15 October 2017

Arrange a Svajerløb Cargo Bike Race!


Last week in Barcelona, the inagural svajerløb cargo bike race was held on a sunny Sunday in the Poble Nou neighbourhood. It was event organised pro bono by Copenhagenize Design Co's office in Barcelona in collaboration with the Rueda International Bicycle Film Festival, where Mikael Colville-Andersen was president of the jury. Mikael and Jordi Gali from Copenhagenize whipped together a not-for-profit race and were thrilled at the turnout - both passionate particpants and curious spectactors. A 400 metre course was set up in the morning and there were particpants enough for 3 heats in the two-wheeled category, four cargo bikes in the three-wheeled and four teams in the team relay. The film, above, sums up the day nicely.

For most of the 20th century in Copenhagen, a massive armada of cargo bikes were the backbone of transport in the city. A fantastic army of men and boys from the poor neighbourhoods made the city work. Men and boys who were also invisible in the social hierarchy. They were called svajere in Danish – or swayers if you translate it directly - because of the swaying motion of the huge, flatbed bikes when heavily laden. In 1942, a priest named Kristian Skjerring decided to change things for the better. He wanted to give these svajere a pedestal on which to stand. He organised what became known as a Svajerløb in the city – a cargo bike race for these bicycle messengers. He raised money through the races to send the young men to summer camps. They were the hardest working people in Copenhagen and Skjerring thought they deserved some respect.

Svajerløb - Cargo Bike Race on Israels Plads
The races become incredibly popular in Copenhagen. Thousands came out to watch. There was prize money, but really it was about honour, and winning the right to call yourself the King of Copenhagen – at least until the next race. These Svajerløb races were held until 1960, when cars and vans started to dominate goods transport in the city. In 2009, the race was revived in Copenhagen and are now an annual event. The city has 40,000 cargo bikes in daily use, so a revival was a no-brainer. Unlike the 1940's, the cargo bike riders are now families and people with goods to transport. The Danish brand Larry vs Bullitt, who produce the Bullitt cargo bike, were behind resurrecting the races for the tradition, the fun and as an obvious platform to sell their product. While the event has developed a Red Bull feel to it - corporate marketing disguised as an event - there are race participants using many other cargo bike brands on race day.

Cargo bike races are spreading fast, in tact with the rise of the cargo bike itself in cities around the world. There is now an International Cargo Bike Festival in Nijmegen, Netherlands each year. Apart from the recent race in Barcelona, we have registered on our radar races in Vancouver, Chicago, Paris, and Berlin, among others. In the Netherlands, family-friendly cargo bike events have taken place for many years. There is a new Facebook group called Svajerløb Global - The Cargo Bike Race Community - where people can share experiences and let others know about their upcoming races and share photos after they're done.

So why not arrange a cargo bike race in your 'hood? Help raise awareness about the usefulness of cargo bikes and have a fun day doing it. Here are the basics to get you started.

Svajerløb Cargo Bike Race - Barcelona 2017

Designing the Course
- Design a circuit in a loop (as opposed to an A to B course). There is no set length, but in our experience 400 meters seems to be a decent number. There should be some challenging turns, a slalom section and a straight, home stretch. If you have the chance to incorporate a hill, all the better. This ain't no Sunday bike ride, sunshine. Although think about the potential participants when you gauge the level of difficultly. In the Copenhagen version, there are many spandexy dudes among the participants and the course is usually designed for them and for speed. If you want your event to be more inclusive and aimed to drawing the curious as well as the experienced, create a course that is well-balanced. We've seen courses with an awkward patch of sand in the middle. Mix it up, if you want. Just keep it realistic and safe.

- The stop and finish line should be the same and should be next to the loading zone, where the riders will load up their bikes - read more in The Rules, farther down. For the loading zone, you'll need some space for the riders in each heat to stop and where you can position the cargo they have to load.

- If you can, design the circular course so that the spectators are primarily gathered around the stop/finish line and loading area but also so that they see the bikes on the course as much as possible. It helps maintain a level of energy if the spectactors can keep an eye on the race.

- Depending on the width of the course you design, you can have between four and six riders in each heat or race.

- You can use various barriersr to design the course. Plastic traffic cones or bollards, chairs connected with plastic tape, fences, you name it. Whatever you can get your hands on.

The Rules
We recommend using the original rules from the historical races in Copenhagen. The organisers of the annual race in Copenhagen these days stick to the same concept in order to maintain history and tradition, but also because the original rules are pretty cool. There are other cargo bike races at, for example, the bike messenger championships, but we'll stick with the historical rules here.

- The race consists of four laps. The riders wait on their bikes at the start line. The first lap is ridden empty. They speed around the course and, upon arriving in the loading area, they load up their bikes with the cargo. This is the fun part, which is why spectators should be positioned close to the area. Then the riders head out on three laps fully laden, until they cross the finish line for the fourth time.

