17 December 2014

The Arrogance of Space - Sao Paulo, Brazil

Arrogance of Space SaoPaulo 001
We felt it was time for another look at the Arrogance of Space, this time applying our filter to an intersection in Sao Paulo, Brazil.

Our friend and colleague Dora Moreira took this photo for us last week - Dec 2015 - of the intersection of Praça Julio Mesquita - Avenues São João & Rua Vitória. It was 16:40 on a Saturday. Looks nice and quiet with not a lot of traffic of any sort. We are, however, looking at the space allocated to various transport forms.

Arrogance of Space SaoPaulo 002

When you apply the colours to the photo, you start to see The Arrogance of Space emerge. This photo is a little deceptive because it is not completely aerial. The yellow of the buildings dominates, so let's focus on the streetspace. Despite being in the heart of Sao Paulo, pedestrians are not afforded very much space. The angry red of the roads emerges as the clear winner in the space sweepstakes.

A token strip of purple denotes some sort of bike lane - far from anything we recognise as Best Practice. Not to mention the fact that paint does little to keep cyclists safe. The Mayor of Sao Paulo is talking up bicycle infrastructure. If THIS is what he has in mind, we're not impressed.

Some leafy trees are visible - the one in the foreground is on a small square - and some line the streets. (Not everyone has time to sit on a bench - most have to go from A to B.)
Arrogance of Space SaoPaulo 003
Take away the photo and The Arrogance of Space is revealed. We doubt that the street on the left actually needs four lanes. Narrow them down, expand the sidewalks and implement cycle tracks on both sides.

It's what a modern city would do.

13 December 2014

Street Photography from the World's Youngest Urbanist

Lulu Street Photography_40
Everybody sees their city differently. What does the city look like through the eyes of The World's Youngest Urbanist? Lulu-Sophia keeps delivering a solid flow of pure observations about city life. She also grows up in a home filled with cameras and has free access to all of them. What about putting those two things together, I thought.

Some Canon camera, be it 5 or 7D is usually lying in the window sill at our place. I often find photos on the memory card that Lulu-Sophia had taken of people out on the street in front of our flat. She just started picking up the camera and shooting. A couple of years ago I started handed her the camera when we're riding around on the Bullitt cargo bike.

I never say what she should take photos of. I just say "take photos if you want". Totally up to her and no big deal if she doesn't. Sometimes I don't notice what she does but when I load the photos onto the computer, I get to see what she sees. And it is quite wonderful.

I've made a little set of her street photography work on Flickr from when she was five but here are some of her shots from the urban landscape. Both from the flat and from the Bullitt.
Lulu Street Photography_38
By and large, she photographs people. Still Life must be like watching paint dry for a five year old. Humans, please. Except, perhaps, for a pretty red bicycle (farther down) that caught her eye.

Lulu Street Photography_5 Lulu Street Photography_26

Lulu Street Photography_41 Lulu Street Photography (2)
People doing things. Transporting themselves, waiting for someone, observing - in their own way - their city. Humans watching humans.

Lulu Street Photography Lulu Street Photography_20

Lulu Street Photography_13 Lulu Street Photography_23

Lulu Street Photography_32

Lulu Street Photography_9 Lulu Street Photography_14

Lulu Street Photography_7 Lulu Street Photography_18
There are many bicycles, mostly because it's like shooting fish in a barrel in Copenhagen. You can't take a shot without a bicycle in it. When shooting from the flat, she shoots cyclists and pedestrians.
Lulu Street Photography_12

Lulu Street Photography_42 Lulu Street Photography_17

Lulu Street Photography_16

Lulu Street Photography_34 Lulu Street Photography_2

Lulu Street Photography_11
And of course, the set wouldn't be complete without a shot of your big brother, Felix.

12 December 2014

Bicycles in Language

Danish Bicycle History - Wind
I have always been fascinated by how the bicycle has muscled its way into various languages. There are numerous bicycle references in Danish that are used by reflex, without any direct reference to a bicycle anecdote. I started wondering if this is the case in other languages and have scribbled notes down based on conversations with colleagues and friends.

