01 September 2014

Taking Matters into Our Own Hands - Nordre Frihavnsgade


Sometimes you have to take matters into your own hands. Even in Copenhagen.

There is a street in a densely-populated neigbourhood in Copenhagen - Østerbro - without any cycle tracks. I know, I know... it's like a street in New York without honking taxis or a street in Paris without cafés populated by moody philosophy students. It's weird. Also because it's a long street in a thriving neighbourhood and it's one of the streets in the city with a far too high levels of incidents involving bicycles.

It's weird because it's a perfect street for cycle tracks. It's also weird because only 29% of households in Copenhagen even own a car but politicians and the City say that taking out car parking on this street would be "difficult".

A local politican, Jonas Bjørn Jensen, when campaigning for the last election decided to ask people in the neighbourhood if they wanted cycle tracks. Over 90% of the people he asked said, "yes".

Together with Ole Kassow from Purpose Makers and Thomas Lygum Sidelmann from Urban Action we at Copenhagenize Design Company decided to just do our own proposed street design. Enough talk. Let's get some imagery onto the table.

Above is the street as it looks now. Nordre Frihavnsgade (don't try to pronounce that please) is a central street in the Østerbro neighbourhood connecting Strandboulevarden, Trianglen and Østbanegade. It's an important shopping street and has a lively environment, with schools and shops and... life. There are 5800 bicycle users a day and 5300 cars. Ole Kassow, who lives nearby, has spoken with many locals and the general consensus is that the street doesn't feel safe. It's not nice to cycle on it. There are also many pedestrians crossing back and forth to the various shops and cafés and other destinations.

Bizarrely, the street is a 50 km/h zone, except at the narrowest section where it is "only" 40 km/h. One thing that Copenhagen sucks at is the fact that they haven't embraced the 30 km/h movement like the rest of Europe. If this street was in Amsterdam, Barcelona, Paris, Vienna, etc etc. it would be 30 km/h. Years ago.


Anyway, we decided to visualise what the street should look like. Our point of departure was that if cycle tracks are ooooh so difficult for the City of Copenhagen, then we will give them an easier, cheaper solution. The Dutch have their fietsstraat and while the Copenhagen Police have been vocal opponents of them - and most everything else that would improve cycling in the city - there is finally a pilot project on Vestergade in Copenhagen as we speak.

So we made the street a "cykelgade" - a bicycle street - dictating that cars are welcome as guests on the street but they have to drive at the tempo that the bicycle users dictate.

We designed a Danish version of the Dutch Fietsstraat signage, as well. Based on the Danish standards for pictograms and font.

Here is the street in it's full length. Our proposal would improve the street greatly. It would benefit local businesses, make pedestrians feel safer and it would be a new benchmark for neighbourhood planning in Copenhagen.

While there is nothing regarding bicycle infrastructure that we can learn from the Americans, the parklet concept is something that we can happily subscribe to. We included them in our designs to also plant this idea in the minds of Copenhageners. More of these would be fantastic.

It is vitally important to create visualisations. Talk is fine but when you design a visualisation, suddenly you have a whole group of different people who understand what you're on about. They are really powerful tools for change.

Cross your fingers for a positive development on this street.

31 August 2014

Comfort Testing The Cycle Tracks


A car blocking the bike lane/cycle track. The source of much irritation and many social media photos. This photo, however, is from Denmark and that is a car that we WANT driving down the cycle track.

Cities like Copenhagen and Aarhus don't just build the necessary infrastructure to encourage cycling, keep people safe and help make people FEEL safe, they regularly measure the quality of the infrastructure.

Citizens always say in polls that the quality of the cycle tracks and bike lanes is of utmost importance to them when they are considering to commute by bicycle.

So, specially adapated cars like these are regularly sent down the cycle tracks to measure for bumps and smoothness, among other factors, using laser technology and recording the data.

There is a veritable armada of vehicles designed to operate on cycle tracks. Street sweepers, municipal garbage collection and, not least, snow clearance vehicles like those in our classic article: The Ultimate Snow Clearance Blogpost.

28 August 2014

The Lulu and Neighbourhood Wayfinding


Quite out of the blue during dinner one evening, I asked my daughter, Lulu, aged 6 almost 7 (you may know her as the world's youngest urbanist...) if she thought she could find her way to the local swimming pool by herself. I was explaining directions to somewhere else to my son, Felix, aged 12, and I realised that all the references were visual. No street addresses or anything, just directions like "go down that street and when you see that shop, turn right...". To which he would reply, "is that the shop with the red door?" or "is that the shop across from that other shop with this or that recognizable feature?"