- Depending on the number of participants, you can divide them up into heats. For example, the top two finishers can qualify for a semi-final or the final. Or top three. You'll figure it out. It's a hard race, so try to limit the maximum number of races an individual will race to three.

- Cargo: In the traditional races in the 1940's, the cargo often consisted of car tires, newspaper bundles, empty, wooden beer crates and sandbags. Cargo bike championships held in Paris in the 1920's and 1930's measured the weight of the cargo at 50 kg, although this was raised to 65 kg. Try to aim for between 35-50 kg as a rule of thumb. The cargo should not only be designed for weight. Make sure that you have items that oddly-shaped and difficult to secure to the bike. At the Barcelona race in October 2017, we had to be creative. Each rider had to load two plastic-wrapped bundles of water in 1 litre bottles (12 bottles in each), 5 kg bags of potatoes, another 3 litre bottle of water, a 5 kg bag of potting soil and a pack of 12 toilet paper rolls. We distributed the cargo to people after the race so we didn't waste anything.

- Riders can use bungees or inner tubes to secure the cargo if they want. They can also carry an item in their hand.

- After the bike is loaded and they head out on the last three laps, the cargo has to stay on the bike. If something falls off, the rider has to stop and pick it up, getting it back onto the bike before continuing.

- Categories: traditionally speaking, there was a two-wheeler race, a three-wheeler race and a team relay. In modern versions, we've seen the addition of a women's category and a vintage bike category. In some cities, vintage cargo bike are hard to come by, so you can make the call about whether to have this category. If there are cargo bikes with an electric assist, you can create a category for them, if you like. Then there is the team relay. In this event, four riders share one bike. Each of them do one lap, four in all, just like the other races. When the first rider arrives in the loading area, the team members help to load the bike and the next rider gets on. It is permitted to help push the new rider into motion.

- Next to the start/finish line and loading area, set up a table for the organisers and have some sort of board on which you can write the names of the riders in each race. Make race numbers that the riders have to put on their bikes so you can keep track of them. Pro tip: make them put the numbers on the side of the bike that faces the table as they pass. :-)

- Spread out the races to allow for time between races. You can do all the heats for the two-wheelers, then move on to the three-wheelers and women's race and then get back to the semi-finals or finals. Traditionally, the team relay is the last race.

Family-friendly Race Ideas
In order to make the race even more family friendly, there can be side events with a parent cycling with a child in the box. You can created a separate course designed for finesse cycling and balance. The kids can be equipped with a stick and you can hang large rings up on thread. The parent cycles the bike close and the kid has to spear the ring with the stick, collecting as many rings as possible to win. Another idea is a cargo bike version of the egg race. A parent, with a kid in the box, has to cycle an obstacle course balancing an egg on a spoon. Or maybe the kid holds the spoon. Maybe both. Be creative.

Inclusiveness
The race itself need not be an expensive affair. Sponsors are always handy, if you can get them. Try to make it an inclusive affair and invite as many cargo bike brands as possible - if not to race, then to exhibit their products in the interest of growing awareness of cargo bikes as solutions for urban living. Copenhagenize Design Co was involved in the cyclelogistics.eu project for three years and our partners arranged all manner of events with numerous cargo bikes to encourage citizens to try them out and get a feel for them, in cities around Europe. It really helps broadcast the message if people get to test them out.

The more events around the world, the better!

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Here are some links to cargo bike history:

- History of the svajere - cargo bike messengers - in Copenhagen

- The original cargo bike messengers

- Brazil is a cargo bike capital

29 September 2017

From Copenhagen with Love; Dispatches from a Montreal Intersection

by Lukas Stevens

One of Montreal's busiest bicycle intersections with over 10,000 bicycles daily. It features a protected two-way cycle track underpass but unfortunately makes a detour that takes bicycles off a main-street destination.





























Lukas Stevens is a Planning and Data Analyst at Copenhagenize Design Company's Montreal office, where he works on cycling network plans for many of our North American clients. He is originally from Hamburg, Germany and has a Masters in Urban Planning from McGill University.


At Copenhagenize Design Co., we are both optimists and realists. We know that the bicycle revolution in our urban centres is well on its way and that best-practice bicycle infrastructure as seen in Copenhagen is the optimal solution to accommodate the hordes of people of all ages and abilities who are capable and ready to take to the world’s streets on their bikes.

Many of the arguments brought forward by skeptics disputing that Copenhagen-style bicycle infrastructure would work in their cities have proven to be untrue. Too expensive? In Denmark and other places we have seen that a high bicycle modal share actually saves society money in the long run! There’s not enough space on roads for such wide bike lanes? Not if you start looking at the amount of people a street can move rather than just the number of cars. Stores suffer when removing car parking? Actually we see bike lanes improving business. Our city will never have over 50% of citizens on bikes like in Copenhagen? Maybe not, but 40 years ago neither did Copenhagen, and why couldn’t your city get to 15% instead?

