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My City Sucks and it's Great

20 August, 2015 - 11:19
When I am doing keynotes or interviews I describe the mainstream aspect of our bicycle culture as being nothing more than Vaccuum Cleaner culture. Like bikes, we all have one, we all use it but they are just tools to make our daily life easier. No fetishizing, no naming of inanimate objects, no vaccum cleaning clothes.

Our city sucks in other ways in other ways. Almost every day I'm reminded of just how much it sucks. And I love it.


I enlisted The Lulu to show how we get rid of our household garbage. Because it's pretty cool. Firstly, as The Lulu's photo clearly demonstrates, we use small bags for daily waste. Nothing bigger than this will do.


When we chuck our garbage, we do it in the morning, as we head for school and work. We pass one of the four bike sheds in our backyard.

We end up at this little building - there are two of them in the backyard - with this round chute. That's why we have to use small bags - the chute just ain't big enough for bigger bags.


Open chute and insert bag. Boom, baby. The bag slides down into an underground container and that is the last we see of it. But that's where it gets cool.


Out on the sidewalk, outside the backyard, about 60 metres away, this cylinder stands all quiet and sentinal. An unassuming addition to the street.


We never see the elusive "sugebil" or "suck truck" if you like, but it will roll up to the cylinder, unlock it and attach a badass vaccum to the top. Hit the switch and all the garbage in the two underground containers are sucked into the truck at a speed of up to 70 km/h.

It's over in under two minutes, with a minimum of noise and fuss. Call me urbanist geeky, but I get a kick out of this. But I've been looking into this lately and I've found out that there are 240 of these systems in Denmark, sucking garbage from 27,000 flats. Not surprisingly, most of them are in the densely-populated cities.

Many of the systems suck garbage from multiple backyards at once, from much farther distances than ours. Be still my urbanist heart. The advantages are many. I assume it's more cost-efficient to do this rather than have garbage men traipse in and out of countless backyards dragging wheeled containers behind them. I certainly don't miss the early morning noise waking me prematurely up. Eliminating smells is certainly a bonus. We have a big problem with rats in Copenhagen, so this kind of system separates them from the garbage, too.


Most of these systems are retrofitted in the backyards with a simple cut and cover operation to install the pipes and lead them out of the backyard through the gateways. These are sucked up by the trucks. There are also apartments built in the 1970s and 1980s where the garbage chutes are installed in the stairways and the garbage is collected in a container in the basement. Sometimes a truck will suck from there, other times the garbage is first sucked to a larger container, after which it is picked up by trucks.

I quickly got sucked into learning more about this system that I have taken for granted for years.


It turns out that all the garbage in the picture postcard area of Copenhagen called Nyhavn is now rigged with this kind of system. Which is awesome.

It also turns out that this system was developed in the early 1960s in Sweden and was first implemented in a hospital - Sollefteå Sjukhus - in 1961. It is still in use today with many of the original parts. In 1965, the first housing development installed a system - Ör-Hallonbergen in Sundbyberg, Sweden. Again, it's still working fine today and has become the largest housing area with garbage sucking in Sweden. While writing this I was trying to figure out what to call garbage sucking. You know, for the Americans. Sucking would probably be deemed socially unacceptable, rude and politically incorrect. It's "affaldssug" in Danish. Garbage suck. What about "Vacuumed Waste Removal System"? Oh, nevermind.


By all accounts, a Swedish company named Envac sits comfortably on the Garbage Sucking Throne. They invented it and they have mastered it. They now have 700 installations in over 30 countries. Most are in Sweden and Denmark and the other Nordic countries, so it's not as though this system is widespread.


Envac Group - Official company presentation from Envac Group on Vimeo.
Here is a film about their products. Once you get past the overly-dramatic music and lame speaker voice, it gets interesting.


Using underground facilities is nothing new. These photos are from the 1940s in Copenhagen. Leaves were swept into underground containers. I'm still trying to figure out how they were moved from there, afterwards. But hey.

Is garbage sucking the perfect waste management solution for cities? It just might be.



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

Cargo Bike Logistics on Harbours and Rivers by Copenhagenize

1 July, 2015 - 18:05

Urban logistics is just one of the many challenges facing our cities. After Copenhagenize worked for three years on the European Union project Cyclelogistics, we have cargo bikes on the brain and provide cargo bike logistics as one of our services. We also live in a city with 40,000 cargo bikes in daily use. As ever, we look for solutions not only for other cities, but our own. During the Cyclelogistics project we determined that there is a massive potential for shifting goods delivery to bikes and cargo bikes. 51% of all motorised private and commercial goods transport in EU cities could be done on bicycles or cargo bikes.

