

BMW - MAY 2012

BMW is at it again. Sporty cyclists featured in the background. The text "Grace vs Pace" is prominent. But which is which? Does the car have pace and the cyclists grace? Or vice versa? We're not sure.

But the point is clear. Joy wins. The joy of driving a BMW far exceeds riding a bicycle. And now their calling it Efficient Dynamics. Less emissions. More driving pleasure. Greenwashing supreme.

FORD - MAY 2012

Our reader, Krzysztof in Gdansk, Poland, spotted this advert for Ford Poland in the Gazeta Wyborcza newspaper. You're going to love this desperate attempt by Ford to sell some vans.

The main text at the top left reads, "Ford Transit - a machine for saving money"

Then, below, Ford tries to alter reality by writing; "Delivery bicycles do not exist. You don't need to switch to riding a bike to save money."

Yes. They just wrote that. Delivery Bicycles Don't Exist. In all seriousness. And then they paid to have it published in a newspaper. If Poland has an advertising standards commission, someone should let them about this advert. Lying, as far as I'm aware, isn't allowed in advertising.

The text continues with optimistic texts about how you can "Save on buying", "save on petrol", "save on service", etc. "The usual blah blah blah you'd expect from a commercial", as Krzysztof put it in his email to us.

He continues, "Now I know commercials go a far way to bend facts and I know delivery bikes are not popular in Poland (in fact I've seen just 1 or 2 in
Gdańsk so far) but come on... I felt like someone was lying while looking me straight in the eyes. This ad is something I just couldn't pass by."

When you live in Copenhagen, with 40,000 cargo bikes and you are involved with the Cyclelogistics project to promote cargo bike use in European cities, this advert is so stupid it's amusing. As ever with this Car Industry Strikes Back series, we can see that they're worried. That they see the bicycle as serious competition. And well they should. It's last century versus this century and we're winning it.


Cargo bike delivery in Paris.


Vintage Russian cargo bike delivering flowers.


Left to right: Supermarket delivery bike in Montreal.
Citizen Cyclist in Copenhagen carrying stuff.
Royal Danish post.
Rio de Janeiro and Rio, again. Two of 11,000 cargo bike deliveries in that city.



Left to right: Copenhagener moving stuff to a flea market.
The Fruit Bike, Copenhagen.
Ice Cream Bikes at Copenhagen Zoo.
The Coffee Bike by Espressomanden, Copenhagen.
Cargo bike in Amsterdam.

Left to right: Newspaper bike, Copenhagen.
Cargo in Sao Paulo, Brazil.
Crêpes bike, Copenhagen.
Sushi bike, Copenhagen.
Bike repair bike, Copenhagen.

And so on, and so on. The Cargo Bike Culture photo set kind of thumbs its nose in the general direction of Ford.

VOLKSWAGON - DECEMBER 2011

Sandra from the always brilliant Classic Copenhagen blog spotted this here in Copenhagen. An installation commercial for the new Volkswagon Beetle. It translates as:

"Experience the wild animal" - or beast, perhaps - "on TheBeetle.dk".

As street ads go, I've seen better. And while this doesn't exactly fit into our Car Empire Strikes Back series, the 20-something creatives who thought this up and patted each other on the back afterwards have inadvertantly given us an image of our urban future.

Isn't this exactly what we're working towards? How we should finally - for the first time since the 1920's - stop ignoring the bull in society's china shop? Restricting the bull. Caging it. Taming it. Keeping it from killing, injuring and polluting. This campaign is anti-car without even meaning to be. Hilarious.

I'm happy to experience the beast on their (really quite cool) website. As long as they stay off our streets. And, for what it's worth, off our cycle tracks... that wide ass flatbed is sticking out over the track.

SKODA - DECEMBER 2011

Thanks to Cian for the link to yet another addition to our series, this time from Skoda. Short and sweet, it features two kids who are executing a rather badly-planned escape.

"We need more space, Billy", says the girl when Billy drops the suitcase.
"I need more time, too", says Billy, after longingly glancing at the Skoda.

Escape aborted due to indequate planning. Bicycles are for kids. Bicycles are impractical for carrying things. Message sent.

Um... Why don't they have backpacks? Why doesn't Billy use the rope in his bag to tie some of the gear onto the bicycle? Why isn't the girl helping carry stuff? Why doesn't the girl have a bicycle - what kind of family does SHE come from, for god's sake?

It's an advertising bureau who had to come up with a film to match the Great Escape slogan and they were having a rough day at the brainstorm. Weak dramaturgy.

If they have two bikes they would be long gone and wouldn't get stuck in traffic. Haven't these kids ever seen ET?!

Maybe this is a societal warning. Maybe the ad men are sending secret messages. Maybe they're our allies and are telling us that our children spend so much time in front of the television and computer that they have haven't been allowed to develop basic skills through play that would prepare them for Great Escapes. They've grown up in Bubble Wrap society of bike helmets, Thudguard "safety hats" and Buddy Bumper Balls and are hopeless at preparing even a simple run away from home. They've grown up with the automobile dominating their every movement and have not developed the imagination that would allow them to think differently.

My kid could figure out how to get all that stuff on his bike. His girlfriend would have her own bike and they would be able to coordinate an effective escape. Hopefully they won't feel the need to.


CHEVROLET COLOMBIA - DECEMBER 2011

On today's programme, we'll be travelling to Colombia, where Chevrolet desperately tries to reverse the tide of demotorisation and the rise of the bicycle.

If the 'oh so green' colour of the above graphics isn't cheesy enough, the text is:

"At the moment I ride a bicycle but with ChevyPlan I can now afford a car"

While Bogota's fame as a bicycle city from the early 90's is waning (police confiscating bicycles from cyclists who don't wear helmets, etc), the city is still more bicycle-friendly than many other places. A new bike share system has brought the bicycle back to the surface and this is how Chevrolet saw fit to react.

Offering citizens to bury themselves in debt, contribute to making the streets unsafe and adding to the emissions levels in Columbian cities. What a deal!

Here's the site for ChevyPlan Colombia. Be warned, ridiculous singing will blare out of your speakers. If you fancy letting them know that they're silly, here's a link to a contact form: http://www.chevyplan.com.co/Chevyplan/Chevyplan/paginas/documento.aspx?idr=1474

TOYOTA - NOVEMBER 2011

Here's the latest installment, this time from the land of the rising fun. Nippon.

Toyota, like the rest of the car industry, is worried about the increasingly negative perception of the automobile. After decades of transport dominance, the car industry is under threat, not least by bicycles as transport, but also public transport.

How to tackle it? Famous person. Ridicule. A slogan or two. A series of high-end commercials based on a much loved Japanese anime series.

Cue hapless (car-less) geeky guy on an outing with his girlfriend, using public transport. Enter cool guy with a Toyota who drives off with the girl. Geeky guy subservient in front of famous person character (Jean Reno as Doraemon) begging for four wheels.

TOYOTA. REBORN.
FUN TO DRIVE, AGAIN.

ZIPCAR - OCTOBER 2011


There is a car share company in the States called Zipcar. Car sharing is good. I use a car share programme here in Copenhagen - okay... only about 2 times a year, but hey. It's there when I need it. Once again, it's interesting to note and track the rising resistance of the car industry and related auto-centric industries to the rise of the bicycle in our cities. It comes as a bit of a surprise that Zipcar would go after bicycle culture in a campaign, but here they are, doing it. Zipcar is, of course, on Twitter, if anyone is interested.


