10 August 2016

Three Design Elements for Safer Intersections

Safety at the World's Busiest Cycle Intersection (Copenhagen) from STREETFILMS on Vimeo.


Our friend Clarence of Street Films fame was in town last week to further showcase what makes Copenhagen such a life-sized city. This wasn’t his first time. Just a couple years ago we showed him around, checking out the innovative infrastructure that treats bicycle riders with respect. And before that, we showed Street Films around for Cycling in Copenhagen, through North American Eyes.


This time around we thought we’d zoom in a little, taking a more detailed look at the unsung hero of any intuitive and reliable cycle network, the intersection. We met early Friday morning at Søtorvet, the world’s busiest bicycle intersection, with 42,600 bicycle riders every day. 86 percent of all traffic moving through Søtorvet is by bicycle! And don’t think this impressive split is just the status quo, or a fluke. Nope, the City of Copenhagen has made a series of strategic decisions over the past ten years, including widened cycle tracks, public transport investments, and traffic calming initiatives, to encourage the logical modes of transportation.


With such heavy traffic flows, it’s incredibly important to design an intersection that is logical, intuitive, and safe. And one of the simplest ways to insure safety, is to ensure bicycle riders are visible! Three simple design interventions, set back stop-lines, dedicated bicycle signals, and cycle crossing guides, are observed in many Copenhagen intersections and can go a long way in making all road users more comfortable.


Set back stop-lines - This simple design measure improves safety without making any impact on travel times for cars. Setting the stop line for cars five metres behind the cycle stop line ensures, at the very least, that cyclists will be out of the blind spots for a lorry waiting to turn right. Whatsmore, set back stop lines make pedestrians more visible as well.




Dedicated bicycle signals - By giving cyclists their own dedicated traffic signals, both bicycle riders and cars feel more secure travelling through an intersection. The signals are typically placed lower than those directed to cars, putting them directly in the line of sight of the typical cyclist, at least 1.5 metres from the cycle track.


A simple benefit of having dedicated signals is to get cyclists out into the intersection just a couple seconds before cars. This ensures that cyclists are out of any possible blind spots and highly visible. Once the dedicated signal for cyclists has finished, cars are then allowed a couple additional seconds to clear the intersection and complete turns. Like at Søtorvet, dedicated bicycle signals can also easily be combined with set back stop-lines to further improve safety and sense of security.




Blue cycle crossing guides - Once traffic is moving through the intersection, blue cycle crossings help maintain visibility, informing all modes where to expect bicycle traffic. As a colour choice, blue (unlike red for example) tends to age well, maintaining its vibrancy through its lifetime. Danish studies have shown that no more than two blue cycle crossings should be added to one intersection. Any more and the intersection becomes overly cluttered and, in turn, not as safe.




These three design elements are only a few of the simple, yet effective, design elements that go a long way in making a legitimate choice of transportation here in Copenhagen. Depending on the size, capacity, and speed of each intersection, there’s always a design oriented solution.

01 August 2016

The Bicycle Bridges of Copenhagen




By Mia Riefkohl / Copenhagenize Design Company

The City of Copenhagen minds the gaps. Over the past decade, we have witnessed radical changes in the connectivity of Copenhagen, a city bisected by a harbour. We’ve watched as thirteen bridges have popped up (with four more on their way), connecting previously cut off neighbourhoods while facilitating a 13 km recreational path, the Harbour Circle. Mobility and bicycle user experience are both high priorities on the City’s agenda, and these bridges are only a part of a greater plan. But most notable of all, each and every one of these new bridges are off-limits to automobiles, saying loud and clear that this is a city for people. A Life-Sized City. To show how serious the city takes connectivity, we created a map showcasing the new and upcoming bicycle bridges of Copenhagen.

The map above is divided into three categories: the built, the temporary and the proposed. The ten already built are currently in use by those looking for a fast A to B. Bridges are the mobility link inside the urban toolbox that effortlessly solves the problem of crossing an obstacle. Done properly, a bridge is A-to-Bism at it’s finest. The significant number of  bridges is immediately noticeable on our map. While thirteen new bridges for bicycle users and pedestrians have opened since 2006, nine of of them were built in the last two years alone.

