22 November 2019

7550 New Bike Parking Spots at Copenhagen Central Station

Copenhagenize Design Co. - Bike Parking at Central Station
For all of Copenhagen's badassness as a bicycle city, there remains one thing that the City still completely sucks at. Bicycle parking at train stations. At Copenhagen Central Station there are only about 1000 bike parking spots. Danish State Railways can't even tell us how many spots they have. They're not sure.

Even in Basel they have 800+. In Antwerp they have this. Don't even get me started on the Dutch. 12,500 bike parking spots are on the way in some place called Utrecht. Amsterdam has a multi-story bike parking facility, floating bicycle barges round the back and are planning 7000 more spots underwater.

Even at the nation's busiest train station, Nørreport, the recent and fancy redesign failed miserably in providing parking that is adequate for the demand. Architects once again failing to respond to actual urban needs.

It is time to remedy that. Here is my design for 7550 bike parking spots behind Copenhagen Central Station. Steve C. Montebello is the architect that I worked closely with.

Copenhagenize Design Co. - Bike Parking at Central Station
By exploiting the area over the train tracks and using Tietgens Bridge as the transport spine, we have created an iconic bicycle parking facility with ample parking spots at this important transport hub where trains, buses and - in 2019 - the Metro converge in an inter-modal transport orgy.

In our work on the EU project BiTiBi.eu - Bike Train Bike - we have been focused on parking solutions at train stations. It was a natural evolution to use that experience in developing this project.
Copenhagenize Design Co. - Bike Parking at Central Station
The structure is supported by columns and utilises the existing platforms below, which dictated the shape that we decided upon.

There are:
- 6880 bike parking spots in double-decker racks. This can be expanded with 1360 more if necessary.
- 30 dedicated cargo bike parking spots featuring.
- 640 secure, indoor bike parking spots in the green roofed building at left (above).
- A bike shop for repairs and maintenence.
- Ticket machines and displays for departures and arrivals of trains and buses.
- At the end of the long point, the belvedere will be the world's premiere, dedicated lookout spot design for trainspotters.

Copenhagenize Design Co. - Bike Parking at Central Station
Here is the view of the area as it is today.
Copenhagenize Design Co. - Bike Parking at Central Station
There are four on/off ramps from Tietgens Bridge for ease-of-access.
Copenhagenize Design Co. - Bike Parking at Central Station
A secure bicycle parking facility will house 640 bikes.
Copenhagenize Design Co. - Bike Parking at Central Station
We used 3D models of bike racks courtesy of our colleagues at the Dutch company Falco. They know a thing or two about bike racks.
Copenhagenize Design Co. - Bike Parking at Central Station
There will be a space for a bike shop for repairs and maintenence located at the entrance, next to ticket machines and displays featuring departures and arrivals for trains and buses.
Copenhagenize Design Co. - Bike Parking at Central Station
The parking with have signs with areas divided up alphabetically, so you can find your bike again.
Copenhagenize Design Co. - Bike Parking at Central Station
There is access to the three platforms below by stairs that will, of course, have bike ramps. Duh.

This facility will right so many wrongs and will thrust Copenhagen into the 21st century regarding bicycle parking at train stations. If we are  to maintain the momentum of a blossoming bicycle-friendly city, we need to up our game regarding parking.

04 October 2019

Bikes Beat Metro in Copenhagen


Originally published on April 4, 2014

Like anyone interested in city life, we like to keep our eyes on the street life of our city. Currently however, the City of Copenhagen is planning to take some away from the street, by forcing people underground, with the 'M3 Cityringen' expansion of the Metro. Instead of investing in the reestablishment of our tram network - so rudely removed by the ironically-named mayor Urban Hansen in the 1970s - Copenhagen seems keen to get people off the street.

This doesn’t come cheap: €3 billion gets you an additional 17 stations added to the existing Metro network. Some of the cost can be explained by the fact that It is not easy to build a Metro in Copenhagen, a city that is on the whole scarcely above sea level, and with a dense urban fabric too.  It's due for completion in 2018, but that's later than the initial estimate and with the date still some way off who knows whether it will actually be ready by then - just ask the planners in Amsterdam, where a new metro line has been under construction since 2002 and is still not finished, although it was supposed to have been operating for several years by now. As well as that, Amsterdam's costs more than doubled from initial estimates.