It was Jym Dyer on Twitter who pointed us in the direction of Zipcar's "Sometimes you just need a Zipcar" campaign, pictured above in situ, from his photostream on Flickr. As he puts it:

"These people apparently live in a world where bike messengers don't exist, so nobody has figured out how to carry papers on a bicycle. Apparently baskets, racks, xtracycles, worktrikes, and bike trailers don't exist either, because you have to carry architectural models on your handlebars. The only alternative, apparently, is a 5-door car. Architects who can't envision carfree spaces are a big part of the problem.

Indeed. The campaign also has a Facebook page where you can add your own dialogue to the photo. I suggest everyone get in there and turn back the automobile tide with their wit. Because there are a whole lot of misconceptions in there.

Jym also pointed out that the architectural model the woman is holding - besides being butt ugly - has an entire ground floor dedicated to car parking. Sooooo last century.

So. How would these well-dressed - and shockingly visionless - architects get to their meeting? Zipcar obviously can't envision how the bicycle has been used for over a century in our cities. Let's help them out, shall we?


At left: Two lawyers outside the Copenhagen City Courts, carrying all manner of legal documents on their bicycles.
At right: A decent front rack - with or without a box - could make it simpler to transport the architectural model - and other things.


Front racks come in a variety of sizes - I even use it for transporting my kids' bikes from time to time. And everything else under the sun.


Here's an average load for me and the kids. Two plants, two metal cupboards, a doll and a bunch of other stuff on the Bullitt.


Like Jym said, what about bicycle messengers? Either a traditional cargo bike or a larger version, like La Petite Reine in Paris (pictured), or a variety of other versions.

Zipcar isn't just playing the anti-cycling card. They're slapping a whole bunch misconceptions out there.
Oh puhlease. Zipcar's advertising people really should get out more often.






Too easy.

Thankfully I've never experienced this cliché but the last two times I've moved flats, I did it on cargo bikes:

And you may remember this film of our friends moving flat in Barcelona by bicycle.

Transporting musical instruments by bicycle?

At left: A musician arriving at a café in Copenhagen for a gig. A couple of those Christiania bikes and those boys need not take the bus.
At right: A musician setting up to play on a square in Copenhagen with his cargo bike as transport.
Here's a Copenhagenize Flickr set about music, musical instruments and bicycles.

Okay, this one is, in a way, one of those things that's not like the others. To get to the lake/stream, you may want something more than a bicycle depending where it is. But why wouldn't that canoe fit on the subway? They could just stand up, pressing it against the ceiling. If they DID want to transport it by bike, it wouldn't be THAT difficult.

That yule tree is not that much shorter than the canoe and that sofa is certainly less handy - and heavier.


Now here's a question. Do Zipcars come with detachable bike racks as standard? Nah. Didn't think so. Every taxi in Denmark must be equipped with two bike racks. If you need a taxi and have a bicycle to transport, the driver gets out and takes out the rack from the trunk, sticking it into the standard holder on the back of the taxi. Wouldn't THAT be a good idea for Zipcar and other car share programmes?

How about just be a little bit forward-thinking and selling car share WITH bicycles? We blogged about a great little film from Dublin that promotes combining the two. The bike share programme Go Car teamed up with Bear Bicycles.

By the way, I've heard that Paris is getting a large-scale Zipcar-ish car share programme with electric cars. Don't Zipcars still run on oil? Sheesh. Isn't it 2011, or what?

GENERAL MOTORS - OCTOBER 2011


Addendum: Later in the day this post was written. After a bit of a Twitter storm, The Los Angeles Times reports that General Motors is withdrawing the bicycle portion of their campaign. Which is great news, although it's kind of like the rebels taking a minor city when Gaddafi stills controls Tripoli.

Thanks to the eagle eyes at the League of American Bicyclists, this General Motors campaign was spotted - and spanked accordingly. "Reality Sucks" is their campaign title. It offers discounts to college students who want to buy a car. This is another example of Copenhagenize's "Car Industry Strikes Back" series. Most instances of the car industry, or automobile insurance companies, are subtle and use imagery to underline their point that cycling is geeky, only for poor souls and can't compete with the sexed up car ownership world. This GM campaign spells it out, revealing the inner desires of the car industry faced with stiff and growing competition from bicycle traffic.

Stop Pedalling, Start Driving.

Yes. They're worried. Yes. They're desperately trying to cling on to a fast-changing market. No. They don't seem very capable of doing so. It would be amusing if it wasn't so pathetic. GM has a list of Environmental Principles on their website. This is prime material for The Daily Show.

As a responsible corporate citizen, General Motors is dedicated to protecting human health, natural resources and the global environment. This dedication reaches further than compliance with the law to encompass the integration of sound environmental practices into our business decisions.

We are committed to actions to restore and preserve the environment. (Meaning: We'll put tiny bandaids on the mass destruction we have caused over the past century in your cities and countryside. Oh, and the Great American Streetcar Scandal? No comment.)
We are committed to reducing waste and pollutants, conserving resources, and recycling materials at every stage of the product lifecycle. (Meaning: Because this will increase our profit margin)
We will continue to participate actively in educating the public regarding environmental conservation (Meaning: we'll do everything we can to manipulate people into staying in our cars and ridicule all other forms of transport).
We will continue to pursue vigorously the development and implementation of technologies for minimizing pollutant emissions. (Meaning: As long as it stills involves oil and we can still keep selling cars)
We will continue to work with all governmental entities for the development of technically sound and financially responsible environmental laws and regulations. (Meaning: We will spend outrageous amounts of money lobbying politicians to keep them on our side)


Be sure to read Bike League's piece on the GM campaign here.

Addendum: The next day after General Motors got caught in The Perfect Twitter Storm.
Giant bicycles produced this bicycle-friendly version of the ad.

NEW ZEALAND LOTTERY - SEPTEMBER 2011
Thanks to Su Yin, loyal reader in New Zealand, for sending us this advert for a lottery. Poor guy on the left. Relegated to riding a bicycle but if he wins the lottery, he can have CARS! This is not the Car Empire here, but it still underlines the perception of status of owning a car.

MAC - SOUTH AUSTRALIA CAR INSURANCE - AUGUST 2011
This is an actual campaign. Amazingly, it is from a governmental organisation in South Australia - MAC, or The Motor Accident Commission.

"The Motor Accident Commission (MAC) is South Australia’s Compulsory Third Party (CTP) insurer and provides $400 million each year in compensation to road crash victims.

MAC also manages the State Government’s road safety communications program and provides sponsorship funding for projects that aim to reduce the number and impact of road injuries and deaths."



This fits perfectly into series. It is so car-centric that you'd place your money on the car industry if you had to guess who produced this Lose Your Licence and You're Screwed campaign. Thanks to our reader, Tony, for sending this along to us.

What a brilliantly anti-bicycle campaign. A large sum of money was spent on hammering home the point to young people that bicycles are lame and that cars the only real, credible option for life in South Australia. We beg to differ:



They also produced a series of commercials for this campaign, like this one.


DUTCH CAR INSURANCE - JUNE 2011

Okay, calling this advert "striking back" is perhaps a bit of an exaggeration but as Marc from Amsterdamize points out, the auto-insurance company behind the film apparently thinks that driving on bike lanes and sidewalks is perfectly acceptable urban behaviour.

In other not-so-striking striking back news from auto-related people, we know that Cycle Chic has been a great inspiration to many over the years.

We find it, however, odd that we have inspired the website Be Car Chic, too. The site is a rather feeble attempt to brand automobiles as chic here in the Age of Demotorization.

If you look at the URL - becarchic - it looks like the name of one of the chemcials that cars emit in our cities. But I digress...