Overcoming the Harbour and Canals

Completed in 2006, Bryggebroen was the first new connection built over the Copenhagen harbour in centuries. Bryggebroen served to connect Havneholmen to Islands Brygge and beyond, giving Copenhageners a much needed connection over the harbour. However, crossing the bridge into the city, riders were forced to choose between two inconvenient options: to push their bicycle up  steep stairs, or take an inconvenient, indirect, detour weaving through pedestrians. This gap was filled with the addition of the Cykelslangen, (The Bicycle Snake), in 2014. Cykelslangen is an elevated, orange bike lane, elegantly connecting Bryggebroen to the neighbouring districts, along a dedicated, bicycle only pathway. Shortly after opening, Cykelslangen became an instant Copenhagen urban icon for it’s practical, elegant and functional Danish design. At last count, the two bridges accommodated 14,200 and 12,700 daily bicycle riders, respectively, far exceeding traffic flow predictions. These two bridges set a new standard, bicycle bridges are not only widely popular among residents and visitors alike, but an incredible investment.


Bryggebroen (upper) and Cykelslangen (lower) connecting neighbourhoods. Photo: Ole Malling.

In 2009, we wrote: “What the city needs is access across the harbour farther east, closer to the city centre on the Inner Harbour. Our new Opera and the former military area called Holmen, would benefit greatly from increased access. A network of bridges is needed.” The City took note of these gaps and seven years later the results are in. With four new bridges in the area, Holmen is now better integrated with the rest of the city in all directions. Urban acupuncture at it’s best.
The Inderhavnsbro (AKA the Inner Harbour Bridge, AKA the kissing bridge, AKA the missing bridge), connecting Holmen to Nyhavn, Kongens Nytorv and beyond, opened just three weeks ago, with an already noticeable effect on pedestrian and bicycle flow on Holmen. In addition to the Inner Harbour Bridge, Trangravsbroen and Proviantbroen, have made it easier, faster and safer to move on foot and by bicycle across Holmen and Christianshavn.



The new Inderhavnsbro connects the city centre with Holmen and beyond.

Trangravsbroen conveniently connects three corners of the Holmen district.

Shorter bridges over 17th Century canals, such as Cirkelbroen (the Circle Bridge), and the Frederiksholm Canal bridge, help link almost the entire harbour. Designed by the Danish-Icelandic artist, Olafur Eliasson, Cirkelbroen opened in 2015 and fixed a minor, but important gap in the mobility network of Copenhagen. This beautiful, but modest bridge connects Christiansbro with Applebys Plads and accommodates 2,200 bicycle users daily. Even smaller bridges, less decorated bridges, like Dyssegravenbroen and Laboratoriegravenbroen bridge in Christiania and the Lersoparken-Ryparken bridge also have a big, positive impact on A-to-Bism. The Dyssegraven and Laboratoriegraven bridges are new connections from eastern Amager into the city. While we were biking through Dyssegraven, we stopped and asked a local for his thoughts on the bridge: “It is part of something big. Copenhagen does a lot for cyclists and pedestrians to get around.” We couldn’t agree more.

Olafur Eliasson's Cirkelbroen, inspired by a harbour full of sail boats.


Laboratoriegravbroen in Christiania.


Bridging Urban Divides
It’s easy to see the need for bridges in a maritime city like Copenhagen, but the City’s efforts to connect the urban fabric doesn’t end at the harbour’s edge. Bridges and tunnels also connect bicycle riders to areas previously cut off by busy roads, railways, and construction sites.  
The bridge between Lersoparken and Ryparken was completed in 2014, allowing for pedestrians and bicycle users to cross between two parks and neighborhoods while avoiding indirect and busy roads. Åbuen, opened in 2008, eliminated the challenge for bicycle users approaching and exiting the road bordering between Nørrebro and Frederiksberg. Folehaven Bridge will connect and ensure a safe passage between the Vigerslev park and the Folehave area over the rest of Valby. This bridge will help bicycle users avoid the major traffic barrier that is. The bridge will be located at the municipal boundary and with it’s design it will serve as a dramatic welcome to the city of Copenhagen, reminding automobiles that bicycles are above them.


Åbuen, crossing over Ågade

The city is currently developing two new metro lines, creating inconvenient detours to get around. Two temporary bridges symbolize the commitment of the city to cyclist mobility and not strictly on construction efforts. The Sorted Lake bridge is a new way of experiencing the picturesque lake through a floating shortcut, since the Metro expansion has reduced some of the regular gravel paths next to the lake’s shore. Once the expansion of the Metro is over in 2018, the paths will be back to normal and the floating bridge will be eliminated. Another temporary bridge over Frederiksholms canal was put in this year to give pedestrians and bicycle users the opportunity to bypass the construction of Blox, the future home of Realdania and the Danish Architecture Centre. Without this temporary bridge, one can be strolling down the southern Frederiksholms canal and end up at a dead end forced into relatively fast automobile traffic. If you are on the north side, you must return to the Prince's Bridge near Christiansborg Show Grounds.
And lastly, we have a tunnel. The airy, well-lit Østerbro tunnel opened last year, addressing a major barrier separating residents and bicycle users from Nordhavn and the waterfront. For businesses and residents on Marmormolen, Amerika Plads, and in Århusgade, this tunnel cuts a significant portion of the transportation time welcoming 2,700 bicycle commuters each day.