While we are happy to see more and more cities slowly jump onboard the bicycle urbanism train, we still need to ensure immediate safety for bicycle users in our cities today, especially in contexts where protected infrastructure may not be politically feasible quite yet. Here, we want to help tackle the question:

What small short-term improvements can be made in cities to improve bicycle users’ safety until there is political will to redesign our streets for people?

Intersections, for all road users, are the most critical points in a street network as a bicycle user moves through the city. Here in Montreal, for example, a 2005 study showed that 58% of all collisions involving bicycle users happened at intersections. More recent data shows a similar picture. Let’s be clear, this doesn’t mean that cycling is inherently dangerous, but while cars and pedestrians have their own traffic lights, signs and paint that guide them through the intersection, in most cities bicycle users are often left to their own devices.

In Copenhagen we see that small, low cost adjustments to intersections that can be easily implemented in essentially every context and vastly improve the safety for bicycle users. Pulled-back stop lines for cars, coloured paint through the intersection, protected corners at streets with heavy right-turn car traffic, and designated traffic lights – Copenhagen shows us that these small changes, which are cost effective and in most cases not particularly controversial have a huge positive effect for bicycle users’ safety.

The city of Montreal, home of our North American Copenhagenize office, is the perfect context to demonstrate how easily intersections can be retrofitted with Copenhagen-inspired bicycle infrastructure design. Recently, the local borough of Rosemont-La-Petite-Patrie has added a number of temporary plastic posts for improved intersection protection from motor vehicles. These measures are cheap and the City is able to install several of them within a week. Montreal has a diverse collection of facility and infrastructure types built over decades of ever-changing design standards. There is no place this is more noticeable than at intersections where these different types of infrastructure sometimes clash. Sharrows meet bi-directional cycle tracks, bi-directionals on a one-way street meet bi-directionals on a two-way street, one-way streets with a contraflow lane meet other one-way streets without a contraflow lane, and so on. Often the transitions follow little conventional traffic logic:

Despite new Copenhagen-style handlebar bling, this Montreal intersection suffers from severe two-way to one-way cycle track confusion


Montreal’s mish-mash of infrastructure types and no clear standard for design is a perfect place to show how quick fixes to different intersections are transferable to almost any urban context in the world – a demonstration of the simple elegance of the Copenhagen intersection design model.

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INTERSECTION 1: Saint Antoine Street & Atwater Avenue


While other parts of Montreal have a more-or-less cohesive network of bicycle facilities, the absence of infrastructure in the south-west of Montreal’s downtown is striking. There are very few safe cycling routes through this neighbourhood and a number of large highway barriers for pedestrians and bicycle users. Atwater Avenue is one of the most important north-south streets in the area and one of the few streets that connects under a major highway. Atwater was also the subject of a recent controversy when the City decided that pedestrians and bicycles could share the sidewalk through said underpass while cars speed through three vehicular lanes in each direction. The media, opposition politicians and local advocacy groups sharply criticized this arrogance of space, especially since this part of Atwater is on a steep slope and the potential for collisions increases dramatically at higher speeds. 

The City's recent attempt to ask bicycle users and pedestrians share a narrow sidewalk


Atwater Avenue should undoubtedly have protected bike lanes but even that does not address the additional danger that bicycle users currently face just beyond the underpass at the bottom of the slope - the Atwater & Saint Antoine intersection. Once bicycle users reach the bottom of the hill and the end of the underpass, they face an intersection with a large number of right-turning cars heading to a highway on-ramp, as can be seen in the picture below. The potential for collision here is high – as bicycle users share the road while only one single traffic light manages this junction with heavy, and potentially deadly machines moving downhill at high speeds.

Cars turning right (see white vehicle) pose a real danger to bicycles heading downhill


It is not only the traffic light that is problematic here. Streets are typically designed to offer the fastest turning radius to automobiles. In other words, if there are no physical barriers that force cars to slow down, they generally won’t. Since bicycles are often in motorists’ blind spots while turning, there must be visual cues that remind everyone – especially motorists – of the vulnerable road user’s presence. 

Over years of developing and revisiting best practice intersection design, the City of Copenhagen has implemented guidelines that could address the unsafe features observed at the Atwater & Saint Antoine intersection through inexpensive features like paint, lights and a protected corner. Here is an example of what these interventions might look like:



1. The first major change is the addition of bicycle infrastructure on Atwater to designate space for bicycle users, which in the case of this intersection will be a necessary adjustment to making it safer for vulnerable road users. Physical protection of bicycle users and pedestrians, each with their own space, throughout the underpass leading up to the intersection is key for safety on busy streets.

2. The second change is to pull back the stop lines for cars. In most cities cars and bicycles share a stop line at the intersection even when bicycle infrastructure is present, which means that bicycles are waiting in a car’s blind spot where they might not be seen. By placing bicycles further in front, motorists are reminded of their presence and it allows bicycle users to get a head start when the light is green.