According to Danish historian Finn Wodschow, there are more references to the bicycle in Danish literature, music and film than in any other country. Not surprisingly, there are a few bicycle-related expressions that have embedded themselves even deeper in the linguistic culture.

If you know of any others, in other languages, feel free to add them in the comments.

DANISH
Kæden er hoppede af
"The chain fell off" is used when something goes wrong.

Example:
"Sorry I'm late, but the chain fell off for me today".
You can also claim that the chain fell off for someone else, if they are having a bad day, or screwed up.

Cykler rundt i det
"Cycling around in it" is used to describe someone who is confused or talking about something without really getting to the point.

Example:
"That politician is really cycling around in it."

Medvind & modvind
"Tailwind & headwind" are pretty self-explanatory. Although while in English the word tailwind originates in aviation, in Danish the translation is more generic. "With wind" and "Against wind". Denmark is a windy place. It's also a sailing nation. Wind factors in to many aspects of life. Because of a long, proud bicycle history, however, these two words are used often in the language.

Example:
If things are going very well for you in your life... "Sounds like you really have a 'with wind' at the moment! Great!"
Or if things aren't going so good, "Yeah, my company is in a bit of a headwind this year."

Sol eller vind
"Sun or wind". When your Nordic citizens, by and large, have spent great amounts of time transporting themselves on bicycles for over a century, things get boiled down to the basics. Sun is good. Wind is bad. Indeed, since 1934, two statues have looked out over City Hall Square. One is a woman on a bicycle who rotates out when it is fair weather and one is a woman with an umbrella, who rotates out when the forecast is for rain. THAT'S how important sun and wind are here.

Example:
How is your new relationship going? "Not sure. It's sun and wind."

Gi' baghjul or Vis baghjul
To "give backwheel" is a very good thing, unless you're the one who was given it. You can also "show" your backwheel to someone if you want to get ahead of them in whatever sense. This one orginates in cycle sport, but is used in all aspects of Danish life.

Example:
"Give cancer the backwheel!" is actually a campaign to raise money for children with cancer. A TV show can give another competing show backwheel if they beat them in the ratings. And so on.

Ligge i baghjul
"Lying on the backwheel" - essentially 'drafting' in English - is not something you want to do but it can also be a good thing.

Example:
A political party can lie on the backwheel of a competing party, meaning they are being beaten in the polls. You can, however, also say "Now I'm lying on his backwheel", meaning you have risen up the ranks and are breathing down a competitor's neck, ready to overtake and put yourself in the lead.

Højere gear
To move into a "higher gear" is generally considered to indicate that you are speeding up, gaining momentum, going to the next level.

Example:
We really have to go to a higher gear on this project...

Køre på frihjul
To "ride on a free wheel" in English (see farther down) is regarded as a good thing, suggesting freedom. If somebody gets a "free ride", however, it is not generally very good at all. Which is the meaning in Danish.

Gi' den fuld pedal
To "give it full pedal" means to speed up, accelerate, go hard.

Example:
We have to give it full pedal if we're going to make the deadline.

Hold kæden stram
"Keep your chain tight". Meaning "hang in there" when you're doing something, be it working towards a deadline, going through a rough patch in your life, and so on.

FRENCH
As a country with a proud cycling history, the bicycle has made several linguistic contributions to French.

Sucer la roue
Essentially "sucking the wheel", this is French for sitting tight on the backwheel of the cyclist in front of you. Same as the Danish meaning and used in other areas of life.

La tete dans le guidon
Having "the head on the handlebars" is not considered a good thing. If your forehead is on the handlebars, you're not watching where you're going. You are distant and inattentive.

Dejanté
This means riding without tires. (Quick historical aside: During wartime, all over Europe, rubber was hard to get a hold of. It was often necessary to cycle on the rims. In Denmark, and probably elsewhere, if you couldn't get inner tubes, you stuffed your tires with grass or hay in a desperate attempt at a softer ride.)