The newly opened Østerbro tunnel


Bridges on the Horizon
The four proposed new bridges will all further develop the accessibility of the central part of the city and the harbour. Langebrogadebro will connect Vester Voldgade and Langebrogade in Amager and is expected to be completed in 2018 as part of Realdania’s Blox development. The bridge will become part of the green wave network or ‘Grøn Bølge’ that will relieve both car and bicycle congestion of Langebro and Knippelsbro.


As part of Realdania's BLOX development, the foundation has announced Langebrogadebroen, a new pedestrian and bicycle bridge over the harbour.

Bænkebro (The Bench Bridge) will connect Teglholmen and Enghave Brygge, in 2018. The residents of these two areas are currently forced to take a very busy and tedious detour along Vasbygade to commute to and from the city centre, which can easily diminish the desire to commute by bicycle. The new, upcoming Bænkebro will be a nice shortcut through the harbour with less noise and nicer scenery. Once finished, it will be easier to ride all the way down the south harbour connecting the newly developed area at Sluseholmen, and the upcoming commercial and residential area at Enghave Brygge, to the rest of the city.

And perhaps most fantastical of all, there’s the Nordhavn Tower Bridge incorporated into the Copenhagen Gate tower development. Taking the elevation into account, the bridge is hardly an A to B solution. Though initially meant to serve pedestrians and bicycle riders, the latest plans suggest the bicyclists will not be admitted onto the bridge. The bridge will lead from one tower to the other, one at Marmormolbyen and the other upon Langelinie. Each tower will carry its own cable-stay bridge between the two piers and due to the site geography, these bridges will meet at an angle. And we thought the kissing bridge idea was crazy…


The proposed Copenhagen Gate

20 July 2016

Copenhagen Rolls out the Harbour Circle

By Mark Werner / Copenhagenize Design Company

Copenhagen takes no time to rest when it comes to the bicycle, just months after officially kicking off Havneringen, the Harbour Circle project, the route is now complete upon the opening of Inderhavnesbroen, Copenhagen’s newest pedestrian and bicycle bridge. The Harbour Circle only further showcases the city’s commitment to innovative bicycle infrastructure investments. In fall of 2016 the Circle will officially open, a 13 km recreational cycling and pedestrian path lining Copenhagen’s scenic blue harbour and the natural greenery of the city's south side. In recent years Copenhagen has taken strides to connect the city by bridging points along the harbour. The Harbour Circle will serve as a channel for both tourists and locals alike to easily access some of the city’s most notable sites. Stop for ice cream along Nyhavn, swim and relax at Islands Brygge, or stroll through the lush greenery at Amager Fælled. The point of this path is to highlight and connect the many great things around Copenhagen, as it runs through 12 distinct areas of the city. Displaying the clear water of Europe’s cleanest harbour, and granting new access to both historic sites and new architectural gems.



Olafur Eliasson's Circle Bridge is a small, critical connection that helps makes the City's harbour accessible

Adopted by the city budget in 2014, the Harbour Circle project officially kicked off just months ago, in May 2016, complete with a bicycle parade, concerts, food, and kayaking in the harbour. Set for completion in late 2016, the Harbour Circle is part of a much larger goal to link the city with all parts of the harbour, independent from the car. Multiple bridges have been built in this recent effort, beginning in 2006 with Bryggebroen, the first new connection between the district of Amager and Copenhagen in centuries. Prior, only two bridges existed connecting the highly populated Christianshavn, and further to Amager. While some of the new bridges are to be funded by the municipality, Danish foundations are footing the bill for others. Newly created bridges are strictly for pedestrians and cyclists, in an effort to discourage the car and further improve the walkability and bikeability of the city.

The Harbour Circle leads through a diverse range of landscapes.


Funding for this 13 million kr. project comes from both the Copenhagen Municipality and the National Bicycle Group. The Harbour Circle project includes three main components, the most significant is to build infrastructure such as bike paths and a temporary bridge. Further funding is set to place signs throughout the route providing information about each site and to guide people on their journey. Lastly, efforts are made to establish partnerships to market the route to locals and tourists. The Harbour Circle project is another endeavor to create a vibrant, life-sized city that will attract people into the city, adding to the diversity and liveliness of the downtown. The creation of the Harbour Circle will tie the city closer and allow everyone access to many of the destinations Copenhagen has to offer, yet another effort to assure its claim to fame of Copenhagen as a bicycle destination.

