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Field Report: Cycling Toronto's Rocket

22 January, 2016 - 09:58

The latest article by Copenhagenize Design Company's resident Torontonian, urban planner James Thoem.

It’s been two and a half years since I’ve returned to Toronto. Some things have changed. Others haven’t. Since ditching the mayor who actively removed bike lanes at a huge costs, the City has introduced a couple kilometres of half decent separated bicycle lanes along with more woeful sharrows (as if they’re still fooling anyone ). The public transit agency, The Toronto Transit Commision (TTC), has since rolled out a sleek new bike-friendly rolling stock, and introduced some of those well-meaning, though silly repair bike repair stations.

Now there’s an old saying among Toronto’s transport cynics that TTC, in fact, stands for ‘Take The Car’. While this approach is sure to trigger eye rolling among any urbanist, it does at least bring up a concept we can work with, the multi-modal city. At Copenhagenize Design Co. we’ve long championed the strengths of a multi-modal city coupled with a sensible transport hierarchy that values active transportation over motororised, and public over private. Cars are inevitable, but a city that prioritizes people must make cycling, transit and walking equally legitimate. As the Copenhagenize Traffic Planning Guide illustrates:



With overcrowded and delayed trains an all too common issue on the TTC, it’s no wonder Torontonians joke about ditching ‘the rocket’ for their commute. But opting for a private car only makes everything worse for everybody. Hopping on your bike is a quick and easy solution to free up seats and streets all while avoiding overcrowded train cars and mind numbing rush-hour traffic. We’ve made this little play on the TTC subway map to remind Torontonians of how accessible switching from rocket to bike actually is.



Often it seems as if the number one priority for subway riders is to completely tune out from their surroundings. While in this little world, we tend to forget that each and every stop is it’s own neighbourhood complete with it’s own stories, daily rituals, familiar faces and hidden gems. And often, regardless of whether you’re in Scarborough, Bloor West or Etobicoke, it’s the spaces between the stations stops where you get a real taste for the area.

Back in Copenhagen, we’ve conducted experiments, pitching bike commutes against actual subway travel times, with the former often coming out on top . So is this the case in Toronto? We expect so. But just one thing stands in the way: safe, functional infrastructure. But that’s an issue for a whole other post.

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

The Ultimate Indicator of a Bicycle-Friendly City

12 January, 2016 - 10:17

There are numerous ways to measure how citizen cyclists feel about cycling in a city. We know that there is no chicken or egg - there is only Best Practice infrastructure. Keeping cyclists safe but also giving them the all-important sense of safety.

I have cycled in over 60 cities around the world. In safe cities like those in Denmark and the Netherlands and cities that struggle to emerge as bicycle-friendly cities. In the latter I am rolling through a lion's den, often forced subliminally to speed up because of the pace of the motorised traffic. In these old-fashioned cities that have failed to provide safe infrastructure for cycling, I am quite sure I have never yawned. Too much intensity, too much adrenaline.

If we look at revealed preferences, as opposed to declared preferences (asking people in surveys), the urban cycling yawn has to be the ultimate indicator of the state of a city's progress towards being bicycle-friendly.

If you don't see people yawning regularly whilst riding their bicycle through a city, it is safe to say that you are doing something wrong.














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

Skateboarding in Place - Skateboard Urbanism

8 January, 2016 - 19:50

This article is written by Copenhagenize Design Co's resident skater here in Copenhagen, James Thoem. Urban planner from Toronto.

And now for something completely different. Well, only sort of. Skateboard urbanism.

For decades now, skateboarders have been part of our urban landscapes. Though nowhere near as common a sight as the commuter or the shopkeeper, they join the buskers and the street food vendor as extras in the everyday theatre of our cities. Initially emerging out of the paved schoolyards and drained swimming pools of sprawling California, skateboarding as an activity, a mode of transportation, and a subculture quickly spread throughout the world. As skateboarding is rooted in adapting the landscapes and environments presented (think swimming pools, public plaza, rural hills), it has also managed to give rise to a whole new phenomenon in its own rite, the skatepark.

Early skateparks were designed to reflect the wave breaks and swimming pools popular among skaters at the time. Decades later, Kettering, Ohio’s ‘Skate Plaza’, marked a transition to skateparks designed wholly to replicate urban landscapes more popular with a newer generation of skaters. Complete with staircases, handrails, ledges and garden beds, these skate ‘plazas’ brought the streets to the skatepark, but forgot the street life.

As a single-use facility often segregated from any urban life, there’s something distinctly modernist about the skatepark. The concept of having skateboarding completely removed from the streets and plazas that gave rise to the activity seems unfortunate. A cynic may see skateparks as a solution to get skaters, sometimes seen as a nuiscance, off the city streets and into a controlled, observable environment (This wouldn’t be too much of a stretch, as we’ve covered before, playgrounds were initially pushed by the automobile industry to get those pesky little children off city streets to make way for more cars). In fact, the city of Philadelphia has recently built a world-class skatepark while simultaneously moved to ban street skateboarding, punishable by $,2000 fine and/or up to 90 days in jail (!). The city of brother love is sending a pretty mixed message if you ask us.

Above: Defensive ‘skatestoppers’ added to Philidelphia’s LOVE Park. 

Above: Philidelphia’s new Franklin’s Paine skate plaza simulating urban landscapes.

Don’t get me wrong, I pretty much grew up at a skatepark, they can be great places to develop a sense of community, agency and belonging. But it’s the time I spent skating around my hometown, down alleyways, along drainage ditches and through public plazas that I really developed an appreciation for city life. So rather than restricting skateboarding in the city through laws and defensive architecture while making skateparks sterile simulations of city streets, why not actively encourage skating (and other similar activities) in appropriate public places through great design.

Far from the Californian school yards and swimming pools that birthed modern skateboarding, two cities in the Øresund region (which encompasses Copenhagen and Malmö) are acknowledging skateboarders as just one of many groups that contribute to lively streetscapes, accommodating them accordingly. And while both cities have built gigantic, popular skateparks, they find the value in working with existing or new architectural design elements that bring life to a space in a more subtle way than any skatepark can.

Take for example Copenhagen’s popular skate spot, Jarmersplads. Originally designed as a plaza in 1997 to complement the neighbouring modernist office tower, the seemingly purposeless granite slabs have ended up as a defacto destination for skateboarders. I gotta say, the original photos look beautiful as a sculpture destined for the sterile pages of an architecture magazine. But looks even better with people (and bikes). The story of how this non-place of a plaza was activated into a skate spot known around the world goes something like this: Architect builds sculpture public plaza, people are repelled, skateboarders are attracted, architect sad, skateboarders talk to architect, architect and property manager accept and accommodate their argument, they all lived happily ever after. (You can watch a slightly more detailed account here).


Above: How architects see Jarmers Plads in Copenhagen. Beautiful. Sterile.

Above: How skateboarding citizens use Jarmers Plads. Social. Active.



Or turn to Malmö, arguably the world’s most skateboard friendly city. Yes, the city has a skateboard oriented high school, a huge skatepark and hosts an annual international competition, but the most telling sign of Malmö’s openness is that they actually have a ‘skateboard coordinator’ on payroll at city hall. As I spoke with said city staffer, Gustav Svanborg Edén, about the City’s openness to skaters using everyday public spaces, the idea of skateboarders as a nuisance came up. As he pointed out, the four most commonly cited reasons for restricting skateboarders in public space boil down to issues with demographics, noise, damage, and obstruction. Of these four issues, the latter three can be addressed through design solutions. Smoother surfaces, granite or metal ledges, and wider, smoother cycle tracks. As Svanborg Edén pointed out, skateboarders don’t want to make a lot of noise and damage objects, they want to skateboard.

With these design fixes in mind, the City of Malmö recently accommodated skateboarding at two public in two public squares. The first, Värhemstorget, an already popular skate spot, was improved with the introduction of some new granite ledges. Complementing the introduction of these new ledges, the city also holds an annual competition in the plaza to help activate the square, bringing in a community programming side to a simple design fix.

The second locale, Svampen as the locals call it (literally translates to “the mushroom”), sits just outside of the city’s public art gallery, and connecting to a larger public space revitalisation around the triangeln Train station. Here the city started from scratch, designing a public square that is welcoming to a wide group of users, while still designing street furniture to accommodate skateboarders in a subtle way. This multifunctionality is at the top of Svanborg Edén’s mind, “If we are going to make things at all, we may as well add functionality by using insightful design and durable materials. If we build bike-racks, why not make them good for skateboarding or general play as well”. The result is a plaza that looks and functions like, well, a plaza! Only now the skateboarders that frequent it bring an extra set of eyes on the street and some extra life to the streetscape.


Malmö’s new skateboard plaza, Svampen, in use. Simple, subtle skate design.

The design strategies employed in Copenhagen and Malmö illustrate a really simple concept, multifunctionality. ‘Why not kill two flies with one slap’ as they say in Sweden. While it seems obvious, nearly a century of engineering the life out of our streetscape did everything it could to put every landuse, mode of transport, and activity into their own little dedicated compartments. In a way, skateparks fit into this modernist mindset. However, recent trends in urbanism have started to undo this mindset, inviting interactions and life through design rather than engineering. Cities like Copenhagen and Malmö have recognised skateboarders as just another community that belong in everyday streetscapes. Here’s to others following suit.



For more photos of skateboarding in the city, see our Flickr photo set here.Copenhagenize the planet. And have a lovely day.
Categories: Views

Oslo - Subversive Bicycle History

30 December, 2015 - 13:54

Location: Bygdøy Allé, Oslo // Photographer: Andreas Beer Wilse // Year: 1943 // Norwegian Folkemuseum

A new article in our Subversive Bicycle Photo Series. Images of cities back when the bicycle was a normal transport form - as it was everywhere for decades. Subversive because if news got out that our bicycle history was long and well-established... well, then... The 99% might start doing it again. Lord knows THAT would be a catastrophe. So keep this to yourself.

The good people at the City of Oslo's Sykkelprosjektet (The Bicycle Project) - which is effectively Oslo's bicycle office - understand one of the main challenges facing us when trying to reestablish the bicycle as transport in our cities.