3. Bicycle users also require a few seconds to stabilize their movement as they start cycling forward. Giving bicycles their own traffic light and a 4-5 second head start over cars ensures that bicycle users can gain momentum safely and are offered priority in their straight movements over right turning cars.

4. The green paint in the intersection, which follows the natural path cyclists take, functions similarly to the pulled back stop line in that it creates better awareness and visibility for the potential presence of cyclists. However, it also designates space to the bicycle as a valuable and legitimate mode of transport that is different from pedestrians and motorists.

5. One of the major concerns for this intersection is the potential for right turn collisions between cars and bicycles. In order to avoid this, physical protection and appropriate signage is necessary to separate bicycles and cars from each other. An effective solution in Copenhagen can inspire Montreal with designated traffic lights for all modes and refuge islands to provide vulnerable road users a space to wait for their light. Both cars and bicycle users here have two signals: One is pulled back and allows for each user to take turns crossing each other with a protected light phase. The second signal is the ‘normal’ signal further ahead that shows bicycle users and motorists when it is their time to move through the intersection.


A protected right-turn corner in Copenhagen with two sets of signals for bicycle user safety


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INTERSECTION 2: Saint Urbain Street & de Maisonneuve Boulevard


In 2016, our Copenhagenize office performed a Desire Lines Analysis here in Montreal, studying how bicycle users interact with the built environment through certain intersections. The crossing of Saint Urbain Street and de Maisonneuve Boulevard was chosen as one important intersection to study, in light of it being one of the most dangerous intersections for bicycle users in the city, witnessing the highest number of collisions in 2013 and 2014. In a best-case scenario, the City of Montreal would convert two-way cycle tracks like the one here on de Maisonneuve into unidirectional paths, helping to rectify many of the conflicts we observed in our study but, again, for the sake of this exercise let’s look at constructive design solutions in the immediate.

A major source of conflict today between cars and bicycles is a result of westbound cars along de Maisonneuve Boulevard making left-hand turns onto Saint Urbain street, as shown with the red arrows in the map of the improved intersection. Bicycles are left in the turning path of cars and, in the case of bicycles heading with the flow of traffic, in the blindspot: 







































1. Use bicycle-specific traffic lights to separate the movements of cars and bicycles. A bike signal gives bicycle users a few second head start, and then cars are given their own brief period at the end of the light phase for left-hand turns while bicycles are told to wait. Montreal has already added these signals to a number of other intersections that sees heavy left-turning traffic.

2. Further visual cues such as pulled back stop lines and green paint through the intersection remind everyone of each other’s presence also showing where conflict between cars and vulnerable road users might occur. It is interesting to see that bicycle users generally ignore their stop line at the intersection to push themselves up ahead of idling cars naturally:

Bicycles riders often push themselves ahead of idling cars in order to be seen and safe





























3. The introduction of a bus island gives pedestrians a safe space to enter and exit the bus while bicycles pass between the bus island and the sidewalk. This way bicycle users aren’t in danger of being hooked by the bus pulling over to the bus stop and pedestrians and bicycle users are physically separated. The bus island can also function as a protected corner for right-hand turns. Montreal actually has implemented a bus island further north on Saint Urbain Street already in a few locations (as can be seen below).

One of several protected bus islands in Montreal – more should be implemented across the city to protect bicycle users.


4. Again, paint (in this case crosswalks across the cycle track) highlights potential conflict zones and reminds pedestrians and bicycle users of each other’s presence and legitimizes pedestrians crossing the intersection. In the Danish context, bicycles have the right of way and pedestrians can cross when it is safe to do so.

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All of these small-scale changes can have huge impact to safety at the most probabilistically collision-prone parts of the city for vulnerable road users.


25 September 2017

Space for All on the Streets of Montreal

by Charlotte Gagnon-Ferembach

A daily reality for many vulnerable road users in Montreal

// Cliquez ici pour la version française //


Charlotte Gagnon-Ferembach has a background in urban design from the University of Québec in Montréal (UQÀM). She is currently doing an internship at the Copenhagenize Design Montreal office.

A car remains parked, on average, 95% of the time, monopolizing an incredibly important portion of urban space to the chagrin of all other road users. Even in some of the world's most sustainable cities, including Copenhagen, the personal vehicle occupies a disproportionate amount of space compared to other urban transport forms, even if a minority of residents own a vehicle and fewer use them daily. The map below shows the amount of space taken up by all parking spaces combined in 2015 in the cities of Copenhagen and Frederiksberg - 3.23 km2. This is an enormous amount of space that could be transformed into parks, restaurants, gardens, living space, etc. The list of possibilities is endless.