It all originates with this earlier article here on the blog: Wayfinding in a Liveable City.

So I wondered how much Lulu has registered in her daily, frequent journeys around our neighbourhood. So... I laid down the challenge to Lulu. Find your way to the swimming pool on foot. Felix and I would walk behind her but wouldn't offer any help.

At six, she finds it difficult to describe how to get to places. There is no "go to the end of this street and then turn left...". It is more vague and hard for me, an adult to understand. Try it with your own kids, or other peoples' kids, to see what I mean. 

So we just set out on her journey, letting her show us the way. I didn't know if she could pull it off. I literally had no idea. When she was younger she was pushed through the neighbourhood in a stroller, we walk and we cycle everywhere... but always with me or her mum leading the way. 

It was a fascinating exercise. Felix and I watched her finding her way, looking around and using visual references to guide her. Walking up to the end of the street and scouting left and right, remembering visual clues to send her in the next direction.

A couple of times I asked her, "why did you turn right here?" To which she replied, "Because that shop on the corner is where we turn right. Duh, Daddy..."

So... indeed... she was remembering visual clues like shops and trees and bushes and what not. She was pleased as punch when we ended up in front of the swimming pool.

Then I asked her to find our local ice cream shop. It would involved a totally different route than our normal A to B from home to ice cream. Again, she rocked it. Using the most logical way from where were standing, instead of taking us back home and then down to the ice cream. I was impressed.

Lulu is already looking forward to when she is eight and gets to walk to school alone. It's only 800 metres from our flat. But Felix did it for the first time at eight so Lulu has it in her mind to do it at that age, too. Really, though, there is no reason that she couldn't do it earlier. Now that I've figured out that she knows her way around like a boss.


Something that we often neglect to think about regarding our kids.

22 August 2014

Designing Bicycle Symbolism - Towards the Future

The Bicycle as a symbol of progress, of renewal, of promising times ahead. This is not a new concept. Indeed it has been around since the invention of the bicycle. Many bicycle posters at end of the 19th century featured promising themes like liberation, progress, freedom. Here's an example:
Vintage Bicycle Posters: Griffiths
In this beautiful poster, there is a lot of metaphorical gameplay. The young woman is riding a bicycle to the future. Dressed in white and seemingly casting fresh flowers as though leaving a trail for us to follow. The old woman is looking backwards to the past as she sits in a bed of thorns, almost resigned to the fact that the future - the bicycle - is passing her by.

When people in most cultures see art or photgraphy, our brain sees movement from left to right and interprets the piece based on that.

The German historian and psychologist Rudolf Arnheim who wrote, among other books, "Art and visual perception – A psychology of the creative eye" noticed that the way many cultures read - from left to right - has an influence on the way we look at art or photography.

‘Since a picture is “read” from left to right, pictorial movement toward the right is perceived as being easier, requiring less effort’.

Bicycles often look better when heading off to the right. In the photo shoots we've done for bicycle brands, we are always careful to shoot the right side of the bicycle wherever possible, so that the chainguard is visible. It just looks better with the chainguard in the shot, but it also looks better heading to the right.
Cycle Chic Photo Shoot for Velorbis
Photo shoot for Velorbis catalogue.


Here are a couple of examples of  'reading' a photo.

At top left, the girl in the poncho looks like she is struggling into a snowblown headwind, which she was. At bottom left, by flipping the photo horizontally, she looks like she is sailing on a tailwind. The pedestrians, as well.

At top right, the bicycle users appear to have an easy go of it with a tailwind. Which they weren't. At bottom right they appear to be muscling into the snow and wind.

The flag at the top is the party flag for the Samajwadi political party in India. In 2012, their rising star, Akhilesh Yadav, won a landslide election in the Uttar Pradesh state elections. Yadav campaigned tirelessly and he rode hundreds of kilometres around the state on his bicycle and organised bicycle rides. Reuters has an article about his rise to power. He thrashed the heir-apparent in Indian politics, Rahul Ghandi by appealing to the working classes, sleeping in villagers huts and aligning himself with the demands of the regular citizens. And the man can even text and cycle at the same time. He's got our vote.

