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/

29 June 2017

Egyptian Cycling History - Then and Now - Subversive Photo Series

In this latest installment of our "Subversive Cycling Photos" series, we travel to Egypt. The same utterings are heard here as most other places. About how "it's too hot to cycle" and "oh, but we never had urban cycling here..." With these historical photos, we once again bust some myths, like we've done for Singapore, Los Angeles, Rio de Janeiro, New South Wales, Vancouver, Oslo, Dublin, Canberra, etc.

Copenhagenize Design Company has had the pleasure of hosting architect and urban planner, Ahmed Tarek Al-Ahwal, on an exchange from Egypt made possible by the support of the Danish Egyptian Dialogue Institute. He curated these photographs highlighting a long and proud history of using the bicycle as transport in his country.

By Ahmed Tarek Al-Ahwal




Egypt's President Sisi has been on a bike ride or two, like this one in 2014. He has said that Egyptians should cycle more and that the country can save 16 Egyptian pounds for each 20 km cycled. He has, however, failed to provide any infrastructure.

In the recent memory of some Egyptians, cycling used to serve a much wider group of users than today. Residents in Port Said, a port city on the Suez Canal, are proud that cycling used to be their main mode of transportation. Indeed, during rush hour, the ferries were loaded with the bicycles of employees going to work. It´s a narrative that is heard in many other cities, usually followed by remarks about how women and children used to feel much safer cycling in cities and how there used to be many more bike shops - especially those serving a double-purpose. Shops that were also garages that would clean, repair and store bikes overnight.

Stories of huge bicycle racks next to office buildings, factories and schools are heard across the nation, from the north to the south. The textile factory in Shebin, a city in the northern Nile Delta used to host one of those, which was removed after cycling disappeared under the weight of car-centric planning.

Egyptian Cycling History
A bicycle rushing past an omnibus, Port Said, late 19th century.

Egyptian Cycling History
Cairo, early 20th century

Egyptian Cycling History
College Saint Marc students, Alexandria, early 20th century

Egyptian Cycling History Egyptian Cycling History
Left: A magazine article about the opening of a factory in Qena, south of Egypt. Factories were associated with bicycles in the 1960s.
Right: Bike shops used to be a very common sight, catering to many clients. Port Said.

Egyptian Cycling History 1950s
Caption reads: “University girls in Asyut are more practical than their colleagues, overcoming traffic problems by using bicycles” a quote from a magazine. Asyut 1960s.

Egyptian Cycling History 1935
Street scene, 1935.

Egyptian Cycling History 1980
Bicycles were a normal sight on the streets, at least through the 1980s.

See more historical photos from Egyptian cycling history here.

Cycling Persists in Egypt

Egyptian Cycling Culture
“Change the way you commute” An advertisement in Tahrir square for vacation houses on the red sea coast. Summer 2016.

For many Egyptians, like other places around the world, cycling has become something unusual. Something subcultural, something done by poor messengers to transport goods, something for kids to do or a tool for advertising luxury, gated communities (photo, above).

Egyptian Cycling Culture
Bike parking at a school in Assiout, Southern Egypt. Photo credits: Yusuf Halim.

In many areas in the south of Egypt and the Nile delta, one can, however, still witness a wide variety of bicycle users. In Assiout, in the more conservative south, one can still see huge bike racks in schools (above) and public buildings.

Egyptian Cycling Culture
Bicycle user on a vintage bike. Photo credits: Osama Aiad

While in other cities, men in their 50s or 60s riding vintage bicycles serves as a reminder that cycling is not alien to Egyptian minds and culture.

Egyptian Cycling Culture
Bread delivery man riding in a Cairo street while holding wooden trays and reading a newspaper. Source: facebook page; Everyday Egypt

When former bicycle users from this generation are asked about the reasons for the decrease in cycling modal share, they talk about the change of time, about the era where cars were much less and streets safer and you could feel safe about your kids rushing on their own through the streets. They also talk about the availability of bike racks near homes and work, and services around the city. All practical reasons that could easily be addressed by cities that aim to have less congested, less polluted streets with a better quality of life that is not exclusive to luxurious gated communities. Not to mention a healthy density and an economic alternative to sprawl.