Sure, it's a tiny little website - more of a weak nipple flick than a 'striking back' but it shows the same tendency that we're seeing all over the world. All the focus on more liveable cities, bicycle transport and public transport has pushed the automobile industry and their disciples into a corner for the first time in two or three generations.

Let's face it, cars aren't chic. Some cars are cool, sure. My first car was a 1967 Ford Mustang and I have a thing for the BMW 2002 Alpin, but using a form of transport that pollutes our cities with emissions and noise, that scares our citizens and kills pedestrians and cyclists, that costs us billions in road maintenance and that takes up space that could be used for reestablishing liveable streets will never be chic.

What it is slowly becoming - once again for the first time since the first Anti-Automobile Age - is socially unacceptable. And that is both inevitable and perfectly acceptable.

AUSTRALIAN CAR INSURANCE - MARCH 2011

One of our readers, Stephen, sent us a link to this beauty on twitter. It's an advert from Australia. A company called NRMA who sell car insurance and provide roadside assistance, et al.

This is just fantastic. It says it all. All of this global focus on not only bicycles but public transport, pedestrianiam and other tools for re-building liveable cities are making these people nervous. So nervous that they made an advert trying to hard-sell urban automobile culture.

You may have noticed that this blog is rather bicycle-oriented so here's a photographic response - using photos from our archives - of how all the situations above can be solved with human-powered transport. Off we go...

Situation: The man with the table:


 

Situation: People in costumes at a busstop.

Nothing wrong with taking a bus, but at 0:58 of the City of Cyclists video there's a shot of kids in a cargo bike wearing costumes heading to a party.

Situation: Father and son going to rugby practice:

I had a load of other football training gear on my bicycle, too.

Situation: High heeled shoes:


Or the Bicycle & High Heels tag over at Copenhagen Cycle Chic.

Situation: Bus passengers:

Nothing wrong with public transport. But here's a photo of buses and a cargo bike.

Situation: Leaf blower:

The ad agency who developed this advert are already getting kind of desperate and they're only 14 seconds into their silly ad.

Situation: The man with the umbrella:

Apparently the NRMA advocate high-speed driving in urban areas as well as dangerous driving like buzzing the curb. Sooo last century.

There are loads more bicycle and umbrellas with this tag over at Cycle Chic. If we're sticking to the theme, here's a video of an umbrella getting blown the wrong way.

Situation: Science project falling.

Okay, it ain't a science project, but it could be. There are loads of cargo photos in the Copenhagenize Cargo Bike set on Flickr. (Boy, is this ever an easy blogpost.)

Situation: Shopping bag breaking with a dog.

Loads of shopping ... and a dog. Don't forget the "40 photographs of dogs and bicycles in 6 countries" over at Cycle Chic.

Situation: Man with the shopping cart carrying something.

Yep. Too easy. Once again, allow me to refer you to the Cargo Bike set on Flickr.

More Shopping on Bikes













HYUNDAI - FEBRUARY 2011

Copenhagenize is proud to present the most expensive bicycle advertisements ever made.

Produced by Hyundai, they show us once and for all how people need to 'snap out of it' and stop being hypnotised sheep just driving around our once liveable cities. These are not yet finished editing, however. The above film needs to have the title card reading 'BORING' removed in order for the message to be complete. All the films need insertion of a new pack shot at the end. Of a bicycle, of course.

Oh yeah, new voiceover:
"Snap out of it. The 125 year old bicycle. Think about it. "

Here's the shot from the storyboard that we're working on for the end of each commercial.

KIA CANADA - JANUARY 2011

Another interesting advert fra a car company. From KIA Canada.

"After all, we started out making bicycles. Sharing... that's how we can all drive change..."

Ford is suddenly advertising their origins as a bicycle manufacturer. It's the positive, penultimate message in the advert. Goodness me. Is the car industry accepting the reemergence of the bicycle? Are they trying to change motorist behaviour with their message?

Or are they just capitalising on a trend in order to look warm and understanding? Whatever the case, "share the road" is a lame slogan. "Build protected infrastructure now" is much more appropriate. Cars and bikes shouldn't share the same space.

CITRÖEN - 2010

A Citröen advert filmed in Copenhagen. Firstly, you don't see people on bicycles with Asian-style kleenex masks on their face, but hey.

After all the recent adverts from the car empire, this is a new angle.

It's cheesy, sure. People sucking in great lungfuls of clean air, revelling in the pure goodness of the Citröen. Embracing each other as they marvel at the car. Sheesh.

Let's just say it's refreshing not to be under attack from the car industry and be pleased that none of the cyclists hopped off their bike and into a car. At the end of the day the advert is quite positive. They're trying to show and tell that this car will - apparently - make the air in our cities cleaner and that is something that the people on bicycles (and everyone else) will benefit from.

MERCEDES - MARCH 2010

This is brilliant "Car Empire Strikes Back" marketing from Mercedes. After watching it if I had to choose between sitting in a Mercedes or riding all sub-cultural like that - give me the Mercedes anyday.

As I highlight in my lecture Marketing Bicycle Culture - Four Goals to Promote Urban Cycling the car industry learned everything they know about marketing their products from the bicycle industry, which pre-dated them.

They have spent a century perfecting the art of marketing and now that they are faced with real competition - the rebirth of urban cycling - they are tweaking their adverts accordingly.

The acting in the above advert is abysmal, but the point is clear. It reinforces the misconception of urban cycling as being a lawless, adrenaline-based and sub-cultural pursuit. The smug tone is brilliantly devised and executed. It's effective in the way it avoids featuring Citizen Cyclists and instead employs a caricature of a 'cyclist'.

I'd rather see a regular citizen. From the 99%.

Unless we start learning from the car industry's marketing brilliance, as they once learned from the bicycle industry, the battle is lost before the foot hits the pedal. Marketing urban cycling for regular citizens like we market every other product - positively. At every turn.

Begone fearmongerers and nanny-state PSAs. Let's sell this properly. For more liveable cities, for the public health, for The Common Good.

VOLKSWAGON - NOVEMBER 2009


The Car Empire strikes back again. My friend Troels found this Volkswagen advert in an glossy book about great advertising campaigns from around the world.

In it, Volkswagen are keen to show off various features on their cars. In this case, Energy-Absorbing Door Padding. To illustrate this exciting feature, they highlight one of the great irritations that motorists face in the urban environment, visible at just left of centre in the photo.

Fortunately for the motorist getting out of his fine vehicle he has invested in German engineering to reduce potential damage to his vehicle. Nevermind that he didn't bother to check his mirror before getting out or that the inattentive man on the bicycle risks injury from what we are led to assume will be an imminent collison. Energy-absorbing door padding will save the car from too much damage.

It's clearly 'ignoring the bull' and placing responsibility on the vulnerable traffic user, no doubt about it. Funny, if this happened in Denmark or Holland, the motorist would be at fault if a collison occured. Then again, the cyclist would have been provided with safe urban mobility on wide, separated bicycle infrastructure intelligently placed to the right of the car, with ample room for a door zone.

Here in Denmark, when driving with my kids, the mantra they most often hear when in a car is "watch out for bikes!" when we are parked and are getting out of the vehicle. If only I had 10 kroner for every time I've said it to my son over the past seven years... And we are rarely in cars.

As a result, he has learned to open the door a crack and peer out to see if the coast is clear of bikes before opening the door further. Volkswagen must despise people like us who don't wish to test doors against impact.

BMW - OCTOBER 2009

Here's an ad for BMW that gently caresses all the emotional heartstrings. Just listen to the speaker's manuscript:

"Joy is efficent, dynamic and... unstoppable." [meaning... we're not going anywhere, so don't get any funny ideas...]