The short-term memory of humans.

Everywhere I travel with my work I hear the same thing - often from people who should know better. That urban cycling isn't possible "here". The usual myths about climate/topography are mentioned (and promptly busted) but also tales of how they have "never cycled here".

Sigh.

Luckily, intrepid followers of this blog started to delve into the local photo archives and a great many photos have been harvested and presented in this series from all over the world.

Now it's time for Oslo. Sykkelprosjektet found some photos in the archives of two museums and put them on their Facebook group.

Cycling. A normal transport form in the Norwegian capital. For decades. On regular bicycles. Don't tell Captain Spandex and his crew, let alone the car lobby. And to think the City is actual throwing money at e-bike subsidies, but totally and completely ignoring the kind of bicycle that served the city for almost a century. Wasting taxpayer money on putting more motorised vechicles on the streets is rather ridiculous.

But let's let these photos from a rational, intelligent age speak for themselves, shall we?



Location: Drammensveien, Oslo // Photographer: Andreas Beer Wilse // Year: 1940 // Norwegian Folkmuseum

Just traffic.

Location: Øvrevoll Galoppbane, Bærum (horse racing track) // Photographer: Andreas Beer Wilse // 
Year: 1941 // Norwegian Folkmuseum

Bike Parking at the horse races in Bærum.


Location: Ingierstrand, Oppegård // Photographer: Andreas Beer Wilse // Year: 1941 // Norwegian Folkmuseum

Bike parking at a beach near the city.


Location: Katten, Oslo // Photographer: Unknown // Year: 1950 // Oslo Museum

Bike parking at another beach near the city.


Location: Dronning Blancas vej, Bygdøy, Oslo // Photographer: Andreas Beer Wilse // Year: 1943 // Norwegian Folkmuseum

Just traffic.


Location: Rådhusplassen/City Hall Square, Oslo // Photographer: Arne Tjensvold // Year: 1950 // Oslo Museum

Just a normal bike and a regular citizen outside City Hall.


Location unknown // Photographer: Andreas Beer Wilse // Year: 1943 // Norwegian Folkmuseum

Great skirtguards. Normal thing all over the world back then.


Location: Skaugum Asker // Princess Astrid, Princess Ragnhild & Prince Harald. // Photographer: Andreas Beer Wilse // Year: 1939 // Norwegian Folkmuseum

Three mini royals on wheels.


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

The Transformation of Almetyevsk

30 December, 2015 - 08:53

The head of the Executive Committee of Almetyevsk, Tatarstan - Ayrat Khayrullin (left) and CEO of Copenhagenize Design Co. - Mikael Colville-Andersen (right) touring the city.

The Russian city of Almetyevsk teams up with Copenhagenize Design Co. on a visionary urbanist project. A complete transformation into the best bicycle-friendly city in Russia.

Press Release from Copenhagenize Design Company. 01 December 2015


The desire for life-sized cities knows no borders. When the City of Almetyevsk, in Tatarstan, Russia, decided to embark on one of the greatest urbanist projects of the 21st century, they hired the renowned Danish consultancy and design bureau, Copenhagenize Design Company to tackle the job.

Despite the current geo-political climate, international sanctions as well as cultural, linguistic and engineering differences, Almetyevsk - a city of 150,000 - is dead-set on transforming itself into the most bicycle-friendly city in Russia - and in record time.

Copenhagenize Design Co. is tasked with developing a comprehensive strategy for the development of bicycle infrastructure in the city and coaching them until completion of the project. Over 200 km of Best Practice bicycle infrastructure is planned, along with all the necessary bells and whistles like bicycle traffic lights, pre-green for cyclists, extensive bicycle parking and general prioritizing of cyclists like you see in Copenhagen.

Tatarstan is an independent republic in the Russian Federation, with their own President and a largely autonomous political existence. Russian colleagues look with envy to the Republic as it is more well-managed, it would seem, that Russia itself.

There is impressive political will in Almetyevsk. The Head of the Executive Committee of Almetyevsk, Ayrat Khayrullin, is the driving force behind the city’s coming transformation. An energetic man in his early 30s, Mr Khayrullin is well-versed in what it takes to become a life-sized city.

Mikael Colville-Andersen, CEO of Copenhagenize Design Co., was impressed on the company’s first visit to Almetyevsk. “We met a man of passion who had done his homework about what infrastructure is necessary and the societal benefits of cycling. For example, he knew well that bi-directional cycle tracks don’t belong on streets and that one-way cycle tracks on each side of the road were the way forward. It was brilliant to meet a politician who had done so much research”.

Indeed, Mr Khayrullin has outlined his wishes in no uncertain terms. He wants two things; for his kid to be able to cycle safely anywhere in the city and for there to be more cyclists than motorists.



Copenhagenize Design Co. visited Almetyevsk in September 2015 for preliminary meetings and discussions with city officials and engineers in order to start planning the strategy. CEO Mikael Colville-Andersen (middle, above) and Urban Planner James Thoem (right, above) were given a comprehensive bicycle tour of the city by Mr Khayrullin (left, above) and his team. Mr Khayrullin is already working to better his city with the design of parks and facilities that would work perfectly in any city in the world. The Kazan design agency, Evolution, who is partnering with Copenhagenize Design Co. on this project, has also been involved in designing parks in the city for Mr Khayrullin.

While there is no restriction to what city can implement bicycle infrastructure regarding typology of roads, Almetyevsk’s greatest advantage is that the city was founded in 1953 and the roads are more than wide enough to accommodate a solid network of Best Practice infrastructure. There are no baby steps in Almetyevsk - no single pilot project on one stretch of roadway - an entire network will be implemented from the first day.

In the late 1940s, oil was discovered in the region and the cornerstone for Almetyevsk was laid at the heart of oilfields that contain 7% of Russia’s oil reserves. For someone like Mikael, who was born in Fort McMurray and who grew up in Calgary, driving to Almetyevsk from Kazan was like going back to childhood roots. It’s basically Albertastan, as he puts it..

The irony of designing Russia’s best bicycle-friendly city in the heart of the oil industry is lost on no one. In addition, the national oil company in the Tatarstan Republic is financing the entire project.

“When I coined the word ‘copenhagenize’ in 2007 I would never have thought that we would be working on doing it with an entire city, from scratch”, says Mikael Colville-Andersen. “This is the bicycle urbanism version of Niemeyer’s Brasilia or Griffin’s Canberra. Except it will actually be a positive urban development. We hope we make Le Corbusier roll a few times in his grave by the time we’re done”, he adds.

Press conference in Almetyevsk. October 2015.

Copenhagenize Design Co. was back in Almetyevsk in October 2015 for detailed meetings with the City and staff. Work on the development of the strategy will take place through the winter and work will begin in the spring. The backbone of the network - 50 km of Best Practice infrastructure on primary arteries - is scheduled for 2016, followed by secondary roads and residential neighbourhoods the following spring.

In addition, a comprehensive intervention of road diets and traffic calming will be added to the project’s ‘to do’ list. All in order to lay the foundations for other urbanism developments that will establish Almetyevsk as a truly life-sized city.

The capital of Tatarstan, Kazan, has recently placed some painted lanes in the city - not a comprehensive network, certainly not Best Practice infrastructure - mostly symbolism. Almetyevsk has the opportunity to show the way forward for the capital but also every other city in the Russian Federation.

All the established theories and Best Practice about how to design a city for bicycles based on a century of experience will be put to the test in an oil town on the western steppes of Russia.

Almetyevsk will be given all the available tools and coaching guidance to ensure their transformation. What they end up doing with it remains to be seen. At this stage, however, the future is bright and the will is strong. We're ready to work.

In the 1950s, the city of Hannover was rebuilt in the car-centric style of the age and it was dubbed The Miracle of Hannover. Within a few years it is possible that we will be referring to The Miracle of Almetyevsk.Copenhagenize the planet. And have a lovely day.
Categories: Views

Hoi An - Vietnam's Calm and Shining Pearl

17 December, 2015 - 09:08

All photos by Liv Jorun Andenes

Pockets of life-sized goodness exist everywhere. Even in the transport chaos that defines Vietnam. Traffic crashes kill at least 9000 people a year. Indeed, it is estimated that official data about traffic deaths underestimates the number of traffic deaths by as much as 30%.

On a recent visit to Vietnam, our friend and colleague Liv Jorun Andenes from Oslo's Sykkelprosjektet visited a small city that bucks the fatal trend of letting motor vehicles - be it cars/trucks or motorbikes - dominate.

The city of Hoi An. The sign, above, gives you a pretty clear indication about what it's all about. The name Hoi An translates - appropriately - as "peaceful meeting place". Rumour has it that "Australia" is actually an old Dutch word for "stupid traffic engineers", but I digress.


Bicycles abound in Hoi An - as they did in Vietnam for many decades before the scourge of cars and scooters took over. Here, however, they remain dominant, thanks to a simple vision for a nicer, life-sized city from the municipality.

Classic rickshaws are a popular sight and the modus transportus for the lazier tourists

I don't need to bang on about the history of this once prominent port city when one click will lead you to a crowdsourced article on Wikipedia about Hoi An.

It's a city of canals, though, with intense bicycle traffic across the water on ferries.

The streets are traffic calmed and, with the absence of Captain Spandex types, the space is shared between pedestrians and slow moving cyclists.
Basically, if you go to Vietnam, make sure to pop by Hoi An to see what calm is possible in a chaotic world.Copenhagenize the planet. And have a lovely day.
Categories: Views

Arrogance of Parking Space - Copenhagen

16 December, 2015 - 13:59

Even in Copenhagen there are examples of an ongoing Arrogance of Space. Bizarre but true. Even here we are still battling to reverse decades of destructive urban planning at the misconceptions that came along with it.

In Copenhagen, only 22% of households own a car. No, not because it's expensive and there is a high tax on cars. The rednecks in the provinces buy them all the time and both cars and gas are cheaper than in the 1970s during the oil crises. Only 10% of Copenhageners use a use a car to get around each day. 63% ride a bicycle. The rest take public transport or walk.

