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Bike Helmets - Something Rotten in the State of Denmark

30 January, 2017 - 12:21


I took part in a radio debate last week. Four guests and a journalist. In that forty-five minutes, I experienced a number of things including, but not limited to, the anti-intellectualisation of our society, emotional propaganda, alternative facts, manipulative and selective choice of facts, The Culture of Fear and the negative branding of cycling.

You might expect I was on American or Australian radio. Nope. I was a 12 minute bike ride from Copenhagenize Design Company’s Copenhagen office - at Denmark’s national broadcaster, DR, on their flagship radio channel P1 Debat.

The occasion was a debate about bike helmets. The week before, a Danish media personality, Mads Christensen, tossed out a remark on a television programme about how he let his kids decide for themselves, at the age of eight, if they wanted to wear a bike helmet or not. His comments were simply based on rationality about real or percieved dangers in society. Nevertheless, they generated a great deal of debate on social media. A journalist and radio host, Bente Dalsbæk (The Journalist), decided to allocate 45 minutes to the subject.

Mads Christensen (The Rationalist) was there, of course. Also invited were Klaus Bondam (The Bike Advocate), head of the Danish Cyclists’ Federation; Torben Lund Kudsk (The Motorist), head of the Danish car lobby NGO, FDM; and yours truly.

I don’t often engage in discussions about bike helmets in Denmark and try to avoid them in other regions. I feel that it distracts from our work at Copenhagenize Design Company in designing infrastructure for cities. Like Chris Boardman - former pro-cyclists and policy advisor at British Cycling has said on BBC.com, "You're as safe riding a bike as you are walking," (a helmet is) "... not in the top 10 things you can do to keep safe."
http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-29894590

I did this TED x talk in 2010 about The Culture of Fear related to bike helmets in order to NOT have to talk about it all the time.


This article by Howie Chong entitled Why it Makes Sense to Bike Without a Helmet is also well worth a read.


What has shocked me is that the debate about helmets is at such a primitive level in this country. Even in hard-core helmet promotion regions elsewhere in the world, I can engage in discussions at a much higher level. The hysterical social media reaction to comments like those by Mads Christensen would be balanced by people aware of science and practicing rationality. Not so here in Denmark. The reactions were overwhelmingly hysterical and ignorant. Not to mention completely unworthy of a well-educated nation like Denmark.

The 45 minute interview started with context, where The Rationalist explained his side of the story. He repeated his statement about rationality and risk assessment. When mountain biking the woods, he and his kids wear helmets. When cycling to the shops in the world’s safest bicycle nation or whatnot, he doesn’t and he allows his kids to make their own call. Sounds like an intelligent approach.

Like almost everywhere else, kids have a higher risk of head injury in cars and in playgrounds and for adults, cars pose the greatest risk followed by being a pedestrian, being at home, gardening, etc.




Yes, life remains dangerous, although we live in a safer society than at any other point in the history of homo sapiens. The Culture of Fear, however, is the bogeyman. We can still construct fear of anything - including cycling. And wherever we can scare people, there are products to be sold to them.

After The Rationalist outlined his point of view in the radio debate, The Journalist started to gather points of view, starting with The Bike Advocate. Klaus Bondam stated his organisation’s standard position. They strongly recommend helmets but are against legislation to make them mandatory. I pointed out that The Bike Advocate is the head of the only national bicycle NGO in Europe that actively promotes helmets.

It was then my turn to present my point of view. How science should be respected, how manipulating selective facts is fundamentally wrong. I did what I could with the short answering time allocated to me by The Journalist but I could see early on in the interview that it was rigged in favour of The Culture of Fear. Which made it a loooong 45 minutes.

All the strategy for one-sided debate was present. The Journalist threw out a statistic about how 60% of head injuries could be avoided with a helmet. No, not 60% of ALL head injuries - she only meant bike crashes. The Bike Advocate threw out another select statistic. With the looks on their faces when they did so, you really sensed that they felt they were nailing the debate.

The Journalist didn’t bothering questioning the statistic or the context of it in order to provide the listeners with a bigger picture. The Bike Advocate looked all pleased with himself at being able to quote a researcher name and the year of the study. While science is under fire in Trump’s America, there is another category that is equally detrimental to any debate. The One Study Argument. Just cast one study that produced one statistic into the debate and wham. You are portrayed as an expert. People who don’t know more about the subject have no response. Pity those poor fools. Let them bask in the glory of your One Study Argument greatness.