Arrogance of Space Parking in Copenhagen



































Montreal is no exception to the rule when we talk about public land being occupied by a sea of car parking. Much like many of its neighbouring North American cities, the metropolis is organized along a fairly standard rectilinear street grid, which facilitates transport by many different travel modes, but has also facilitated the expansion of car-culture over the past century, leaving a mark on the urban landscape. On top of the typical issues that arise due to the dominance of cars in our cities, a major problem is the immense amount of land that we dedicate to car parking to the detriment of other activities. This imbalance is at the forefront for many urban residents world-wide and here in Montreal, causing people to take action and reappropriate space, finding solutions to fight car-culture with design that makes daily life better for all.

PARK(ing) Day, which celebrates tactical urbanism by revitalizing parking spaces for one day, is one of these action-oriented movements that is trying to make lasting change. This last Friday, the 22nd of September, Montreal participated yet again in this event, along with 161 other cities around the world. To mark the occasion, Copenhagenize Design Co. worked in collaboration with Piétons QuébecGhost Bike MontrealFriends of Gorilla ParkThe Montreal Bike Coalition and le Conseil Régional de l’Environnement de Montréal.

The intersection of Beaubien and Saint-Urbain today





The intersection of Beaubien West and Saint-Urbain streets captured the attention of our working group, as it is centrally located in the vibrant neighbourhood of Marconi-Alexandra but suffers from design negligence for all types of users.

The intersection is heavily used by all types of users and is populated with a high number of very large transport trucks. Conflict between users will be amplified as the plot of land on the north-west corner of the intersection is given back to the community as the much-needed green Gorilla Park, and as the University of Montreal opens up their new nearby science campus. The existing design of the intersection shows the areas that create significant safety concerns and increase risks of collisions, especially for the most vulnerable of road users – on foot or bicycle.

Among other issues, one can identify that there are no safe pedestrian crossings here, an abrupt end to the Des Carrières bike path sandwiched between two high-use parking lots spilling out onto a fast-moving 4-lane Beaubien street, a lack of signals or signage and traffic calming measures, and a number of potential zones where parked cars are positioned such that bicycles are almost guaranteed to get doored. A YouTube video by Simon Van Vilet demonstrates what this feels like at rush hour.

In order to demonstrate the risk that is inherent at this and many other intersections in the city to the public, the working group decided to team up with local artist and activist Roadsworth to remove five parking spots at the intersection and create temporary painted curb-extensions and show the potential for positive change.

The plan for the intersection of Beaubien and Satin-Urbain on PARK(ing) Day




Roadsworth hard at work on his street art






















































The project naturally peaked the curiosity of passers-by who would stop to observe the on-going painting and engage the project team in discussion about the risks and potentials at the intersection. This hot first-day of autumn was the perfect time to kick-off discussion about the revitalization of space like this between residents and workers, local advocates and professionals who aim to turn talk to action for even just a few hours. Even with non-stop vehicular traffic, it was possible to create a more comfortable meeting space for all users to imagine the future of their city, without any real tension from car drivers.

Curious passers-by and team members hard at work behind


























Beyond this day-long event, the working group has issued recommendations to the City of Montreal to redesign this space and invest in permanent, high-quality infrastructure to improve the visibility, security and quality-of-life for pedestrians and bicycle users in spots that today only sees car-parking. This proposal (as can be seen below) includes the addition of uni-directional cycle tracks on each side of Beaubien Street, a safe and expanded entrance/exit to the southbound Des Carrières bike path, clear and lasting pavement markings (in green), and safer pedestrian crossings with permanent concrete curb-extensions; all while removing just a few car parking spots (which happen to be next to two large parking lots). This overall design was informed both by best practice bicycle infrastructure principles and a local understanding of mobility patterns at this intersection today, as a means of supporting and promoting sustainable modes of transport.

A proposal for an intersection that is designed for the safety and efficiency of all users
































Following yet another cyclist death last week in Montreal, the ongoing debate in the city surrounding immediate change to our street design has definitely heated up and fingers have been pointed to the new Vision Zero adopted by the City in 2016. The City has been making some strides towards safer streets for bicycles with the recent launching of it's Cycling Master Plan: Safety, Efficiency, Audacity, but its Vision Zero goals will not be met unless plans and announcements quickly translate into safe, and physically separated street facilities for vulnerable users.

Furthermore, this new public campaign to reduce road deaths is predicated on the use of the word "accident" – as can be seen in this video produced by the City to discuss their desire to aim for "zero fatal accidents". Of course, not all unforeseen instances can be prevented, but many of these collisions and deaths can be attributed to inadequate street design, infrastructure and behaviour of motorists. Like we have written in past blog posts, the term "accident" is continually mis-used in circumstances even when there is indication that a pedestrian was killed due to motorists inattention and poor design. In short, the City of Montreal, like many others in the world, has an essential role in educating the population and convincing the skeptics that our streets will inevitably have to be redesigned as we move forwards.

Questioning the allocation of space to car parking can certainly play an important part in this discussion and offer solutions to create a better use of urban space. Organizations like the American foundation Better Block are helping to move this conversation forward in the U.S. – by revitalizing un- or under-used space into meeting spaces and place for vulnerable users in order to promote good urban rehabilitation practices to the 99%.