It costs 50,000 DKK (ca. $8000) to make a parking spot and maintain it. But a parking permit for residents only costs 720 DKK (ca. 110) per year. That is bad business. The non-motoring majority are basically subsidizing a destructive, archaeic transport form used by a old-fashioned minority.

Nevertheless, there are still three parking spots for every one car in Copenhagen. Despite the logic and the numbers. The current Lord Mayor Frank Jensen - in an attempt to appease the right-wing who only have car parking to fight for anymore in the City of Cyclists - insists on putting back in parking spots for phantom motorists.

In the graphic, above, you can see what it would look like if we took all the car parking spots in Copenhagen and Frederiksberg and slapped them together.


In this graphic, we can see roughly how much space a parking lot featuring all the parking spots would require - if we provided the necessary extra space for access and what not. You know, driving into the lot and finding a spot, etc.

Almost the entire city centre of Copenhagen would be paved over.


The news this morning in Copenhagen that the City is removing 80 car parking spots along the historic Frederiksholm Canal is great to wake up to. The City will be making a promenade along the canal to create better public space. Fantastic.

At the moment it feels like you are stuck in the mid-60s along this stretch so this improvement is much welcomed. Read more about the project - in Danish - on the City's website.

By and large, there are constant improvements for public space and bike infrastructure on the go in Copenhagen. Missing links are being fixed and small but effective examples of Reversing the Arrogance of Space are showing up on the streets of the city.

As we can see in the graphics at the top, however, there are more pressing issues that require bold, political leadership if we are seriously going to modernise for the next century of transport. Copenhagenize the planet. And have a lovely day.
Categories: Views

Montreal - When Using Data Goes Wrong

4 December, 2015 - 09:14

This article is a guest contribution from Bartek Komorowski. Bartek is an urban planner and currently Project Leader in Research and Consulting at Vélo Quebec in Montreal. He and his colleagues reacted to a compartive study published last month in Canada and we're pleased to bring his thoughts here. Data is of utmost importance. More often than not, cities simply don't have enough of it. Then you have professionals who taken existing data and completely abuse it. Which is what this piece is about.

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By Bartek Komorowski

Last week, the Pembina Institute, a reputable clean energy think tank, released a comparative study on cycling in Canada’s five largest cities – Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, Calgary, and Ottawa. The study compares a number of statistics on bicycle use, safety, and infrastructure. The authors spin a narrative about Montreal being a great cycling city, mentioning its presence on the Copenhagenize Index. Strangely, their report provides statistics that seem to suggest otherwise.

I work in Vélo Québec’s Research Department and my colleagues and I know a thing or two about Montreal’s cycling statistics. We publish a report called Bicycling in Quebec every five years, which includes a subsidiary report focusing on Montreal. We are currently collecting data for next edition of Bicycling in Quebec and Montreal’s cycling statistics are at the top of our minds.

While reading through Pembina’s report, we were struck by some major discrepancies between the data it presents and the data we have recently been poring over. We noticed the following:

Daily Bicycle Trips
The study says there are 40,000 daily bicycle trips on the Island of Montreal, citing data from 2008. Actually, there were 75,000 daily bicycle trips in 2008 according to that year's regional origin-destination survey. Results from the more recent 2013 origin-destination survey, which have been released to the media, show that 120,000 bicycle trips were daily in Montreal, representing a massive 54% increase compared to 2008.

Crash Rate
The authors calculated an annual crash rate for the Island of Montreal using a bicycle trip statistic supposedly from 2008 and a crash statistic that seems to be from 2013 (found here), which is methodologically unsound, particularly in the context of rapidly increasing bicycle trip rates. This error was compounded by the use of the faulty daily trip rate statistic explained above. They got a result of 6.6 crashes per 100,000 bicycle trips, a higher rate higher than all of the other cities. In fact, according to their results, the likelihood is of having a cycling accident in Montreal is an absurd 10 times greater than in Vancouver, whose crash rate is 0.67 per 100,000 trips.

Local media in Montreal zeroed in on this result, producing shock headlines such as this one. Needless to say, for cycling advocates, news reports about the supposed dangers of cycling in Montreal, backed up by seemingly credible research from a well-known think tank, are not helpful.

I redid the calculation for Montreal using the same method but plugging in the 2013 daily bicycle trip rate (which matches the year of the collision statistic). This yielded a crash rate of 2.3 per 100,000, lower than that of all cities except Vancouver.

Incidentally, the crash rate statistic for Vancouver strikes me as suspiciously low. This might have something to do with that city’s questionably high daily bicycle trip statistic. I have trouble believing that Vancouver, with roughly one-third the population of the Island of Montreal (603,500 vs 1,890,000), has almost three times more daily bicycle trips (106,500 vs 40,000). Can Vancouverites possibly be making eight times as many daily bicycle trips per capita as Montrealers? I doubt it.

Bicycle Network Size
The authors were sloppy in comparing the sizes of the cities' cycling networks. Some cities, like Toronto, count bicycle lane kilometres. This means that if there are bicycle lanes going in both directions along 1 km of street, they count as 2 km of bicycle lanes. Montreal counts street kilometres with bicycle lanes. In this case, bicycle lanes going in both directions along 1 km of street count as 1 km. If we applied Toronto's accounting method to Montreal's network, ours would appear to be almost twice the size of theirs.

Number of Bicycle Shops
The number of bicycle shops in a city is “an indicator of the prominence of cycling culture and access to bicycles,” say the authors. According to their findings, Montreal is poorly endowed in this department, with only 25 bicycle shops serving its 1.7M inhabitants. This is statistic is way off the mark: Vélo Québec's non-exhaustive listings contain 75 shops on the Island of Montreal, while a cursory search in the phone directory suggests there are well over 100. I can only speculate that this error is attributable to authors’ lack of knowledge of French and failure to use adequate search terms to find bicycle shops.

Other Minor Mix-ups
The study contains a number of other minor statistical mix-ups. The study cites the 2011 census population of the City of Montreal (1.65M) but cites the area (500 km2), the bicycle mode share (2.9%), and other statistics for the whole Island of Montreal, on which there are 14 other municipalities and 250,000 more residents. The City of Montreal has an area of 430 km2 and a bicycle mode share of 3.2%.

There are also some factual errors in the text about Montreal. For example, the authors say that the cycling network is planned at the borough level. In fact, the network is planned and financed by the City’s central administration. Boroughs do have scope to go above and beyond the City’s recently updated master plan (see picture below), putting bikeways on local streets under their jurisdiction. It is nonetheless incorrect to say that boroughs plan the network and the planning therefore has no coherence.


There may well be other errors but, as I’m less intimately acquainted with the cycling stats of the other cities, I cannot identify them as easily. I hope that the authors did a better job for the others than they did for Montreal. Due to the paucity of compilations of data on cycling in Canadian cities, it’s likely errors from this study will continue to circulate in the media and will be reproduced in other research, unless somebody sets the record straight.

My colleagues and I hope to provide a rich and accurate picture of the current state of cycling in Montreal, as well as its evolution over time, when we release the next edition of Bicycling in Quebec next June. Stay tuned.Copenhagenize the planet. And have a lovely day.
Categories: Views

Copenhagenizing Paris

20 November, 2015 - 09:00

I'll be speaking in Paris today - 21 November 2015 - about bicycle urbanism and lessons to be learned from Copenhagen.

Paris has declared that it aims to be the world's best bicycle city in the world by 2020. This is simply not possible with the current sub-standard understanding of Best Practice infrastructure. The current Mayor Anne Hildalgo, has some good ideas, which we've reviewed here, but until the City understands the basics of bicycle infrastructure,  not much is going to happen.


While there are good examples of the City employing Best Practice infrastructure (above left) there are still strange things imagined in the heads of engineers and planners who have little idea of how to do it. Like the weird bi-directional stuff you see like above, right.


Or using bus lanes as bicycle lanes on long boulevards where buses can get up to speed (above, left), or strange turn lanes like atabove, right.

Best Practice has been established. It's ridiculous to try and reinvent the wheel. Copy-paste. It's that simple.

If the iconic Champs-Élysées were to be done properly, it would look a bit like this. We would probably run a wide, green meridan down the middle to further reduce the traffic so it didn't keep on looking like a Robert Doisneau photograph from the 1950s:


It's all so simple. Paris should realise that.


We have covered The Arrogance of Space related to Paris in this article. Using as an example the intersection, above, below the Eiffel Tower. You can see the Arrogance of Space in that link. But what would it look like if proper infrastructure were applied?


Safer, better, more modern. A total redemocratisation of the urban space. Benefiting pedestrians and cyclists and taming the most destructive force in cities - the automobile. This is designed for humans. Not engineered for cars.

It's simple if Paris wants it to be. If they dare to do it. Without this kind of redesign, they will do little for modernising transport in the city.


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

New Elevated Cycle Track in Copenhagen - 65 metres high

15 November, 2015 - 17:42

Copenhagen has built or is building seven new bicycle bridges. In Copenhagen, they're called bicycle bridges, but we assume that there will also be pedestrian access - and there always is. But in the City of Cyclists, our perception is that a bridge ain't functional if it isn't for bicycles. The news here is that yet another bridge has gotten the go ahead. If the elevated cycle track we call the Bicycle Snake / Cykelslangen captured our imagination, have a look at the new kid on the block, above. A covered bicycle and pedestrian walkway 65 metres above the harbour. Leading from one tower to another.

American architect Steven Holl won the competition for Marmormolen - or Marble Pier - back in 2008 but the financial crisis slowed stuff down in Denmark for a while. Now the project is green-lighted. This project is called LM Project.


The towers will be built at the head of the part of the harbour that houses the world's third-busiest cruise ship port. The height of the elevated facility is due to the massive size of most (horribly unsustainable) cruise ships.

At first glance one might think either "why bother" or "goofy gimmick", but the elevated cycle track and walkway wasn't an architect's whim. It was actually in the City of Copenhagen's tender material when the project was launched. A tower on each side connected by a bridge at least 65 m in the air.

The reason is logistics and city policy. There has to be maximum of 500 metres from any home in Copenhagen to public transport, be it a bus stop, train station or metro station. If you look at the map, above, you can see that the tower on the right, at the end of Langelinie pier, would be much farther away from Nordhavn train station and the coming metro station, at left. If you had to walk or ride a bike all the way around.