So a bicycle is a fitting symbol for the party. For any progressive party who aspire to be agents of change. I have no idea if the designer thought about the positioning of the bicycle on the flag at the top. Based on this Left to Right perception, the bicycle isn't heading away from us, carrying us to a better future and all the other metaphors you can think of.. The positioning of it - in our perception - suggests that it is going in the opposite direction. Going against the flow, or against the grain, as it were. Which can be symbolic in a positive sense for a political party wishing to embrace change and deconstruct the status quo, but that's far too subliminal. Interestingly, on the political party's Facebook group and elsewhere, there are versions of the flag reversed so it points left to right.

This started out as an article about Mr Yadav and his party's use of the bicycle as a symbol. A discussion started here at Copenhagenize Design Company, however, about how bicycles are positioned in signage and pictograms.

If we suppose that a bicycle heading from left to right is 'positive' symbolism for our sub-conscious perception, then surely bicycle pictograms and signage should feature this directional placement.

We all went over the window to look at the Danish standard on the cycle tracks outside and looked at other examples from around us in Copenhagen.



(Clockwise from top left) The Danish standard as dictacted by the Road Directorate is a bicycle heading from right to left, although the logo of the City of Copenhagen's Bicycle Office - "I Bike CPH" - features a bicycle in the 'positive' direction. The logo for The Green Wave in Copenhagen has the bicycle user in "metaphorical direction neutrality" - could be heading towards us or away from us. I've always percieved this as the bicycle heading towards me, come to think of it. While the standard for Danish signage is right to left, there are variations. Wayfinding for indicating routes on the national cycling network. On the bicycle seat belts on the train to Malmö, the bike heads right.

At bottom right is a vintage sign I cycle past each day, complete with chainguard, fenders and light. Nice. The Danish State Railways tend to use the standard symbol but they are happy to have the bicycle pointing to the right on variations of their signage.


Above are all the traffic signs in Denmark relating to cycling. At bottom left is the signage for bi-directional cycle tracks, which you don't see often for obvious design reasons. But it's there like a retro memory, like the man at bottom right sitting upright with a splendid hat - old Danish signage that we miss so very much. All in all, the pictograms are standardised to feature bicycles heading left.

The traffic engineer logic is that pointing a bicycle to the left indicates potential collision and serves, in their minds at least, to add a safety element to the road signage. Generally, there is a tendency to have the bicycle heading to the right if the signage indicates access or bicycle-friendly facilities, but this is not carved in stone, apparently.
Cykelgade Signage - Fietsstraat
"Bicycle Street - Cars are guests"

We chose, however, to aim the bicycle left to right in our proposal for signage for Bicycle Streets in Denmark. And, even more importantly, we were tired of all the boy bikes in all the pictograms we see around the world, so we made it a proper sit up and beg design with a ladies frame. We like the idea of the Dutch version of their Fietsstraat signs, featuring a cyclist heading towards you, in front of a car. The design, however, is clumsy and it looks hand-drawn. We developed the above proposal based on existing Danish signage. Interestingly, the Dutch signage isn't even official signage, but the Dutch put them up anyway and now people think they are. That's cool.

Farther afield, let's have a look through the Copenhagenize archives to see what's up in the bicycle pictogram world.



Looking from left to right, above, the bicycle symbols are right to left in Zurich, Rome, Ljubljana and Mexico City and then it points to the right in Ferrara. In Vienna, at far right, it's right to left but the crossing signal - one of the funkiest in the world - features a bicycle with casual-leaning cyclist looking right at us. Which sends positive connotations.



In Berlin we spotted what we assume is a vintage design, at left, featuring a chap wearing a suit and riding a normal bicycle. Citizen Cycling indeed. On street and on the parking sign, the bicycles are right to left.


Stockholm can't seem to figure out which way to go.


Nor can Trondheim. Even in Amsterdam they have some variations and varying directions.


In Barcelona, the signage is usually right to left, but left to right on the trains. Suggesting access - supported by the word "access" in three languages, just to be sure you get it.


The Finns work with the right to left concept, as does Antwerp - although they switch it around on the green sign. In Budapest, activists made their own pictogram and spraypainted it on streets all over the city. Great idea, although might have been symbolic to reverse the pictogram.