In French it is used to describe someone with odd, inconsistent behaviour or behaviour outside the norm.

Perdre les pédales
If you "lose the pedals", things are not good. You are losing control or going crazy. Dates from the age before the free wheel when the pedals just went round and round in a world of their own. Can't keep up? You've lost it.

Changer de braquet
"Changing the gears" means, like in Danish, to get moving, go to the next level.

En roue libre
Directly translated as "in free wheel" this expression exists in French, like it does in Danish and English. In French it means "without restraint" or "easily, without additional effort". Clearly different than the Danish, but positive like in English.

Bécyk a pédales
Mostly shortened to plain old "Bécyk", this is a slang for the bicycle unique to Quebec French. It is a mutation of the English word bicycle and has generally had a derogatory connotation. Just short of ridicule of a transport form for poor, working class people. I have heard it used, however, more and more often in Quebecois as a generic slang for bicycle.

Avec pas d'casque
Translated simply as "With no helmet", this phrase went in the opposite direction, from ice hockey to general use, including urban cycling, and is another phrase unique to Quebec French. Helmets started to appear in North American ice hockey in the 1970s. They were made mandatory in 1979 but players who had signed a contract before 1 June, 1979 were not obliged to do so. Many top players from Quebec were known for their flowing hair and the expression became associated with a kind of freestyle attitude. Someone with flair and style. The current mayor of Le Plateau, Luc Ferrandez cycles without a helmet and pas d'casque has been used to describe him in more ways than one.

DUTCH
Op n oude fiets moet je het leren
It may have other applications, but it is also has sexual connotations. "You have to learn it on an old bike" can be used to describe a young man dating an older woman.

Fietsenrek
"Bike rack". Used to describe the gap in a child's teeth when they lose the front ones. A hole big enough to park a bike in.

Op die fiets
This translates as "on that bike". The meaning is akin to "oh, THAT'S what you mean", when you just realised it.

Wat heb ik nou aan mijn fiets hangen?
"What's hanging from my bike now?" is the translation and it means something like "What weird thing is happening now?" or, quite possibly, just WTF!?

In de wielen rijden
"Riding in the wheels" and it refers to obstructive behaviour.

Ga toch fietsen!
While the translation is "just go cycling", it really means "piss off!"

Omfietswijn
"To bike wine" sounds weird when translated, but it describes a bottle of wine that is good value (meaning cheap... they are Dutch after all) and worth making a detour to buy it.

Luchtfietserij
"Cycling in the sky" and meaning making completely unrealistic plans. (That architect Norman Foster just calls it Sky Cycling)

Als je dat gelooft, dan krijg je een fiets
In English this is "If you believe that, you'll believe anything. In Dutch it is "if you believe that, you get a bicycle."


RUSSIAN
No need to invent the bicycle
When somebody tries to invent something that isn't needed because it's already well-established and works perfectly, you get to chuck out this phrase in Russian.

RUSSIAN?
The best thing since the bicycle
In my notes I have this written down, but I can't remember exactly where it is from. It might be Russian or another Slavic language. In English something can be called the best thing since sliced bread. In this language something really fantastic is called the best thing since the bicycle. Because let's face it, the bicycle was a pretty great invention.

Any help in tracking this expression is welcome.

ENGLISH
As easy as riding a bicycle & just like riding a bicycle
These two well-known expressions in English are worth mentioning. If something is effortless or easy, it's as easy as riding a bicycle. If something - generally a skill - is easy to remember, it's just like riding a bicycle.

Freewheeling/Freewheeler
This expression has its root in the early days of the bicycle. In contrast to Danish (see farther up the list), it is generally a good thing to be a freewheeler. Just as the invention of the free wheel was a pretty good thing, too, so you didn't have to keep pedalling and could just relax.