"We realised a long time ago that what you make people feel is just as important as what you make."

"At BMW we don't just make cars... we make joy."

And on their website:
“On the back of this three-letter word, we built a company. We don’t just build cars. We are the creators of emotion. We are the guardians of ecstasy, the thrills and chills, and all the words that can’t be found in a dictionary. We are the Joy of Driving. No car company can rival our history, replicate our passion, our vision. Innovation is our backbone but joy is our heart. We will not stray from our three-letter purpose. This is the story of BMW. This is the story of joy.”

Not a single motoring helmet in sight in that advert. How odd.

If only cities and towns working towards increasing modal share for bicycles could learn from these basic marketing techniques that the auto industry have perfected. Hire a decent company to develop campaigns. Far too many municipal brochures/campaigns are too geeky to attract the attention and interest of the broader population.

If we're going to sell this urban cycling thing, we need to change our direction.

AUDI - OCTOBER 2009

This advert from Audi is a signal from the auto industry that they are under pressure AND that they are willing to fight back. This is where the entire Car Culture Strikes Back series started. With a bang.

In the lecture I'm travelling about with at the moment, I highlight how the auto industry learned all the tricks of postive marketing from the bicycle industry a century ago. They have fine-tuned the art form and they rarely make mistakes. They know exactly how to highlight the positives of their products. On the other hand, we have forgotten how to highlight the positives of urban cycling and we bizarrely ignore the overwhelming Good News in our efforts to sell the percieved negative sides of riding a bicycle. It's hardly surprising that the auto industry are among the more fervent advocates for helmet laws. They know competition when they see it and they go for the throat in branding cycling as dangerous. It sells, quite simply, cars.

From a marketing perspective the advert above is pure brilliance. It capitalizes on the general perception in western societies that 'environmentalists' are kooky, nerdy hippie types who eat raw organic beet root for breakfast.

The environmental lobby has had 40 years to brand themselves well and have failed horribly. While people are perhaps aware of the issues, very few people are actually doing anything about it. That's why this type of advert is so easy to invent. 30 seconds of pushing all the right buttons on their opponents and all the right buttons on the general population.

Amazingly, the Audi overtakes the hippie-mobile Volvo on a curve. Not exactly traffic safety conscious, are they?Copenhagenize the planet. And have a lovely day.
Categories: Views

Meteoric Rise in Bicycle Traffic in Copenhagen

4 November, 2016 - 13:28

The news out of Copenhagen this week is good. Apart from an arsenal of over 20 permanent sensors dedicated to counting bicycle traffic, the City of Copenhagen also performs comprehensive bi-annual counts and the latest numbers, from September, are exceptional.

For the first time since the City starting counting traffic entering the city centre, there are more bikes than cars. Indeed, since last year, 35,080 more bikes were counted, bringing the total up to 265,700, as you can see on the graph, above.

It is a clear indication that continuous municipal policy and investment in Best Practice infrastructure pays off. The City has gone above and beyond over the past ten years. Investing 1 billion DKK (€134 million) extra in infrastructure, facilities and, not least, bicycle bridges to prioritise cycling as transport.


The City counts traffic in two places. Crossing the municipal border (into the orange from any direction on the map at left) and then entering the city centre itself  - illustrated at on the map at right. The numbers exclude the many bicycle trips across Copenhagen that don't cross one of the two lines and it doesn't include trips in Frederiksberg - that municipal "island" surrounded by Copenhagen. Nevertheless, it's how the City has counted twice a year since 1970. The importance of reliable data cannot be understated. It is paramount that every city records in detail, in order to convince sceptics, plan for the future expansion of the network and basically just know what the hell is going on.



Here is a selection of bicycle counting points around the city centre. Bryggebroen and Inderhavnsbroen are bicycle bridges (with pedestrian facilities, too) so there is no car count. On all the rest you compare the numbers of bikes and motor vehicles. Except for the main roads leading into and through the city, bicycles are dominant at most of the locations.


It's no secret that cycling for transport is down in Denmark on a whole. Widespread prosperity (the financial crisis didn't really register here) and the fact that buying a car is cheaper now than during the oil crises in the 1970s means that people are buying them, despite the (rather irrelevant) 180% tax on cars. They are, however, buying then outside the larger cities and often buying a second car for the family. Car ownership in Copenhagen is still low at 25%. Even though a resident's parking permit can be bought for a ridiculous €100 a year, it is clear that Copenhageners prefer bikes and public transport. Especially the former, as you can see on that spectacular blue line, above, shooting through the top of the chart.


Citizens with an address in the City of Copenhagen choose, in overwhelming numbers, the bicycle to get around. 56% in total. 20% choose public transport - buses, trains or metro. Only 14% choose to drive a car to work or education each day.



When you look at how people arrive at work or education in the City of Copenhagen - from the 22 surrounding municipalities and the City of Frederiksberg - the numbers are still impressive. 41% arrive on a bike. 27% arrive via public transport. 26% arrive in a car.

There are still challenges. The City has a policy that bicycle traffic and public transport usage must never fall below 30% and car traffic must never rise ABOVE 30%. Investment is sorely needed to improve public transport and make it more competitive against car traffic.

It is also very relevant to mention that the city is still rather difficult to drive around, what with the construction of 17 new metro stations. We have written about The Greatest Urban Experiment Right Now and the City still has to prepare for the future. The modal share for bikes has slipped already. We need to ensure that we maintain the rising numbers.

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

From the Bicycle Snake to Chinese Vanity Project

25 October, 2016 - 11:33
Let's just get to it, shall we.

Cyclists are not random boxes of corn flakes that you store up on a shelf, out of sight - out of mind.

They are urban citizens contributing as much as the next - often more - to urban life. Like pedestrians and public transport users, they are best served at street level as integral threads woven into the rich urban fabric to contribute to the beautiful complexities of city life. Anthropologically, socially, financially.

For over a century we have understood the necessity of Best Practice infrastructure. We have tried and tested it with hundreds and hundreds of millions of people - and perfected it. We have measured and gauged it in order to understand it. We have regarded it as a beautiful, functional thing and designed it accordingly.

For 7000 years we have lived together in cities, on equal footing. In the splendid democracy of urban space. The streets were the most democratic spaces in the history of homo sapiens.


Super Bicycle Snake planned for Chinese city Xiamen.

Which makes this new project by Danish architecture bureau Dissing+Weitling for the city of Xiamen look completely ridiculous. An eight kilometer long shelf designed to place cyclists out of sight and out of mind. This is what happens when architecture gets drunk at the christmas party and sleeps with car-centric engineering, without listening to the wise advice of urban planning and anthropology.

British architect Norman Foster amused us back in 2014 with his plans to shelve cyclists in London with his ridiculous SkyCycle project. Other plans for bicycle "infrastructure" in London were equally amusing in this 2015 article.

It is nothing short of embarrassing when a Danish firm is so keen on producing "Magpie Architecture" and even tries to polish it shinier:

"Xiamen's broad boulevards are reserved for automobiles and they are life-threatening for cyclists. Therefore, the raised bicycle connection will be a welcome improvement of the city's infrastructure for cyclists", it says on the Dissing+Weitling website.

This is the firm that designed the renowned Cykelslangen - Bicycle Snake for the City of Copenhagen. - an solution that fulfills all the requirements of Danish Design - functional, practical and elegant.

The Bicycle Snake is a short, simple and brilliant solution to one unique location. There is nowhere else in Copenhagen where such a structure is needed. It is a perfect example of tactical, location-oriented design. And hey. Dissing+Weitling know bridges. They have been quite good at designing them - both for cars and for bikes/peds. Many are beautiful and their designs avoid the usual Squiggletecture we see emerging from the Photoshopped ideas of many others who don't understand bicycle urbanism.