Great. Let's do that. But how to do it best? Lots of small companies are already operating in cities with last-mile service for packages, which is great. DHL is rocking Dutch cities with cargo bike deliveries and UPS and FedEx are getting their game face on, too. But we need to think bigger and better.

The City of Copenhagen created the framework for the idea of setting up a consolodation centre south of the city where logistics companies could drop off their goods in their larger trucks. Last mile service could be provided by smaller vehicles so that the trucks stay the hell out of our city. The industry has been slow to pick up the baton, however.

Copenhagen's City Logistik website hasn't been updated for a while because industry is lagging behind. This film explains their basic concept:

Sådan virker Citylogistik from Citylogistik on Vimeo.

There are a lot of packages to be delivered to the citizens in cities. In the Netherlands, for example, over half of all shoes are bought online. That is a lot of shoeboxes needing to get out to the people. In Europe we speak of the Zalando effect - similar to Amazon in North America.

Last mile service by smaller vehicles is great for cities but what about the solutions that are right there under our nose? What about the most ancient of transport corridors in our cities - the rivers and harbours.

We at Copenhagenize Design Company propose having barges - electric if you like - plying the waters of Copenhagen harbour. Dropping off small goods at specially designed piers at strategic locations on the harbourfront. Secure facilities that keep the goods stored in lockers. Depots designed especially for cargo bikes to arrive and pick up goods - or drop them off - in order to deliver them to the people and businesses in the various areas and neigbourhoods.

Our urban designer Adina Visan took our idea to the visual stage. Envisioning iconic off-shore depots for urban logistics along Copenhagen Harbour - or any city with a harbour or river.


This should be the new normal for goods delivery in Copenhagen.


Depots arranged to serve the densely populated neighbourhoods on either side of the harbour.


Designed for a fleet of cargo bikes that can roll in, pick up goods in lockers, and roll out again onto the cycle tracks of the city.

What are we waiting for?Copenhagenize the planet. And have a lovely day.
Categories: Views

From Copenhagen to Geneva - Discussion on Exporting the Danish Bicycle Model

1 June, 2015 - 09:24
Bike infrastructure in Geneva. Crédit photo : Louis-Philippe Tessier. A French translation of this article follows the English text.





It's our great pleasure and honor to see numerous people, from all over the world, coming through the door of Copenhagenize's office, in order to meet us and have a chat about bicycle urbanism. For the Copenhagenize's team, it's always an opportunity to share our knowledge and experience. We explain the distinctives features of Copenhagen while learning the latest best practices from our visitors' cities. A few months ago, it's Clotilde, our French urban planner, who received Louis-Philippe Tessier, student in Environmental Sciences, who had just arrived from Geneva (Switzerland) to do fieldwork for his Master these. 
It was the opportunity to get information on the cycling culture in Geneva and to know which best-practices Louis-Phillipe could bring back to Switzerland.
(article written by Louis-Philippe and Clotilde following their discussion)


The 2015 Velo-city conference, held this year in Nantes between June 2nd and 5th, has one main objective: bringing together numerous experts on “bicycle urbanism” from across the world so as to facilitate the exchange of best practices and necessary knowledge to promote and develop urban bicycle usage. For three days, participants will also be able to let themselves be inspired and to take a breath of fresh air in a world which is often polluted by negative thoughts. But a question remains: are these transfers of knowledge even possible? Are local authorities even receptive to foreign best practices?
Louis-Philippe’s Masters thesis partly sought to explore this theme. Its main goal was to study Geneva’s cycling infrastructures and policies so as to identify a certain number of elements hindering the development of bicycle usage in this city. Ultimately, the recommendations put forward in the thesis were inspired from a number of best practices taken from Copenhagen. 

Obstacles in Geneva, solutions in CopenhagenFour obstacles were identified in Geneva:            1. A negative perception of bicycles and their users            2. Few measures aimed at restricting car usage            3. The existence of a logic of opportunity            4. The particularities of the city’s urban form





Bike lanes represent 20% of the whole bicycle network in Geneva (CH). Crédit photo : Louis-Philippe Tessier. 