Therefore, with the elevated facility, people in the tower on the right will be within 500 metres of the stations and bus stops.


Personally, I think it's a bit wild, but I know that it is necessary to stick to the fine policy of access to public transport. It will never be a main route for any great number of cyclists or pedestrians but it will be an important connection as the city continues to grow.

It still adheres to the basic principles of Danish Design: Functional, Practical and Elegant. Okay, maybe it lacks thorough practicality - taking a large, bicycle-friendly elevator up to the clouds to cross a harbour head is not exactly a smooth, efficient transport flow. But the function as a link across the water is clear.


Construction of the buildings and elevated facility will commence in 2016.






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

Amsterdam City Council Agrees to Remove More Cars

11 November, 2015 - 13:20

After all the buzz about Oslo going car-free a couple of weeks ago, yet another city is making the move to modernise.

The news out of Amsterdam today is that the city council has agreed to further limit car traffic in the city centre. Earlier this year, their agreed to establish a new design for the Muntplein square. With a recent traffic study of the city, it has been established that it is possible to improve the plans even more.

Through a car number plate analysis, it was possible to get a detailed picture of the traffic in the city centre. The study showed that traffic is atypical. There are many taxis, vans and visitors but there is no longer a pattern. 65% of the motorised traffic in the city city centre has no business there. 20% uses the roads to get to surrounding areas. 15% use the streets as a transit route on A to B journeys that have nothing to do with the city centre. 30% just drive around in circles - this is primarily taxis, especially at night, doing loops while waiting for customers, as well as people looking for parking.

The plans will direct this parasitical traffic to other roads outside the city centre, while keeping the area accessible to local traffic and deliveries. This will improve the flow and create more space for pedestrians and cyclists. The city is also looking at how to get taxis from driving aimlessly around at night.

Additional Measures
In the final design for Muntplein, cars will disappear at the end of Vijzelstraat and in an easterly direction along the Amstel River. On Singel, between Munt and Koningsplein, it will remain car-free. This is part of the City's Red Carpet programme. In order to make the end of Vijzelstraat and the last stretch of Singel completely car-free, one-way traffic will be implemented along the river between Muntplein and Blauwbrug. The municipality is in the process of working out the details and ensuring that there is still accessibility for goods delivery.


The accessibility paradigm for the City of Amsterdam.

Traffic impact
The primary goal is to reduce car traffic in the city centre by 30%. Even by rerouting traffic the city does not anticipate a deterioration in the traffic flow. Traffic coming from outside the ring still has good alternatives. Traffic on short urban trips (about 10% of journeys) will have to take frequent detours. Most of the extended travel time will be experienced by occasional visitors. The taxis of Amsterdam are the group that will experience extended travel times the most. Although it is calculated that they will spend only six more minutes of driving each week per vehicle. Residents and commercial vehicles will experience extended travel times of two and three minutes each week, respectively.

The plans are expected to be carried out in 2016 and the City Council will vote on it next year, but they have - until then - agreed on it.

Here is a recent article about how the city wants eight new parking garages in order to get cars off the streets and free up space for people.

It could be said that the City is a bit behind schedule. There were protests and a referendum in the city back in 1992 about halving the number of cars. Some measures were implemented, however, but five years later, it was called a farce.



Here is the original text from the City of Amsterdam.Copenhagenize the planet. And have a lovely day.
Categories: Views

Arrogance of Space: Barcelona

5 November, 2015 - 14:02

This week, Barcelona's Mayor Ada Colau and the vice-mayor of the city will visit Copenhagen. Colau was elected in May 2015, for the alternative left and green coalition "Barcelona en Comú" - or Barcelona Together. We're sure there the Barcelonans will harvest a great deal of inspiration on their visit. Regarding bicycle urbanism in particular, there are specific things that they should be looking at, concentrating on and writing down.

I'm fond of Barcelona. I, myself, have spent much time in the city, not least on two summer holidays with my kids. We can, by and large, cycle around large parts of the city and feel safe now that some infrastructure and traffic calming has been put into place. I see Barcelona as a city with massive potential for increasing the modal share for bicycles and expanding on their leadership role since 2008. A fair ranking on The Copenhagenize Index also indicates that the city has done well compared to other large cities around the world. There is, however, lots of work to be done.

Together with the Copenhagenize Design Company team in Barcelona, Jordi Galí Manuel and Maria Elisa, we discussed what the city needs to do and what inspiration they need to take home from Copenhagen.

Infrastructure and Better Engineers
One thing that is bizarre about Barcelona is that despite the fact that Best Practice infrastructure has been around for a century, they've let their planners and engineers make stuff up. Making stuff up instead of using established and tested designs is not a wise use of taxpayer money.


One example is the bi-directional cycle tracks leading down the middle of the boulevards. Cyclists in the middle of the street - this is the last place you should be putting them. Having cycled extensively in the city, we don't see the value of making stuff like this up. In addition, the lights are timed so that you have to cycle at a fast pace to hit the wave. At each intersection, there is an ocean of asphalt to cross. Barcelona should plan for the 99% and adjust the wave to human speeds like 16-20 km/h.

The city defends these wacky designs by claiming that they avoid conflicts with bus stop, trash trucks and that they improve safety at intersections. They only made this stuff up recently, so I doubt there is much comparable data - compared to Best Practice infrastructure. Bus stops? Do they seriously think that there are no busses in other cities like Copenhagen? The 5A bus here is the busiest bus line in Northern Europe, with 60,000 passengers a day. There are solutions in place for bus stops and bicycle infrastructure. Copy/paste. Save money. Get the best results.

The city is also planning to make stuff up at a large roundabout. Nevermind the fact the Dutch have figured out best practice for roundabouts ages ago - let people make stuff up. It's only human lives you're playing around with.

In effect, the City has said that "we don't have as many cyclists as Copenhagen, so we don't need more than narrow lanes in the middle of six lanes of traffic". Rule number one: you are NEVER planning for the cyclists you have now, you are planning for the people who COULD be cycling. Who WOULD be cycling if you had bothered to build decent infrastructure for them at the beginning, instead of paying the double for doing it twice, with taxpayers money.

At the moment, the City doesn't have the engineering or planning expertise it needs to go the next level.

Data
The City of Barcelona has some data but they really don't have enough. Copenhagen is beyond a doubt the best city in the world to gather data about all aspects of urban life. This is a massive takeaway for the Catalans during their visit to the city.

The Mayor would be much better prepared for arguing her case if she had reliable data to present to her opponents.

Bolder Goals
The City thinks it is planning for the people cycling now (even though nobody was cycling as recently as 2006) and they seem incredibly uninterested in increasing cycling rates that their official goal is to reach 2.5% modal share. For a city that has done so much for cycling, it's shocking that they can't be bothered to even aim for double digits.

Arrogance of Space

We decided to apply our Arrogance of Space tool to some random streets in the city. Here is a classic boulevard intersection on Carrer de la Marina. The classic form as laid out by Ildefons Cerdà back in in the late 1800s is apparent here. Cerdà planned for humans and sustainable transport but it is clear that the past few generations of Barcelonan politicians have put their money on the automobile and seen these intersections as massive parking lots and high-speed thoroughfares. Cerdà didn't make stuff up but others have since then.

If you apply the Arrogance of Space tool to the intersection, it becomes apparent how undemocratic the space is.

Removing the photo and the arrogance is completely and utterly clear. A few people in cars are given an ocean of red space to move around in. Pedestrians have half-decent facilities but when it comes to bicycle urbanism and modernising the infrastructure to accommodate for them, space has clearly not been provided.


In Cerdà's grid system, the easiest way to fix the problem is to get a ruler.  Barcelona prides itself on its public space so there is ample opportunity to improve on that. Make the corners 90 degrees and create public space on each corner. Implement Best Practice bicycle infrastructure along the curbs, where it belongs.

What a transformation that would be. Space for cars reduced to what they actually need and a massive win for pedestrians and public space. Cyclists would be afforded world-class infrastructure that would keep them safe and that would encourage more to to take to the wheel.


Another randomly chosen intersection on Avenida Diagnol. Cerdà would roll in his grave if he saw what had happened here.

Applying the colours and the same pattern appears.

Complete engineering arrogance. Cars eating steak and bread crumbs for the cyclists. Pedestrians, too, have to navigate a veritable labyrinth in order to get from A to B.

Barcelona has so many low-hanging fruits to work with. They have been brilliant at traffic calming their cosy streets in the old parts of the city. Cerdà laid the foundation for transport but Barcelona, at the moment, fails to see the potential in the wide boulevards and side streets.

It is all right there for the taking. With Best Practice infrastructure, intelligent design and a focus on anthropology related to transport, Barcelona could rock the world with intelligent change.



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

L’arrogància de l’espai: Barcelona - ara en català i espanyol

5 November, 2015 - 14:00


Traducción española está en el fondo // Click here for English version 

Aquesta setmana , l'alcaldessa de Barcelona, Ada Colau i la tinent d’alcaldessa de la ciutat visitaran Copenhaguen. Colau, forma part de la coalició d'esquerra alternativa " Barcelona en comú " i va ser escollida al maig de 2015. Estem segurs que la seva visita serà una gran font d'inspiració per als barcelonins i barcelonines. Pel que fa a urbanisme i bicicleta en particular, hi ha coses específiques que han d'estudiar amb atenció i prendre nota.

Sóc un fan de Barcelona . Jo mateix he passat molt de temps a la ciutat, no menys de dues ocasions en vacances d'estiu amb els meus fills. En general vam poder pedalar al voltant de grans parts de la ciutat i sentir-nos segurs, ara que algunes infraestructures i el calmat del trànsit s'han posat al seu lloc. Veig Barcelona com una ciutat amb un enorme potencial per augmentar la quota modal dels desplaçaments en bicicleta i per maximitzar el seu lideratge des de 2008. Un rànquing just en l'índex The Copenhagenize Index també indica que la ciutat ha fet molt en comparació amb altres grans ciutats de tot el món. Tanmateix, hi ha molta feina per fer.