But this article is not only about the Metro extension in Copenhagen; it deals with the question of which kinds of transportation are needed to support cities in becoming more liveable. We realise that we won't be stopping the Metro, but we are keen to highlight - even years before it's finished - that it ain't "all that".

The projections for the Metro also have an alarming statistic buried in the paperwork. Cycling levels in Copenhagen are expected to drop by an estimated 2.8%. That is a lot of cyclists we'll be losing. 

We know what people want. We want to move fast, safe and cheap from A to B. Also, the transportation system has to be sustainable, namely environmentally friendly, at a reasonable cost to society and it should not exclude anyone.

We decided to just test it ourselves. We were curious how the different transport modes score compared to each other and especially how the bike performs against trains, buses and the new Metro.

What we did was simple. For some days we tracked all our journeys from our homes to the Copenhagenize office (and vice versa) or other routes with the GPS-based App Endomondo. A great app - also because it includes Cycling - Transport as an option. Not surprisingly, it's a Danish app. Sometimes we came by public transport, most often by bike.

Since the new metro is not operating yet, we had to be a bit creative when comparing it to the bike. We built scenarios to challenge the totally unrealistic times which are published on the project website of the Metro extension. If false advertising is a thing, the Metro are guilty of it. "7 minutes from Nørrebro Runddel to Enghave Plads!", they declare, without anyone bothering to check if it's true. Until now.

To be clear about that point: It is probably very realistic that the time you will need to spend on the metro carriage itself between the future stations Nørrebro Runddel and Enghave Plads is seven minutes. The unrealistic part about that is that nobody lives or works in those stations.

To have a realistic Home to Work scenario with which we could compare travel times with the bicycle, we took addresses in potential residential areas in a range of less than one kilometre to a future Metro station and tracked the time it takes to walk from the address to the future station. We then added the two minutes that it takes to get down to the train and wait for it. (We actually timed this at a number of stations and worked out an average. We like details.)

And then comes the time you actually spend in the train, followed by the fact that it will take another minute (again, on average based on our timings) to get off the Metro and reach the street level again. Lastly we added the walking time from the station to an address in a potential working area, again in a range of less than one kilometre to the Metro station. As you can imagine, a trip incorporating the journey from Nørrebro Runddel and Enghave Plads doesn't take seven minutes any more.


Here you can see the results of our Bike vs. Metro study.  
TIME bike vs. future metro - copie copie
TIME bike vs. future metro - 2nd map - copie copieFor the bike trips we assumed that we were travelling at an average speed of 16kph, which is the average pace people cycle in Copenhagen. Very relaxed, without having to sweat, and doable for all cyclists. We also added two minutes to unlock, park and lock the bike. The results are impressive: in three out of five scenarios the bike is faster door to door than the Cityringen line will ever be.

In one scenario there is a tie between Metro and bike and in only one instance is the Metro slightly faster. The longer you have to walk to and from the station (last mile) the higher are the chances that the bike will be faster. From our data we see that 700m can be seen as a threshold: if you take the metro to work and have to walk more than 700m (about 10 minutes) on the way from door to door, you almost certainly would have been faster by bike.

We're asking why the City of Copenhagen and the Danish government put so much money into something which does not bring a significant advantage to the people in the city? We're not saying that a Metro never makes sense. There are cities where the Metro is an indispensable element in the transportation system, carrying millions of people a day, like in London, Paris or New York. But does it make sense in cities like Copenhagen or Amsterdam, where you can reach almost everything in the centre within 20 minutes on a bike?

Of course, we understand that not everybody is able to ride a bike. And we definitely want a transport system which does not exclude anybody.

So, where is your tram, Copenhagen?

Imagine what a fantastic tram network we could have for €3 billion. Look at France, where new tram systems are popping up like mushrooms. Also, there would be plenty of money left to further improve the cycling infrastructure within the city. What we get now is a new line with 17 stations which runs in a circle and only connects to other lines at two points. It doesn't seem like the main effect of this project will be to make Copenhagen more liveable. The City of Copenhagen is clearly afraid of reducing car traffic. Despite the goodness in the city, they still are intent on maintaining the car-centric status quo.