Possessing numerous years of expertise in the field, Copenhagen has become a model for cities across the world wishing to promote bicycle use amongst their citizens. To each obstacles identified in Geneva, Copenhagen could provide proven solutions. 
Concerning the first one, the nordic city would promote its communication strategy aimed at reinforcing the positive aspects of cycling in cities, which is very well presented in its official Bicycle Strategy. As Stefan Gössling puts it, by reading this document one understands that cycling “is pleasurable for everyone.” (2013, p. 201). 
Responding to the second obstacle, Danish planners would suggest that it is more economically sound to replace car parking by separated bike lanes or bicycle parking spots. If one car can fit on one parking spot, there can be up to eight bicycles parked there, which represents more potential customers to nearby shops. In Geneva, a local law states that any removed car parking must be replaced in the vicinity. If one also takes into account the cost of acquiring the space needed for this new parking spot, one is left with a messy bureaucratic and political bottleneck. 
The third obstacle concerns the way urban planners develop the cycling network. Rather than drafting a concrete and detailed bicycle plan for the city, they very (too) often grab the opportunities passing under their noses. This means, on the one hand, that they need to be continuously aware of developments occurring throughout the city, but it also means that the cycling network ultimately becomes like a Swiss cheese: full of wholes. What they don’t tell you is that Swiss cheese in fact does not contain any holes;it’s just a misconception. Similarly, a good bicycle network should not have any holes. One picture of Copenhagenize’s Traffic Planning Guide II reminds us of that!

Coming back to the initial question of this article, it helps to look now at obstacle #4. When Geneva’s bicycle strategy was being voted in 2013, one deputy, who was explaining why the modal share of bicycles in Copenhagen was so high, was interrupted by voices shouting that the city was flatter than Geneva. In other words, according to them, it is not possible to transfer Copenhagen’s model because of the specific topography of the city. On one point they are right: every city is unique, facing different kinds of challenges and obliged to implement solutions adapted to the socio-politico-economic conditions. But this is not to say that planners cannot be inspired by foreign best practices. In fact, it has often been the case. Today’s cities are good examples since most of them were deeply and similarly transformed in the 50s and 60s by the automobile. Best practices can be exported to other cities as long as they respond to specific needs by local cyclists. One such example is Trondheim’s bicycle lift, which acts as an elevator helping cyclists go up a steep hill. Another one is, more generally, San Francisco’s increasing bicycle modal share, which could be attributed to the implementation of foreign best practices at certain intersections throughout the city (SFMTA, 2013, p. 6). San Francisco being a hilly city, this shows how geographical features may not have the same importance as the social, political, and economic context when developing a cycling city.






















Lanes shared by cyclists and buses represent 4% of the network of bicycle infrastructure in Geneva (CH). Crédit photo : Louis-Philippe Tessier. 
Cycling urbanism and urban densityUrban density is one such element which can be very unique to cities. With environmental problems becoming more apparent, and urban populations continuously growing, many cities have began to densify. In highly dense cities such as Geneva, numerous actors often declare that few things can be done to improve transport conditions. Space scarcity is often the culprit. It is true that there are only a limited amount of users which can use a specific road. But is it more a question of space, or rather a question of which transportation mode should be prioritised in cities? Can a road lane be converted into a separated bike lane? Of course! What may vary between cities is the degree of political will to retrofit the urban landscape so as to prioritise more sustainable modes of transportation, in this case the bicycle. We are far from Copenhagen’s “Cyclists first” policy. But ultimately, as Andersen et al. declare, “all things being equal, urban density increases bicycle traffic“ (Andersen et al., 2012, p. 40). Thus, our politicians should really focus on finding adapted solutions to the urban density problem, rather than feeding the idea that their cities are not adapted to the bicycle.

This debate raises another question: is there an optimal urban density to efficiently develop safe, continuous and comfortable bicycle infrastructures?It is difficult to answer such a question since we are not only talking about technical details pertaining to physical infrastructures, but we are also addressing the ways that politics is conducted in every city. The nature of the arbitration between the actors directly and indirectly involved in the mobility system of a city, is crucial to take into consideration when on seeks to import best practices from cities such as Copenhagen. Solutions are manifold and come from various places across the world; this is one of the reason why the Velo-cityconference is such an important event for urban planners. Here are some examples taken from Copenhagen, which were contrasted to challenges still existing in Geneva (in French):


Ultimately, transferring knowledge and best practices is important but a particular focus should be put on understanding how politics is being conducted, and what elements strongly influence the planning process. Not doing so puts us at risk of being told that the city is not flat enough!