Hem parlat amb els arquitectes de l'equip de Copenhagenize Design Company a Barcelona, ​​Jordi Galí Manuel i Maria Elisa Ojeda, sobre el que la ciutat hauria de fer en matèria ciclista i sobre la inspiració que necessiten per endur-se a casa des de Copenhaguen.

Infraestructura y millors enginyers
Quelcom estrany sobre Barcelona és que tot i que les millors pràctiques en infraestructura ciclista han estat aquí des de fa al voltant d'un segle, han deixat als seus urbanistes i enginyers inventar-se coses. Inventar-se coses, en lloc d'utilitzar dissenys establerts i provats, no és un ús racional dels diners dels contribuents.


n exemple són els carrils bici bidireccionals ubicats en l'eix central dels passejos i avingudes. Ciclistes al mig del carrer, aquest és l'últim lloc en el qual haurien d'estar. Havent pedalat profusament per la ciutat, no s'entén el sentit d'inventar coses com aquesta. A més, les fases semafòriques estan coordinades perquè hagis de desplaçar-te a un ritme ràpid si vols atrapar l' ona verda. A cada intersecció, hi ha un oceà d'asfalt per creuar. Barcelona hauria de planificar per al 99% de la població i ajustar l'ona a velocitats humanes com de 16 a 20 km / h.

L'Ajuntament defensa aquests extravagants dissenys afirmant que eviten conflictes amb les parades d'autobusos i els camions d'escombraries i que milloren la seguretat a les interseccions. Fa poc que fan aquestes coses , així que dubto que hi hagi quantitat de dades comparables amb la millor pràctica en infraestructura ciclista. ¿Parades d'autobus ? ¿ De debò pensen que no hi ha busos en altres ciutats com Copenhaguen ? L'autobús 5A aquí, és la línia d'autobús més concorreguda al nord d'Europa, amb 60.000 passatgers al dia. Hi ha solucions per a les parades d'autobús i la infraestructura ciclista. Copiar, enganxar. Estalviar. Obtenir els millors resultats.

L'Ajuntament també està planificant i executant invents en les rotondes . No importa el fet que els holandesos han descobert la millor pràctica per rotondes fa anys - deixin a la gent inventar coses . Tan sols estan jugant amb vides humanes.

En efecte, l'Ajuntament ha dit que " no tenim tants ciclistes com Copenhaguen , de manera que no necessitem més que estrets carrils bici entremig de sis carrils de trànsit ". Regla número 1: MAI es planifica per als ciclistes que hi ha actualment, es planifica per a les persones que podrien arribar a ser usuaris de la bicicleta. Com seria el ciclisme urbà ara, si us haguéssiu molestat a construir una infraestructura decent des del principi, en lloc de pagar el doble per fer-ho dues vegades, amb els diners dels contribuents.

De moment, la ciutat no té prou experiència en enginyeria o en planificació per arribar al següent nivell.

Dades
L'Ajuntament de Barcelona té algunes dades , però en realitat no són suficients. Copenhaguen és sense cap dubte la millor ciutat del món per reunir dades sobre tots els aspectes de la vida urbana . Aquesta és una gran comanda per endur-se els catalans durant la visita a la ciutat.

L'alcaldessa tindrà millors arguments i estarà més preparada per defensar les seves idees si disposa de dades fiables per presentar a l'oposició.

Objectius més ambiciossos
L'Ajuntament creu que està planificant per als ciclistes ara (tot i que hi ha ciclistes fins fa tan poc com del 2006 ) i sembla molt interessat en l'augment del repartiment modal en bicicleta. El seu objectiu oficial és arribar al 2,5% de quota modal . Per a una ciutat que ha fet tant per al ciclisme urbà, és sorprenent que no s'atreveixin a ambicionar dos dígits.

L’arrogància de l’espai

Hem decidit aplicar la nostra eina sobre l'arrogància de l'espai en alguns carrers a l'atzar de la ciutat. Aquí hi ha una intersecció clàssica a l'avinguda de la Marina. La forma clàssica, com dictamina Ildefons Cerdà a finals de 1800, és evident. Cerdà va preveure espai per als éssers humans i el transport sostenible, però està clar que les últimes generacions de polítics barcelonins han posat els seus diners en l'automòbil i han vist aquestes interseccions com estacionaments massius i vies d'alta velocitat. Cerdà no va fer invents estranys però altres sí que ho han fet des de llavors.


Si apliquem l'eina de l'arrogància de l'espai a la intersecció, es fa evident la forma i l'ocupació antidemocràtica de l'espai.


Si traiem la foto original , l'arrogància és total i absolutament clara. A unes poques persones en els seus cotxes se'ls dóna un oceà d'espai de color vermell per moure’s. Els vianants tenen infraestructures mig decents, però quan es tracta d'urbanisme de la bicicleta i la modernització de la infraestructura per donar cabuda als ciclistes, l'espai no ha estat clarament proporcionat.


En el sistema de quadrícula de Cerdà , la forma més fàcil de solucionar el problema és aconseguir un governant.

Barcelona, ​​s'enorgulleix del seu espai públic, així que hi ha una gran oportunitat per millorar en això. Facin les cantonades a 90 graus i crein espai públic a cada cantonada . Implementin la millor pràctica en infraestructura ciclista contigua a les voreres, on ha d'estar.

Tremenda transformació suposaria això. L'espai per als cotxes reduït al que realment necessiten i una victòria pletòrica per als vianants i l'espai públic. Als ciclistes se'ls donaria una infraestructura de primer nivel mundial, mantenint-los segurs i incentivant encara més l'ús de la bicicleta.


Una altra intersecció escollida a l'atzar a l'Avinguda Diagonal . Cerdà es retorçaria en la seva tomba si veiés el que s'ha fet aquí.

Aplicant els colors apareix el mateix patró.

Enginyeria completament arrogant. Carn per als cotxes i pa ratllat per als ciclistes. Els vianants també han de navegar per un veritable laberint per arribar de A a B.

Barcelona té moltes oportunitats a l'abast de la mà per treballar. Han estat brillants calmant el trànsit als seus acollidors carrers de les zones antigues de la ciutat. Cerdà va establir les bases per al transport però Barcelona, de moment, no pot veure el potencial dels amplis passejos i carrers laterals.

Tot hi és a disposició. Amb les millors pràctiques en infraestructures ciclistes, un disseny intel·ligent i un enfocament en l'antropologia aplicada al transport, Barcelona podria sacsejar el món si fa un canvi intelligent.

Traducción Española

La arrogancia del espacio: Barcelona

Esta semana, la alcaldesa de Barcelona, Ada Colau y la teniente alcaldesa de la ciudad visitarán Copenhague.

Colau, forma parte de la coalición de izquierda alternativa " Barcelona en Comú " y fue elegida en mayo de 2015. Estamos seguros que su visita va a ser una gran fuente de inspiración para los barceloneses y barcelonesas. En cuanto a urbanismo y a bicicleta en particular se refiere, hay cosas específicas que deben estudiar con atención y tomar nota.

Soy un fan de Barcelona. Yo mismo he pasado mucho tiempo en la ciudad, no menos de dos ocasiones en vacaciones de verano con mis hijos. En general pudimos pedalear en torno a grandes partes de la ciudad y sentirnos seguros, ahora que algunas infraestructuras y el calmado del tráfico se han puesto en su lugar. Veo Barcelona como una ciudad con un enorme potencial para aumentar la cuota modal de los desplazamientos en bicicleta y para maximizar su liderazgo desde 2008. Un ranking justo en el índice The Copenhagenize Index también indica que la ciudad ha hecho mucho en comparación con otras grandes ciudades de todo el mundo. Sin embargo, hay mucho trabajo por hacer.

Hemos hablado con los arquitectos del equipo de Copenhagenize Design Company en Barcelona, ​​Jordi Galí Manuel y María Elisa Ojeda, sobre lo que la ciudad debería hacer y sobre la inspiración que necesitan para llevarse a casa desde Copenhague.

Infraestructura y mejores ingenieros
Algo extraño sobre Barcelona es que a pesar de que las mejores prácticas en infraestructura ciclista han estado ahí desde hace alrededor de un siglo, han dejado a sus urbanistas e ingenieros inventarse cosas. Inventarse cosas, en lugar de utilizar diseños establecidos y probados, no es un uso racional del dinero de los contribuyentes

Un ejemplo son los carriles bici bidireccionales ubicados en el eje central de los paseos y avenidas. Ciclistas en el medio de la calle, éste es el último lugar en el que deberían estar. Habiendo pedaleado profusamente por la ciudad, no se entiende el sentido de inventar cosas como ésta. Además, las fases semafóricas están coordinadas para que tengas que desplazarte a un ritmo rápido si quieres atrapar la onda verde. En cada intersección, hay un océano de asfalto para cruzar. Barcelona debería planificar para el 99% de la población y ajustar la onda a velocidades humanas como de 16 a 20 km / h.

El Ayuntamiento defiende estos extravagantes diseños afirmando que evitan conflictos con las paradas de autobuses y los camiones de basura y que mejoran la seguridad en las intersecciones. Hace poco que hacen estas cosas, así que dudo que haya cantidad de datos comparables con la mejor práctica en infraestructura ciclista. ¿Paradas de autobus? ¿En serio piensan que no hay buses en otras ciudades como Copenhague? El autobús 5A aquí, es la línea de autobús más concurrida en el norte de Europa, con 60.000 pasajeros al día. Hay soluciones para las paradas de autobús y la infraestructura ciclista. Copiar, pegar. Ahorrar. Obtener los mejores resultados.El Ayuntamiento también está planificando y ejecutando inventos en las rotondas. No importa el hecho de que los holandeses han descubierto la mejor práctica para rotondas hace años – dejen a la gente inventar cosas. Tan sólo están jugando con vidas humanas.

En efecto, el Ayuntamiento ha dicho que "no tenemos tantos ciclistas como Copenhague, por lo que no necesitamos más que estrechos carriles bici en medio de seis carriles de tráfico". Regla número uno: NUNCA se planifica para los ciclistas que existen actualmente, se planifica para las personas que podrían llegar a ser usuarios de la bicicleta.