 That is not how science works, however. The bigger picture is more important.

Why is the debate at such a primitive level here in one of the world’s great cycling nations? The answer is simple. Lack of information - or rather a strictly controlled and manipulated information flow. In the Danish context, we must examine the tightly controlled information flow. Like you, wherever you are whilst reading this, we have a road safety NGO in Denmark. They call themselves The Danish Road Safety Council - Rådet for Sikker Trafik (The Safety Nannies).

Via Yehuda Moon - http://yehudamoon.com/

This NGO is the puppet master controlling the flow of information about bike helmets. They have mastered the art. By doing so, they also contribute to the anti-intellectualisation of Danish society. They select one or two studies that adhere to their strict ideology and present it like the word of god to the masses. If individuals question it, the stats are merely repeated. The “60%” stat that The Journalist found and presented in the studio is their current one commandment carved in a stone tablet. It originates with the Norwegian Transport Economic Institute (TØI) and dates from 2004. It is perfect for them. It is a Scandinavian source from a fancy-sounding institute. Ironically, TØI has published other helmet-related studies since then and few would fit Sikker Trafik’s ideology. Better to ignore them and stick to the stat that works.

You don’t need to explain WHY climate change is a hoax. You just have to repeat it ad naseum. Much the same communication strategy as The Safety Nannies employ and hand off to lazy journalists and pundits. It is a sad, flawed strategy that only fans the flames of anti-intellectualisation in any society but if you look at it, it is a brilliant strategy from a communication point of view.

The Safety Nannies started their bike helmet promotion in the early 1990s in Denmark. Since then, cycling levels have continued to fall, which is what we have seen in many regions around the world. Danes are cycling more than 30% less today than in 1990. (If we got that 30% back, we could save over 1500 lives a year because of the health benefits of cycling, according to Professor Lars Bo Andersen of University of Southern Denmark, the most published academic about the health benefits of cycling)

The positive aspects of having a cycling population are rarely presented in the current debate in Denmark. They are not sensationalist enough for journalists, apparently. In the middle of the interview The Journalist held up a printed out photo that she harvested from Facebook of a woman with a head injury. It was like a image version of the One Study Argument. “See?! Look at THAT...” End of debate. Showing photos of tens of thousands of people lying in hospital beds suffering from lifestyle illnesses like diabetes, heart disease, etc, due to inactivity is considerably less glamorous and have no place in sensationalist journalism.

Another old chestnut was presented in the studio. 17,000 people visit a hospital each year as a result of a bike crash. I tried to put that number into context. The average in Denmark is 20,000, so I had calculated based on that number.

If 18% of the population of Denmark ride a bicycle to and from work or education each day, that is 1,008,000 trips a week, Monday to Friday. Multiply that by 300 work days a year and you get 302,400,000 trips by bike. We’re not even including the trips to the supermarket, cafe, cinema, etc.

If 20,000 trips end in a crash and a hospital visit, that means you have, in Denmark, a 0.0066138% chance of crashing and going to the hospital. The vast majority of those injuries are minor and the person in question is back on a bike in, at the most, a couple of days. Motorists, by the way, end up in hospitals much longer when they get injured in their preferred mode of transport.

According to the City of Copenhagen who endeavour to battle this Bicycle Misinformation War whenever they can, I have to cycle to work for 2800 YEARS before I get injured.

So where was The Bike Advocate during this onslaught of manipulation and alternative facts? Was he deftly and professionally countering all the arguments about cycling being dangerous? You would hope so. He was, however, all over the map, sending conflicting messages about cycling.

The Safety Nannies broadcast the number of 20,000 cyclists visiting hospitals to anyone who will listen. They are not content with that, however. They invented “mørketal” - or “dark numbers” as a way of further constructing fear about cycling. Cyclists also get hurt but DON’T visit the hospital and those dark numbers are an unknown. Yes. Cyclists who ARE OKAY and who have bandaids in their home after a minor mishap are now being used in the massive branding of cycling as an undesirable transport form.