13 July 2016

Copenhagenize Design Company on Display

Photo: Clotilde Imbert


By Clotilde Imbert & James Thoem / Copenhagenize Design Company


This summer, Copenhagenize Design Co. is featured in three exhibitions dealing with bicycles, cycling, and urban transformations. Spend a day in Budapest (Hungary), Ghent (Belgium), and/or Paris (France) taking in some urban culture at an inspiring exhibition. What’s great to see is two of the venues hosting the exhibitions are in fact applied arts and design museums, only further showcasing the fact that the bicycle is back in the life of people through the angle of a daily object.

Here at Copenhagenize we always say that no textbook, no analytical software, no traffic model, can rival the value of just getting out there and observing the city and contemplating the role of bicycles in everyday transportation.  We consider city streets to be the very best laboratory for urban innovation. Nevertheless, it's fantastic to see museums and galleries seizing the topic and showcasing it in a new environment.


Bikeology Cycling Exhibition, Museum of Applied Arts. Budapest, Hungary.

Photo: Mohai Balázs

Curated by Kultur Gorilla, Bikeology is an exhibition exploring contemporary design innovations in the field of cycling. It offers a positive vision of the future and explores the mobility paradigm shift on going. The exhibition illustrates the role and importance of design in urban cycling through a triple section of the individual, the local communities, and the global challenges. 

The exhibition features one of our favourite early experiments, the Copenhagenize Love Handle.

Developed in 2010, the Copenhagenize Love Handle was prototyped in the urban theatre that is Copenhagen, Denmark. The aim of this product is simple, provide people travelling by bike the added comfort of having something to lean against while waiting at red light. It may not seem like much, but this added handle makes waiting at a red light just a little more comfortable, indirectly discouraging impatient cyclists from skipping through a red line. See it in action here.

Back in 2010, designing urban furniture for bicycle riders –beyond the simple bicycle rack- was a new phenomenon. Few cities had ever considered supporting bicycle riders in any infrastructural capacity beyond cycle tracks. To create a successful new product, a design approach is the key. Observe bicycle user behaviour and design appropriately.

Six years on we are proud to see our Love Handle in a museum, but most of all to spot more and more products for cyclists implemented in the streets.

Bike To The Future, Design Museum Ghent. Ghent, Belgium

Photo: Clotilde Imbert

The Design museum of Ghent, one of the most bicycle-friendly city in Belgium, is hosting Bike to the Future, an exhibition on bicycles and world-wild initiatives to promote cycling. We love the name, it almost sounds as if it could be a Copenhagenize conference!

This major exhibition in Belgium is playful and interactive. Race bikes, cargo-bikes, folding bikes, wooden bikes, all sorts of recent bicycles or prototypes are featured. After a visit, folks will probably feel like going to a bike shop to purchase their own steed. Well, mostly men and sporty cyclists could get this feeling, since an important part of the exhibition focuses on technical and technological innovations on bicycles, rather than on the simplicity of this old but timeless means of transportation, designed for men and women.

Videos, photographs, and numerous fact sheets allow the audience to get to know many initiatives related to cycling in town: from world-wild phenomena like Critical Mass (or Critical Miss?) and Cycle Hack, to the latest technologies allowing cyclists to find their, and to new items of bicycle urbanism from micro-design to macro-design.

Within this wide range the information, people can find an important number of trends launched first in Copenhagen : Copenhagenize, Cycle Chic (and Belgium Cycle Chic), The Slow Bicycle Movement, and CyclingWithout Age.


Mutations Urbaines: la ville est à nous!, Cité des sciences & de l’industrie. Paris, France

 
Photo: Darjelling

Cities must adapt themselves to countless dynamic factors from demographic increase, to new technologies, and climate change. Urban Planners often deal with these issues from behind their desks, while local inhabitants live them each and every day. As the city changes, so too do the behaviours and attitudes of everyday citizens, however small or large.

The curator of the exhibition has decided to highlight four cities that can inspire others to adapt their urban environment to the new reality: Copenhagen, Detroit, Songdo and Medellin are all an international leaders in a specific field.

A film screening showcases Copenhagen as a model of green city, which has prioritized pedestrians and cyclists over cars. Using Copenhagenize's photomontages of streets in 1973 and 2014, they explain that removing cars to make space for active mode of transportations like walking and cycling is achievable.  


