20 November 2015

Copenhagenizing Paris

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

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

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

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

Best Practice has been established. It's ridiculous to try and reinvent the wheel. Copy-paste. It's that simple.
Copenhagenize The Champs-Élysées
If the iconic Champs-Élysées were to be done properly, it would look a bit like this. We would probably run a wide, green meridan down the middle to further reduce the traffic so it didn't keep on looking like a Robert Doisneau photograph from the 1950s:

Robert Doisneau - Traffic in Paris
It's all so simple. Paris should realise that.

The Arrogance of Space Paris - Eiffel Tower 001
We have covered The Arrogance of Space related to Paris in this article. Using as an example the intersection, above, below the Eiffel Tower. You can see the Arrogance of Space in that link. But what would it look like if proper infrastructure were applied?

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

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

15 November 2015

New Elevated Cycle Track in Copenhagen - 65 metres high

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Puente de Vizcaya
After digesting the news of this bridge, we wonder if it really is the best solution. Like so much else, cool stuff has already been invented. Look at the Puente de Vizcaya in Bilbao, dating from 1893. Same issues were tackled. Large ships passing by and yet the need to connect two shores. Four million people use this bridge every year. It takes a minute and a half to glide from one side to the other. There is no way that the Copenhagen solution, above, is going to take 90 seconds.

Cruzando el río
Once again, a simpler solution has already been invented and has worked fine for over 120 years. We started this article with a reserved level of enthusiasm and then ended up with a feeling of WTF.

11 November 2015

Amsterdam City Council Agrees to Remove More Cars

Amsterdam Cycle Chic_14
After all the buzz about Oslo going car-free a couple of weeks ago, yet another city is making the move to modernise.

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

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

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

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

The accessibility paradigm for the City of Amsterdam.

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

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

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

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

Here is the original text from the City of Amsterdam.

05 November 2015

Arrogance of Space: Barcelona

Barcelona Pity the Motorist

Click here for a version in Catalan and Spanish // Feu clic aquí per una versió en català i en espanyol

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Arrogance of Space
Arrogance of Space: Barcelona 01
We decided to apply our Arrogance of Space tool to some random streets in the city. Here is a classic boulevard intersection on Carrer de la Marina. The classic form as laid out by Ildefons Cerdà back in in the late 1800s is apparent here. Cerdà planned for humans and sustainable transport but it is clear that the past few generations of Barcelonan politicians have put their money on the automobile and seen these intersections as massive parking lots and high-speed thoroughfares. Cerdà didn't make stuff up but others have since then.
Arrogance of Space: Barcelona 01
If you apply the Arrogance of Space tool to the intersection, it becomes apparent how undemocratic the space is.
Arrogance of Space: Barcelona 01
Removing the photo and the arrogance is completely and utterly clear. A few people in cars are given an ocean of red space to move around in. Pedestrians have half-decent facilities but when it comes to bicycle urbanism and modernising the infrastructure to accommodate for them, space has clearly not been provided.

Arrogance of Space: Barcelona 01
In Cerdà's grid system, the easiest way to fix the problem is to get a ruler.  Barcelona prides itself on its public space so there is ample opportunity to improve on that. Make the corners 90 degrees and create public space on each corner. Implement Best Practice bicycle infrastructure along the curbs, where it belongs.

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

Arrogance of Space: Barcelona 02
Another randomly chosen intersection on Avenida Diagnol. Cerdà would roll in his grave if he saw what had happened here.
Arrogance of Space: Barcelona 02
Applying the colours and the same pattern appears.
Arrogance of Space: Barcelona 02
Complete engineering arrogance. Cars eating steak and bread crumbs for the cyclists. Pedestrians, too, have to navigate a veritable labyrinth in order to get from A to B.

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

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

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

Barcelona Pity the Motorist

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

Aquesta setmana , l'alcaldessa de Barcelona, Ada Colau i la tinent d’alcaldessa de la ciutat visitaran Copenhaguen. Colau, forma part de la coalició d'esquerra alternativa " Barcelona en comú " i va ser escollida al maig de 2015.

Estem segurs que la seva visita serà una gran font d'inspiració per als barcelonins i barcelonines. Pel que fa a urbanisme i bicicleta en particular, hi ha coses específiques que han d'estudiar amb atenció i prendre nota.

Sóc un fan de Barcelona . Jo mateix he passat molt de temps a la ciutat, al menys de dues ocasions en vacances d'estiu amb els meus fills. En general vam poder pedalar al voltant de grans parts de la ciutat i sentir-nos segurs, es noten les millores en infraestructures i la pacificació del trànsit motoritzat. Veig Barcelona com una ciutat amb un enorme potencial per augmentar la quota modal dels desplaçaments en bicicleta i per maximitzar el seu roll com a líder des de 2008. Un posicionament just a The Copenhagenize Index també indica que la ciutat ha fet molt en comparació amb altres grans ciutats de tot el món. Tanmateix, hi ha molta feina per fer.