Egyptian Cycling Culture

Unlike the old era, attempts to build bike infrastructure in the few last years in Egypt haven’t achieved the required goals. Instead of being used as an example of how cycling doesn’t fit the Egyptian culture, these projects must be addressed critically.

Egyptian Cycling Culture
A symbolic stretch of bike lane.

The bicycle lanes painted on the Shahid corridor, an 8-lane highway in the desert, 14 km from the center of Cairo and 3 km from the nearest residential low density suburban area doesn’t seem to be a logical location to start.

The UNDP project of cycling lanes in Shebin are often ignored by bicycle users; the lanes deal poorly with intersections, also they don’t provide enough safety for bike users from traffic and are very vulnerable to be overtaken by car parking.

Safety and the perception of safety is a main issue keeping down the numbers of bike users and, if not addressed properly with infrastructure, cycling will not rise again as transport in Egyptian cities.


09 May 2017

Arrogance of Space - Copenhagen - Hans Christian Andersen Boulevard

Great new data from City of Copenhagen. 62% of Copenhageners ride a bike to work or education. Only 9% drive a car.
The City of Copenhagen released its latest mode share data yesterday and the numbers look fantastic.
62% of residents in the City ride a bicycle daily to work or education in the city. 21% take public transport, be it bus, metro or train. Only 9% drive a car - even though car ownership is around 25%. Basically, 91% of our citizens DON'T drive a car in the city - here in one of the richest countries in the world. All good, right?

Arrogance of Space Copenhagen
You would think so, but even Copenhagen suffers from a serious case of Arrogance of Space. We took a section of Hans Christian Andersen Boulevard - the 1950s urban planning travesty that carves the Danish capital in two - and did a quick arrogance of space analysis.

It's the busiest street in the Kingdom with between 50,000 - 60,000 cars a day roaring past, most of them firmly in the "parasite" category. These are not people who live in the municipality and who therefore do not pay for the road space that we provide them. There has been talk for years of burying this street and reclaiming the space it occupies. While not a bad idea - albeit an expensive one - it wouldn't remove the cars from the city, since they would pop up out of the tunnel at some point.

As you can see on the graph, a whopping 64% of the transport space in Copenhagen is allocated to cars - both car lanes and curb parking. This is most apparent at the location we are looking at here.

Arrogance of Space Copenhagen - Bike Infrastructure
When we map out the space allocated for cyclists, it looks like this. There are 26,400 cyclists along the boulevard on weekdays, according to the latest count in September 2016. Add to that around 10,000 who merely cross the boulevard from the side streets. Certainly not one of the busiest bicycle streets in Copenhagen but the numbers are respectable. On the map you can see how the infrastructure is part of a cohesive network.

Basic Urban Math - Copenhagen Style
Here is a snapshot of one light cycle in the morning rush hour from this location.

Arrogance of Space Copenhagen - Bus Lanes Arrogance of Space Copenhagen - Pedestrian Space
Here are the maps for the space occupied by bus lanes or trains, at left, and the space allocated to pedestrians, including squares. The trains are not relevant for this exercise, as they disappear underground, but buses are a key transport form on this corridor. 360 of them roll past between 7 AM and 7 PM. With an average capacity of 50 passengers, that would add 18,000 people moving back and forth along this stretch. And yet there is a severe lack of dedicated space for them.

Arrogance of Space Copenhagen - Shared Space
Out of interest, here is a map of the "shared space". Not the classic and cute "shared space" that works in small, rural towns and residential neighbourhoods but merely parts of the transport area without separation.