What’s more, further attention is turned to a now global movement that started in Copenhagen, Cycling Without Age. Started by our friend Ole Kassow, Cycling Without Age facilitates rickshaw rides for elderly living in nursing homes, reconnecting otherwise a relatively immobile group with their changing city.

08 July 2016

Copenhagen's Inderhavnsbro - Inner Harbour Bridge

Inderhavnsbro - Inner Harbour Bridge - Copenhagen

By Mark Werner / Copenhagenize Design Company

Copenhagen’s Inderhavnsbroen (Inner Harbor Bridge) has been a seemingly never ending story of mishaps and constant delays. This bridge has endured problems ranging from incorrect designs to contractor bankruptcies, all of which have led to pushbacks of the process day-by-day, month-by-month. From an effort by the city to connect all parts of the harbor for tourists and allowing eager citizens to shave minutes off their commutes, has led to a massive headache and a chorus of groans and eye-rolls by citizens and traveler alike. Locally known as the “kissing bridge” through these constant delays it has subsequently earned its name as the “missing bridge”.

Inderhavnsbroen is an entirely new design for a bridge or, in other words, overcomplicated beyond belief. It was intended to be a radical distinguished design unique to Copenhagen, beyond the average drawbridges that have worked for more than a thousand years across water everywhere.
Inderhavnsbro - Inner Harbour Bridge - Copenhagen Inderhavnsbro - Inner Harbour Bridge - Copenhagen

Inderhavnsbroen consists of two moving platforms that meet in the center, and like a puzzle piece metal points one side of the bridge slides and locks into the other side. These two platforms slide outward into the immobile segments of the bridge, leaving a gap in the center letting boats through. It's a bit too much like Magpie Architecture to us.

Inderhavnsbroen is part of Copenhagen’s much larger plan, known as the Harbor Circle project, to ease commuting and increase connectivity of many notable points around the harbor for visitors and locals.

This bridge would link the highly visited Nyhavn, and the business heavy area of Kongens Nytorv, to the highly populated Christianshavn onto the island Amager. With roughly 3-7,000 cyclists expected daily, significant congestion would be relieved from the closest and traffic-heavy Knippelsbro (bridge) with over 40,000 cyclists a day.


Construction for Inderhavnsbroen began in 2011 and was set for completion in early 2013...not the case, as it stands incomplete today and no formal opening in sight. It has become one of Copenhagen’s most notable points, but for all the wrong reasons.

[1] The sequence of problems began as early as 2012 when two of the main support beams arrived 60cm too tall! This was due to poor drawings in the plan. It’s bad enough for engineers to make a mistake of a few millimeters, not 60 cm! An extra 4 months were added to the project as time was taken to pat down the beams until they were at the appropriate height.

[2] Problems continue into May of 2013, when the two steel moving platforms arrive from a Spanish company show serious flaws. Despite these defects, contractual agreements require the project to continue, still using the same 250-ton beams.

[3] By April of that year the tragedies continue when cracks are found on the surface and need to be reinforced.

[4] As the summer continues weaknesses are found in the infrastructure and parts of the concrete bow down underneath the bridge; time is taken to apply necessary reinforcements. By August Pihl and Søn, the main contractors of the project declare their bankruptcy and all work stops on the bridge for 9 months, until the city of Copenhagen takes over the project. This is the point where it begins to sound like a cruel joke, Pihl and Søn is an international contracting group in business for over 100 years, and it is during this already endless project that they go out of business.

[5] By December a storm hits Copenhagen, and due to improper storage a machine room below the bridge floods and two motors become damaged beyond repair. All the while, as delays are added the costs only rise on this project.

[6] As spring begins in 2014 fears grow that even more reinforcements are needed! Many tests are done, and it turns out the be a false alarm, however, the delays still pile up. Work continues, and a new polish contracting group takes over the project. No drastic delays occur on the bridge until August of 2015

[7], when one of the draw-wire systems that pulls the movable platform back has snapped...delays carry on. The most recent problem encountered was discovered in November of 2015

[8], when one boogie-system, the set of wheels that roll the moving platforms back and forth, was discovered to be too weak. A whole new system needed to be designed, created, and installed, which was finished in April 2016. A whole set of new problems however is exacerbated by the initial plans

[9], in May of 2016 it was discovered that the change of warm air combined with the still-cold harbor water was causing the bridge to bend and skew. The fact that the bridge may squirm was taken into the design, however, not when the temperature change is so drastic between warm air to cold water... which is strange because that is basically every spring in Copenhagen for countless millenia.