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

Infraestructura i millors enginyers
Quelcom estrany sobre Barcelona és que, tot i que les millors pràctiques en infraestructura ciclista han estat implementades amb èxit arreu del mon des de fa al voltant d'un segle, la ciutat ha deixat als seus urbanistes i enginyers inventar-se coses. El inventar-se coses, en lloc d'utilitzar dissenys establerts i provats, no és un ús racional dels diners dels contribuents.

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

L'Ajuntament defensa aquests extravagants dissenys afirmant que eviten conflictes amb les parades d'autobusos i els camions d'escombraries i que milloren la seguretat a les interseccions. Fa relativament poc que es fan aquestes invents , així que dubto que hi hagi quantitat de dades comparables amb la millor pràctica en infraestructura ciclista... ¿Parades d’autobús? ¿De debò es pensen que no hi ha busos en altres ciutats com Copenhaguen?

L'autobús 5A aquí, és la línia d'autobús més concorreguda al nord d'Europa, amb 60.000 passatgers al dia. Hi ha solucions per a les parades d'autobús i la infraestructura ciclista. Copiar, enganxar. Estalviar. Obtenir els millors resultats.

L'Ajuntament també està planificant i executant invents a les rotondes . Sense tenir en compte el fet que els holandesos han descobert la millor pràctica per rotondes fa anys, deixen als tècnics que s’inventin coses . Es clar, tan sols estan jugant amb vides humanes.

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

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

L'Ajuntament de Barcelona té algunes dades en quan als desplaçaments ciclistes, però en realitat no són suficients.

Copenhaguen és sense cap dubte la millor ciutat del món per reunir dades sobre tots els aspectes de la vida urbana.

Aquesta és una gran comanda per endur-se els catalans durant la visita a la ciutat.

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

Objectius més ambiciosos
L'Ajuntament es creu que està planificant per als ciclistes que hi ha ara (tot i que abans del 2006 no hi havia gaire be ningú) i semblen molt poc interessats en augmentar el repartiment modal en bicicleta quan estableixen un objectiu oficial d’arribar al 2,5% de quota per les bicicletes (PMU 2013-2018). Per a una ciutat que ha fet tant per al ciclisme urbà, és sorprenent que no s'atreveixin a ambicionar dos dígits.

L’arrogància de l’espai
Arrogance of Space: Barcelona 01
Hem decidit aplicar la nostra eina sobre l'arrogància de l'espai en alguns carrers a l'atzar de la ciutat. Aquí hi ha una intersecció clàssica a l'avinguda de la Marina. La forma clàssica, com l’exposa Ildefons Cerdà a finals de 1800, és evident. Cerdà va preveure espai per als éssers humans i el transport sostenible, però està clar que les últimes generacions de polítics barcelonins han posat els seus diners en l'automòbil i han vist aquestes interseccions com estacionaments massius i vies d'alta velocitat. Cerdà no va fer invents estranys però els altres sí que ho han fet des de llavors.
Arrogance of Space: Barcelona 01

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

Arrogance of Space: Barcelona 01
Si traiem la foto original , l'arrogància és total i absolutament clara. A unes poques persones en els seus cotxes se'ls dóna un oceà d'espai de color vermell per moure’s. Els vianants tenen infraestructures mig decents, però quan es tracta d'urbanisme de la bicicleta i la modernització de la infraestructura per donar cabuda als ciclistes, l'espai no ha estat clarament proporcionat.

Arrogance of Space: Barcelona 01
En el sistema de quadrícula de Cerdà , la forma més fàcil de solucionar el problema és aconseguir una esquadra.

Barcelona, ​​s'enorgulleix del seu espai públic, així que hi ha una gran oportunitat per millorar en això. Fent les cantonades a 90 graus i creant espai públic a cada cantonada . Implementant la millor pràctica en infraestructura ciclista que consisteix en col·locar els carrils bici enganxats a les voreres, on han d'estar.

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

Arrogance of Space: Barcelona 02
Una altra intersecció escollida a l'atzar a l'Avinguda Diagonal . Cerdà es retorçaria en la seva tomba si veiés el que s'ha fet aquí.
Arrogance of Space: Barcelona 02
Aplicant els colors apareix el mateix patró.
Arrogance of Space: Barcelona 02
Enginyeria completament arrogant. Entrecot per als cotxes i motlles de pa per als ciclistes. Els vianants també han de navegar per un veritable laberint per arribar del punt A al punt B.

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

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

Traducción Española

La arrogancia del espacio: Barcelona

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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


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

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

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


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


Aplicando los colores aparece el mismo patrón.