The Bike Advocate presented the listeners with this concept of dark numbers. Instead of defending cycling from the onslaught, he helped polish the rifles and load the ammo. A little later, he threw in a mix of neutral and positive angles to confuse anyone who was listening. There was no clear agenda from Denmark’s national cycling NGO. They refuse to acknowledge what most other cycling NGOs in Europe know - that merely promoting helmets is detrimental to cycling levels.


Personally, I am sceptical when shopkeepers promote helmets. The Cyclists’ Federation has a bike shop. Several people in the industry cancelled their memberships back in the day when they opened a shop. The criticism was that an NGO for cycling should not promote one product over the other and remain neutral.

In another twist, we still have emails in our archives from late 2007 and early 2008 when The Safety Nannies started their hardcore, emotional propaganda about bike helmets. What tipped it for them was that they convinced the Cyclists’ Federation to get on board. Colleagues from our industry informed me that the latter were promised influence and access to future funding if they joined the helmet brigade. They continue to deny this to this day.

In Denmark, everything started with The Safety Nannies and their manipulated alternative facts are largely unchallenged by a society slowly dumbing down. Trump didn’t invent Trumpism, he just excels at it. Trump is merely a product of societal development. The same techniques are present everywhere. Interestingly, like Trump, The Safety Nannies in Denmark do not like being contradicted. They have actually spent time emailing journalists in Denmark and abroad about… me. Engaging in attempted character assassination with journalists and editors. Trying to discredit me. It is amusing. It only helps getting science printed and distributed. It also shows that their case is weak. You don’t go to all that effort if you are confident in what you are saying.



Current helmet wearing rates in Copenhagen are at 11%.

As we have come to expect, the debate also featured comments about “doctors and nurses say that...” Yet another technique in the debate. Who can doubt a medical professional?! They fail to realise that while those doctors and nurses excel at fixing people, they receive information about prevention from the same sources as everyone else. The one-way communication street from The Safety Nannies sends the same manipulated facts to doctors and nurses, too. Trust the medical professionals to make you better. Doubt the sources of their prevention advice. And notice that it is the trauma staff who get the best press. The doctors caring for those with lifestyle illnesses never get the same spotlight.

The debate wandered into cyclist behaviour and the others agreed readily that “something has happened… cyclists are behaving more badly than ever before”. This is as amusing as it is wrong. Cyclist behaviour is largely unchanged for at least 120 years. There are countless articles, letters to the editor and editorials about cyclist behaviour over the past century. Not least this satirical piece by Denmark’s most loved satirist, Storm P..

Perhaps it is time to realise that cyclist behaviour can only be changed if we stop forcing them to adhere to traffic rules and traffic culture designed to serve the automobile. We sending badminton players to play with ice hockey rules. It has never worked so it is time to think differently.

We have shown time and again with our Desire Line Analyses that behaviour among our cycling citizens is fine. Only 5% of cyclists smash through the traffic rulebook. Which is on a par with pedestrians and motorists.

A recent poll in Denmark outlined how ignorance of a topic can have dangerous consequences. This is a society where The Safety Nannies have a monopoly on the information about cycling. Danes were polled about whether they want a helmet law. A majority said yes. You don’t get that result in many places anymore due to the balance of information in the debate. Except in Denmark. The Safety Nannies and The Bike Advocate have been pushing helmets hard. Now they are under fire for not supporting a bike helmet law. They have shot themselves in the foot.

It was a tough room. Countering emotional propaganda with an arsenal of science and rationality is difficult. I was in the line of fire as the others did what they could to continue this branding of cycling in Denmark as dangerous, using all the techniques we know from around the world. I tried to highlight facts like the Australian government’s study about motoring helmets, but to no avail. I just hope some listeners got the point.

I didn’t get to industrial design, unfortunately. People have been led to believe that a bike helmet can withstand a meteor strike. They have never been informed that a helmet is designed to protect the head in non-life threatening, solo accidents under 20 km/h. Or that helmets are tested in simulations that resemble a pedestrian falling - which makes them perfect for… pedestrians and people in their home.

"A walking helmet is a good helmet"

Nor did I get to say that most serious head injuries are not a result of a lateral impact, but rather a rotational impact. Something bike helmets cannot deal with.

Sigh.

More people drown in Denmark each year than die in bicycle crashes. There is a missed financial opportunity there. Let’s pass laws making life vests mandatory within 2 metres of water. 35,000 Europeans die each year in cars. Think of the money to be made if we imported these from Australia (it is a real product).