All these delays have come at a huge cost, which sets in place the next set of problems, who is going to pay? It’s now highly debated between Copenhagen and Pihl and Søn contractors, as the bridge was supposed to cost 200 million kr. but after constant delays and mishaps has now risen to 300 million kr., and the cost of Copenhagen’s share has already tripled.

With all that said, the light at the tunnel has been reached. The bridge finally opened to the public on 07 July 2016 and the official opening is scheduled for 19 August 2016.

The new boogie system has been installed and the final tests and fine tuning of the bridge are done.

Many say that Inderhavnsbroen was hit by Murphy’s Law, where anything that could go wrong has. This whole process just goes to show that sometimes you need to stick with what you know works, like the two bridges that have been in place for nearly 100 years across the harbor already. Or just ask the thousands of daily commuters in Copenhagen that longed for the day the bridge would open.

Inderhavnsbro - Inner Harbour Bridge - Copenhagen Inderhavnsbro - Inner Harbour Bridge - Copenhagen

16 June 2016

The Oslo Standard - Next Level Bicycle Planning and Politics

The Oslo Standard for Bicycle Planning / Oslostandarden for sykkeltilrettelegging

So there you are. A capital city in a European country wanting desperately to keep up with the cool kids. Wanting to improve city life, generally, but also focusing intensely on re-creating a bicycle-friendly city.

Oslo has grand plans. The news in October 2015 that the city council had voted to make the city centre free of private cars by 2019 - as well as many other plans - was a shot heard round the world and captured imaginations in many other cities.

The City of Oslo is gearing up for change, no doubt about it. At Copenhagenize Design Company, we’ve gone so far as to call the city “the next big thing” in bicycle urbanism. There are more people employed to make the city bicycle-friendly in Oslo than in almost any other city on the planet. Sure, they’re divided up in different, confusing departments, but they’re there. A group of vaguely focused landscape architect types in the city’s Bymiljøetaten (Agency of City Environment) and the City’s temporary Sykkelprojsektet - or Bicycle Agency - who are tasked with implementing the city’s bicycle strategy.

It is the latter who are orchestrating the show and who have a clear understanding of what is needed and how to do it. Yesterday, The Bicycle Agency released a long-awaited document clearly outlining their roadmap for bicycle infrastructure in the city. It is one of the most interesting and inspiring documents we’ve seen coming out of a municipality anywhere in the world.

The Oslo Standard. Remember that name.

All good, right? Off they go, you might think. Political will, money, loads of people ready to work. Unfortunately, it turns out that it’s not that easy. Which is exactly why The Oslo Standard for Bicycle Planning now exists. It is available in a public hearing version, in Norwegian, but an English version will be out later in the year.

Like many places, Oslo and other cities in Norway are under the thumb of a Road Directorate and the nature of such organisations is to be slow to change, keep a firm grip on outdated traffic engineering principles and generally be a pain in the ass of people who see a better vision for our cities.

Like many places, Norway has road design standards dictated by said road directorate. Traffic engineers would have you believe they are carved in stone and are second only to the Ten Commandments in their worth. Oslo, however, has fired up their jackhammer.

The Norwegian road design standards are, quite simply, the biggest hurdle to The Bicycle Agency implementing the City’s bicycle strategy. They are hopelessly outdated and include little in the way of modern, Best Practice bicycle infrastructure design.

It’s not a new story. In 2012, the National Transport Ministry was tired of getting the same old, same old answers from the Road Directorate and chose instead to ask someone new. Together with Civitas, Copenhagenize Design Company produced a huge feasibility study to help boost cycling in Norwegian cities. The report basically recommended Best Practice infrastructure across the board.

Oslo's First Cycle Track
Norway and Oslo are no stranger to Best Practice. Aftenposten newspaper, in 1941, wrote about “Oslo’s First Bike Lane”, which was clearly inspired by Copenhagen. Indeed, a separated cycle track is called in professional circles a “dansk sykkelsti” - Danish Bike Lane.
Trondheim Bicycle Infrastructure
You can see examples in the country’s best city for urban cycling, Trondheim, put in in the 90s. A bit narrow, but hey. Best Practice, at least. Ironically, bizarrely and sadly, the Road Directorate removed these designs from their standards.

This is where The Oslo Standard comes in. It is Oslo’s own standard for bicycle infrastructure design and it includes Best Practice solutions that are not included in the national road standards. The “dansk sykkelsti” is called “raised bicycle area”, in order to establish it in a new context.