Back to the competition: What about our commuting trips we tracked? Also in those cases the bicycle is highly competitive as you can see in the graphics below.  
TIME bike vs.bus - Map 1
TIME bike vs.bus - Map 2 - copie copie
On trips less than ten kilometres the bike is usually the fastest option. The longer the trips are, for example from Frederiksberg to the Airport at Kastrup or from Glostrup to the new Copenhagenize office on Papirøen (Paper Island on the Harbour), the better public transport scores. That makes sense and it is also in line with the fact that cycling drops significantly for trips longer than eight kilometres.

But we also have to mention that we set the average speed for cyclists even on the longer commuter trips to 16kph. It can be assumed however, that commuters who cycle everyday between 10 and 15 kilometres to work are faster than that. The bicycle superhighway network for greater Copenhagen for instance is designed for an average speed of 20kph. And then, the bicycle is even very competitive up to distances around 15 kilometres.

So, what’s the message of our short study about getting from A to B in Copenhagen? First: there's no obvious need to invest billions in mega projects if the effect is as small as in Copenhagen’s current Metro extension project. Secondly: Invest the money instead in cycling infrastructure.

Our little experiment has shown again that the bicycle is the best mean of transport to get from A to B in a city. And thirdly: Invest in public transport solutions which cover a larger geographical area at a lower cost. Like trams or light rail.

And lastly, you might wonder why we did not include the car in our comparison. Well, because a car wouldn't make sense at all for daily trips in a city and because only 14% of Copenhageners transport themselves by car each day. 



19 November 2018

Cycling with Disabilities and Injuries

14 Below Zero - Broken Hand
I haven't been on a bicycle for 7 days. The reason? A couple of cracked ribs. I've tried each and every day to cycle, but it hasn't been possible. When a simple cough is enough to bring tears to your eyes, riding a bicycle is a long shot. A serious blow to my pride but hey, at least I can walk around the neighbourhood. Which is nice.

Many Danish cities have small cars like these to measure the level of comfort on the bicycle infrastructure. I have a better, cheaper idea.

The city should just give citizens with broken or cracked ribs a smartphone, with activated GPS and a live line to a person at the Bicycle Office. Then they just ride around the city. Every time an OWWWW! or groan is heard, the GPS location is registered. That way the city will be able to map the spots that need maintenence. Now broken ribs are one thing, but what of citizens with more serious injuries or disabilities?

So I thought I'd whips together this article with photos of Copenhageners and other urban dwellers cycling with injuries or disabilities or using other vehicles that improve accessibility and mobility.

Like the shot of a Copenhagener in the morning rush hour (above) riding with what looks like a broken - or at least injured - hand, above. Still looking cool as you like.
Bicycle Crutches 02
Then there is this Copenhagener carrying her crutches with her on her bicycle. Fair enough, she might have been heading to the hospital - across the street - to deliver the crutches back.
Double Crutch
Then I remembered this shot from a while back of a girl carrying her crutches and getting doubled by her mum. The bicycle is a versatile tool. I know several friends who, after many years playing sports, have problems with their knees. They are invariably advised to ride a bicycle by their doctors.

Urban Mobility
There is a bike for almost everyone.

If you also make the bicycle the quickest and safest way to get around a city, people will do so - whatever their physical challenges. The bicycle is a freedom machine for many people.
Mobility Five Wheels, Three Arms
The dapper gentleman to the left may have reduced mobility for whatever reason, but he can get out and about with ease on this tricycle. Note his cane sticking out of the back.

I see the man in the right photo quite often. He rides a tricycle and only has one arm. A friend of mine knows him and I'm told that he only has one leg, too. He lost his limbs in a landmine explosion in the country he was born. He still gets about with ease on his wheels. Both of these gentlemen were impeccably dressed.

Bicycle Mobility
This gent is amazing and so is his cargo bike. A retrofitted Nihola lets him ride around the city with no lower arms and only one leg to pedal with. Fantastic.

Rock Star
If you're a legendary Danish rock star, like Steen Jørgensen (above), you have a certain look to maintain and Steen pulls it off to perfection. The fact that he has no left arm is of little consequence.

Disabled Motion
I took this photo in Tokyo. The man had some form of disability with his legs. It required effort for him to get the pedals to turn but you can bet that it was a fraction of the effort he'd use when walking.