VERSION EN FRANCAIS
De Copenhague à Genève, discussion sur l'intérêt d'exporter le modèle cyclable danois
De nombreux visiteurs, venus du monde entier, passent la porte de nos bureaux à Copenhague, afin de venir discuter des infrastructures cyclables locales. Pour nous, à Copenhagenize Design Co., nous prenons toujours ces discussions comme un moment d'échanges et de partage de connaissances. Nous expliquons les particularités de Copenhague et nous apprenons les dernières nouvelles des politiques cyclables étrangères. Il y a quelques mois, c'est Clotilde, notre urbaniste française, qui recevait Louis-Philippe Tessier, étudiant en Sciences de l'Environnements, tout juste débarqué de Genève, pour venir faire du terrain dans le cadre de son mémoire.
Voici donc l'occasion de faire découvrir la culture cyclable de Genève et de donner une idée des « bonnes pratiques » que Louis-Philippe a rapporté dans ses bagages.

L’édition 2015 des conférences Velo-city se tiendra cette année à Nantes entre le 2 et 5 juin. L’objectif: réunir une multitude d’experts et d’adeptes du vélo afin de partager connaissances et bonnes pratiques en matière d’aménagement d’infrastructures cyclables et de promotion du vélo en milieu urbain. Outre l’occasion de côtoyer des personnes tout aussi convaincues que le vélo est un mode de transport réellement (vélo)rutionnaire, ce transfert d’informations est-il efficace et même possible ? Les autorités locales sont-elles réceptives aux pratiques “étrangères” ?
Le mémoire de maîtrise de Louis-Philippe, cherche justement à effectuer une analyse du réseau cyclable genevois et une recherche de pistes d'améliorations du développement du vélo dans cette ville, en s'inspirant du modèle copenhagois.

Des freins à Genève, des solutions à CopenhagueA Genève, il a été identifié quatre freins principaux au développement de ce mode de transport :
1. Une image négative du vélo et de ses utilisateurs2. Une faible restriction des déplacements automobiles3. L’existence d’une logique d’opportunité4. La forme urbaine particulière de la ville
Avec plusieurs décennies d’expérience en la matière, Copenhague représente un modèle à suivre pour ce qui est du développement d’une ville cyclable. Pour chaque frein identifié à Genève, des pistes intéressantes venues de la capitale danoise pourraient être explorées. 

Par exemple, face à l'image négative du vélo comme mode de transport, Copenhague mettrait en avant sa stratégie de communication positive, notamment expliquée dans le document Bicycle Strategy, laquelle explicitant le fait que rouler à vélo est “pleasurable for everyone”, tel que déclaré par Stefan Gössling (2013, p. 201). 
Face au deuxième frein, les urbanistes danois diraient qu’il est plus avantageux, économiquement, de remplacer des places de stationnement soit par des pistes cyclables séparées de la chaussée, soit par des places de stationnement pour vélos. Sur un stationnement automobile, jusqu’à huit vélos peuvent être stationnés, ce qui représente davantage d’acheteurs potentiels pour les commerces de proximité. À Genève, une loi locale oblige les autorités à compenser les places de stationnement supprimées dans un rayon restreint. Ajoutez un foncier rare et dispendieux, et vous obtenez un casse-tête bureaucratique et politique. 
Le troisième frein concerne la pratique d’aménagement des infrastructures cyclables à Genève : on utilise les opportunités qui passent, venant souvent de projets d’aménagement de grande envergure, pour faire une (petite) place aux vélos. Loin du plan structuré de Copenhague, où des objectifs clairs d’amélioration et de création de nouveaux tronçons sont déclarés, les pratiques genevoises, similaires à ce qui semble être fait dans de nombreuses villes, s’orientent vers la création de mini-tronçons ici et là. Résultat : une constellation de différentes infrastructures sur le réseau, parfois même sur un seul chemin, tel que celui des Coudriers, au nord-ouest de Genève. Où est la cohérence !
La question initiale - la transposition des infrastructures cyclables de Copenhague à d'autres villes - prend plus de sens encore lorsqu’on considère le frein n°4. Lors de l’adoption du Plan directeur cantonal de la mobilité douce en 2013, un député du Grand Conseil expliqua la forte part modale du vélo à Copenhague et se fit interrompre par des voix criant que “Là-bas c’est plat !”. Bref, on ne peut pas faire la même chose qu'à Copenhague. Toute les villes doivent conjuguer avec une topographie particulière, qui détermine les contraintes et les opportunités d’aménagement du réseau de transport. Et là aussi, en termes d'urbanisme cyclable, des solutions existent, même si cette fois-ci, évidemment, elles sont pas à trouver du côté du Danemark. L’important est de répondre au besoin des usagers. En Norvège, dans la ville de Trondheim, on trouve le CycloCable, une sorte d’ascenseur permettant aux usagers de gravir une pente particulièrement abrupte . D'autre part, à San Francisco, autre ville au relief accidenté, on a constaté ces dernières années une forte augmentation de la part modale. Il n'y a pas de déterminisme géographique car le contexte socio-politico-économique a une grande importance dans le développement d'une ville cyclable.