This is Oslo saying, “If you won’t modernise, we’ll do it on our own”.

And they are. They have presented a clear vision for bicycle infrastructure design with their Oslo Standard and they are fine with stepping on the toes of the national road directorate. It is a planning document, but it is also a shot fired across the bow signalling a sea change in how Oslo wants to plan its streets for transport in the future. It has clear political signals, as well. Shoving is the new nudging. Shoving the road directorate into the new century.

Here is the introduction to the document:

The Oslo Standard for Bicycle Planning is one of the main initiatives in the City’s bicycle strategy. It translates the city’s goals for bicycle modal share, sense of safety, accessibility and traffic safety for cyclists into practical solutions for building bicycle infrastructure. Norway’s national bicycle strategy 2014-2023 includes a goal that 8% of all trips must be done by bike. This would mean that the modal share for bicycles in cities must be between 10-20%. The Bicycle Strategy for Oslo 2015-2025 has a declared goal that 16% of all weekday trips will be by bike before 2025. In 2013, the modal share was measured to be 8%.

In a comprehensive study in 2013, a majority of Oslo’s citizens say they don’t feel safe cycling in the city and that much of the bicycle infrastructure that is in place doesn’t satisfy the citizens’ needs or wishes. As the country’s capital, Oslo must lead by prioritising pedestrians and cyclists and use solutions that make it possible to reach both national and municipal cycling goals.


Clear, defined and with a “we’re going it alone” attitude. Refreshing.

Compared with similar, strategic documents, The Oslo Standard wholeheartedly embraces Best Practice. The American NACTO guide, for example, has some good stuff but it also includes leftovers of designs that were chucked out of Danish Best Practice two decades ago and it has an awkward, American engineering feel to it, even though it hopes to be a counterweight to the ASHTO guide. The Oslo Standard, however, nails it. They have done their research.

The Oslo Standard for Bicycle Planning / Oslostandarden for sykkeltilrettelegging
Here you can see a selection of screen grabs of the infrastructure designs. Reading through the document we were pleased to see that bidirectional infrastructure is reserved for off-street areas and stretches without many intersections to avoid conflicts. Here is why THAT is important.

The Oslo Standard for Bicycle Planning / Oslostandarden for sykkeltilrettelegging
All manner of designs are included, featuring every street typology possible in the city of Oslo and, indeed, in most cities on the planet. Lots of inspiration from Danish Best Practice and some from Holland. Oslo is clear on their focus. No sub-standard solutions. Certainly no center-running lanes, that's for sure.

The Oslo Standard for Bicycle Planning / Oslostandarden for sykkeltilrettelegging
While cycle tracks are the default, there are still plans for painted lanes - causing shivers down the spine of any professional bicycle planner worth their salt - but as long as we know that they GET IT and want to do the proper design where possible, we can let it slide just a little. They know that bike lanes should be along the sidewalk and NOT inbetween the door zone in a single-occupant vehicle society and moving traffic. So that helps us sleep at night.

While Oslo can muscle on and plans their streets with modern designs in the Oslo Standard, the road directorate still dictates signage. Which proves to be rather comical.


This isn't Norway in the photo but it's a pretty close to what the situation looks like when the road directorate are in charge.

So that is something that needs to be worked on. Then there is the bizarre bureaucracy inherent in the Oslo municipality.

But a foundation has been laid in Oslo. A vision is ready to be made into a reality. The Oslo Standard is the new darling for bicycle urbanism.

Let's hope that they can translate their vision into asphalt and boost transport in Oslo into the 21st century

10 June 2016

Fools and roads. Arrogance of Space in Moscow

Arrogance of Space Moscow 001

Fools & Roads - The Arrogance of Space in Moscow
By James Thoem / Copenhagenize Design Co.

After an unreal week of ribbon cuttings, bike parades and Russian saunas in our client city of Almetyevsk, Tatarstan, the Copenhagenize Design Co. team retreated to Moscow to see what Europe’s second largest city has to offer. Sure enough, there was no shortage of awesome sights, fantastic parties and delicious food.

But what hit us right away was the sheer scale of the city. Stalinist era administrative and residential building blocks taking cues from Viennese facades and neoclassical styles were blown out of proportion. Any one of Stalin’s gigantic ‘Seven Sisters’ skyscrapers always seemed to loom on the horizon. Most oppressive of all, however, were the roads. The roads! We’re talking about a network of roads 8 to 14 lanes wide stretching through the entire city. Uptown, downtown, suburbs and all. And of course, traffic never ceased to fill the city (Check out Taras Grescoe’s Straphanger for a more thorough account of Moscow transport). If you need any further proof of induced demand, visit Moscow.