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

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

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

03 November 2015

Bicycle Culture Mythbusting - The Complete Guide

Cross Section of Copenhageners Slice
Article originally published on 19 November 2007. Revised November 2015.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We could go on.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So winter cycling is a thing, and has been since the bicycle was invented.
Vintage bike messenger #VikingBiking . Odense. 1953 Danish Bicycle History - Some Things Never Change
Vintage Winter Cycling in Denmark

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

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

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

The winter is an easy thing to tackle with infrastructure that is prioritized for snow clearance. There is, admittedly, larger challenges like Climaphobia and living in Vaccuum-packed Cities. But hey. Let’s start somewhere. Infrastructure. And keeping it clear of snow. In Copenhagen, the cycle tracks are cleared first. No discussion. Here is a map of the on-street cycle tracks in the city and next to it a map of the bicycle infrastructure (including off-street) that are prioritized first when it snows. Here is an article about how the City of Copenhagen does it and encourages 75% of all cycling citizens to continue all winter.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Basically, whatever myth or misconception people can think up, there are people proving them wrong somewhere in the world at any given moment. Mythbusting is time-consuming and often frustrating but it is a necessity. For a while longer, at least.

28 October 2015

Oslo Reacts to News of a Better Future

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Interesting reading, in Norwegian, is Gehl Architects analysis, which hammers home the point that public transport users and pedestrians are the people who spend money in the city centre. Motorists are at the bottom of the list.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

27 October 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

19 October 2015

Oslo Gets its Gameface On

A lonely tree and pedestrian overpasses! #Oslo parties like it's 1964! @oslourbanforum #Urbanism
Oslo, that little brother of Nordic capitals, recently had elections that saw a shift from right to left. The new city council announced today their plan for the city in a number of areas. The most relevant for this article is the transport visions. And they are impressive.

We know all too well that talk is cheap and political talk is often completely lacking in value, but the list for transforming Oslo is worth translating for a wider audience. Many cities have "plans" and it's important to compare what is happening around the world.

While Oslo is lightyears behind Copenhagen, the city can be compared with Helsinki for it's level of bicycle urbanism and both of those capitals are certainly ahead of Stockholm. One of the key factors for Oslo's potential for growth is the simple fact that they have an office - actually two of them - dedicated to bicycle urbanism. Sykkelprojektet (The Bicycle Project) has eight employees and Sykkeplanseksjonen (Bicycle Plan Section) has about the same. Stockholm, for example, doesn't even have a dedicated bicycle office.

Infrastructure for bicycles in Oslo is few and far between. Most of it is just paint, which does nothing for anyone. Some of it is better. One of the primary challenges is that the Norwegian Road Directorate has calendars on their wall reading 1958. They are, indeed, one of the most backward road directorates in the world regarding lack of inclusion of facilities for bicycles in their standards. Giving the VicRoads ini the State of Victoria, in Australia, a run for their money. So it ain't easy in Oslo or other Norwegian cities.

In 2012, the Ministry of Transport, hired Norconsult and Copenhagenize Design Co. to do a feasbility study about how to increase cycling levels in Norwegian cities. They were tired of the same, tired answers they had been getting from the Road Directorate and wanted a modern reply. A bold move. A good sign.

The key to growing urban cycling in Norway is allowing for Best Practice infrastructure to be built and updating the standards. THAT is the singlemost biggest hurdle facing the bicycle nation. At the moment, Oslo hangs about in the mid-50s on The Copenhagenize Index - out of 120 cities around the world.

Now we turn our focus to Oslo and the promises laid out today by the new city council. We have placed them in the order that we think are most important/visionary.

- Parking spots that are in conflict with bicycle infrastructure will be removed.
--- (Brilliant. Getting this onto the books is the best way to expedite the development of infrastructure and urban cycling)
- Minimum 60 km of bicycle infrastructure i this period.
--- Modest goal. Could be better, but given the current level, it's a good number to start with. Although Buenos Aires put in 140 km in just two years so it seems low considering what is happening elsewhere)
- Oslo must halve emissions by 2020.
--- (That is only five years away. Bold.)
- Oslo will be car-free within the Ring 1 road during that period.
--- (Lots of cities talk about this. Let's see one do it)
- Removal of all free car parking spots in Oslo city centre. (Sounds like they will become paid parking, not removed)
--- (Sounds like they will become paid, not removed, but still a bold move)
- 95% of all emissions will be gone by 2030.
--- (Did they say NINETY-FIVE PERCENT? We'll believe it when we see it, but it's a great vision)
- New Metro tunnel
--- (A good investment to add to the existing network and provide alternatives)
- Car traffic will be reduced by 20% in this period.
--- (Seems like a low number, based on the points above)
- No extension of the E18 motorway to the west.
--- (Of course not. It was the stupidest idea in Norway)
- Rush hour fee for motorists, in collaboration with Akershus.
--- (Extra fee on the existing congestion charge. Not bad at all)
- Oslo City will remove all its investments in companies that produced fossil fuel energy.
--- (Great symbolism)
- Subsidies for e-bike sales.
--- (Doing all of the above and then slapping more fast-moving vehicles on the streets is not exactly the right way to go about it. If they are forced to use the road and not the bicycle infrastructure, fine. 

All good. All interesting. Let's just see what Oslo does with it.

Here you can read about the local reactions to the plans.