Urbanisme cyclable et densité Pour finir, un mot sur la densité urbaine et le vélo. L’apparition des enjeux environnementaux et l’accroissement de la population de certaines villes a fait en sorte que plusieurs d’entre elles se sont mises à densifier davantage le tissu urbain existant. Certaine ville, telle que Genève, possèdent une très forte densité urbaine que plusieurs considèrent comme un frein au développement du vélo puisque, soit disant, l’espace manquerait pour aménager des infrastructures de qualité. En effet, une route ne peut accueillir qu’un certain nombre de différents modes de transport. Mais ici, la question concerne-t-elle l’espace disponible ou plutôt l’arbitrage a effectuer entre les modes de transport ? Est ce qu’une voie de circulation ou de stationnement automobiles peut devenir une piste cyclable ? Bien sûr ! Est-ce qu’un large trottoir peut être scindé pour accueillir une voie cyclable ? Tout à fait ! Ce qui peut varier de ville en ville est le niveau de volonté politique nécessaire pour atteindre cet objectif de réaménagement en faveur des vélos. On est souvent loin du “Cyclists first !“ prôné par la municipalité danoise. Pourtant “all things being equal, urban density increases bicycle traffic“ (Andersen et al., 2012, p. 40). Il faut donc, tout de même, que nos décideurs soient capables d’utiliser pleinement le potentiel résidant au coeur d’une ville comme Genève possédant une aussi forte densité.
Bien que Copenhague ait réussi à se hisser au rang de meilleure ville cyclable au monde, il reste que la densité urbaine de la ville est inférieure à celle de Genève, ce qui a des implications pour le développement du vélo. C’est alors que l’on peut effectuer la réflexion suivante : plus qu'une taille idéale de ville, y a-t-il une densité optimale pour aménager des infrastructures cyclables sécuritaires, continues, cohérentes et confortables ?
Apporter des réponses techniques venues de pays étrangers est une vraie bonne idée qui peut permettre de faire gagner de nombreuses années d'expérimentation et d'études aux villes qui osent aller chercher des solutions qui marchent au-delà de leurs frontières. Mais pour les faire accepter faut-il encore avoir le bon discours pour les expliquer, lorsque l'on revient dans son pays, afin que les habitants et les élus les acceptent et se les approprient, en y apportant leur touche locale. En effet, l'évolution de la mobilité s'inscrit dans des contextes institutionnels, politiques, économiques, sociaux et culturels propres à chaque lieu. Les solutions existent, qu’elles viennent de Copenhague ou d'autres villes représentées prochainement à Vélo-City. Voici un récapitulatif de quelques solutions copenhagoises pour avancer dans la mise en place d'une politique cyclable :


Cette façon de penser le vélo comme moyen de transport urbain peut avoir de réels impacts positifs dans d’autres villes d’Europe ou d’ailleurs. Mais aujourd'hui, pour réaménager l’espace urbain, plus que l'analyse de la topographie, il faut surtout comprendre les éléments modelant la nature de l’arbitrage effectué par les décideurs locaux, sans quoi nous risquons de nous faire dire que la ville n’est pas suffisamment plate ! 
Copenhagenize the planet. And have a lovely day.
Categories: Views

Hacking a German "Safety" Campaign with Rationality

30 May, 2015 - 15:54


Nice with a bit of activism and rationality on a Saturday. Thanks to our reader Jochen, who sent us some photos from the streets of Germany in reaction to a campaign from the German Ministry of Transport, above. Next to a photo of Darth Vader the text reads: "The saga continues, thanks to the helmet. Works in every galaxy. And on the bicycle."