Arrogance of Space Copenhagen - Motor Vehicles
What IS relevant is this. The amount of urban space given over to motorised vehicles. Most of it handed free to motorists who do not pay taxes in this municipality. Motorists, it is worth mentioning, already have it easy in Denmark. It's cheaper to buy a car today than during the oil crises in the 1970s and the same applies to gas, rendering the tax on cars here rather irrelevant. In addition, a resident's parking permit only costs around 750 DKK (€100) per year - despite the fact that a parking costs the city - and the taxpayers - around 50,000 DKK (€6,600).

Arrogance of Space Copenhagen
Here is the complete map with all the transport forms together. The Arrogance of Space is clearly visible.

There is a total disconnect between how Copenhageners get around and how the space is divided up. This is not urban democracy on this boulevard at all. It is the same car-centric dictatorship that so many other cities in the world suffer under. Yes, it is safe to cycle along this stretch, on separated cycle tracks. But this is not transport democracy. This is not the Copenhagen that inspires so many people around the world.

Public-Private Disconnect
If we valued public space in an economic sense as much as we value real estate value - instead of a massive majority subsidizing the transport habits of the few, we would be much better off. Here is just one idea of how to reallocate the space more intelligently.

We would be more rational and this city would be not only healthier and more dynamic - it would be the leader that it should be.

See more articles about Arrogance of Space with this tag.

10 April 2017

Connect Bikes and Trains - Increase the Number of Cyclists and Train Passengers

For the past three years, Copenhagenize Design Co., in team with 5 train and bike operators and 4 mobility consulting firms, have been working to develop intermodality between bikes and trains in Europe.


Why this mobility solution makes sense in our cities ?
Because all trips can't be made by bike, this combination is the best solution to compete with cars. Bike-Train-Bike or BiTiBi services combine energy efficient transport modes into one seamless transport service. Indeed, the bicycle is by far the most energy efficient transport for short distances. It allows to increase significantly the catchment areas around train station. The train, especially the low speed train, is the most efficient transport mode for longer distances. 





The Dutch approach: bike parking and OV-fiets
With 26% of all daily trips achieved by bike, cycling is an integral part of daily life for everyone in the Netherlands. The country leads the way when it comes to the bike-train-bike combination. This began in the late 1990’s when Dutch train officials noticed old bikes were being parked and left at destination stations by passengers who used them for semi-regular trips. In response, an investment plan to enlarge and renew all cycling facilities at railway stations was passed in 1999. Safe parkings for almost 500,000 bikes are available at train stations and typically has direct connection to the platforms or the station hall. All these facilities make cycling to train stations an easy and attractive option.

By 2002, railway operator NS had already observed a 20% increase in passengers. Today nearly half of all train passengers take a bike to reach their station.

























Key to the success of the BiTiBi combination in the Netherlands is OV-fiets. This public bike allows train passengers to reach their final destination by bike after disembarking. Launched in 2003, it is now available at 280 out of 410 stations across the country. These bicycles, in a classic Dutch design, are provided by the main railway operator NS. The same “OV-chipkaart” transit card that is used on trains, buses, metro and trams throughout the country is also used for renting an OV-fiets. 

Houten: bike parking under the train station


European development in Belgium, Italy, Spain and the United-Kingdom
Based on the Dutch approach, pilot projects were implemented in the regions of Barcelona, Milan, Liverpool and in Belgium. In all countries, projects successfully substituted trips made by cars with bike-train-bike transport. Due to the opening of bike parkings and/or the availability of bikes at stations, more bicycle users have been registered cycling to the stations, and some of them are new train passengers. Some of these bicycle users shifted from cars to this efficient combination due to the improvement of the services.

Here is an summary of the impacts of these services on mobility in the 4 pilot projects:







Positive results in the four European countries
These past years, following the implementation and the improvement of services, and the creation of an appealing communication, positive results have been witnessed in all countries.

In Belgium, the Blue-bike service is now available in 48 train stations over the country. It means that with a same member card, users can rent the same public bike, at the same price and conditions, each time they arrive in one of these 48 cities. In the pilot cities, we calculated than 22% of Blue-bike combined with train trips have replaced a trip formerly made by car.