Casting Call Crutch Bike Crutch Bike
The lady on the left has a kind of cast on her leg, but still rides. The two photos on the right are from last winter. The boyfriend was holding the girls' crutches and she moved slowly along - injured foot wrapped in plastic - on a child's bicycle they had borrowed. It was icy so the crutches were probably more dangerous than helpful so the bicycle stepped in to assist. They were heading to the hospital down the road.

Vienna Cyclist Sticks
I spotted this lady in Vienna, Austria. Carrying her walking sticks to help her after she got off her bicycle.

This quaint sign on this tricycle reads, "Slightly Disabled".

Invalidecykler
What with all the bicycle options for disabled - whether permanently or temporarily - it's not surprising to see a parking sign like this outside my local library. It reads "Invalid Bicycles", reserving a space close to the door for those who need it.

Wheelchairs
Montreal Wheelchair
I took this photo in Montreal. A trike pulling a wheelchair behind. This takes intermodality to a whole new level.

Wheelchair Transport
This retrofitted Nihola (it really is the Danish brand that offers unique variations of their cargo bikes) is designed simply to carry a wheelchair with passenger.

Walker Transport
This gent has his walker in the front of his cargo bike - intermodality once again.

Active Cyclist
You see many trike brands in operation in Copenhagen on a daily basis. This gent had what appeared to be Down Syndrome and he enjoys active mobility on this trike.


Electric Vehicles
Amsterdam Cycle Chic - Wheelie
Spotted in Amsterdam. An electric scooter with the wheelchair on a rack on the back. Compared to other cities, you see so many of such vehicles on the cycle tracks of Amsterdam and Copenhagen. Used by people with disabilities and the elderly. It's a massive market with many brands. Offering urban mobility to people who might be restricted to a wheelchair.

Heading For The City
Cool as you like in Copenhagen.


Bicycle Cane
If it is ripe old age that has reduced mobility, the bicycle still serves a purpose. I see this lady all the time in my neigbourhood. Always walking her bicycle with groceries in the basket. Perhaps too unstable to ride, but using the bicycle as a kind of crutch. Lovely.

08 January 2018

Copenhagen Bike Hub


by Stephanie Patterson

Copenhagenize Design Company’s time at our very cool co-working space on Paper Island/Papirøen is sadly coming to an end – the island's old industrial buildings are being demolished to make way for a new residential development. We’ll miss the creative vibe in our office - and on the island - that we have experienced daily for over four years. Paper Island was a freestyle creative hub that captured the imagination of Copenhageners and visitors alike.


Harbour bathing is a regular, year-round activity at our office

Instead of resigning ourselves to tristesse, or to merely search for new offices, we decided to finally dust off an old Copenhagenize idea. Luckily, some ideas get better with age. Back in 2008, Copenhagenize Design Co. CEO Mikael Colville-Andersen envisioned that "Danish bicycle culture needs a physical home. A place where ideas can be fostered and discussed. A launch pad and showcase for Danish bicycle innovation". Colville-Andersen had teamed up with Marie Kåstrup - who is now the head of the bicycle programme for the City of Copenhagen - and developed a list of ideas that would place focus internationally and nationally on Copenhagen as a bicycle city. A list that included harvested ideas from abroad but also original ideas like establishing a bicycle center and even a bicycle museum. The mayor of traffic at the time, Klaus Bondam, embraced the idea and worked, for a time, on the concept of an Urban Showroom, without completing the idea. However, the original idea from 2008 led to the establishment of the Bicycle Innovation Lab, the first cultural center for cycling complete with a bicycle library and events. We wrote about the launch of BIL here back in 2011.

With the impending need for new offices, the idea has surfaced once again and this time a strong tailwind is pushing it along. Enter: CPH Bike Hub. With the growing global interest in reestablishing the bicycle as a feasible transport form in cities, Danish bicycle planning, social cycling innovation and product design - among other aspects of the cycling community - can benefit from gathering under one roof.


Statement of support from Gil Penalosa from 8-80 Cities, who regularly bring delegations to Copenhagen.

We are thrilled that the idea has now gained purchase and is in a serious development stage, moving steadily towards becoming a reality. We're pleased to have a long list of colleagues join us on board. The core development team, apart from Copenhagenize Design Co. includes Cycling Without Age and the Danish Cyclists' Federation and Leader Lab. A veritable dream team.