Breakneck (speed)
Again, from back in the day when privileged white boys who could afford the early models of bicycles like the Penny Farthing took to racing them against each other. If you went over the handlebars at speed on a Penny Farthing, breaking your neck was a realistic possibility.

Coasting
Coasting downhill on a bicycle was/is a pleasure. This word still lingers in English.

Training Wheels
Not totally embedded in English, but still instantly understandable. "I think it's time to take your training wheels off" - which could be good or a bit condescending, depending on the context.

On yer bike
More widespread in the UK, if you say 'on yer bike' to someone, you are basically saying, "get lost".

Town Bike or Village Bike
On a less positive note, a promiscuous woman can be called the town bicycle/ the village bicycle because, it is claimed, everyone has had a ride.

Backpedaling
How did I forget this one? Totally rooted in bicycle culture. Meaning retracting your argument or changing your opinion in the face of opposition.

Handlebar Moustache
Yeah. No guesses as to where THAT description of certain style of hairy upper lip came from.

Add any others you may know in the comments or @ me on Twitter @copenhagenize

Bicycle references in Danish culture

Here are some other, general descriptions using the bicycle from the annals of Danish culture that I've discovered through the years.

"One sits on it either straight-backed, as though you're at a festive dinner party, or hunched foward, as though you just failed an exam. All according to the situation, your inclination or your inborn characteristics."

"And like a large home Copenhagen begins the day's work. Already down on the streets is one at home, with loose hair, long sitting rooms through which one travels socialbly on a bike. In offices, in workshops, in boutiques you are at home, in your own home, one large family that has divided the city among itself and runs it in an orderly fashion, like a large house. So that everyone has a role and everyone gets what they need. Copenhagen is like a large, simple house."

"In the stream of cycles over Knippels Bridge we see Gudrun again, pedaling steadily. As though her and the machine are one. She is Copenhagen and Copenhagen is her."

"If one (Ed. cyclist) is bumped by a car, the whole school is bumped. It's a nerve one has in the elbow, a flock function, which Copenhageners have learned so well that it is second nature".
The above three by Johannes V. Jensen, from the novel Gudrun / 1936


27 November 2014

Cologne/Köln Ridicules Pedestrians in name of "safety"


Thanks to reader Felix Feldhofer for the photo and the heads up about this story.

By and large, history is repeating itself as we work towards making cities better. We are returning to many of the ideas that made cities human - before the automobile appeared. It's often a very good thing.

Which makes what is happening in Cologne, Germany, even more comical, bizarre and stupid. It is absolutely shocking. A stunning example of Ignoring the Bull.

We've written before about The Anti-Automobile Age in the early years of the 20th Century. In this article, you can read about the "jaywalking" concept, basically invented by the automobile industry to keep the streets clear for their cars and get the irritating, squishy obstacles out of the way. I highlight this in my Bicycle Urbanism by Design TED x talk.

We know it was crazy. We know that it was a desperate - and successful - ploy by the automobile industry to claim the streets for themselves, despite the fact that for 7000 years since cities first where formed, crossing the street was a rather normal thing to do. As Canadian writer Chris Turner points out, there is no jaywalking on sustainable streets.

If you thought the idea in some American cities of putting flags at pedestrian crossings for pedestrians to wave at cars when crossing was wacky and sooo last century, you'll love Cologne.

The City, the police and the tram company (Big Auto is chuckling in the wings) are financing a campaign to stop people from jaywalking. Goofy men in red and green costumes wander around the city ridiculing pedestrians doing what urban homo sapiens have done for seven millenia. Crossing the street to get somewhere they need to go.

Auto Club of Southern California Sponsored Signs December 1923 New York Herald Tribune 29.07.1925

Back in the day, the Automobile Industry enlisted boy scouts to hand out flyers and chastise, publicly, pedestrians who were "jaywalking". Amazingly - and I mean that in the most stunned, jaw-dropping way - the authorities are actually handing out whistles to children when they visit them in schools and training them to blow their whistles at jaywalkers. In the public space. Ridiculing them. It's the Cologne version of a mix between Stasi methods and public stocks - as choreographed by Monty Python.