While sitting for drinks on the O2 rooftop bar at the Ritz Carlton hotel, we couldn’t help but gawk at the size of the roads. Tverskaya lay below us in all it’s arrogance. Mockingly starting back up at us. And it wasn’t long before we started talking, as we do, about the arrogance of space. The outdated transport engineering concepts of last century live on in Moscow.

Back in our Copenhagen office, we turned to our Arrogance of Space methodology. Here it’s quite obvious that the city has been handed over to the automobile. An ocean of red (no pun intended) is wildly apparent. Pedestrians wishing to cross the street must walk to the nearest dingy pedestrian tunnel before continuing on their way. If stairs aren’t easy for you, good luck. There are even a few cars parked on the sidewalk, because hey, why would you park on the road? The road is for driving (facepalm).

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Removing the underlying photo gives an even better idea of the blatant arrogance of the city's pornographic obsession with the automobile.

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Then look at the space the cars are actually occupying. Plenty of opportunity.

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And, finally, in the interest of equal representation here, we show the individuals using the space. A shocking amount of space used by so few individuals. Where is the rationality here?

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There’s a old Russian proverb we learned during our stay: "There are only two problems in Russia: fools and roads". In the case of the modern Moscow, it’s quite obvious that it’s the fools who are planning the roads. Ignoring the Bull in society's china shop. It’s time to change the question, stop asking how many cars we can squeeze down the road, but how many people.

Graphics by Mark Werner/Copenhagenize Design Co.

Дураки и дороги. Дорожное обжорство в Москве


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После фантастической недели перерезания ленточек, велопарадов и русской бани в Альметьевске команда Copenhagenize Design Co. вернулась в Москву посмотреть, что может предложить второй по величине город Европы. Будьте уверены, мы не испытывали недостатка в удивительных достопримечательностях, замечательных вечеринках и изысканных блюдах.

Но что нас поразило сразу, это масштаб города. Пропорции административных зданий и жилых домов сталинской эпохи невероятно раздуты. «Сталинские высотки» возвышаются над горизонтом повсюду. Но самое гнетущее — это дороги. Дороги! Сеть дорог, имеющих по 8—14 полос, покрывает весь город. В центре, в жилых районах, в пригороде — везде. И, конечно же, по этим полосам 24 часа в сутки ездят транспортные средства (загляните в книгу «Пассажир» Тараса Греско, чтобы лучше узнать про московский транспорт). Если вам нужны какие-нибудь ещё доказательства, что индуцированный спрос — не вымысел, просто съездите в Москву.


Сидя в баре O2 на крыше отеля Ритц Карлтон, мы не переставали поражаться размерам дорог. Тверская лежала под нами во всей своей заносчивости. Словно бы с издёвкой глядя на нас. Всоре мы уже говорили на одну из наших «любимых тем»: пространственные излишества (на самом деле это даже не излишества, а настоящее дорожное обжорство). Москва живет устаревшими транспортными концепциями прошлого века.



По возвращении в копенгагенский офис мы обратились к нашей методике выявления пространственных излишеств. Совершенно очевидно что Москва отдана на откуп автомобилям. На дорогах бесконтрольно раскинулся океан красного (я тут не подразумевал никаких двусмысленностей). Пешеходы, чтобы пересечь улицу, должны дойти до ближайшего обшарпанного подземного перехода. Если подъем по лестницам даётся вам нелегко, то вы держитесь. Несколько машин припарковано даже на тротуаре. Ну конечно, с чего бы люди стали парковаться на дороге? Ведь дорога — чтобы по ней ехать (рукалицо).

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Если убрать подложку, картина практически порнографической одержимости города автомобилями станет более явной.

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Теперь посмотрите на пространство, которое на самом деле занимают автомобили. Просто море потенциальных возможностей.

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И, наконец, чтобы иллюстрация была справедливой, оставим только людей, занимающих это пространство. Потрясающе огромное пространство используется таким небольшим количеством людей. Где здравый смысл?

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Есть одна старая русская поговорка, которую мы тут узнали: «В России только две беды: дураки и дороги». Применительно к современной Москве совершенно очевидно, что это те дураки, которые планируют дороги. Не замечая, что выступают в роли слона в в посудной лавке, которой является город. Пришло время изменить парадигму, перестать руководствоваться тем, сколько автомобилей мы можем пропустить по дороге, и начать говорить о людях.

Иллюстрации: Марк Вернер (Mark Werner), Copenhagenize Design Co.