Using the basic concept of the Bicycle Snake to erase cyclists from the cityscape, however, reveals the complete disconnect between our struggle for creating better cities and the seductive, ego-enhancement of mega-projects. Rationality falls off the back rack.

When designed infrastructure or, indeed, anything involving public space, do we not also bear an enormous responsibility on our shoulders for teaching about urban life and development? Is it a sell-out to just cash a paycheque from a Chinese city so completely intent on maintaining a car-centric paradigm?

"There is still a massive potential related to spreading the humanistic, user-oriented approach to design that we take for granted in our modern, Nordic design tradition. Foreign clients really listen when we present them with our complete, well thought out solutions that often show great consideration to the people who will use the solutions - and that also combine functional, Nordic architecture". So sayeth Steen Savery Trojaborg,  partner at Dissing+Weitling.

You want to know where the potential is? In understanding urban life. Understanding a urban, human journey across seven millenia - as well as promptly rejecting outright the past century of car-centric thought - and applying that to our established designs.


Visualisation of a Guangzhou street with Danish cycle tracks with curbs

Fortunately, other Danish influences in China are rational and based on user-friendly designs, as we wrote in this article back in 2011, about Danish consultant Troels Andersen and his work in the city of Guangzhou. The city is planning 1000 km of bicycle infrastructure and greenways, including Best Practice designs like the curb-separated infrastructure pictured above.

XIAMEN
We had a look at the city of Xiamen here at the Copenhagenize Design Co. office today. To gain some context.

According to the local media, the city is, like so many other Chinese cities, starting to take the bicycle seriously as transport once again. The city has 43 km of cycle track under construction around the lake - primarily recreational and therefore less relevant for transport. But as you can see on the map on the left, 107 km of bicycle infrastructure is planned in two phases on the island on which Xiamen is located. The proposed Bicycle Snake is highlighted in orange on the left and presented on its own on the right.

107 km is far from the 1000 km underway in Guangzhou or the proposed 3200 km (!) planned in Beijing by 2020 (!) but nonetheless positive. It really is what we're seeing all over the world.

It was difficult for our in-house Chinese architect to find any comprehensive information in Chinese about the proposed Bicycle Snake in Xiamen apart from this article. The only official comment about it, from the zoning commission, reads like this:

"The “Yunding Road” bike bridge is an attempt to popularize the bike life. In the future we would combine the needs of the citizens, gradually implementing cycle tracks and other facilities in and outside Xiamen Island".

So it reads a bit like a vanity project for the city. What an expensive route to take when your plan is allegedly to integrate the bicycle as transport properly "in the future". If, as Dissing+Weitling say, "Foreign clients really listen when we present them with our complete, well thought out solutions that often show great consideration to the people who will use the solutions" then get them to listen to rational ideas that actually make sense, benefit the citizens, the public health and expedite the transformation to a more liveable city where the bicycle is an equal partner in the traffic equation instead of designing Disneyland gimmicks for them.

On this local forum, there are positive comments about the "Air Bicycle Bridge", which is how the project name translates directly from Chinese.

- "If Xiamen succeeds, other cities will catch up, right? This is good news!"
- "Green transportation is being pushed everywhere. I hope we can do more for bicycle development."

There are, however, detractors. Giving us an insight into the background for this project.
- "Us cyclists need basic rights and a good environment, not just one or two vanity projects. Who will maintain this facility?"
- "Our government is rich and just wants to spend some money".

The Bicycle Snake in Copenhagen is a project of visionary, iconic proportions and serves a functional, practical purpose. An eight kilometer long version in Xiamen is merely a vanity project for everyone involved. 
"Vanity working on a weak head, produces every sort of mischief". Jane Austen.Copenhagenize the planet. And have a lovely day.
Categories: Views

Copenhagenize Slopes - Iconic Architectural Topography, Housing, and Public Space

24 October, 2016 - 14:16

Copenhagenize Slopes 1,2,3. Reversing the Arrogance of Space on Hans Christian Andersen Boulevard in Copenhagen and re-demoractizing the space with 507 apartments of 50 m2, an urban park at street level, public space on 500 m of green roofs and bicycle parking for every resident and guest.

For all the talk of Copenhagen being “all that” in so many urban ways, challenges and problems persist in the Danish capital. Here at Copenhagenize Design Co. we channel our impatience with lack of political will in our own city into design and ideas. Lack of bicycle parking around Copenhagen Central Station led to this solution. A dreadfully planned street in the Østerbro neighbourhood led to this redesign.

Now we decided to tackle the biggest, smelliest elephant in the Copenhagen room. One that that has been demonstratively ignored by generations of politicians in this city. Denmark’s most famous writer, Hans Christian Andersen, would surely turn over in his grave if he knew that the nation’s most car-congested street was named after him.

Hans Christian Andersen Boulevard. Clockwise from bottom left: As it looks now; 1960s, 1905, 1970s

60,000 cars rumbling down the canyon-like swatch of asphalt that carves the city centre in two ain’t no fairytale, sunshine. Cities with attitude need grand boulevards, it would seem. What they do with them, however, in an excellent indicator of how a city is geared towards the future of mobility. On this front, Copenhagen lags behind so many other European cities by allowing H.C. Andersens Boulevard and Åboulevarden exist in their current form.

For at least a couple of decades there has been talk of putting the 60,000 cars into a tunnel underneath the existing road. Not a strange idea, considering that so many other European cities have been doing that for ages. When H.C. Andersen Boulevard crosses The Lakes, it changes name to Åboulevarden. Recently, a proposed project to dig up the stream that used to run along the surface before car-centric urban planning buried the stream into a pipe beneath the cars gained purchase in the imaginations of the citizens of the city.

Åboulevarden - clockwise from left: proposal for restoring the river, the river as it used to be, the current traffic each day on the road.

Great stuff. We don’t, however, have faith that City Hall is going to act on this. The discussion pops up every few years and then fades away. This city is, quite simply, afraid of reducing car traffic.



So here is our baseline. We need housing in Copenhagen, preferably affordable housing. We need it badly. We need more green roofs for biodiversity and more public space. We have a huge swath of urban space used primarily by what Italian traffic planners called parasites. People who don’t even live in the City of Copenhagen or Frederiksberg and who certainly don’t pay taxes here. We have such high pollution on this stretch that the European Union has subpoenaed the Danish government, wanting to take them to court over their inaction on reducing pollution on this road. The current, right-wing Danish government actually wanted to move the air quality measuring station farther away from the road in order to get better results - even though we all know that a reduction in car traffic can drastically reduce pollution - as proven here.

So, basically, if nobody is willing to bury the road, then let’s simply reallocate the space to more intelligent use. Let’s re-democratize it. I cycle along the boulevard every day. There are wide, safe cycle tracks to accommodate the over 25,000 daily bicycle users on the stretch, but it is bizarre to ride alongside 6-8 lanes of cars. It is Arrogance of Space ftw. For years I have envisioned a different solution and I have finally had the time to develop it. Together with Kan Chen 陈侃 from Copenhagenize Design Company.



Welcome to Copenhagen Slopes.

Three iconic buildings providing 507 apartments of 50 m2, three sections of green space below the structures, over 500 m of public space on the green roofs and slapping some seriously topography in the heart of the Danish capital.


Aerial view from the south-west.