Gent St-Pieters - Blue Bike



In northern Italy, the train company Ferrovienord has launched a regional plan and will double the number of secure bike parkings at stations in the coming years. A couple of years ago, Como, a city of Milan area, built a well-designed bike parking for 90 bikes, with direct access on the platform, that should inspire many small and medium sized cities.

BiTiBi_Como&Bollate


In the United-Kingdom, Merseyrail operates the urban railways in the Liverpool area and provides Bike & Go rentals and secured bike shelters. The company developed an attractive communication strategy to make its Bike & Go services visible as soon as train passengers disembark. Moreover, they developed a marketing strategy to facilitate companies to subscribe to the service for their employees and ease daily business trips.



















To finish, in Barcelona area, plenty of promotional efforts have been aimed at companies/ The bike operator organised “Try a Bike & Ride to the Station” events and invited several companies to participate.




Building bike parking: 400% rate of return
Considering the basic expense of installing bike parking facilities and the different benefits they provide - mainly due to health benefit and air pollution reduction -, there is a 400% societal return on investment! In other words, society benefits four times as much as the cost of the bike parking facilities.


If this figure does not convince you to invest in bike parking and bike services, a booklet disseminating all the results is available here and the most important data gathered in the pilot projects are available here. For further information, you can also visit the BiTiBi.eu website.


Here is a poster designed by Copenhagenize Design Co to promote BiTiBi.
BiTiBi_Illustration_Communication

06 April 2017

Copenhagen's Fantastic & Stupid Bicycle Bridge Inderhavnsbro

Copenhagen's Inderhavnsbro - Inner Harbour Bridge - Photo: City of Copenhagen
It's no secret that Copenhagen continues to invest massively in bicycle infrastructure like no other city on the planet. The network is already comprehensive and effective but the City continues to add important links, especially over the harbour and the canals.

One of the more recent additions is the Inner Harbour Bridge - Inderhavnsbroen in Danish - that spans Copenhagen Harbour at a key, strategic and iconic point. It links the city center at the end of the postcard picture perfect Nyhavn with the Christianshavn neighbourhood and the southern neighbourhoods beyond.

It is one of a series of 17 new bridges or underpasses for bicycle traffic that have been added to the City's transport network in the past few years.

The Inner Harbour Bridge was riddled with problems and was extremely delayed, as you can read here. Now, however, it's been open since July 2016.

Let me be clear... I'm thrilled that we have a new, modern link over the harbour to accommodate bicycle traffic and pedestrians. I am over the moon that the number of cyclists crossing daily exceeds all projected numbers. The City estimated that between 3000-7000 cyclists would use the bridge but the latest numbers are 16,000.

It's a massive success. But sometimes you can see the forest for the trees. I'm sorry, but Inderhavnsbro is a stupid, stupid bridge.

It fulfills it's primary function of allowing people to cross a body of water. But it is a cumbersome, beastly thing that is completely and utterly out of place in the delicate urban, historical and architectural context of its location. A fantastic overcomplication of the simple, timeless art of bridges that open and close. Designed by an architect named Cezary Bednarski from an architecture bureau will roots in two countries where cycling is no longer mainstream transport, it has failed miserably in respecting the basic concepts of bicycle urbanism and the established standards for infrastructure and facilities. By the looks of it, Studio Bednarski didn't even bother to understand them.

Inderhavnsbro - Inner Harbour Bridge - Copenhagen

The nickname for the monster is the "kissing bridge" and it is flawed in so many ways. After millenia with perfectly functional designs to cross water like drawbridges and swing bridges, this architect decided to overcomplicate the concept. The bridge meets in the middle, where the two sides "kiss". A nice, giggly idea on a distant architecture office desk but quite stupid in practice. It proved incredibly difficult to make the giggly idea work.