Chicago Motor Club safety poster Textbook for Schools 1932 Charles P Hughes 1924 song Beware Little Children
Cologne is regurgitating propaganda from the 1920s invented by the car industry.

The police and the city, who are indoctrinating the children between 3rd and 7th grade - for taxpayer money - call it a "behaviour" campaign. They call it "Köln steht bei Rot" - or "Cologne stops for red". But the whole kid/whistle is an intiative called "Ich verpfeife dich". It's a German play on words. Directly translated it means "I will whistle you" but it also means "I am going to tell on you!"

Seriously. That is the level that the City of Cologne and the police are working at. In 2014.

It's one thing to get an idea for such a campaign. It's quite another to actually finance it and start it. It is one of the most bizarre examples of cities advertising how completely incompetent they are at controlling the destruction on their streets. Placing the responsibility on the vulnerable traffic users and not the Bull.

This entire campaign disgusts me. No offence, American friends, but it something that we're used to seeing coming out the States. That it is happening in a large northern European city that should know better is depressing.

It's certainly not a new idea. Bogota has also chased pedestrians in a similar fashion and tried to sugarcoat it in academia.

Another article in German about the campaign.

13 November 2014

Cycling Without Age in YOUR City


Watch this TED x talk. It is inspiring. It is moving. It is important. Watch it and share it.

Not just because it's about bikes but because it is about caring for our elderly, rebuilding a volunteer-minded society and it is about how individuals with passion and vision can change things. Change things quickly, effectively and massively.

I know this individual. I work three metres from him every day. Ole Kassow is his name.

I met Ole in 2010 at TED x Copenhagen when I was presenting this TED talk. He introduced himself and told me that reading Copenhagenize.com and Cycle Chic was the direct inspiration for selling the family car and banking on bicycles, as I wrote about previously.

Ole is the single most inspiring individual I know in my life. Full stop. The story, outlined in the above TED talk could have happened to many people, but of course it happened to Ole. And of course Ole took it to the next level, even though the development of the project Cycling Without Age / Cykling uden alder has taken him by surprise.

There are countless good points in the book The Culture of Fear by British sociologist Frank Furedi about the societal development since the 1950s - from a sense of community to a more egoistic, individual state of mind. This loss of community is regrettable. Fewer people volunteer for things, fewer people participate in organisations, etc.. It's easier to LIKE something on Facebook.



I don't need to write too much about Ole's Cycling Without Age project - he spells it out brilliantly in the TED talk, above. But I am amazed how the project has captured the imagination of so many people and how the volunteer-based participation bucks the societal trend in style. People of all ages are signing up to take the elderly for bike rides. Giving the elderly The Right to Wind in Their Hair with bicycles is something that has hit a nerve.

As I write this, there are about 37 municipalities in Denmark who are now rolling around with their elderly citizens. 150 rickshaws are on the cycle tracks of the nation, with many, many more on the way. Because of the demand, Ole is having a new rickshaw developed.

The international interest is just as massive. Eight municipalities in Norway are rolling. There is interest from twelve countries in starting up Cycling Without Age. Even as far away as Australia, New Zealand, US and Canada.

You can never plan for anything to go viral. It just does. When it's a passionate project about caring for our elderly, it's fantastic.

You simply can't not be involved. Wherever you are in the world. This is too important. Check this out:

Cycling Without Age in Your City?

I have been completely fascinated by the European Space Agency landing a probe on a comet 500 million km away from earth this week. I've been staring at the photos, absorbing all the articles. It's amazing. If I think about it, however, Cycling Without Age led by Ole and his team is just as impressive. The same "how is it POSSIBLE?" and "how do they DO it?" questions arise. I am amazed, inspired, impressed.

Let's not rest until rickshaws are rolling around the world and our elderly have been given the right to wind in their hair.