The idea for the CPH Bike Hub is not just sharing office space and innovation with colleagues. It also includes creating a destination for visitors. With all the delegations that come to Copenhagen to learn about bicycle planning, we have plans to develop a conference space to host them. Not just the delegations that Copenhagenize Design Co hosts, but also the City of Copenhagen and the Danish Cyclists Federation will benefit from having dedicated space to host visitors. Plans also include an exhibition space, a café/bar and meeting rooms.


Indeed, the City of Copenhagen supports the general idea of creating a space for cycling:
"The City of Copenhagen’s Bicycle Program welcomes all initiatives that will accelerate local innovation and product design in the field of cycling, bringing global attention to Copenhagen’s unique cycling culture. Establishing a physical meeting point for co-creation and showcasing will be valuable to the city as well as to the global community."
Marie Kåstrup, City of Copenhagen


Core Concepts for the proposed CPH Bike Hub.

We have seen the emergence of similar bike hubs in places like Barcelona with BiciClot  and the Netherlands with the Dutch Bicycle Centre and we hope that the CPH Bike Hub will contribute to this growing trend and the global dissemination of knowledge and experience.

At time of writing, we are working hard with colleagues to establish the foundations of the CPH Bike Hub, secure financing and gather as many likeminded companies, organisations and individuals as possible. The list of colleagues continues to grow and includes the following:

· CYCLING WITHOUT AGE - Worldwide cycling non-profit for the elderly
· DANISH CYCLISTS' FEDERATION / CYKLISTFORBUNDET - National cycling NGO
· COPENHAGEN CYCLES - Global distributor of innovative bike trishaws
· LEADERLAB - Nordic sustainability business accelerators
· VELORBIS - Leading Danish bicycle brand
· MATE - Rapidly growing local E-Bike brand
· CYKELKOKKEN - Innovative and well-known Copenhagen cycling chef
· COH & CO - Sustainable materials bicycle producers
· SCANDINAVIAN SIDE CAR - Cutting-edge Danish cargo bikes solutions
· HOE360 CONSULTING - Danish green mobility consultancy

Morten Kabell – the former environmental and technical mayor of Copenhagen joined Copenhagenize Design Company in early January 2018 as COO and he is now also spearheading the work to establish CPH Bike Hub together with our colleagues. The timeline is still under development, but we are looking forward to letting the world know about the launch when the time comes.

Stay tuned. We're excited.

For more information about joining the CPH Bike Hub, email Morten at morten @ copenhagenize .eu

06 November 2017

Traffic Safety Orgs Speak for Themselves - Not the Rest of Us

Classic traffic safety organisation narrative. "Stop cycling".

By Stephanie Patterson
With Mikael Colville-Andersen

In the diverse world of traffic planning, advocacy and various movements for liveable cities, there is an odd group of outliers who broadcast conflicting messages. While “traffic safety” organisations seem like a natural part of the gallery and of the narrative, upon closer inspection they exist in a communication vacuum populated exclusively by like-minded organisations. There is little correlation with those organisations who advocate cycling, pedestrianism or safer streets. The traffic safety crowd are in a world unto themselves, with little or no accountability for the campaigns they develop or the messaging they broadcast. They are often allied with insurance companies who clearly take comfort in working with others who embrace scaring the population at large through constructed fear.

In many ways, they are a classic subculture, with strong hints of sect-like behaviour. The English sociologist Roy Wallis argues that a sect is characterized by “epistemological authoritarianism”. According to Wallis, “sects lay a claim to possess unique and privileged access to the truth or salvation and “their committed adherents typically regard all those outside the confines of the collectivity as 'in error'”.

The American sociologists Rodney Stark and William Sims Bainbridge assert that "sects claim to be an authentic, purged, refurbished version of the faith from which they split". They further assert that sects have, in contrast to churches, a high degree of tension with the surrounding society.

We thought it appropriate to do a little communication meta-analysis of their techniques of the traffic safety subculture.

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“If it is going to make any meaningful contribution to the reduction of danger on the roads, our criminal justice system needs to recalibrate away from the prejudice that motoring is innocuous and cycling dangerous and towards controlling the behaviour of those imposing greatest risk.”

Martin Porter - QC, personal injury lawyer and Author of the blog ‘The Cycling Lawyer’ made this statement in relation to a recent manslaughter charge that was issued to a cyclist in London who collided with a pedestrian, resulting in her death.

The final conviction of “wanton and furious” cycling brings up the question of how different road users are treated and perceived. Would someone driving a car receive the same level of punishment? Not likely.