In Melbourne and on official signage in Riga (is that the world's shortest stretch of bicycle infrastructure?) it is right to left. The bike share in Riga, however is left to right, as is the sign on the door to the train station. The biggest warning on that sign tells you to watch out for the grates if you're wearing high heels. In Tokyo, right to left.


Brazil is a bit confused. At left is a somewhat standard pictogram in Sao Paulo showing the route for the Ciclofaixa each Sunday. The yellow symbol was made by activists - featuring an upright bike heading in the positive direction. On the second-last photo, the sign stating that Volkswagon sponsored the bike lane through a park has the bicycles heading left to right. And yes, we love that irony. The middle photo is from Rio de Janeiro with a rare example of a pictogram straight on. And the pictogram at the right is a newer version that I've seen in use in the city. Nice design, too.


It's a signage free for all in Canada, with different variations across the land. In the US - the only country to put plastic hats on their pictogram people, there is a general standard and it sends cyclists back out into traffic. In New York, this pathway has reversed them in order to show wayfinding.

The French are sending the bicycle backwards, then forwards to a progressive future and then back again. It's all very confusing, although their national standard is the white bike on green.

While some countries still need a national standard and there is an ocean of variations, there are still some people who get it hopelessly wrong. We spotted this, at left, in London in June 2014. It's hilarious. It's a Jackson Pollack interpretation of the British pictogram. At right, even the Copenhagen Metro can screw up. Lovely that it is a step-through frame, but seriously... how many things can you find wrong with that pictogram?

So, after all that, here's a crazy Copenhagenize idea.

Let's get all subliminal. Let's flip our bicycle pictograms on the streets and signage to send a sub-conscious message to all those who 'read' them. It's an inexpensive solution to influence perception of cycling. Think about it when planning your logo.

If, as we mentioned above, ‘since a picture is “read” from left to right, pictorial movement toward the right is perceived as being easier, requiring less effort’, THAT should be the general message on all bicycle pictograms. Send the bicycle from left to right - not only so we can see the damned chainguard - but to broadcast the symbolism of a progressive future.

19 August 2014

Copy-Paste Copenhagenization in Ljubljana

Ljubljana Cycle Chic_6 (2)
I talk a lot about the Ljubljana. In conversations with journalists and in my keynotes around the world I highlight a simple move that boosted cycling dramatically in the Slovenian capital and that should serve as a great inspiration for other Emerging Bicycle Cities. It's a fantastic story. Wait for it.

One of the simplest ways to transform a city into bicycle-friendly place is to merely adopt the Best Practice from cities who have figured it out. Cycle tracks have been around for more than a century and the cities that rock the urban cycling world have spent years perfecting the design - making mistakes and fixing them.

Now that Ljubljana has been chosen as the Green Capital of Europe for 2016, it's appropriate to focus a bit on the impressive inroads the city has been making towards becoming a better place to live. In a country with one of the highest car ownership rates in Europe, Ljubljana is now working hard to restrict car traffic in the city centre - focusing instead on improving public transport, building more cycle tracks and pedestrian streets.

As it stands now, Ljubljana is a fine bicycle city. The modal share, last I heard, was 10%, which is very, very respectable.

One of the most irritatingly repetitive things I hear in my work is that "This isn't Copenhagen/Amsterdam... it can't be done here. Our streets are different/narrower/wider etc.". Blahblahblah.

Cities are just spaces in which a whole bunch of humans live together. We've been doing it for around 7000 years. Cities are organic creatures that are excellent at adapting to change. The problem, more often than not, is that certain inviduals fail to understand this and instead think that cities are some unchangeable construction that cannot be altered.

I've spoken about how we should design our city streets instead of banking solely on traffic engineering - largely a failed science when left to its own, archaeic devices.

Ljubljana's story is one of a human desire to change and to freely accept that foreign ideas and experiences could be copy-pasted onto the cityscape.

Last time I was there, I was taken on a tour of the city by the cycling officer. With 10% modal share, I knew that there was bound to be decent infrastructure in place. We started in the city centre with some infrastructure that was... well... interesting.

Ljubljana Cycle Chic_24
This is a classic example of someone regarding bicycles as an irritation. A traffic engineer who has been told to create space for bicycles and yet had no experience with it - even worse, no desire to find out about it. The above "infrastructure" has no respect for logic, design, the human experience or safety.

We headed out to the near suburbs, towards a "problem intersection" that needed some Copenhagenizing. It was on the way out there that I looked down. And saw something quite lovely.