This stretch of HC Andersen's Boulevard is rather lifeless and uninspiring from an urban planning and architectural point of view. Drab and uninviting. The Slopes will add life and dynamics and remove four car lanes - improving air quality and contributing to improving the public space.


View from the south, with City Hall in the foreground.

We ran the idea past an unsuspecting Copenhagen Mayor Morten Kabell, from the Technical & Environmental Dept..

“It’s a wild and creative idea! The small apartments are cool - we need them. We have to find out how to get rid of the many cars that currently use H.C. Andersen’s Boulevard. Tramways across the whole city would provide a necessary alternative for motorists - and it would be brilliant to get rid of the car lanes, like you suggest. The idea of getting up high and combining it with green areas is cool. I like that.”



Pedestrian and bike parking access at all six entry points to the three buildings. Ample bike parking - for cargo bikes, too.

This being Copenhagen, with a car ownership rate of only 22% - and this being 2016 - the building won't have any car parking spots - much like the Bicycle House in Malmø, Sweden. It will, however, have ample bike parking and access for all residents and guests - including cargo bikes. This is a city with 40,000 cargo bike, so that is a no-brainer.


The roofs of the three buildings are designated as public space. Challenging stairs to get the thighs burning - inspired by this Dutch bridge. With terraces/viewing platforms at peak locations on each building. We thought that a restaurant or two could be housed on the top floor, with outdoor seating.


Balconies are a must. Duh.


View from the north-west, with the city centre in the background.

Let's do this.


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Previous projects in the same vein from Copenhagenize Design Company:
Copenhagenize the planet. And have a lovely day.
Categories: Views

Copenhagenizing the City of Almetyevsk / Альме́тьевск

21 October, 2016 - 13:08

A freshly paved cycle track in Almetyevsk along the city's main street, Lenina.

What a difference a year makes. In October 2015, Copenhagenize Design Company was hired by the City of Almetyevsk, in Tatarstan, Russia. We were no stranger to the task - developing bicycle strategies is one of our primary jobs. We didn’t realise at the time what kind of visionary client had hired us. In this earlier article we called it the Transformation of Almetyevsk. One year on, that title seems like an understatement.


The status quo in many Russian cities. No infrastructure. No protection for cyclists.

We were - and are - quite familiar with the state of cycling infrastructure in Russian cities. On a global scale, Russia has struggled to reestablish the bicycle as transport in its cities. What most often lacks is real political will in recognizing the bicycle as a legitimate mode of transportation. In Almetyevsk, however, that would prove to be the guiding strength.

Ayrat Khayrullin is the young, ambitious mayor who acknowledged the importance of a holistic bicycle strategy that values world-class facilities, constructive communication strategies and above all, dedicated cycle tracks. From the get-go, Khayrullin expressed one clear goal: to transform Almetyevsk into the most bicycle friendly city in Russia, one where he would feel confident sending his young year-old son off to school by bike.

From left: Almetyevsk Mayor Ayrat Khayrullin, Copenhagenize Design Co. CEO Mikael Colville-Andersen, Rosa our translator, James Thoem, Senior Planner with Copenhagenize. First site visit in 2015.


In our preliminary meetings with the city, we quickly agreed on the process and the goals. 200 km of bicycle infrastructure in a cohesive network of Best Practice infrastructure. Nothing less. Khayrullin had done his homework. He knew, for example, that on-street, bi-directional cycle tracks were a sub-standard solution. He understood the importance of a complete network and prioritizing cycling as a transport form. He was well-versed in the health benefits of having a cycling population. All he needed was someone to design it. To create the gold standard bicycle city in Russia.

The entire Copenhagenize Design Co. team went to work - not only our staff in our main office in Copenhagen, but with help from our offices in Brussels and Montreal, as well. Time was short. At our meetings in the city in Fall 2015, we were told that they wanted to get to work in Spring 2016. We divided up our work on the bicycle strategy into stages, in order to give the City a chance to plan and prepare their engineering department for the work. Their challenge was to figure out how to best use the roadworks season - from April to September - to create the first 50 km of hard infrastructure. The core network along the city’s main streets.


Selected photos of the new infrastructure and bicycle network in Almetyevsk. Best Practice design. One-way on both sides of the street. Complete with the bling of cyclist garbage cans, footrests and handrails and bicycle counters.

Альме́тьевск?
Yes, Almetyevsk. Let’s create some context for this place. It’s a city of 152,580 people located smack-dab in the middle of Tatarstan - a semi-independent republic in the Russian Federation. Our colleagues in Russia inform us, grudgingly, that Tatarstan is a place where things just get done in an urban development context. The capital city, Kazan, is the only Russian city to have built a subway system since the collapse of the Soviet Union, although they have done very little for bicycles as transport. As Almetyevsk is projected to grow by 30,000 new residents (many of them young workers and families) by 2030, the administration is looking to improve overall livability and attractiveness. Mayor Ayrat Khayrullin is keen to attract new residents with a life-sized city, as well as improve the quality of life of those who live there already.


Map of the street network of Almetyevsk.

The city’s built form is characterised by an arterial ring road framing the residential, cultural, and commercial centre along a grid-like street network, with Soviet-era roads so wide they make Salt Lake City's streets look like a back alley in Amsterdam. The city centre measures eight kilometres from east-to-west, four kilometres from north-to-south. In other words, the city’s relatively small footprint with dense network of medium and high-rise residential coupled with wide roads presents plenty of opportunity to accommodate the bicycle as a mode of transport.

When we first arrived in the city we were amazed at how many pedestrians there were - something you don’t often see in Russian cities. In addition, a thriving trolleybus system is a main transport form. As we know, these two elements are low-hanging fruits when designing for bikes. All the great bicycle cities in the world have excellent public transport and a strong pedestrian culture.

The financing of this €3.6 million phase of the project was a unique public-private partnership. Tatarstan’s national oil company TatNeft bought into the idea early on and their enthusiastic backing - both moral and financial - was key to the success. Their headquarters are in Almetyevsk, as well.

It only makes the storytelling better. A city in the heart of the Russian oilfields, with hard winters, decides to copenhagenize in two short years and the sixth largest oil company in Russia helps finance the visionary project.

Like many Russian cities, Almetyevsk had dabbled in bike infrastructure but, as is often the case, half steps and compromises have only led to conflicts. The city was quite open in admitting the shortcomings of their existing infrastructure. The shared pedestrian/bike spaces often resulted in confusion and conflicts, while the cycle tracks contained within a new development district didn’t connect to the greater city network. In fact, conflicts between pedestrians and cyclists in 2014 heightened the public discussion around the role of cyclists in Almetyevsk, prompting the mayor and his colleagues to look outwards for experienced help, rather than crack down on cyclist behaviour.


Pre-existing bicycle infrastructure in Almetyevsk. Bits and pieces and sub-standard bi-directional lanes.

After multiple site visits for consultation, documentation, and data collection, we returned to Copenhagen to begin analysis. Taking a detailed look at the city, with tried and true methodologies, we built up a thorough understanding of the city, developing an understanding of the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats facing the development of a connected network of bicycle infrastructure. We analysed the connectivity of the network, the destinations and origins, intermodal linkages, road typologies, and beyond, gradually building up an understanding of how best practice bicycle infrastructure could fit into the city streets of Almetyevsk.

Perhaps one of the more transformative events of the whole process was welcoming the mayor and a small team to Copenhagen for a private Master Class . Through workshops, talks, guest speakers, and bicycle tours, we opened their eyes to how best practice infrastructure functions. Nothing beats watching as wide-eyed traffic engineers and planners wake up to the potential of the bicycle.