Crossing the bridge by bicycle involves two sharp turns - two chicanes. Chicanes designed by someone who doesn't ride a bicycle. Cyclists are shunted sharply and rudely towards the middle of the bridge and back out to the side again. Perhaps the idea of getting the two sides to "kiss" was too difficult with the length of the bridge or the width required to make the kiising part work. The quirky kissing idea is the primary objective, at the expense of common sense. The primary visual gimmick is that the glass panels change colour as the bridge opens. Oooh. Wow.

For a century, Best Practice standards for details like chicanes have been in place. We know what curvature works best for comfort and for safety. These chicanes pose serious problems and they are clearly visible for anyone to see. You can see from the bicycle tracks in rain that people just cut the corners of them.

Inderhavnsbroen - Inner Harbour Bridge

A more serious concern is the many skidmarks you see on the bridge as you head downwards in either direction. I stop and study them every time I cross. Have a look when you cross. There are always fresh ones. They stop before the glass barriers, but I figured out why, as you can see in the photo, above.

Inderhavnsbroen - Inner Harbour Bridge

People crown the bridge in the middle and then get speed up, but many people fail to realise that the architect wasn't capable of a straight line and they slam on the brakes and hit the glass. I don't know if anyone has gone over the edge into the water, but the physics provide a perfect storm.

Inderhavnsbroen - Inner Harbour Bridge Inderhavnsbroen - Inner Harbour Bridge
Look at the glass barrier in the above photo. The City has realised there is an issue and have slapped up a large, red and white warning sign to try and help people realise that it's a dead-end.

If you need to put warning signs on a design, it is basically a crappy design. Period.

The grade to get up the bridge also ignores Best Practice standards for bicycle infrastructure. In this article you can read how most standards were established in the 1920s and 1930s. The architect probably thought "bike" and a spandexy dude on a race bike popped into his head. I have seen a few people get off and walk up the incline, but most just muscle their way up. The bridge is too steep. It is not designed for a mainstream bicycle city and the architect didn't bothering researching the fact that we have 40,000 cargo bikes filled with kids and goods in Copenhagen.

On all the other bicycle bridges in Copenhagen a simple boom will drop to the sound of a simple ringing bell to stop cyclists and pedestrians when the bridge is opening. Compare that simple design to the huge, groaning barriers that rise like creatures from the black lagoon on the Inderhavnsbro. Comical overcomplication.

Another detail is that there are no ramps on the stairs on the pedestrian side - unusual in Copenhagen - but necessary. That is easily fixed, compared the rest of the nightmare.

Is using municipal funding to experiment with giggly, freestyle designs really a good idea? The bridge was also funded by a philanthropic fund - but does that mean that we don't have to be rational when we get free stuff?

I can easily and rightfully criticize the architect who failed miserably at his task, but lest we forget there was a jury of Copenhageners who actually looked at this and voted "YES!" So there are many fools at this party.

Inderhavnsbroen - Inner Harbour Bridge
There are so many moving parts that breakdowns will be inevitable. It's already happened a number of times. Ships have been stuck on the wrong side because it couldn't open. The little tent, above, appeared suddenly and was in place for more than a week. That's hardly good for mobility. A fancy schmancy bridge in Kiel, Germany, ended up having so many problems that another bridge was built next to it, to be used when the fancy bridge breaks down. Is that where we are heading in Copenhagen?

The bridge is nothing more than "magpie architecture". A shiny object that attracted the favour of the people who selected it. Seduced by bling and fake innovation instead of being guided by timeless rationality and basic design principles. It follows in the sad tradition of Squiggletecture, where bridges and facilities are designed by architects who don't understand the users.

What's more, in an attempt to appease the wealthy sailboat crowd, the City of Copenhagen agreed to let the bridge open 30 times a month - far more than the six times a month that the other main links over the harbour - Knippelsbro and Langebro -open. This bridge will be unreliable as a transport option for people who are just trying to get to work or education once the sailing season starts.

The basic principles of Danish Design - practical, functional and elegant - were sadly forgotten in the choice of this bridge. The shine will wear off and, I fear, we'll be faced with more expensive problems.

Facepalm.