A temporary improvement to an intersection in Ohio, USA by the foundation Better Block























Other initiatives around the world can offer inspiration to any cities looking to make important steps forward – especially the story of the redevelopment of Nørrebrogade in Copenhagen. This project began as a pilot project and became permanent in 2008. A once-car-centred street has now been permanently closed to personal vehicles and sees huge numbers of citizens being transported by bike or bus every day. Even further, the City coordinated the traffic lights for bicycle users during rush hour to  allow for a green wave when travelling at 20 km/h, after studying the typical movements of bicycles. From all of these changes, only positive results were observed: an increase in bicycle traffic, a decrease in vehicle use, more punctual bus service and happier residents who supported the project.

The pilot projet on Nørrebrogade in Copenhagen, 2008

Copenhagenize Design Co. is in the business of promoting innovative ideas that can change our intersections for the better, one at a time, and working with cities to help them establish a more human-scale to their streets, creating more life-sized cities where we can all move freely and safely.

22 September 2017

Créer de l'espace pour tous dans les rues de Montréal [in French]

par Charlotte Gagnon-Ferembach

Une réalité quotidienne pour beaucoup d'usagers vulnérables à Montreal








// Click here for a version in English //


Charlotte Gagnon-Ferembach a de l'expérience en design urbain qu'elle a étudié à l'Université du Québec à Montréal (UQÀM). Elle est actuellement stagiaire au bureau de Copenhagenize Design à Montréal.


Une automobile demeure stationnée en moyenne 95% du temps, monopolisant ainsi une part importante de l’espace urbain au détriment d’autres usages. Même dans des villes renommées comme Copenhague, les automobiles occupent une place disproportionnée en comparaison des autres activités urbaines malgré qu’une minorité seulement des résidents possède une voiture et qu’encore moins l’utilisent quotidiennement. La carte ci-dessous, de 2015, expose le volume que cela représente si l’on joignait les espaces de stationnement de Copenhague et de Frederiksberg: 3,23 km2. Espace qui pourraient être transformés en parcs, restaurants, jardins, habitations, etc. La liste des possibilités est infinie.

Arrogance of Space Parking in Copenhagen


Ici, Montréal ne fait pas exception à la règle quand on parle de voies publiques accaparées par le stationnement. À l’image de nombreuses villes nord-américaines, la métropole est organisée selon un plan quadrillé qui facilite d’abord le transit tandis que le courant moderniste et l’arrivée de l’automobile ont laissé une forte marque dans l’espace urbain. Au-delà des enjeux typiques concernant la part modale dominante de l’automobile, l’immense part d’espace public dédié au stationnement, plutôt qu’à d’autres activités, pose problème. Cela encourage de plus en plus de résidents de Montréal, comme ailleurs dans le monde, à se réapproprier l’espace public et à se tourner vers des solutions qui remplacent l’automobile afin d’améliorer leur qualité de vie au quotidien.

La journée PARK(ing) Day, qui célèbre l’urbanisme tactique sur des espaces de stationnement, est une des actions issues de ce mouvement. Cette année encore, ce 22 septembre, Montréal, ainsi que 161 autres villes à travers le monde, a pris part à cet évènement. Pour l’occasion, Copenhagenize Design Co. a collaboré avec Piétons Québec, Vélo Fantôme Montréal, Les AmiEs du parc des Gorilles, la Coalition Vélo de Montréal et le Conseil Régional de l’Environnement de Montréal.

Le carrefour Beaubien/Saint-Urbain présentement





Le carrefour Beaubien Ouest/Saint-Urbain, au sein du quartier en pleine effervescence Marconi-Alexandra, qui témoigne notamment du retard de la ville de Montréal dans la gestion des voies publiques, a attiré l’attention du groupe.

L’intersection présente un fort achalandage routier impliquant de nombreux véhicules lourds de livraison. Cette circulation sera certainement amplifiée par la création du parc des Gorilles, adjacent l’intersection, et du nouveau campus de l’Université de Montréal et, d’une manière générale, par la densification du quartier. Les aménagements existants présentent néanmoins des lacunes quant à la gestion de ce trafic puisque l’intersection, telle qu’actuellement dessinée, engendre plusieurs risques de collisions, notamment pour les personnes les plus vulnérables, se déplaçant à pied ou à vélo.

Entre autres problèmes, notons l’absence de traverses piétonnes sécuritaires, la fin brutale de la piste cyclable des Carrières enclavée entre deux voies d’accès à des stationnements privés très fréquentés et qui se heurte à deux voies de circulation automobile de sens inverses, l’absence de signalisations et de mesures de ralentissement et les chaussées occupées par des voies de stationnement qui présentent un risque d’emportiérage pour les usagers de vélo. Un vidéo diffusé sur le site Youtube par Simon Van Vilet est à l’image d’une heure de pointe comme les autres.