With a strong baseline understanding of Almetyevsk and a freshly inspired project team in Almetyevsk, we developed a vision for a not-so-distant future Almetyevsk: “A place where the young and old, rich and poor, can cycle alongside one another on a safe and connected network of best practice bicycle infrastructure.” Some more quantifiable goals will help in guiding this vision forward into the future.

- There will be 50 kilometres of protected bicycle network built within the first year
- Almetyevsk’s bicycle modal share will reach 10% within the next five years
- 20% of school children will be cycling to school within five years
- Cycling will be just as popular among women as men
- Cycling in Almetyevsk will be safer than ever before
- Winter maintenance will be prioritised

Working off our baseline insights study and a guiding vision, we worked alongside a project team in Almetyevsk to develop the city’s first Bicycle Strategy, one that guided the city forward in laying out 50 kilometres of bicycle infrastructure in 2016. Laying out an appropriate first phase network and addressing smaller design details appropriate for each identified street typology. Details such as bus stop treatments, major and minor intersection treatments, and appropriate bicycle parking solutions were explained. Complementing the physical infrastructure our strategy also laid out soft infrastructure strategies, turning towards communication campaigns to encourage cycling, school and workplace programming, public events, and future engagement campaigns aiming to get people on their bikes for the first time, a critical step in expanding ridership.


The network map by Copenhagenize Design Co. for the City of Almetyevsk. The first 50 km built in 2016.

Construction on the project began in late May, 2016, coinciding with Russia’s annual bicycle parade day and a ribbon cutting ceremony. Upon our arrival in the city on that visit, we did numerous site visits and saw how the foundations were already laid for several kilometres of bicycle infrastructure. It was an amazing sight.


On May 29, 2016, the Bicycle Network was launched. 

The next day, however, was unforgettable. Over 1000 residents on bikes came out for a bicycle parade through the city. We stopped at a location on the main Lenina Street where an asphalt machine was waiting. Copenhagenize Design Co, Mikael Colville-Andersen, together with Mayor Ayrat Khayrullin and former heavyweight boxing world champion - and current member of the national Duma - Nikolai Valuev, shovelled cement into the foundation for the first bicycle sign, spread asphalt on the first stretch of cycle track and watched as young activists pressed a large, red button to start the paving machines.


The City launched a massive communication campaign about the coming bicycle network.

Billboard campaigns for the city’s vision even hung above where the infrastructure would soon be rolled out - a part of the City's comprehensive communication campaign.



Implementing bicycle infrastructure and facilities in Russia had its challenges. There is nothing in Russian road standards about Best Practice bike infrastructure (there will be now), as the city engineers kept mentioning at the beginning before political leadership took the reins once and for all. The quality asphalt required for cycle tracks existed, but the city did nonetheless a series of outdoor tests to make sure they had selected the right one (they had). Along a piloting stretch of road, the Director of Transportation in Almetyevsk showed us the different materials, surface treatments, and signage they were trying out. They hadn’t had any luck finding a supplier of bicycle traffic signals in Russia. So what did they do? They made their own using vinyl stickers and traditional signals. They made bicycle railings and footrests and tilted garbage cans for cyclists as well. Taking their lessons from the Copenhagen Master Class, the director and his staff had begun experimenting and, as a result, pushing the boundaries of the status quo on Russian roads.


Selected renderings from Copenhagenize Design Company's Bicycle Strategy for the City of Almetyevsk. By Chris Noir.

There were hurdles to overcome along the way. While political leadership was key, traffic engineers still needed convincing. In order to perform studies about density, connectivity, space syntax analyses, etc, Copenhagenize Design Company needed local data, but Russian cities do not have the same data gathering culture as, for example, Scandinavian cities. In addition, a lot of the existing data was classified as secret - echoes of the Cold War persist. Nevertheless, the challenges were overcome.

At the end of the day, the City of Almetyevsk turned out to be the most amazing client. We would receive emails from the street, where asphalt machines were rumbling along, to double-check about how to proceed - followed by photos the next day showing what had been done. That kind of client relationship is like nothing we’ve ever dreamed of. Every night since May we knew that when we woke up in the morning, more metres of free asphalt in the form of Best Practice cycle track would be cooling off in the dry, Almetyevsk air and the quality of life in the city had improved.


Shamsinur - an urban park designed by Kazan design agency Evolution.

Mayor Ayrat Khayrullin hasn’t restricted himself to bicycle infrastructure either. In 2015, together with Kazan design agency Evolution, he created Shamsinur - an urban park that has become an amazing destination for the citizens. In 2016, a massive water park opened in the city as well. You can see photos of the other urban design projects in this gallery on Flickr.

By establishing themselves as first movers within Russia (and beyond), Almetyevsk has gathered attention from policy makers that may be weary of looking outside the federation for best practice. By seriously investing in a network of dedicated bicycle infrastructure, Almetyevsk has positioned themselves firmly as the gold standard of a bicycle friendly city in Russia, simply by learning from over 100 years of best practice infrastructure in Denmark. Knowledge transfer at its finest. And it doesn’t stop here, the city looks forward to building a total of more than 200 kilometres of infrastructure that will connect all neighbourhoods and beyond.


Completed infrastructure.

There is a centuries old saying in Russian that everyone knows. “There are only two problems in Russia: fools and roads”.

Copenhagenize Design Company and the City of Almetyevsk just might have finally solved the latter. It is a wild ride that continues into 2017 and beyond. Quite possibly the most exciting urban design project in the world at the moment.

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Here is a link to an abridged version of the Almetyevsk Bicycle Strategy by Copenhagenize Design Co. as a pdf.Copenhagenize the planet. And have a lovely day.
Categories: Views

Bike Homes Spoil London Cyclists

13 October, 2016 - 15:06

From the outlandish SkyCycle, to the more sensible bike share system Santander Bikes, bicycle infrastructure in London repeatedly manages to grab international headlines while attempting to make for a more life-sized city. But with all these headlines, all the hype around unconventional solutions to a very simple problem, designers often lose site of the end user, the bicycle rider. Rather than aiming for a headline, how can good design recognise the end user? Even better, how can design appreciatively spoil the everyday cyclists of London?

Here in Copenhagen, the city has a long tradition of spoiling everyday cyclists. From the red light footrests, to bicycle butlers, people travelling by bike are reminded that they’re appreciated, that they’re an important component of a life-sized city. Now Copenhagenize Design Company and White Arkitekter are taking this mindset to the London Borough of Southwark with the pop-up pilot project, ‘Bike Homes’. Together we saw an opportunity to work parallel to the existing programs that are under development across London by focusing on establishing more inhabitable bike infrastructure.



As a first mover within London, the borough of Southwark provides ample onstreet bicycle parking facilities. But in many cases the designated spaces lie in barren expanses of pavement, along inhospitable highways, beside trash bins, or in dark corners. We see bikes as more than just a tool, more than a vehicle, and certainly not a hinderance to life in the city. It's time we treat bikes the way they deserve to be; it's time to give them homes.

The ’Bike Home’ installation is a pop-up pilot project for bikes among the existing bicycle facilities. Creating brighter and friendlier areas, where the bicycle is celebrated and where people feel comfortable in public spaces that were previously neglected. Artistic “carpets” painted by local designers and artists in the local area will be put into place under the bike racks. As the program expands, lighting made out of bike components will add brightness, a feeling of safety and highlight how much people appreciate their bicycles. Street furniture will provide a space for resting and socialising and flora will contribute to softening and freshening up the public space.