¿Cómo sería el ciclismo urbano ahora, si os hubierais molestado en construir una infraestructura decente desde el principio, en lugar de pagar el doble para hacerlo dos veces, con el dinero de los contribuyentes.Por el momento, la ciudad no tiene suficiente experiencia en ingeniería o en planificación para llegar al siguiente nivel.

Datos
El Ayuntamiento de Barcelona tiene algunos datos, pero en realidad no son suficientes. Copenhague es sin lugar a dudas la mejor ciudad del mundo para reunir datos sobre todos los aspectos de la vida urbana. Esta es una gran encomienda para llevarse los catalanes durante su visita a la ciudad.

La alcaldesa tendrá mejores argumentos y estará más preparada para defender sus ideas si dispone de datos fiables para presentar a la oposición.

Objetivos más ambiciosos
El Ayuntamiento cree que está planificando para los ciclistas ahora (a pesar de que había ciclistas hasta hace tan poco cómo del 2006) y parece muy interesado en el aumento del reparto modal en bicicleta. Su objetivo oficial es llegar al 2,5 % de cuota modal. Para una ciudad que ha hecho tanto para el ciclismo urbano, es sorprendente que no se atrevan a ambicionar dos dígitos.

La arrogancia del espacio
Hemos decidido aplicar nuestra herramienta sobre la arrogancia del espacio en algunas calles al azar de la ciudad.

Aquí hay una intersección clásica en la avenida de la Marina. La forma clásica, según lo indicado por Ildefons Cerdà a finales de 1800, es evidente. Cerdà previó espacio para los seres humanos y el transporte sostenible, pero está claro que las últimas generaciones de políticos barceloneses han puesto su dinero en el automóvil y han visto estas intersecciones como estacionamientos masivos y vías de alta velocidad. Cerdà no hizo inventos raros pero otros sí lo han hecho desde entonces.

(image)

Si aplicamos la herramienta de la arrogancia del espacio a la intersección, se hace evidente la forma y la ocupación antidemocrática del espacio.

(image)

Si quitamos la foto original, la arrogancia es total y absolutamente clara. A unas pocas personas en sus coches se les da un océano de espacio de color rojo para moverse. Los peatones tienen infraestructuras medio decentes, pero cuando se trata de urbanismo de la bicicleta y la modernización de la infraestructura para dar cabida a los ciclistas, el espacio no ha sido claramente proporcionado.

(image)

En el sistema de cuadrícula de Cerdà, la forma más fácil de solucionar el problema es conseguir un gobernante.

Barcelona, ​​se enorgullece de su espacio público por lo que hay una gran oportunidad para mejorar en eso. Hagan las esquinas a 90 grados y creen espacio público en cada esquina. Implementen la mejor práctica en infraestructura ciclista contigua a las aceras, donde debe estar.

Tremenda transformación supondría eso. El espacio para los coches reducido a lo que realmente necesitan y una victoria pletórica para los peatones y el espacio público. A los ciclistas se les daría una infraestructura de primer nivel mundial, manteniéndolos seguros e incentivando aún más el uso de la bicicleta.

(image)

Otra intersección elegida al azar en la Avenida Diagonal. Cerdà se retorcería en su tumba si viera lo que se ha hecho aquí.

(image)

Aplicando los colores aparece el mismo patrón.

(image)

Ingeniería completamente arrogante. Carne para los coches y pan rallado para los ciclistas. Los peatones también tienen que navegar por un verdadero laberinto para llegar de A a B.

Barcelona tiene muchas oportunidades al alcance de la mano para trabajar. Han sido brillantes calmando el tráfico en sus acogedoras calles de las zonas antiguas de la ciudad. Cerdà sentó las bases para el transporte pero Barcelona, por el momento, no puede ver el potencial de los amplios paseos y calles laterales.

Todo está ahí a disposición. Con las mejores prácticas en infraestructuras ciclistas, un diseño inteligente y un enfoque en la antropología aplicada al transporte, Barcelona podría sacudir el mundo si hace un cambio inteligente.



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

Bicycle Culture Mythbusting - The Complete Guide

3 November, 2015 - 08:30

Article originally published on 19 November 2007. Revised November 2015.

Over the years we have realised that a large part of our work at Copenhagenize Design Co. in working towards bicycle-friendly cities is the simple art of mythbusting. While time-consuming and often frustrating, it still appears to a necessary part of the dialogue around the world.

It’s interesting how uniform the misconceptions about cycling are, regardless of where in the world we hear them. It’s equally interesting to hear them coming from people who cycle - not just people who don’t.

We know that every city in the world was bicycle-friendly for decades, not least until the 1950s when the urban planning paradigm shifted drastically and destructively and started to focus solely on automobiles.

People have short - or selective - memories it would seem. They look around their city and assume that it has always just been like that.

Civic pride seems to play a role as well. People in winter cities are proud of their winters and ridicule those cities that have a milder season. The same applies to cities with hot weather. People in topographically-challenged cities enjoy mocking cities with a flat landscape.

People won’t ride bicycles here. It’s too cold/hot/hilly/insert your excuse here”. More often than not, the people uttering these misconceptions are merely projecting their own personal opinion onto the population at large - without any experience or data to back up their claims. It is invariably one of two angles; “I won’t ride a bike here, so nobody will” or “I ride a bike here, I’m hardcore and not everyone is as badass hardcore as me”.

Yeah, whatever. When virtually every city on the planet has enjoyed high levels of cycling in it’s history, we know differently. Singapore? Too hot. Oh, really?

Or Australia? Too bloody hot, mate, and nobody has ever done that in Queensland, New South Wales, Canberra. Yeah, right. Vancouver? Rio de Janeiro? Los Angeles? Dublin?

We could go on.

Sure, things are different now. The number of cars has obviously increased in our cities since the 1940s. That’s where infrastructure comes into play. Best Practice infrastructure has been around for a century or so, so there are few excuses left. Designing streets instead of engineering them is key.

We know that infrastructure is the key to increasing cycling levels. We know that we as individuals do not dictate what other will or won’t do. If you make the bicycle the fastest way from A to B to C in a city, people will ride. Maybe never 63% of the population - like in Copenhagen - will ride in, say, San Francisco but 20% is certainly a respectable and achieveable target for any city.

Myth #1 - Hills
Damn you, Netherlands. Your flat little country is making our mythbusting hard. It’s got to be the primary lame excuse that we hear around the world. “But The Netherlands is flat”. Sometimes accompanied by, “and so is Denmark/Copenhagen”. Punctuated with demonstratively crossed arms as though the discussion is sooo over. It’s not.

Sure, the Netherlands is a flat country. It's a carpenter's dream. Do 26% of the population ride a bike each day because it’s flat? No. It helps, sure, but it’s the infrastructure. The bicycle is the fastest way from A to B. To work or school or that train station.

Copenhagen is also rather level. At least the Copenhagen that 95% of the tourists visit. They don’t cycle very far outside the city to the north, to the hills where the 2011 Cycling World Championships placed their finish line.

Looking around the rest of the nation - which nobody we talk to ever does - you see topography that is considerably more Rubenesque. In the Danish national anthem, the hills and valleys are proudly lauded. Some people google “highest point in Denmark” and use that to say, “See?!”. As though a rolling landscape and steep streets are not possible if you don’t have a Mont Blanc on your map. As a British friend discovered a few years ago, the hills will surprise you.

Indeed, if you ride around Denmark’s second-largest city, Aarhus, you’ll feel some burn in your thighs as you head home with groceries in your bike basket. And yet the city has 18% modal share for bicycles. Aarhus compares to Sydney, Seattle, Gothenburg or Oslo.

Looking back in history, we can see that cycling through the rolling English countryside over a century ago, was hardly an unusual transport option.

In the late 19th century, large numbers of women were already using bicycles to get to work, women office workers and shop assistants wending their way each weekday morning from the suburbs to the town. They found the bicycle a convenient form of transport for distances up to, say, ten miles”.
From John Woodeforde's book ”The Story of the Bicycle”, 1970

This was also in an age where bicycles were machines that we would regard as incredibly heavy to us today. In heavy dresses and thick fabrics to boot. Bicycles these days are considerably easier to ride that back in the late 19th century.

Looking at North America, two of the cities that are doing most to reestablish the bicycle as transport on the urban landscape are San Francisco and Vancouver. I have ridden bicycles in over 60 cities around the world. I rolled up and down the hills of San Francisco on a one-speed Biomega, together with friends on upright bikes. I was unimpressed. And I’m just a normal schmuck in normal clothes, not some Captain Spandex MAMIL. Living in Vancouver years ago, I rode from Lynn Valley to downtown each day.

Let’s cast a glance at Japan. The third-greatest cycling nation in the world with 15% modal share nationally. Tokyo, too, has 15% modal share and I can tell you from experience that there are hills. Like so many other cities where people used to cycle and are cycling again.

Of course, the e-bike industry uses hills as their primary fear factor to get people to buy their products and they are keen to erase all memory of bicycle-friendly cities over the past 130 years in order to do so. Their thick cloud of hype is focused on sales, not rationality or historical evidence. Follow the money.

Horizontal Hills
Hills are one thing, but it’s suprising that the wind is often left out of the equation. Not out of the equation in Denmark and the Netherlands, though, since we are constantly at the mercy of the blustery whims of the North Sea.

The Dutch pro cyclist Johnny Hoogerland has said what we all know in the Netherlands and Denmark. He compared riding in the wind-swept Netherlands to riding in the Pyrenees. A stiff headwind can be the same as a mountain climb, basically.

Indeed, we did some calculations at Copenhagenize Design Co.. We measure windspeed in metres per second in Denmark. We figured out that cycling in a headwind of 10 m/s is the equivalent to cycling up a 6% grade. That’s about 36 km/hour and that’s the low end of the average during the winter in Denmark. Welcome to our life for the next five months here in Copenhagen.

Hills end, the wind doesn’t. Believe me.

As cities around the world are improving conditions for cycling with infrastructure, this mythbusting lark is getting a bit less taxing. It’s so much easier now to point to cities that slap misconceptions firmly round the head.