This set cyclists and activists to task.


Billboard in Bonn: "Now I'm single... thanks, helmet."
Photo: Jochen Erdelmeier

In a country where only about 10% of cyclists wear plastic hats, the Ministry of Transport decided to chuck some taxpayer money into a campaign. A lazy move from politicans whose ignorance about the importance of encouraging cycling, building infrastructure and the health benefits of a cycling population has now been broadcast to the planet. They are basically using taxpayer money to advertise how ignorant they are. There's the first problem with their campaign.

The choice of Darth Vader is as strange as it is awkward - for the Germans. World War II Nazi helmets were the direct inspiration for Vader's helmet, as you can read here:

"Costume designer John Mollo took it from there, fusing elements of various real-life uniforms associated with war and evil. To design Vader’s infamous black helmet, Mollo looked to the black, shiny headgear Nazis wore during WWII."

One might argue that Mr Vader is not exactly an appropriate role model. One of the first things his mentor, Mr Hitler, did when assuming power was make Germany's largest cyclist organisation illegal. (they were also socialists, which was handy).

The Ministry also willfully ignores the advice of the European Council of Ministers of Transport in 2004 - which included the German Minister of Transport at the time - in a report entitled National Policies to Promote Cycling:

"[...] from the point of view of restrictiveness, even the official promotion of helmets may have negative consequences for bicycle use, and that to prevent helmets having a negative effect on the use of bicycles, the best approach is to leave the promotion of helmet wear to manufacturers and shopkeepers. The report entitled 'Head Injuries and Helmet Law for Cyclists' by Dorothy L. Robinson, Bicycle Research report No. 81 (March 1997) shows that the main effect of the introduction of the general helmet law for cyclists in Australia was a drop in bicycle use."

Even research from the German Hannelore Kohl Stiftung was happily swept under the rug:



Be sure to check www.motoringhelmet.com for more reasons why driving with a helmet is a good idea. It links to our blog articles about the subject.

Imagine. The Ministry of Transport in Europe's largest country completely and utterly Ignoring the Bull in Society's China Shop.

But hey. Shortly after appearing, billboards around Germany that featured the Darth Vader campaign began to feature added text. The Force is strong within the rational Jedi fighting for liveable cities...


The saga continues in Bonn. This billboard now reads: "I have dandruff. Thank you, helmet."
Photo: Jochen Erdelmeier


Bonn: "I am a monster. Thanks, helmet."
Photo: Jochen Erdelmeier

And from Frankfurt: "Works in every galaxy. And on stairs."
Photo: A friend of Jochen Erdelmeier

Frankfurt: "Works in every galaxy. And in the shower."
Photo: A friend of Jochen Erdelmeier

Frankfurt: "Works in every galaxy. And while doing housework."
Photo: A friend of Jochen Erdelmeier

Frankfurt: "Works in every galaxy. And in cars."
Photo: A friend of Jochen Erdelmeier

Frankfurt: "Works in every galaxy. And while walking."
Photo: A friend of Jochen Erdelmeier

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

Bike Share by the People, For the People

30 May, 2015 - 13:28

Saw a lovely thing in my neighbourhood today. Copenhagen's new bike share system. Parked right there under a tree. In contrast to the failed one still operating, this system is free, it doesn't have safety issues with a distracting tablet screen, it doesn't weigh as much as a hippopotamus, it doesn't have a noisy motor and it doesn't have constant tech issues at a docking station.


The sign on the side reads:

"Hi, my name is Christian Liljedahl and I've made this City Bike (bycykel) for Copenhagen and for you. Use it and park it somewhere useful so others can enjoy it when you're finished.

If it's flat or broken, send me a text on (telephone number) or donate a puncture repair at the closest bike shop. You can also make your own City Bike. Find out more on DinBycykel on Facebook."

This is brilliant. This made my day. In a country where 400,000 bikes are scrapped every year and The Establishment (City of Copenhagen, City of Frederiksberg, Danish Railways, Danish Cyclists Federation) all insist on lame solutions like the GoBike ($10,000 per bike), People Power is fantastic.

More of this, please.