“All too often, architects have a habit of neglecting the public space around their buildings, so working with White Architects on a bicycle-oriented project in the public space like this, is very rewarding”, says Copenhagenize Design Co. CEO Mikael Colville-Andersen

When working with the Borough of Southwark with our Master Class in 2015, it was interesting to hear the borough’s desire to create a bicycle-friendly environment for all the citizens. They even lamented the fact that they are a through-road for the fast and furious cyclists roaring past to get across the river. They expressed a wish for their borough to be calmed with not only 20mph zones but also criss-crossed by best practice infrastructure to allow citizens to make their short trips, as well as commutes, safely and comfortably. Bike Homes represent another step in this direction.
The pilot project was launched at the Transforming London Streets Conference on September 22 at Southwark Cathedral. Eventually, we expect to establish a chain of unique and permanent Bike Homes that spoil the cyclists while connecting with local artists. Stay tuned as Bike Homes continue to pop up throughout Southwark. Copenhagenize the planet. And have a lovely day.
Categories: Views

Electric Cars: Where Will the Energy Come From?

6 October, 2016 - 13:11


Copenhagenize Design Company Guest Author, Jason Henderson, is Professor of Geography & Environment at San Francisco State University, visiting Copenhagen this Fall on a research sabbatical examining how culture, politics, and economics shapes transportation in Copenhagen. Jason is author of Street Fight: The Politics of Mobility in San Francisco (2013), and co-author of Low Car (bon) Communities: Inspiring Car-Free and Car Lite Urban Futures. He has published articles in International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, Antipode, Urban Geography, the Journal of Transport Geography and several book chapters in academic books on sustainable transportation and the politics of the automobile. He is a Master Class by Copenhagenize alumni, as well.

Electric Cars: Where Will the Energy Come From?
by Jason Henderson

Electric cars are often touted as a promising response to climate change, reducing air pollution, and bringing energy security. So it’s not surprising that the world’s climate policy leaders and largest car markets, like California, Germany, and China, are promoting public policies subsidizing mass electric motorization. Even the world’s greenest transport nations, like bikey Denmark and rail-rich Switzerland are joining the bandwagon, while the Netherlands seeks to nudge electric cars by banning the sale of conventional gasoline cars by 2025.

The allure of electric cars is that they’ll run entirely on renewable energy like solar and wind – if not now, then at some point in the future. This is where proclamations like “green cars,” “carbon neutral” and “zero emissions” comes from. But when deconstructing the energy situation as we know it, no one shows how this assumption adds-up. For example, if we scan the renewable energy horizon, there are existing legitimate claims on this renewable energy for greener homes and public transit. No one, and especially the electric car enthusiasts, seem to be accounting for these competing claims.

Before the world invests trillions of dollars and Euros, and unfathomable amounts of natural resources into transitioning to mass electric motorization, we need to ask more pointedly and critically: Where will the energy come from? And what will that look like?

Let’s start with the existing claims on renewable electricity. All over the world, from
California to Europe to China, it is hoped that homes will be running on renewable energy, and this is considered key to a more sustainable climate future. In Denmark, arguably coming the closest to this goal (but with only 5 ½ million people), wind turbines can light most homes on certain days.

This is really impressive, and on windy days Denmark has more electricity than it knows what to do with. But in the winter, coal, gas, and household garbage are burned for heat, and Denmark’s boastful wind program is not scaled for running cars. Some dismiss this concern by saying batteries (yet to be built) can store wind-generated electricity as backup for days when winds are down.

Yet shouldn’t this “stored wind” go to the homes and offices that don’t get the wind power when winds are calm? How is this battery scheme going to provide the same scale of car-mobility existing in Denmark (which is low compared to other motorized nations like Germany and the US)? And what about the electricity needed for fully electrifying Denmark’s railways and Copenhagen’s metro? Shouldn’t the wind go towards rail first?

In California, where air conditioned Mc Mansions sprawl across deserts, the newest utility-scale solar installation can power 140,000 homes on an optimal day. It cost over $2 billion with an 80% Federal subsidy. Now (doing back-of- the envelope math) build 87 more of those to supply existing 12-13 million homes in California, and an additional 40-50 or so for the 20 million additional Californians in 2050.

That’s a massive industrial outlay. We might decide it is necessary to sacrifice deserts, but let’s make sure to recognize this only accounts for California’s homes, not exports to less sunny regions of the US, nor California industry and offices – and certainly not a mass electric car fleet (today California has 24 million cars).

Now consider that California’s high speed rail program, currently under construction, claims 100 percent renewables in the future, and that Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco, and Sacramento plan to expand electric rail in the next few decades –all purportedly carbon neutral.

Add this into the energy mix: California has a declining snowpack for hydropower, which now provides less than 7 percent of the state’s electricity (can you say drought?). Wind, which has expanded rapidly in the past 15 years, and provides 5 percent of California electricity when it is windy, might be reaching build-out. The windy coast range passes are covered in turbines, except in places like affluent, and notoriously NIMBY Marin County or Big Sur.

There’s offshore, but the real estate and tourism industry might balk at the view. The mighty Sierras could offer up some valleys if the locals and environmentalists agree. All of this is to say that California is possibly close to peak utility-scale wind, at least in the current land use politics regime.

Then there are the renewables themselves. As electric car enthusiasts envision it, both electric cars and the renewables propelling them are carbon neutral and fossil fuel-free. Not so. The batteries, both for the cars and for the extensive storage of wind and solar power, are manufactured from mined materials, like lithium, with many toxins and disposal problems. The battery factories, whether in China or Nevada, will not run on wind or solar (unless you divert wind and solar from households at a massive scale). The factories now, and in the future, will run on coal, gas, and oil.

The nanomaterials take massive amounts of energy to produce, and will emit greenhouse gases far more intensive than carbon. There are magnets and rare earth metals. There will be steel, produced from iron. Denmark might produce a “green” electricity surplus on certain days in windy Jutland, but the true carbon footprint is displaced to China, Germany, and other global steel, batter, and car manufacturing centers.


Electric cars will continue to have rubber tires – that is, petroleum – as well as plastics, lead, aluminum, and all kinds of chemicals that contribute to more intensive GHGS than carbon. There will be vehicle maintenance including replacement tires and electrical gadgets, and then disposal or recycling. All taking massive amounts of energy and resources – none of which show up in California or Denmark’s GHG budgets.

Solar, whether on the roof or in a desert array, also requires mining, conducted by fossil-fuel
equipment. Copper. Glass. Plastics. More aluminum. More intensive GHGs from plasma production equipment, more toxic waste, silicon wafers, various hydroxides, arsenic, lead, chromium, and more. Ditto for wind turbines – mining, fabrication, transporting, installation, land clearance, and carbon-intensive concrete to anchor and steady the towering turbines.

To truly scale-up to a global mass electric car system, entire deserts, sweeping plains, all of our shallow seas, and all of our mountain passes will need to be completely covered in silicon, steel, and plastic. An escalation of energy consumption of tremendous proportions.

Then there’s escalating mobility of the electric car. The driver will drive more thinking the car is green. Electric car/solar enthusiasts will resolve to cover their homes in panels to recharge home and car, straight out of the Whole Earth Catalogue, but this requires single-detached homes for optimal solarization– the formula for sprawl and more driving.

The electric car, as a thing in itself, might not be such a bad thing in isolation. But the dream of mass electric motorization replacing our existing system of automobility might be a nightmare. Maybe we should save our fossil fuels and GHG emissions for constructing high speed rail and electrification of mass transit, look to human-powered bicycles and compact, walkable cities, all the while using the wind and solar arrays for our more-efficient homes.

So here’s a challenge to the electric car industry and to anyone dreaming of an electric car future. Show us the numbers. Where will the energy come from, and what does that look like really?

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