Myth #2 - It’s so HOT! You can't ride when it's hot!
"People won’t ride here, you see. It’s too hot." Oh. Really? Get yourself a passport. Travel to… oh, let’s say… Seville? Go there in the summer. The city went from 0.2% on bike to 7% in under five years because of their implementation of an infrastructure network despite the blazing heat. What about one of South America’s best cycling cities, Rio de Janeiro? Or Barcelona? Or any number of muggy, hot places where the bicycle thrived and is thriving once again. Like it used to in tropical Cairns, Australia and other places in Queensland. Or in Singapore. Or everywhere else.

Myth #3 - But we have WINTER here!
Meteological circumstances are so often married to civic pride. Back in 2008, when I posted some photos here and on Copenhagen Cycle Chic of Copenhageners cycling in the snow,
men from - largely - Montreal and Minneapolis were quick to comment on the fact that THAT wasn’t winter. WE have winter. Adding links to Wikipedia about Denmark’s mild climate. Mild compared their theirs, of course. Weather as a phallus symbol, apparently.

The winters of 2009/10 and 2010/11 in Denmark, however, were far more lively with regards to weather. Long, hard winters the both of them. After I started posting photos of rush hours in snowstorms, it all went a bit quiet. The occasional peep about “real winter temperatures” was heard, but generally the photos hammered the point home. A large collection of them are now on Tumblr on our the Copenhagen Viking Biking blog and the VikingBiking hashtag.

So winter cycling is a thing, and has been since the bicycle was invented.

Vintage Winter Cycling in Denmark

Copenhagen’s climate change lot is that winters are milder now than they used to be (I have suffered through countless stories from my Dad about how winter in Denmark used to be REAL winter) but the fact remains that there are cities who are just getting on with it. So much so that there is now a Winter Cycling Conference each year.

It started in Oulu, Finland, a city of almost 200,000 people where 14% cycle all winter up there near the Arctic Circle. In 2016, it will take place in Minneapolis. A city which also appears on The Copenhagenize Index for 2015. But wait… you can’t cycle in the winter?! It’s all so confusing. Whatever you do, don’t tell the good people of Umeå, Sweden or any number of other cities....

In the winter vein, we have noticed through the years that the “hardcore” really want to show how badass they are. They make every effort to totally overcomplicate winter cycling and - in the process - make it inaccessible for the 99%.

The winter is an easy thing to tackle with infrastructure that is prioritized for snow clearance. There is, admittedly, larger challenges like Climaphobia and living in Vaccuum-packed Cities. But hey. Let’s start somewhere. Infrastructure. And keeping it clear of snow. In Copenhagen, the cycle tracks are cleared first. No discussion. Here is a map of the on-street cycle tracks in the city and next to it a map of the bicycle infrastructure (including off-street) that are prioritized first when it snows. Here is an article about how the City of Copenhagen does it.



With Best Practice infrastructure and maintenance of it you effectively make winter obsolete or, at least, tame it.

Myth #5: We have sprawl!
Many North American cities are, indeed, urban sprawls but we often get people commenting on the fact that American cities are WAY too big to ride in compared to European cities.

We’ve been here before with the Busting Urban Sprawl Myths article here on the blog.

Copenhagen has sprawl. The third-largest urban sprawl in Europe, actually. People commute for a hour and a half or more by car to get to the city, like many other places. Intermodality is the key. Riding your bicycle to the local train station - combining travel modes - helps increase bicycle share.

The main point here is that few people are going to ride long distances. Over a century of experience would dictate this. Sure, as quoted above, many “found the bicycle a convenient form of transport for distances up to, say, ten miles”. We know from years of data in Denmark and the Netherlands that the vast majority cycle up to 7 km. In fact, only 7% of the few hundred thousand cyclists in Copenhagen each day ride farther than that. It’s related to anthropology. Humans prefer 30 minutes as the maximum time they want to transport themselves under their own power. Many medieval cities, Copenhagen included, end up at about 20-30 minutes across on foot. 30 minutes is about 7 km for most regular citizens.

The low-hanging fruit is planning first for the majority. Add to that the fact that 50% of Americans live within 8 km (5 miles) of their workplace. That's a lot of Americans who we could plan infrastructure for before worrying about sprawl.

Myth #4: You can’t do THAT on a bike
In regions where the only cyclists seen on the streets are dressed up in lycra uniforms, it’s fair enough for others to think that bicycle load capacity is limited to a water bottle, on-board computer and an energy bar. Short memories apply here, too.

Nevertheless, there be myths to bust and we’ve done this a couple of times before. The Australian car insurance company NRMA tried to show the all-round malaise you will suffer in a life without a car. We presented counter claims based on what we’ve seen around Copenhagen.

The American car share company Zipcar used the same approach and, again, we battled back.

We know from daily experience in Copenhagen what is possible, especially with cargo bikes but let’s not forget the research from our Cyclelogistics project that showed that 51% of all goods moved by motorised vehicles in a city could be moved by bicycle or cargo bike.

Myth #5: The Danes and Dutch have always done it. It’s their culture.
Yes, they have. Well, except for the couple of decades when car-centric urban planning almost eradicated bicycle traffic. Fortunately, both nations started rebuilding their infrastructure in the 1970s and 1980s. Copenhagen wasn’t “Copenhagen” for a very long while.

They have always done it - but then so has everyone else. Bicycles as transport are not culture specific. Like we’ve said, virtually every city in the world had respectable levels of bicycle traffic for decades. The modal share for bikes in Los Angeles a century ago? 20%.

We don't call it "bicycle culture", you people do. We just call it transport. What the Danes and the Dutch have that is unique is that they have focused for more than a century on regular citizens cycling. Social inclusion, health benefits, etc. The Dutch even banned betting on cyclesports for a period in the 1920s in order to re-establish the focus on transport. In both countries there have always been NGOs for regular cycling that were separate from the sports organisations. This was the case in most countries early on, but countries like Sweden and Germany saw their two different types of cycling organisations merge and end up being dominated by the cycle sports angle.

This is changing, with cycling NGOs for The 99% gaining in influence and finding their focus once again.


Basically, whatever myth or misconception people can think up, there are people proving them wrong somewhere in the world at any given moment. Mythbusting is time-consuming and often frustrating but it is a necessity. For a while longer, at least.Copenhagenize the planet. And have a lovely day.
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Oslo Reacts to New of a Better Future

28 October, 2015 - 11:11

Oslo rocked onto the front pages around the world last week after the newly-elected city council announced modern plans for improving the quality of life in the city. The global headlines focused on one aspect of the new plans: making the city centre - within the Ring 1 - car-free by 2019. We covered the bigger picture here on Copenhagenize.com, because it’s even more spectacular than a single headline.

What is also interesting is watching the reactions in Oslo to the news, something that doesn’t get covered after the headline gets bumped to below the scroll and enters “Related Link” land.

Globally, Norway is probably percieved as a progressive country with a cool capital - lumped together with the other Nordic capitals and The Scandinavian Way. One might assume that the local reactions would be suitably progressive and cool with an “of COURSE we’ll do this” undertone.

The reality is a little different, however, when you see the reactions in the week after the announcement.

As ever, there are two camps. One is the progressive group that supports this modernisation of the Norwegian capital. Regarding the news as a given and a natural upgrade to city life. This group, by and large, are informed and have done their research to confirm that a car-free city centre makes societal, financial and environmental sense. Data is in their back pocket.

The other camp is reacting in much the same way as their counterparts in other cities around the world. A lot of anger, arrogance, indignation, speculation - and not a lot of data to support their desperate position. They all appear to be people who don’t travel much or do much research. Similar things happening in other cities around the world are conveniently ignored in the attempt to grab headlines.

It’s all a classic scenario, as though the script for such urban dramas are recycled like so many soap operas.

You have to be able to read Norwegian to get the full scope of the debate and the humour involved but those who are interested can google translate the details.

Firstly, the newspaper Aftenposten looked at the global reactions and wrote an article about how “The World Praises a Car-free Oslo” - putting together a compilation of global press coverage. This is probably the best reaction to the local whining you can get.

One of the best articles I’ve read is heavy on sarcasm and humour, picking apart the politicians who have been voicing their dissatisfaction with the new plans. “Hallucinations in the Capital”. Here are some excerpts.

The Halloween Effect
The head of the traffic committee, Linda Hofstad Helleland (Høyre party), searched feverishly for a powerful enough metaphor and finally found it among the other ghoulish content: “The new city council wants to build a Berlin Wall around the city”, she said to VG newspaper.

Just when it couldn’t get funnier, secretary for Fremskrittspartiet (ultra-right wing), Jøran Kallmyr entered the competition with “With these politics you can’t even run a pub. I can’t see transporting beer on a bicycle”, he said to Nettavisen.


He should get a passport or at least an internet connection. Beer on bicycles? What about transporting goods by bicycle?

The article continues: “Siv Jensen, who is finance minister and therefore can’t be as cheeky and witty as a party secretary, announced to the people via Facebook that there will now be more chaos and bankrupt businesses in the capital.”

The writer goes on to ridicule the protesters by highlighting that similar plans are already in place in London and Lyon with reductions in car traffic of 30% and 20% respectively thanks to congestion charges. And Hamburg’s plans for a network of green spaces, pedestrian zones and bike infrastructure. Munich’s growing parking restrictions. Copenhagen’s car-free zones and bicycle infrastructure. Helsinki’s plans for car-free neighbourhoods. Madrid’s car-free zone that will grow in size.

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Next up are more usual suspects. Oslo Handelsstands Forening (OHF) - the business development association in the city centre. In their rant entitled “Car-free City Centre is bad Environmental Policy”, they whine about Big Box stores in the suburbs killing off the city centre and the fall in pedestrians on the main streets. Presented in the classic way - claiming that more cars are required in the city centre in order to bring life back.

These people have no data to support their cause. They don’t understand that Oslo city centre must become a modern, attractive destination - which it isn’t really at the moment. The plans for a car-free city centre are a gold mine for commerce. Modern. Progressive. Profitable. Commerce and Bicycles, baby.

Like many business associations, they don’t know how people get to their shops. They just assume, blindly, that cars are the primary source. That is highly unlikely. Without concrete, neutral data, these people are not worth listening to.