Par une démarche visant à sensibiliser le public aux risques encourus par les usagers plus vulnérables de la route et aux potentiels d’utilisation de l’espace accordé au stationnement, le groupe de collaboration a donc requalifié cinq cases de stationnement, situées à cette intersection critiquée, en saillies éphémères peintes par l’artiste local et activiste Roadsworth.

Le carrefour Beaubien/Saint-Urbain pour la journée PARK(ing) Day




Roadsworth à l'oeuvre dans la rue

Le projet a naturellement piqué la curiosité des passants qui s’arrêtaient fréquemment pour observer l’artiste à l’oeuvre et s’intéressaient au développement de l’intersection. Cette chaude première journée d’automne aura donc été l’occasion de rassembler pour quelques heures des résidents ou travailleurs du quartier, des militants engagés pour une réappropriation urbaine des lieux sous-utilisés et des professionnels du milieu de l’aménagement qui souhaitent passer de la théorie à la pratique. Malgré le trafic incessant environnant, il aura été possible de créer un espace de vie et de rencontres, s’adressant à tous, qui n’aura créé, à notre grande surprise, aucun mécontentement, mais plutôt une scène de réflexion. Dans tous les cas, les discussions menaient à un appui considérable pour un réaménagement du lieu.

Des passants curieux et des partenaires qui travaillent

Au-delà de cette initiative éphémère, le groupe recommande à la ville des réaménagements pérennes et peu dispendieux concernant l’intersection visée pour améliorer la visibilité, la sécurité et la convivialité du lieu, mais aussi mieux partager la rue par une récupération de l’espace public dédié au stationnement automobile. Cette proposition prévoit l’ajout de pistes cyclables unidirectionnelles protégées, d’un accès plus sécuritaire à la piste cyclable, de marquages au sol, d’une turn box et d’une traverse piétonne menant au parc accompagnée de saillies de trottoir ; de même que le retrait de voies de stationnement. Le tout est réfléchi en tenant compte des itinéraires généralement empruntés et des meilleures pratiques mondiales en aménagement urbain alors que la proposition s’appuie sur l’intention de favoriser des modes de déplacements durables.

Une proposition d'aménagements pour le carrefour qui s'adresse à tous les usagers

La mort d’une énième personne en vélo, survenue la semaine dernière à Montréal, rend inévitable un débat public en vue de provoquer un changement immédiat des infrastructures routières de la part de la ville et d’atteindre la Vision Zéro qu’a adoptée Montréal en 2016. La ville a, certes, posé les bases d’un engagement vers la création de rues plus sûres pour les cyclistes avec le lancement du Plan-cadre vélo : sécurité, efficience, audace, mais sa Vision Zéro restera insuffisante si elle ne se traduit pas concrètement par des aménagements urbains sécurisants les usagers les plus vulnérables.

Dans les faits, cette campagne qui vise la sensibilisation du public à la sécurité routière pose problème dans l’usage même du mot « accident» de la formulation « Zéro accident mortel» présente dans le vidéo diffusé par la ville. Il n’y a pas d'événements imprévus, mais bien des infrastructures inadéquates et des comportements qui entraînent ces collisions, parfois, mortelles. Comme cela a été mentionné dans un autre article de notre blog, l'usage du terme accident est critiquable dans de telles circonstances dans la mesure où cela atténue la responsabilité des aménageurs et des conducteurs. Bref, la mairie de Montréal, à l’instar de bien d’autres villes dans le monde, a un rôle incontournable à jouer auprès de la population en éduquant les habitants en ce qui a trait à l’inévitable transformation de nos villes et en convainquant les sceptiques par des actions éclairées et conséquentes.

Une remise en question de l’espace alloué aux stationnements peut certainement faire partie de la solution afin de récupérer celui-ci pour des usages plus bénéfiques. En l'occurrence, des groupes, comme la fondation américaine Better Block qui revitalise des espaces vacants en lieux de rencontres et fait la promotion de bonnes pratiques de réhabilitation urbaine, ne manquent pas d’idées.

Une intersection bonifiée en Ohio, É-U, par la fondation Better Block

Des initiatives de partout à travers le monde telles que celle de la rue cyclable et commerçante Nørrebrogade à Copenhague ont également de quoi inspirer n’importe quelle ville. Ce projet, qui était d’abord pilote, a acquis un titre permanent en 2008. Ainsi, cette grande artère de Copenhague est dorénavant réservée à la circulation de vélos et d’autobus tandis que les automobiles sont invitées à changer d’itinéraire. Le projet va plus loin: les feux de signalisation y sont coordonnés à 20km/h, une vitesse jugée normale chez un usager de vélo. Il en résulte une augmentation des déplacements en vélo, une diminution du trafic automobile et une meilleure ponctualité des autobus alors que la majorité des résidents appuie le projet.