It was a depressing debate session in that radio studio. Daily Mail tactics from The Journalist. Vague, conflicting and confusing messaging from The Bike Advocate. The Rationalist had his say, which helped, but at the end of the day, the sheeple will lean towards the strong-flowing current of misinformation from The Safety Nannies.

You may recall that The Motorist was in the room, too. He didn’t say much. He didn’t need to. Would you? You have a national radio program completely trashing your main competitor. Car sales are at a four year high in Denmark. Just stand there and let them do it.

I cycled back to the office and continued to work on our projects with cities who want to copenhagenize themselves. We’ll keep on keeping on. Designing their networks and infrastructure. Exporting the Copenhagen model. It is a good, transferable model. It is working to transform cities around the world. Embrace it. Everything else coming out of Denmark regarding negative branding, helmet promotion and The Culture of Fear… ignore it.

Go talk to the Dutch. Start with this article about Dutch Rationality Saving Childrens’ Lives.

In Denmark, we're heading down this road:


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

Bike Boulevards of Broken Dreams

24 January, 2017 - 11:30


Guldbergsgade, Copenhagen, Denmark (MCA)

Bike Boulevards of Broken Dreams
by Holly Hixson

Holly Hixson has a background in Urban Planning and Psychology from the University of Oregon. She has interned in the Copenhagenize office in both Montreal and Copenhagen.

As an intern for the Danish urban design firm Copenhagenize Design Co., I’ve learned a lot about best practices in bike planning, about committing to those best practices rather than taking a half-step and calling it progress and about making bold moves toward a future you want for your city.
I’ve been able to ride on the best bicycle infrastructure in the world that is lively and overflowing with people, sheer proof that if you build it, and you build it correctly, bicycle users will come. Today’s reality on the streets of Copenhagen looks like what we want for the future of mobility in our cities. A future without hoverboards and flying cars but with regular people, using the bicycle as a tool, not because they are extraordinary humans but because they have things to do and want to get there quick. Simple.

My reality for the most part, looks a lot different than this. I’m from Portland, Oregon. I still get stuck places where a painted bike lane abruptly ends, I still feel unsafe, unsupported, even in what’s considered one of the most bike friendly cities in the U.S., growth is measured in half-steps; I know these streets weren't built for me. I’ve often found it most pleasant to resort to neighborhood streets elsewhere. Luckily, I live in a neighborhood that has made deliberate decisions about how these local streets should feel to a people on bikes.

Enter: the bicycle boulevard. Internationally, variations of this concept have existed since around 1980 when Germany began making bike priority streets - the fahrradstraße. Denmark, the Netherlands, and the UK have similar concepts, the cykelgade, fietsstraat, woonerfen among other bike priority streets incorporate traffic calming techniques have been great for filling in gaps in the bike networks. And let me stress: filling in the network. These quiet streets have been used as a tool to add to networks, not to create the backbone of them. Indeed, Copenhagen experimented with the idea in the early 90s and then promptly ditched them. Instead prioritizing bicycle infrastructure along the natural desire lines in the city - the streets leading to the city centre.


Netherlands (Herman Wouters, New York Times)

Esslingen, Germany (http://dasfahrradblog.blogspot.ca/)

Similar ideas have also been popping up (with varying levels of success) in North American cities such as Austin, Vancouver and Minneapolis. Often they are used as cheap and easy bicycle connections in lieu of real A-to-B infrastructure, but when designed properly, a bicycle boulevard that adds to a greater network can look like this:


Minneapolis, MN (koonceportland.blogspot.ca


Berkeley, CA (Carrie Cizauskas) (planplaceblog.com
James Mayer (OregonLive) Portland, Oregon (above)


They contain elements such as chicanes - raised curbs that narrow streets in a serpentine pattern so that drivers have fewer stretches of wide open space. In some spots, the road is accessible to only bikes and by car only for residents. Scattered throughout are small roundabouts, landscaping and extended curbs at intersections. Clearly marked signs remind cars they are not the top priority on these streets, tell people on bikes what’s nearby and of course there are LOTS of speed bumps. These solutions are all pretty simple: design spaces that calm car traffic and ease bicycle traffic. And do it on purpose.