Along with the legal system, traffic safety organisations are integral players in shaping how we view road users all around the world. The first thing we noticed was how all these organisations seem to ignore one of the key messages required to truly make roads safer.

Lower the number of motor vehicles on the road, and slow them down. We call it Ignoring the Bull here at Copenhagenize Design Company.

Anyone who works in traffic planning or advocacy will find the lack of focus on the obvious to be rather bizarre. As it is now, the campaign language and programs promoted by the traffic safety organisations unabashedly victimise the individual (primarily pedestrians and cyclists) rather than speak out about the dangers of motorised vehicles. They also tend to ignore the one most obvious solution to lower road fatalities – a drastic reduction in the number of motorised vehicles on the road.

Even a nine year old can figure it out that this is the only way to go:


However, the traffic safety organisations have settled upon strategies that are as uniform as they are blatant in their support of the status quo. As the following images show, these trends are not limited to countries who have high numbers of road fatalities, but in fact the same rhetoric and messages can be seen globally.

(Left) Road safety Australia, again victimising the individual and making being a pedestrian a dangerous activity. (Centre) Road Safety Campaign in Spain - 1998, a good way to turn people off walking (Right) More Australian victim-blaming without addressing the problem.

The influence of road safety organisations clearly extends to municipalities, inviting them into their echo chamber, from where they point their fingers at the non-motorist population.

Signage in Frederiksberg, Copenhagen sends people on a wild detour and instructs them to cross at the designated crossing, putting motorist convenience above that of pedestrians and cyclists. A local response (right) clarified the municipality’s intentions with the added text: “Frederiksberg loves cars more than you”

Just take a look the recent ETSC Road Safety Performance Index (PIN) Conference held in Brussels in June 2017. The speaker list only represented the views of the car industry and road safety organisations which support it. Talk about an echo chamber.

Speakers from other disciplines and with different points of view on methods of change, such as experts in user behaviour, strategies about behaviour change, and advocates of increasing alternative transport modes were absent as they always are. A diverse selection of opinions would include people who are not interested in maintaining the car-centric status quo in our cities, so why invite them?

Whilst the organisations’ messages and actions vary based on their country or region of reference, there are common threads which we can see in a number of the road safety organisations campaigns, including:

- Consistent use of the car industry’s favourite phrase, traffic accident, rather than fatality or crash. The rise of the hashtag #crashnotaccident hasn't penetrated the walls of their echo chamber.
- The use of the phrase vulnerable road users without any corresponding reference to dangerous vehicles
- Programs indirectly or directly implying that walking and cycling are dangerous and freely using classic Culture of Fear techniques to scare cyclists and pedestrians
- Anti-distraction programs
- Anti-drink driving
- Anti-speed programs

Their baseline is clear. Cars are here to stay - everyone else either get out of the way or bubble wrap yourself. What this communication subculture doesn’t talk about is rather telling. Basically anything that would brand cars as the problem - or reducing the number of cars.


We don't know how many of you are aware that the United Nations declared the grand Decade of Action on Road Safety in order to tackle traffic deaths. Actually they declared it back in 2011. Have we saved millions of lives together, as they claimed we would? Nah. What has happened since? Lots of expensive campaigns from highly funded NGOs but absolutely no reduction in the number of traffic deaths worldwide.

We analysed the communication narrative used by a number of traffic safety organisations and present some of them here.


FIA Foundation
(Left) Series of graphics by FIA. None of them call for a reduction in the number of cars that kill. (Bottom center) FIA's helmet campaign. (Bottom right) Children with their shiny new FIA helmets. 
(Top center and right) Images from the #staybright campaign insisting that pedestrians and cyclists dress up like clowns

Meet The FIA Foundation (slogan: For the Automobile and Society). They are the advocacy arm of the Federation Internationale de L’Automobile, who run the Formula 1 races. Their foundation is an international body funded by industry but also supported by heavyweight NGOs, UNICEF, UN Environment, the World Resources Institute and Save the Children. An organisation with this level of funding and recognition behind it should be leading the way in traffic safety, including sending the most effective messages and implementing the best programs to reduce fatalities. But they don't. Their primary focus is on glossy graphics telling everyone to bubble wrap themselves.
Unfortunately there are a number of unsaid things which we believe are key in combating the issue of road fatalities, including:

- Proposing any attitude change to the existing transport norms.
- In car centric cities – saying that we need to change our urban design to de-prioritise motor vehicles and make active transport a viable transport option, not just a recreational activity.
- Warning people about the inherent danger of driving a motor vehicle. Focusing on the fact that cars and cities don't work well together and that your risk of dying and/or killing others is remarkably high. Instead of scaring people away from bikes and walking, focus on inciting fear of driving
- In all seriousness, promoting and mandating motorist helmets, as the Australian government has recommended.
- Programs which restrict car usage or make driving more difficult.
- Campaigns for alternative transport options as the norm
- Campaigning for investment in alternative transport infrastructure

It's a tough sell. These organisations like FIA are clearly not interested in behavioiur change, but rather a continued acceptance of the car-centric status quo.

--

Global Health Observatory statistics from 2013 showed over 200,000 traffic fatalities occurred in both India and China. Between 30,000-50,000 fatalities occurred in Brazil, Indonesia, Nigeria and USA. Some of the countries with the highest rates of fatalities based on population size were Thailand, Iran, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and United Republic of Tanzania – all with fatalities between 15,000 and 25,000. We have taken a more in depth look at a few organisations across; INDIA - one of the countries with highest number of road fatalities, USA - the worst performing developed nation in terms of number of fatalities, and finally DENMARK - a country with low number of fatalities and generally good alternative transport options.

INDIA
India. The country with the highest number of traffic fatalities of any nation annually.

With a fast growing economy, India has the opportunity to make wise infrastructure investments that improve its cities for its people. Lack of rules, crazy fast driving and cars being seen as indicators of social improvement, are all reasons why the road safety organisations are suggesting modifications to the existing infrastructure rather than addressing a change in attitudes to motor vehicles in India overall.

Due to the lack of diversity within the road safety authorities we see the same rhetoric over and over again. This recent #ipledge campaign wastefully uses highly influential cricket legend Sachin Tendulkar to spin the same old narrative. Pledging doesn't save lives.

#ipledge campaign by Aster saferoads based in India

Arrive Safe
This is an NGO who claim to be‘working with road safety to promote sustainable transportation India’ but it does not mention bikes at all in any of its activities and proposals to increase road safety. In its Road Safety Manual it provides instruction to road users including basic rules, how to drive safely and so on across 190 pages of the 200 page manual. The final 10 pages briefly mention the benefits of choosing another transport mode and how to look out for pedestrians, bike and rickshaw riders. Same old, same old.

UNITED STATES


A particularly gruesome example of the City of Phoenix spreading fear and victimising bike riders in one of their road safety campaigns.

Of all the developed countries in the world, the US is by far the worst performing in terms of road fatalities and injuries. Estimates from the National Safety Council recorded road deaths for 2016 at over 40,000, making it the deadliest year in nearly a decade. A study by Juha Luoma and Michael Sivak found several contributing factors to the US’ high road numbers of road fatalities. These included generally high speeds driven, low seat belt usage rates, high drunk driving rates, however the biggest reason:

Americans drive a lot and far and don’t look to be slowing down anytime soon.

We also know that vulnerable road users are increasingly making up the numbers of the death tolls. Car users’ share of road deaths in America fell from 42% in 2006 to 36% in 2015, while fatalities outside of cars (people on bikes, pedestrians and motorcyclists) rose from a quarter of the total to a third. So what are the road safety organisations doing to address this issue? All this shows is that cars are getting safer for those inside of them - but not at all for those outside. Mandatory external air bags on cars would be wise.

Department of Transport DOT
To be fair, the nationally run road safety authority has as of 2015 implemented the Safer People, Safer Streets: Pedestrian and Bicycle Safety Initiative and the Mayor's Challenge which encourage cities to improve streets for all people across seven different criteria. However, the same organisation stumbles by victimising policies such as helmet-first bike riding initiatives, ignoring reducing car usage and the danger of being behind a wheel - even if you are a safe driver.

AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety
Motoring organisations love traffic safety organisations for maintaining the status quo and placing focus on the dangers of transporting yourself in anything other than a motor vehicle. The AAA, like others around the world, focuses solely on either increased investment in road infrastructure or improved driver conditions. Research papers such as Safety Benefits of Highway Infrastructure Investments might have been a bit more valuable if it also took into account modes of transport other than cars and didn't spout off old-fashioned engineering "solutions".