Ljubljana Bicycle Life_8
I speed up alongside Janez, the cycling officer, and asked him what the hell it was we were cycling on. It looked remarkably like a Copenhagen-style cycle track.
Ljubljana Cycle Chic_30

Oh yes, he assured me. It was. Then he told me a splendid story.

Back in the late 60s/early 70s a team of urban planners travelled from Ljubljana to Copenhagen to study bicycle infrastructure. This was at the height of the Cold War - although the Iron Curtain as far as Slovenia/Yugoslavia was concerned was more of a dangly bead curtain, but hey. They studied infrastructure and went home and just built it. Copy/paste. Ctrl+C/Ctrl+V. They built 45 kilometres of these perfectly separated cycle tracks and THAT is where Ljubljana was launched onto it's journey as a bicycle-friendly city. From 2% to 10% in just a couple of years.

It boggles the mind that engineers and planners in other cities and countries don't do the same. Copy paste best practice from Denmark or the Netherlands. Save time. Save money. Save fixing the mistakes later. Amazingly, cities are still putting in bike lanes painted on the LEFT side of parked cars, instead of along the curb. Or putting in on-street, bi-directional cycle tracks on stretches with lots of intersections.

Ljubljana Bicycle Life_23
Here are some Citizen Cyclists heading home on a stretch of cycle track in the early afternoon. Squint your eyes and you're heading out of Copenhagen along one of the motorways.

Amazing. Since then a few of the cycle tracks have been removed and the city has been struggling with connecting the network. They've been at 10% for a few years, not least since independence. Slovenia also has higher car ownership rates than Germany. Urban planners started to think car as opposed to bike over the last decade.

But what a legacy. Cycle tracks since the early 1970's. With a bit of vision and dedication, the established mainstream bicycle culture in the city can easily move towards 15%-20%. If the right choices are taken.

A new bike share programme was established in 2011, and is a whopping success.
Ljubljana Bicycle Life_10 (2)

A bike box (pleasingly on the stretch that featured my Monumental Motion exhibition) is in place.
Ljubljana Cycle Chic_64
There is even a pre-green for bicycles at this intersection.

Ljubljana Bicycle Life_4 (2)
There are loads of bicycle traffic lights already, which is a brilliant sign.

Ljubljana Bicycle Life_18 Ljubljana Bicycle Life_16
Newer developments feature infrastructure bicycle infrastructure, as well, including a roundabout.

Ljubljana Bicycle Life_9
There are still glitches along the way. Great bollards separating the motorised traffic from the bicycles, but then cyclists are forced to stop as cars swoop to the right unencumbered. A traffic light for the motor vehicles, forcing them to stop - since the the drivers will otherwise look left for cars as they merge, instead of at the cyclists on the right - and one for the bicycles and that problem is fixed.

In a number of spots bike lanes lead towards a bridge and then disappear, while cars speed along at 50 or 60 km/h. Cyclists I saw just rode on the sidewalk. As we know, the majority of cyclists being 'naughty' do so because of sub-standard (or total lack of) sensible infrastructure. Or, in this case below, slow streets where cyclists dictate the pace.
Ljubljana Cycle Chic_53

It was a pleasure to be in the city and meet so many like-minded people. I reminded them not only to look at the negatives - the problem spots - but to remember the positives. It's a city that is lightyears ahead because of visionary planning forty years ago.

Capitalizing on the positives will only serve to speed the journey towards a more complete, more effective network of bicycle infrastructure. Constant focusing on the negatives in discussion with city planners and politicians will only end up sounding irritating.

This city has so much going for it. Getting to the next level - with the right tailwind - will be easy. There are already some great indicators in Ljubljana, parents with kids and kids cycling by themselves, as well as traffic calmed streets and people using the bicycle as they always have:
Ljubljana Cycle Chic_80 Ljubljana Cycle Chic_51
Ljubljana Bicycle Life_6 Ljubljana Cycle Chic_79

The future appears bright in Ljubjlana.
Ljubljana Cycle Chic_77

05 August 2014

The Green Waves of Copenhagen

Spring Sunshine 04

The City of Copenhagen established the first Green Wave for cyclists back in 2007 on Nørrebrogade and, since then, the concept has spread to other major arteries in the city. The idea is simple. Coordinate the traffic lights for cyclists so that if they ride at a speed of 20 km/h, they will hit green lights all the way into the city in the morning rush hour. The wave is reversed in the afternoon so bicycle users can flow smoothly home, too.