Vancouver BC Fundamentals of bicycle boulevard planning & design, PSU (above)

On the other hand, when done half-heartedly, a bike boulevard can look like this: Wide open space, no traffic calming devices, no priority, just paint declaring it a bicycle boulevard.


Thatcher Imboden ( Minneapolis, MN

This example, brings me to Montréal. Here I was, interning at Copenhagenize’s North American office and what I’ve gathered is that Montréal, like Portland, is familiar with taking half-steps in the direction of progress. Putting in the largest protected cycle track network in North America, to their credit, makes a statement about the kind of future the city aspires to.

However, a city that anticipates over 200 cm of snowfall annually can’t be taken seriously as a leader in bicycle urbanism internationally if most of those protected cycle tracks and significant bicycle parking are taken out for half of the year. It goes without saying that cars do not face the same forced hibernation in the presence of snow. There is evidence of a change in that attitude, with much improved steps being taken in local maintenance so far this winter.


Bartek Komorowski (Montreal)

To put my experience in context, as someone new to the city, I’ve found it fairly easy to navigate the streets by bike. Neighborhoods like the Plateau are dense with apartments and destinations; restaurants, cafes, bars, shopping, public space. The quiet, narrow streets don’t give me priority but they also don’t make me feel largely unsafe or too small for the space. This is true on neighbourhood streets and seems to be a popular opinion given that the city of Montréal as a whole only has about 3% of people commuting by bicycle, while the Plateau has over 10%. It would not take much to greatly affect how people on bikes feel in this space, to give them priority over cars and to do this by using design. Simply painting shared lane markings on the street and dubbing it bicycle infrastructure though, is not enough. We know now what we have long suspected. Sharrows don't work.

The newest additions to the Montréal bicycle network (currently being pursued as pilot projects) are two bicycle boulevards, or vélorues, on Rue de Mentana and Saint-André. Both are great opportunities to add to the network and indicate priority and commitment to actual change in how people are getting around the city. Mentana and Saint-André are fairly quiet and narrow, one-way streets with parking on either side. As of now, there are the occasional speed bumps, signs saying that trucks aren’t allowed to access these roads and painted sharrows (shared road symbols) on the street. However, the paint used is not long-lasting thermoplast paint, so after just a few weeks of snow and slush, the symbols are already tattered and faded. And now, after a few months of winter - almost non-existent.

 
Holly Hixson (Rue Saint-André) left & Michael Wexler (Rue Mentana) right

Both vélorues cross several perpendicular streets, including Saint-Joseph - a 6 lane residential boulevard and a high volume East-West connector for cars, especially during rush hour. Down the center of Saint-Joseph is a narrow median with room for pedestrians and bikes to wait so as not to cross two-way traffic at once, diverting cars from taking Mentana or Saint-André all the way through. This space existed before the bicycle boulevard project began, already offering traffic calming to the area and continues to be very tight for bicycles and pedestrians to feel fully comfortable.


Holly Hixson (Rue Saint-Joseph)

One significant change here is the addition of four signals installed at the crossing of Saint-Joseph and Rachel streets which give bikes and pedestrians safe passage on a green light. Despite this, there are not yet signs that say bikes have priority. There are no new pieces of infrastructure or signs that limit the speed for cars. There are no other new traffic calming elements present.


(Holly Hixson)

Drawing on past projects that Montréal has done and a desire to continuously make progress for bicycles in the city, a pilot project can be helpful in improving existing assets and gaining public support for new ideas. Sure, these streets are fairly comfortable to ride a bike on, but only as much as they ever have been.

If money is being invested in the creation of vélorues, if the City desires political praise for doing something for bikes, then new infrastructure (especially pilot projects) must really show their commitment to innovation. In order for Montréal’s pilot project to be successful, these aspects of real traffic calming - for example new diverters, planters, chicanes, signage, and solid public outreach - need to be present from the start. There are plenty of examples to draw inspiration from.


via Marc-André Gadoury (Montreal)

Looking forward, let us not conform to a substandard “good enough” attitude, let's look to best practices and replicate those, and redesign space to speak for itself. We must abandon half-step attempts and instead take bold strides in the direction of progress. We commend the City of Montréal on the announcement of new projects like the 3km stretch of Copenhagen-style cycle tracks to be implemented in 2017 (see above), but wish that efforts like the new vélorues aimed for the same level of commitment to innovation.Copenhagenize the planet. And have a lovely day.
Categories: Views