04 November 2014

The Race for the Life-Sized City




It's simply not fair that there are so many board games featuring a car-centric, last-century theme, like this one:


Or even this online version.

So, together with Doug Gordon, who runs the Brooklyn Spoke blog and who should be immediately followed on Twitter, Erik and Mikael from Copenhagenize Design Company decided to rectify the matter by whipping up a board game for the Life-Sized City. Like so many things regarding cities, the idea is old but still good - snakes (or chutes) and ladders has been around for many centuries - known as Moksha Patam in India.

Find a die and start rolling. It ain't easy, sunshine, but it's possible to win.

You can also download the .pdf if you want.

25 October 2014

Copenhagenizing Bangkok - Suvarnabhumi Airport Cycle Track

Cycle Track at Suvarnabhumi Airport, Bangkok

A team from Copenhagenize Design Company recently returned from Bangkok where we had the pleasure of working on an exciting project. It is fantastic to be surprised. Thailand's second largest bank, Siam Commercial Bank (SCB), have constructed a 23.5 km long cycle track around Bangkok International Airport - Suvarnabhumi. The beginning of one of the most impressive CSR projects we've ever seen and we are excited to be a part of it. It's not every day projects on this scale see the light of day and we had a fantastic site visit with our partners from SCB, King Power and Superjeew Event.

Copenhagenize Design Company have been hired to take the basic idea and simply make it World-Class. It's a brilliant combination of placemaking, infrastructure, planning and communication for a destination for cyclists and Citizen Cyclists alike. Basically developing what could be one of the most interesting bicycle destinations in the world.


copenhagenize@suvarnabhumi bike track from Viwat Wongphattarathiti on Vimeo.
Copenhagenize Rides the Suvarnabhumi Track

Bascially, SCB, together with Airports of Thailand (AOT) who own the land, took an access road along the perimeter of the airport and resurfaced it in a bright, green colour - 4 m wide - to create a one-way cycle track for recreational/sport cycling. The road is inside the airport's moat designed for flood protection and outside of the fence leading to the runways and airport's operational area.

For obvious security reasons, there is only one access point and the cycle track is one-way along the entire 23.5 km length.
Cycle Track at Suvarnabhumi Airport, Bangkok
Mie, Anina and Mikael from Copenhagenize Design Company on the site-visit.

At the moment, the airport cycle track is in a basic form. The cycle track loops around the airport but there are no facilities. It is open from 06:00-18:00 each day. On the Sunday morning that we visited for our site visit, we arrived at 07:30. The security team at the entrance informed us that 6000 people had already entered the track. Six thousand! An astonishing number. On average, there are 3000 people a day on a weekday using it - primarily in the morning and afternoon before and after work but also because the temperature is cooler.

Riding along the 23.5 km length, we never really felt that it was crowded with 6000 cyclists. They all spread out nicely along the track, what with differing speeds.

Cycle Track at Suvarnabhumi Airport, Bangkok Cycle Track at Suvarnabhumi Airport, Bangkok
There was a great variety of cyclists on the track. The vast majority were kitted out in cyclist clothes and riding racing bikes in a wide spectrum of skill levels. There were groups of riders muscling past at speed and there were couples, friends and individuals enjoying some exercise.
Cycle Track at Suvarnabhumi Airport, Bangkok Cycle Track at Suvarnabhumi Airport, Bangkok
There were a few kids out on the track, too. Copenhagenize rocked the track on three Bromptons provided by our hosts.

Cycle Track at Suvarnabhumi Airport, Bangkok Cycle Track at Suvarnabhumi Airport, Bangkok
At the start area, a short 1 km track has been added so that kids - or less-experienced cyclists - can go for a spin as well.

Cycle Track at Suvarnabhumi Airport, Bangkok
At this stage, Copenhagenize Design Company is in the midst of the consultation process so we'll have to wait with writing about our catalogue of ideas for how to take this fantastic facility and make it truly world-class.

Until then we are amazed that it even exists.