Le projet pilote sur Nørrebrogade à Copenhague en 2008

Copenhagenize Design Co. s’engage à promouvoir activement ces idées innovatrices qui changent le monde une intersection à la fois et à œuvrer auprès des villes qui sont prêtes à rétablir une échelle plus humaine, pour créer des villes agréables, où l’on peut se déplacer en toute sécurité.

30 June 2017

Bicycle Superhighways in Copenhagen Capital Region

Copenhagen Capital Region Bicycle Superhighway Network
The Bicycle Superhighway Network in Copenhagen Capital Region. Orange: Built. Black: Planned and financed. Dotted: Planned but awaiting financing.

The Capital Region of Denmark is continuing its investment in Supercykelstier - or Bicycle Super Highways. With five new routes completed on May 2, 2017, 115 kilometers have been added to the three initial routes. The goal is to make inter-municipality bike trips easier for the citizens of the region. The super highways are being developed on largely pre-existing cycle tracks.

In the Capital Region, 60% of all trips less than 5 km are made by bike. This falls to 20% for trips more than 5 km. While the region is great for intermodality, connecting bikes with trains, the plans for the Bicycle Super Highway network target increasing the latter number through constructing 28 routes that connect and pass through 23 municipalities. These will give bicycle users newer, wider cycle tracks, better street surfaces, pre-green lights, in addition to better lighting and traffic calming measures where needed. This will create 3 million more bicycle trips a year, which has the potential to reduce the number of car trips by 720,000 a year. This will save the region 34,000 sick days and give a 7.3 billion DKK (€1 billion) economic gain per year.

New routes, building on success
206km of the network will be finished by 2018, out of 467 km in total. The first two routes, Farumruten and Albertslundruten, have experienced a growth in the number of bicycle users of 61% and 34%, respectively, since they were built in 2012. Those two routes, in addition to the third one, Ishøjruten built in 2016, are hub to tip routes connecting Copenhagen Municipality with surrounding municipalities. The new five routes help shape the network; adding not only more hub to tip routes (Allerødruten and Frederikssundruten), but also ring routes (Indre Ringrute connecting Sundby to Østerbro, and Ring 4 ruten from Albertslund to Lyngby-Taarbæk) and a route between outer municipalities (Værløseruten).

The five new Cycle Super Highways have cost 154 million DKK (€20.7 million), while the same road length for motorist highways would cost 17.71 billion DKK (€2.38 billion). Municipalities expect an increase of 1.5 - 2 million bicycle users with the new routes running.


Copenhagenize Design Company's Idea Catalogue for all the municipalities in the Region, as commissioned by the Capital Region in 2014.

Dialogues and Efforts
The project came with challenges on both regional and local scales. Funding the superhighways required a particular approach; normally municipalities are totally financially responsible for building their bicycle infrastructure, but some of the municipalities couldn’t afford building the superhighways or preferred to cut it from their budgets. This caused a threat that more municipalities would leave the project as its rationality depends on its continuity through all municipalities.

The solution that overcome this, so far, has been a 50% state subsidy so that municipalities only have to cover 50% of the costs. However, challenges for this approach will rise again in the future as no municipal funding exists for the project after 2019. The experience of the two initial routes also highlighted responsibilities for the municipalities during the operation of the superhighways; the Gladesaxe and Furesø Municipalities - both on the Farumruten - improved lighting conditions, asking bicycle users what their favored type of lighting was. While the Allerød Municipality focused also on traffic calming measures; building a “2 minus 1” way on Bregnerød Skovvej, a road with one track for motorists and traffic in both directions.

The municipalities have reached an agreement where each of them is responsible for running and maintaining its own part of the route(s) in close dialogue with the others. The success and rationality of a superhighway is achieved by the success of each of its individual parts in different municipalities, which raises the question of what form this superhighway will adapt to in rural, forested or urban areas along the way. It also highlights the importance of bringing all municipalities on board and keeping both the inter-municipality and citizen-government dialogues ongoing.

The Mayor Challenge
In an attempt to convince some of the more sceptical mayors in the outlying municipalities, seven of them were invited to switch to the bike for their transport needs for one month. Their health was measured before and after and, based on existing cost-benefit models, the result was clear. On average they were 11 years younger, based on their improved health.

Copenhagen Bicycle Superhighways projected on Barcelona Copenhagen Bicycle Superhighways projected on London
The Copenhagen Capital Region Bicycle Superhighway Network projected on Barcelona and London. This does not included the vast network of existing cycle tracks in the various municipalities, of which there are over 1000 km.

Copenhagen Bicycle Superhighways projected on Paris Copenhagen Bicycle Superhighways projected on Toronto
The Copenhagen Capital Region Bicycle Superhighway Network projected on Paris and Toronto

Copenhagen Bicycle Superhighways projected on Montreal
The Copenhagen Capital Region Bicycle Superhighway Network projected on Montreal.


For more information about the routes, check the website:
http://supercykelstier.dk/