2016 in Review

31 December, 2016 - 15:50


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



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


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


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


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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

Top Ten Design Elements That Make Copenhagen Bicycle-Friendly

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

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

Episode 02 - The Green Wave for Cyclists


Episode 03 - Intermodality


Episode 04 - Safety Details


Episode 05 - Nørrebrogade


Episode 06 - Macro Design


Episode 07 - Micro Design


Episode 08 - Cargo Bikes


Episode 09 - Desire Lines


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

Hygge and the Firepit of Transport

27 November, 2016 - 14:26


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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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


"Conversation cycling"

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


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


Cykelkokken at work.

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


Bring your own bbq.

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

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

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

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

The Life-Sized City TV Series

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

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

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

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

  The promotional teaser trailer for The Life-Sized City.

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

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

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

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

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

Massive Passenger Increase After Bikes Allowed Free on Trains

14 November, 2016 - 14:36

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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



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


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



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

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


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

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

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

The Bicycle Made for Cities

7 November, 2016 - 14:51

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



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

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



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

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

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

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


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


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

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

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

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

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

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


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

The Car Empire Strikes Back - Complete Anthology

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

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

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

FORD - NOVEMBER 2016

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


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

VOLVO - MARCH 2015

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

Volvo Life Paint. Seriously. Life paint.

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

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

It's spray on paint.

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

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

http://www.volvocarslifepaint.com/

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

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

SMART - SEPTEMBER 2014


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


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

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

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

NISSAN - FEBRUARY 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

MERCEDES - MAY 2013

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

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

SMART - MAY 2013

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

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

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

AUDI - DECEMBER 2012

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

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

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

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

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

Desperate times for Audi. They're striking back.

LEXUS - DECEMBER 2012

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

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

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

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

CHEVY & DISNEY - NOVEMBER 2012

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

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

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

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

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

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


Check out the website!


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


Good luck with this.


SIXT CAR RENTAL - JUNE 2012

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

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

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

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

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

BMW - MAY 2012

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

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

FORD - MAY 2012

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Cargo bike delivery in Paris.


Vintage Russian cargo bike delivering flowers.


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



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

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

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

VOLKSWAGON - DECEMBER 2011

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

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

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

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

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

SKODA - DECEMBER 2011

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


CHEVROLET COLOMBIA - DECEMBER 2011

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

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

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

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

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

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

TOYOTA - NOVEMBER 2011

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

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

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

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

TOYOTA. REBORN.
FUN TO DRIVE, AGAIN.

ZIPCAR - OCTOBER 2011


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


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

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

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

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

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


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


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


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


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

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






Too easy.

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

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

Transporting musical instruments by bicycle?

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

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

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


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

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

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

GENERAL MOTORS - OCTOBER 2011


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

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

Stop Pedalling, Start Driving.

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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



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


DUTCH CAR INSURANCE - JUNE 2011

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

AUSTRALIAN CAR INSURANCE - MARCH 2011

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

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

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

Situation: The man with the table:


 

Situation: People in costumes at a busstop.

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

Situation: Father and son going to rugby practice:

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

Situation: High heeled shoes:


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

Situation: Bus passengers:

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

Situation: Leaf blower:

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

Situation: The man with the umbrella:

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

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

Situation: Science project falling.

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

Situation: Shopping bag breaking with a dog.

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

Situation: Man with the shopping cart carrying something.

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

More Shopping on Bikes













HYUNDAI - FEBRUARY 2011

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

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

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

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

KIA CANADA - JANUARY 2011

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

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

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

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

CITRÖEN - 2010

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

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

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

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

MERCEDES - MARCH 2010

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

VOLKSWAGON - NOVEMBER 2009


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

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

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

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

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

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

BMW - OCTOBER 2009

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

AUDI - OCTOBER 2009

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

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

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

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

Amazingly, the Audi overtakes the hippie-mobile Volvo on a curve. Not exactly traffic safety conscious, are they?Copenhagenize the planet. And have a lovely day.
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Meteoric Rise in Bicycle Traffic in Copenhagen

4 November, 2016 - 13:28

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

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

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


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



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


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


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



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

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

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

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