20 km/h was decided upon as the speed in order to improve the traffic flow of bicycles. The average speed of bicycle users in Copenhagen is about 16 km/h. A wave of 20 km/h encourges some to go a bit faster but it also encourages the faster cyclists to slow down in order to benefit from the green lights. The rush hour on the cycle tracks is intense in Copenhagen and speed demons do more harm than good regarding safety and, almost more importantly, perception of safety.
Copenhagen Rush Hour
As it is now, the Green Wave is in place on Nørrebrogade, Amagerbrogade, parts of Østerbrogade and along Farimagsgade.

The City is currently testing a pilot project involving a detection system on Østerbrogade. Green Wave 2.0. It will detect bicycle users approaching an intersection. If there are five or more cycling citizens roughly cycling together, the light will stay green up ahead until they pass.

Given the mainstream nature of cycling in Copenhagen, you rarely see cycling computers on bikes. Nor do people have any idea of how far they ride or how fast they go. Most people know how long it takes to get from their A to their B. You don't need an on board tech solution to hit the Green Wave. If you cycle the same route everyday, you quickly learn the rhythm of the lights and, regarding the Green Wave, you learn intuitively how fast you should be going. In the rush hour there is the added benefit of herd psychology. A whole bunch of people are heading in the same direction and the speed needed to hit the green lights is seemingly communicated subliminally.

There are, however, some interesting solutions for guiding bicycle users along certain stretches of the Green Wave. As a rule they are along longer stretches without intersections. On these stretches, the herd spreads out based on the varying speeds of the individuals. It's easy to lose the sense of the necessary 20 km/h required to keep surfing the wave.

Clarence from Streetfilms was in town recently and he made this film of the recent innovations on Copenhagen's bicycle landscape. In it you can see a clip about the LED lights used to help nudge users to hit the light up ahead.

Journey Around Copenhagen's Latest Bicycle Innovations! from STREETFILMS on Vimeo.

Cykelsupersti
In the Frederiksberg, these countdown signals are in place along sections of the Bicycle Superhighway. While there is no Green Wave present, they serve the same function. They count down to every light change. If the light is red, it is counting down to green and vice versa. Meaning you can speed up a bit or apply your foot brake a bit in order to maintain your flow. While easily 90% of bikes in Copenhagen have foot or coaster brakes, people with sporty hand brakes can obviously do the same.

There are also a few digital radar signs on longer stretches. For cars they tend to be warnings of speeding but on the cycle tracks they are friendly reminders about the 20 km/h Green Wave flow.
Countdown for Cyclists in Frederiksberg - Cykelsupersti
This is unrelated to the Green Wave but bear with us. It is a simple countdown at traffic lights to help curb bicycle user impatience by letting them see how long it will be until the light changes.

The Green Wave
The Green Wave also has its own signage on the cycle tracks and on signs.



Copenhagenize Design Co. made this episode about the Green Wave in our series of Top Ten Design Elements that make Copenhagen a Bicycle Friendly City.



In this film we made back in 2009 you can see what it's like to surf the Green Wave at 08:15 in the morning.

The Green Wave is only in place on major arteries where volume and flow is important so not everyone gets a piece of it. About 80,000 people will ride it each day in Copenhagen, which is roughly 26% of the bicycle users entering the city centre. Nevertheless, it is important, visionary and contributes to the re-creation of a truly liveable city where pedestrians, bicycle users and public transport users are prioritised.

You can bang on about the tech aspects of these solutions but at the core lies Plato: "Necessity is the Mother of Invention". Tech solutions are only useful if they actually make sense and serve a purpose. The Green Wave does exactly that.

Copenhagen Winter Cycling - The Bridge Winter Traffic
And while there may be days where 20 km/h in the morning rush hour may be optimistic, like above, the herd forms it's own flow in adverse conditions until the cycle tracks are cleared of snow. Which doesn't take very long in Copenhagen.

Nørrebrogade Refitting 02
Other improvements go hand in hand with the Green Wave. On Nørrebrogade, with over 35,000 bicycle users a day, there is a need for wider cycle tracks. Above you can see how wide the one way track is across Queen Louise's Bridge. Bicycle traffic has increased by 15% on this stretch since the Green Wave was first implemented. Creating more space for bicycle users is important.