In their rant they manipulate the truth - which is a nice way of saying that they’re lying - about a street redesign on Kirkegata in 2011. Saying the city added bike lanes illegally, which isn’t true. It was badly communicated and implemented, but not illegal. They claim that shops closed because of it. Which has never happened anywhere. Take a Google street view tour of the street.

The same old same old whining was heard back in the 1960s in Copenhagen, when the city made a main street into a pedestrian zone. Cries of “we are not Italians!” from the locals. We don’t want to walk! We want to drive! Cries that faded almost instantly after the pedestrian street, Strøget, was opened.

There is a great response to their statement by Olav Torvund on his blog, which gave them a good spanking.

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In an age of wacky people thinking up new ways to hate on bicycle infrastructure - this woman in San Diego and this church in Washington, DC, Oslo doesn’t want to be left out. Some lawyers from a law firm called Arntzen de Besche declared in a right-wing newspaper that a car-free city centre in Oslo would be “illegal” and they banged their jungle drums about a massive court case by private citizens and owners of parking garages. They are obviously nothing more than ambulance chasers desperately looking for jobs.

It didn’t take long for another article to show up, by a law professor, debunking these lawyers’ claims as “nonsense” and completely out of left field and without any legal precedent in Norwegian law.

These lawyers say that it would be an attack on established rights that people are protected with in the constitution and the European Human Rights Court. It’s not true. There is no right regarding people being able to drive to their property.”

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The Norwegian Automobile Association (NAF), not surprisingly, also commented on the plans in a right-wing newspaper, Nettavisen, that clearly has an anti-bike policy in their content. NAF says that the plans are “unwise” and that they fear that they can create more traffic and emissions.

They don’t bother backing up their claims with any reliable data, which is something we’re used to by now. They say it’s “unwise” when they don’t know the consequences. Which we do. From scores of cities around Europe. Typical fear mongering to support their car-centric view. People who need a passport and an internet connection.

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Then there are surprises. The national Environment Minister, Tine Sundtoft from the right-wing Høyre party, was happy to contradict her fellow party members - like the Berlin Wall lady - by coming out in full support of the plans. She is “very positive” about the city centre being car-free for private vehicles. She encourages other cities in Norway to follow suit.

This is great quote from her: "It's clear that there are many advantages to restricting private car ownership. We also have to look at facts. In the core of the city centre today, 93% of people going to work do so in an environmentally-friendly way. Only 7% use a car to get to work in the centre of Oslo. Sometimes these debates are warped because you could get the impression that the numbers are reversed."

Data. Rationality. Modernity. Progressive mindset. Urban renewal.


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

The Life-Sized City vs The Cult of Big - TED x Münster

27 October, 2015 - 15:02

This is a transcript of Mikael's latest TED x talk - in Münster, Germany in June 2015 - shown above.
Embedding was turned on but then it was turned off. Click on the above link if you can't see the video.

The Life-Sized City
I have a strange suspicion that we’ve been hacked. As people. As societies. We have been led to believe that big is best. That growth is good. For so many years that you can easily call it a century with the Cult of Big.

Certainly regarding the economy. You can’t mention the economy without mentioning growth. But I’m not an economist. I work in urbanism. In cities. And the same thing applies.

Cities have to be bigger. Wider. They have to sprawl into the distance as far as the eye can see. That is what makes a city great and good. Or so we’ve been told for many many years.

Buildings have to be taller, shinier. Reaching for the sky. Breaking world records. Monuments to engineering and, quite possibly, phallic symbols for the male dominated industries that design and build them.

Roads and motorways have to be longer, wider, go farther. More capacity, improved flow, reduced congestion. It's one of the saddest ironies of urban planning that the only thing we have learned from 100 years of traffic engineering is this: if you make more space for cars, more cars come. It's sad if you think about all the kabillions of dollars we've thrown at this for the past hundred years.

Megaprojects are all the rage. Never finished on time, always obscenely overbudget and yet they make up 8% of the global GDP. We're fascinated, obsessed by megaprojects.

We, the people, the consumers, are told to spend more. Buy more stuff. The more we buy the better it will be for the economy. For growth. Or so we have been told for a very long time.

Perhaps we’ve been hacked, but I believe that we still have the original code inside us. When you have been around for 200,000 years as homo sapiens, you possess that original code. The pure programming.

We can be rational when we want to be. Everyone knows, deep inside, which ice cream will be more enjoyable to eat when choosing between a single, delicious scoop or a monster pile of ice cream. Once in a while we can go crazy, but the single scoop will usually be the best experience. The same applies to food portions.

We’ve lived together in cities for 7000 years. We’re hard coded to understand the basics. Everyone of us who lives in a city knows what a good street should look like. It’s in our urban DNA to know that a human street that is friendly to pedestrians and cyclists and that has lots of green space is the best solution.

We know intuitively and instinctively as a species that size doesn’t matter.

Luckily, somewhere in there, in the dark shadow of the Cult of Big, behind the mountain of obsessive growth, there is a lovely little place I call the Life-Sized City. In the Life-Sized City, things are different.

The idea for the life-sized city came from a pint-sized person. Lulu-Sophia. Or just The Lulu as I call her. My daughter. I’ve written about her as The World’s Youngest Urbanist. The stuff she says is amazing. We were walking around our neighbourhood one day, holding hands. Waiting for the light to turn green at a crosswalk. She was quiet and she looked around and said, suddenly... "Daddy, when will my city fit me?"

She felt so small, as a kid, on the urban landscape. Everything is out of scale to her. I assured her that she would grow and she knew that. She just said “yeah”. But this made me think. Do I feel like my city fits ME? I live in Copenhagen, so in many places, yes. Riding my bike along 5 meter wide cycle tracks - one way - next to narrow car lanes across Queen Louises Bridge, my city fits me.

There are, however, other places in Copenhagen where it doesn’t. Wide cycle tracks, sure, but 8 lanes of cars and buildings that had no thought put into them. My city doesn’t fit me there. And that is the case in most cities in the world. But in the Life-Sized City, things are different.

Growth is also important in the Life-Sized City. It’s measured in centimeters and millimeters. Every new millimetre is greeted with a fist pump when a child measures their height. This is the important growth.

In the Life-Sized City we don’t need the failed sciences of traffic modelling and traffic engineering. We just need to apply logic and rationality. Using anthropology to develop traffic models. Mapping the desire lines of citizens and planning based on where they want to go.

Desire lines are democracy in movement. Democracy in motion. Every fraction of every moment of every day the citizens of our cities are sending us silent messages. They're telling us and showing us with their Desire Lines where they want to go and we should observe this and plan according to these mobility patterns that they are charting out for us.

Urban democracy is important in the Life-Sized City. In Montreal, people take matters into their own hands. A railway creates a barrier between two densely-populated neighbourhoods. Canadian Pacific Railways, who own the tracks, refuses to allow a level-crossing. So the citizens cut holes in the fence to get from A to B.

Canadian Pacific play cat and mouse, covering up the holes. The citizens, however, have a Facebook group to tell each other where the holes are. You cannot stop urban democracy.

In the Life-Sized City you don’t need to use car sales as a growth indicator. That is so last century. So old-fashioned. Instead, you measure your network of safe, cycle tracks. Your pollution levels. The distance from homes to green spaces. Accessibility.

This is how the citizens of Copenhagen get to work and education. 63% ride a bike. You measure this and you pump your fist when you see cycling and public transport levels rising.

You measure how much cyclists contribute to the city. In Copenhagen, citizen cyclists spend 2.34 billion dollars in shops in the city. A powerful force.

You measure bicycle friendly cities around the world using an academic ranking to measure how they are doing. Cities need to know how to measure their progress. This is important for the future of cities.

The bicycle is the chariot of the Life-Sized City.

Leading the armada of public transport and even car share vehicles. Bicycles aren’t like cars. They don’t get bigger. They remain largely constant. They are powerful, however. During the financial crisis, the Danish government said, “let’s build cycle tracks to get back on track". Imagine that.

Or like the Mayor of Paris - Betrand Delanoë - said... "The fact is that cars no longer have a place in the big cities of our time". When people like him say things like that, we know that the paradigm is shifting to something better.

In the Life-Sized City change can happen if quick if you want it to. If you change the question.

Cities struggle to reestablish the bicycle as transport. Lots of talk. Lots of baby steps. But then you have cities like Seville, Buenos Aires, Dublin, Paris - cities where there were no bicycles left just seven years ago. Now, in the course of short time, they are modernising and becoming bicycle friendly. With infrastructure and traffic calming and bike share systems. The holy trinity of bicycle urbanism.

For the better part of 100 years we’ve only asked one question of our traffic engineers. How many cars can we move down this street? Modern cities change the question. How many PEOPLE can we move down this street? Using all the transport forms available to us? How can we tackle urbanisation? Change the question.

You can still move stuff around the city. I was involved in research that shows that 51% of goods in cities can be transported by cargo bike. With a bit of creativity, you change the paradigm. Using barges and small terminals and cargo bikes to get goods to the people.

You hear people talk of Shrinking Cities or Declining Cities like its a worrisome thing. A problem. You know what? Maybe those cities are just scaling back to something good. They’re rebooting. Look at Detroit. Or Trieste in Italy.

Urban infill is many things. It can be large scale, but it can also be small scale. Like stuff like this my and my son Felix did. We found a hole in the wall across the street and decided our neighbourhood needed a cinema. So we built one out of Lego.

It’s all about people in the Life-Sized City. Like Felix. The Lulu. All sorts of people populate the Life-Sized City.

In the Life-Sized City someone like Lulu is not a consumer. A statistic. She is a little human. Do not measure her. Do not calculate how much money she will spend or how much profit the Cult of Big will earn off of her in her life. Design your city around her. Slow down the cars. Reduce pollution. Build cycle tracks so she can ride her bike for transport. Because that’s all she wants to do.

It’s time to hack it back. It’s time to rewrite the playbook. Cities will grow but we don’t have to be so completely obsessed with it that it clouds our logic.

Luckily, every city has pockets of life sized goodness. Seek them out. Create some more. Every day you move around your city you can choose to grow your urban landscape. Hack yourself back into your city. It’s time to go back to the future.Copenhagenize the planet. And have a lovely day.
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