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

The Desire Lines of Cyclists – The Global Study – is in the starting block

27 May, 2015 - 14:11





Copenhagenize Design Co. has decided to take our unique Desire Lines Analysis Tool to the world. We are launching a new project that will span continents.
The Desire Lines of Cyclists – The Global Study – is the natural evolution of our original Desire Lines analysis of cyclist behaviour and how cyclists react to urban design called The Choreography of an Urban Intersection. The results of which were unveiled by CEO Mikael Colville-Andersen at Velo-City 2013 in Vienna. This study from Copenhagen in 2012 was based on video-recorded observations of 16,631 cyclists during a 12 hour period. We explored the anthropological details of bicycle users and how they interact with other traffic users and the existing urban design. Three categories of cyclists were identified: Conformists, Momentumists, and Recklists.

Choreography of an Urban Intersection and Copenhagenize fixes

Thanks to this study we created a new methodology to analyse urban life: the Desire Line Analysis Tool, which is designed mostly to decode the Desire Lines of cyclists. The main purposes of the analysis is to get a thorough understanding of bicycle users and to rethink intersections to fit modern mobility needs. Like William H. Whyte before us, we want first to observe people. We employ anthropology and sociology directly to urban planning - something we feel is sorely lacking.
With increasing focus on re-establishing the bicycle as transport in cities around the world, understanding the behaviour and, indeed, the basic urban anthropology of bicycle users is of utmost importance. Rethinking the car-centric design of intersections and infrastructure is necessary if we are to redesign our cities for new century mobility patterns.



Desire Lines of cyclists turned into a permanent lane in Copenhagen

Until now there has not been any concrete way of mapping cyclist behaviour. Copenhagenize Design Company’s techniques utilise Direct Human Observation in order to map cyclist behaviour - and gather a motherlode of valuable data from it.
These two last years at Copenhagenize, urban planners, anthropologists and urban designers have worked on testing, improving and realising new studies in Copenhagen. Using the city as an actual-size laboratory, we observed, analysed, mapped thousands of cyclists' behavior. You can watch our video here, and read our studies here, here, here, here, and here.
Afterwards, we went to Amsterdam, a city considered as a model for many urban planners, and in  collaboration with The University of Amsterdam, Copenhagenize Design Co. worked on nine intersections and 19,500 bicycle users.

Cyclists riding side by side in Amsterdam

Now, we want to expand our proven methodology to other cities around the world and compare different approaches of bicycle urbanism focusing on the way cyclists react to urban design. This study will take us to Europe, South and North America, Asia and Africa.
Cycling is booming everywhere in the world and municipalities are investing in infrastructure across many cities. Nevertheless, data are lacking and a deep understanding of cyclists' behavior and expectations is required. It’s the right moment to get a thorough understanding of the current situation and avoid well known hurdles in the design of infrastructure to match cyclists expectations.
We will start this global study in the two world-wide bicycle friendly cities, Copenhagen and Amsterdam, and use them as references of the study.
Then, we will study intersections in Cape Town (South Africa), Rio de Janeiro (Brazil) and Mexico City (Mexico).
Finally, we will analyse bicycle users crossing an intersection in New York City (US), Paris (France) and Tokyo (Japan). 3 metropolis, 3 different ways to design urban infrastructure and to manage cycling policy.

Cyclist on a Vélib in Paris sharing the lane with buses

We will compare all these cyclists and figure out the balance between the behaviour due to varying infrastructure - or lack thereof - and the bicycle culture/habits of the inhabitants. We’ll highlight both the cultural differences and the universality of human behaviour. We truly believe that well-designed infrastructure leads to better behaviour from cyclists - whereas the lack of consideration for cyclists when municipalities design bike infrastructure leads to negative behaviour.
In each city we will team up with a local partner, and we are extremely glad to announce that we will work with the organisations Future Cape Town, ITDP Brazil and 3x3 in New York City.
Copenhagenize is also keen on working in close cooperation with the local authorities and has already get the support of the municipalities of Paris and Amsterdam. Our local partners and us are searching for financial support to make the most of the project in each city.
The more data and knowledge that will be gathered on cyclists, the higher the chances are that towns will be turned into bike-friendly cities with all the right infrastructure.
The results will be presented using maps, statistics, qualitative analyses and appealing graphic representations. We will reveal how people respect or disrespect infrastructure, how they interact with pedestrians and motorists, what are their normal trajectories and Desire Lines. All bicycle-friendly cities should have a perfect knowledge of the evolution of the number of cyclists, but also a sociological big picture of them and a deep understanding of their behavior. 

Copenhagenize the planet. And have a lovely day.
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