Bangkok is not exactly known for being a bicycle-friendly city. While Copenhagenize Design Company primarily works with cities on transport infrastructure, this project is too amazing to resist for us. We are convinced that making it into a world-class destination will have a powerful knock-on effect for improving conditions for cyclists in the city itself, where bicycle advocates are fighting an inspired fight.


Like getting this separated bicycle facility put into place on one street in Bangkok.

The airport cycle track may be a roundabout way of doing it, but the local advocates are doing great work so it will all go hand in hand. The Prime Minister of Thailand helped us all out by announcing, on the day before we arrived in Thailand, that he wants Thai cities to focus on bicycles as transport in Thai cities. So thanks, Mr Prayuth Chan-ocha, for that.

23 October 2014

New York Journalist Covers Cycling in Denmark and Scandinavia

This just in... hot off the presses. As always, Copenhagenize has its finger on the pulse of breaking news.

A roving New York reporter covers cycling in Scandinavia.

"If for nothing else the bicycle is blessed in Scandinavia because it saves time."

"No other country has done more for the pleasure and comfort of its wheelmen than Denmark..."

"The construction of pavements takes in consideration what best can serve the interests of cyclists, and cycle paths are provided near all cities, in some instances leading miles away from town into the country."

"...ride to market on their bicycles with baskets strapped to their backs, and other baskets dangling from the handle-bars of the wheel. ... they seldom come to grief, and manage to keep their equilibrium to their journey's end."

From the New York Sun. 19 February 1897. 42,979 days ago (based on today's date)
(The Sun was a New York newspaper that was published from 1833 until 1950. It was considered a serious paper, like the city's two more successful broadsheets The New York Times and the New York Herald Tribune. The Sun was the most politically conservative of the three.)

22 October 2014

Anniversary of the Modern Copenhagen Cycle Track

Happy Birthday Copenhagen Bike Lanes! 25 years of cycling safety
I made the above graphic back in 2008 to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the return of Copenhagen's separated cycle tracks.

Now it's 31 years on, but the anniversary is timeless.
Building Bike Lanes
It was in June 1983 that the Copenhagen cycle track returned to Copenhagen. Meaning cycle tracks separated from cars on one side and pedestrians on the other by curbs.

For the record, there were cycle tracks prior to this. Historically, separated cycle tracks criss-crossed Copenhagen but many were removed during the brain fart that was the 50s and 60s where planners decided the car was a good horse to back.

Marking Bike Lanes ca 1915
Here are the first bike lanes being marked out back in... 1915.

Building Bike Lanes in the 1930's
Here is a cycle track being constructed back in ... 1930.

But the return of the physically-separated cycle track in the modern era is a landmark. The City of Copenhagen made a visonary choice in implementing them. Cycling levels plummeted through the 50s and 60s from a peak in the late 1940s. By the late 60s, the modal share hit 9% after a high of 55%. Due... you guessed it... to infrastructure being removed to make space for cars.

Through the 1970s, the focus returned to the bicycle as a solution to transport problems. In 1983, the foundation was laid - in stone - for a return to rationality. Jens Kramer Mikkelsen, head of the traffic department (and later Lord Mayor) was responsible for the paradigm shift. A shift which continued unabated until today, where 41% of people arriving in the City of Copenhagen at work or education do so on bicycles. Of the citizens of Copenhagen municipality, the number is 55% who cycle every day. Only 12% drive cars.

On June 4, 1983 the Danish Cyclists' Union, at a large bicycle demonstration, gave a "Cyclist Award" to Mikkelsen in the form of a two metre long curb to symbolise the physical separation from traffic.

The cycle track was placed on the bike lane on Amagerbrogade at the corner of Hollænderdybet - just after Amagerboulevard - a sacred shrine for bike culture if anyone wants to start a'pilgrimage-ing.


The photo features the Cyclist Award and the two chaps who made it - stone mason Uffe Mohr [right] and his apprentice Egon Albertsen [left].