04 August 2014

Innovative Elevated Cycle Track in Copenhagen


Bryggerampen - the new elevated cycle track in Copenhagen.

UPDATE: 04 AUGUST 2014

New Streetfilm about The Bicycle Snake!

UPDATE: JUNE 16, 2014. IT'S ALMOST FINISHED!



UPDATE: Now they're calling it Cykelslangen - The Bicycle Snake. Construction starts in Sept. 2012 and it will be open for use in late 2012/early 2013.

Unique locations require unique solutions, whatever the city. Construction starts in February on a fantastic and innovative solution to fix an important missing link in the Copenhagen bicycle infrastructure network - Bryggerampen.
Bryggebroen Red
Bryggebroen - bicycle and pedestrian bridge over Copenhagen Harbour.

In 2006, a bicycle and pedestrian bridge - Bryggebroen - was opened across the harbour in Copenhagen, connecting the Vesterbro neighbourhood with Islands Brygge on the other side. It was the first fixed link over Copenhagen harbour for a few centuries. It was an immediate success. Bicycle users from not only Vesterbro but the rest of Copenhagen were given a faster connection to the island of Amager. Easy access not only to Islands Brygge but also to the universities, Danish Broadcasting and the whole new urban development of Ørestad - as well as bicycle users commuting in the opposite direction.

There are currently 8000 bicycle users crossing the bridge each day. That number is estimated to be almost double if it weren't for an irritating missing link on the north side of the harbour. Two options are currently available. You can walk your bicycle down the stairs, using the ramp, to get to the harbourside and on to the bridge or you can cycle a detour around the Fisketorvet shopping centre. Both are a pain. Especially for cargo bike users.
Copenhagen Frozen Harbour Bryggebroen
Harbour bath on the harbourfront and the Bryggebroen cyclist and pedestrian bridge.

In the summer, there is a lot of pedestrian activity on the harbour in this area, with a harbour bath, boat rental, kayak sport and shopping centre customers milling about on the quay. There is no clear division between bicycle users and pedestrians and it is an exercise in weaving to get through to the bridge. In addition, the route involves a couple of sharp corners with limited visibility. All in all, while 9000 people still cycle across the bridge, there were many things to be fixed in order to reach the full potential. Many people ride their bike to the harbour activities, sure, but the majority are just interested in getting from A to B and cycling past this location.

Enter the Danish architect firm Dissing+Weitling - who are also the architects behind Bryggebroen and the bicycle bridge Åbuen. They have designed an elevated cycle track that is, in effect, a 235 metre long bicycle ramp with a gentle slope that will allow bicycle users to travel directly from the bridge at Dybbølsbro to the harbour bridge - Bryggebroen. Separated from cars, of course, but also pedestrians. Below the ramp, people can mill about the harbourfront at their leisure. On the ramp, it'll be A2Bism at it's best.

A solution that is typical for Copenhagen. Elegantly designed, practical, incredibly innovative and with bicycle users at the forefront of the concept. The City sent out a call for ideas and had 20 million kroner for the project. They liked this idea so much that they found an extra 18 million in order to finance it. 38 million kroner in all. That's about $6.6 million or €5.1 million.

Here are some of the renderings from Dissing+Weitling. Bryggebroen is at the bottom right and, at top left, is the upper level at the end of Dybbøls Bridge. Here is the Google Map link of this location. It isn't updated so all the new architectural pearls on the triangular Haveholmen aren't on the satellite map.

235 metres in length, with the columns spaced at 17 metres apart. Lightweight - it's only bicycles who are going to use it - and relatively easy to construct. It is planned to be finished in December 2012. It will be bi-directional - not always an intelligent choice for streets - but at 4 metres wide, there will be ample space for bicycles and cargo bikes.

An aerial view of how the elevated bicycle ramp will skirt past the shopping centre, above the bustling harbourfront.

A gentle slope down to the ground before reaching the start of the Bryggebroen bridge.

View from below. A little bit optimistic, because there will still be bicycles along the harbour, but hey.

We're looking forward to the completion of the ramp and a doubling in the number of bicycle users crossing the harbour at this point. While it's tecnically a ramp, let's chuck it into the bridge category - along with the many other bridges that are under construction over Copenhagen's harbour like these ones.