ADTSEA
The American Driver and Traffic Safety Education Association aims to be a leader in traffic safety education strategies. Alas - none of their strategies include choosing another transport mode when possible. Please start by educating people with some basic facts - fewer cars on the road, fewer deaths and injuries.

We’re not saying stop educational programs about safe driving - just give people a rounded education which presents all the facts.

Please.

FINLAND - The Finnish Road Safety Council

In Finland, this fear campaign from the Finnish Road "Safety" Council hit the streets in 2019. The poster reads: "Having ice cream without a cone is like riding a bike without a helmet". They have other goofy slogans like "Snapchatting without a filter is like..." You get it. They probably clapped their hands and giggled at how clever they thought they were when deciding upon this campaign. 

But like all the rest, they do nothing to work towards drastically reducing the number of cars in Helsinki or other Finnish cities. They stick to victim blaming without any science harmed.



DENMARK - The Danish Road Safety Council

So while we have looked at two countries with particularly abominable road fatality levels, we can also be critical of road safety programs in countries with better track records. Denmark's road safety organisation Rådet for Sikker Trafik (Road "Safety" Council) recently released this video as part of there “use two seconds more” campaign- a fairly violent way to scare cyclists off their bikes. At the same time they continue to promote the wearing of a helmets in Denmark - compounding the message that bike riding is dangerous. Just another example of road safety organisations using the Culture of Fear in favour of the car. Classic.

This organisation uses the same tactics as others in their private club. They have little scientific understanding of bike helmets and, instead, copy/paste info they recieve from like-minded colleagues in Sweden and pass it off as their own. They claim to be against mandatory helmet laws but this recent document would suggest that they are gearing up for helmet laws. Aligning themselves with the likes of an American, Jake Olivier, in order to continue their branding of cycling as dangerous. Broadcasting with all the arrogance they can muster that a "meta-analysis" is conclusive proof only reveals they know little about the science.

This is also an organisation who advocates cutting down roadside trees for "safety" instead of vehemently advocating for lower speed limits. Indeed, they have no mention of the European trend of establishing 30 km/h as a baseline speed in cities on their site. They are, like all the others, totally disconnected from the current trends.


(Left) ("Keep an eye on the side roads" painted on cycle tracks, without any corresponding messaging for motorists on those side roads who are obliged by law to stop. (Center) 2017 campaign urging people to "use two extra seconds" at the intersection so they don’t get killed - instead of campaigning for existing infrastructure designs to keep cyclists safe. (Right) A 2017 helmet promotion campaign aimed at college students, together with an insurance company. Classic tactics.



Three other campaigns in Denmark aimed at dressing pedestrians and cyclists up as clowns with reflective clothing instead of limiting the destruction caused by motorists. 

Campaigns for reflective clothing are also increasing in The Culture of Fear, despite a limited amount of science on the subject. No corresponding campaigns are in place for cars, even though black cars are more likely to be involved in accidents.

All the negative campaigns blaming cyclists and pedestrians for not equipping themselves with body armour and christmas tree lights would be more credible if the same effort was placed on motorists and cars. Traffic safety organisations can improve the message they are sending out to their citizens if they even the playing field and state in no uncertain terms how dangerous cars are in cities and how dangerous they are, generally. The culture of fear needs to be flipped on its head.


The Hiearchy of Hazard Control as applied to urban cycling. Bubble wrap solutions are the last resort.


While of course speed, drug and alcohol consumption, distracted driving, and badly designed roads can worsen the impacts, let’s not dance around the basic facts if cities and nations truly want to achieve Vision Zero. Providing an even distribution of alternative infrastructure options for people is clearly a key factor in making this change, but it also needs to go hand in hand with honest road safety initiatives that don’t misinform, misrepresent, or scare.

In short, as it is now, if these traffic safety organisations are only speaking to themselves, backslapping each other at closed conferences, and arrogantly exaggerating the effect of their tired, last century campaign strategies - as well as being so completely disconnected from the rest of us working to improve city life around the world - do we have to listen to them or give them any credibility?

Probably not. We can wonder, however, why they continue to recieve funding to broadcast flawed messages without any positive results and zero accountability.

Fluorescent in Traffic
Remember your reflective clothing in traffic.