26 February 2018

Farewell Papirøen, hello Nordhavn!

Park where you want outside our new Nordhavn office

For the last four years Copenhagenize Design Company has had the pleasure of calling Copenhagen’s Papirøen, or Paper Island, home. Alongside a handful of dynamic offices, studios, ateliers, galleries, and restaurants, we’ve watched as this tiny island smack dab in the middle of the city has grown from a collection of unassuming newsprint warehouses to a thriving destination. 

The transformation of the island was part of an innovative urban planning experiment exercised by the City to open the formerly closed off island before it is developed into a rich man’s ghetto/architectural gem (depending on how you look at it). Of course much of the success of Papirøen is owed to a relatively recent investment in a string of new bicycle bridges, stitching the areas of Christianshavn, Nyhavn, and Holmen together. 

The Island has served us well, hosting late night parties, international delegation visits, winter bathing sessions, impromptu meetings and drop-ins, harbour-front lunches, synchronized diving sessions (read fails), Master Class parties, not to mention a couple company milestones.

Participants from the 2017 Master Class enjoying life on Paper Island
But as of this week, we’ve packed up all our gear and headed out to Nordhavn, a new corner of the city, with similar DIY, urban/maritime vibes that make Copenhagen such a fascinating city. And yes, the district is one giant urban development experiment with cutting edge sustainable energy solutions, mobility models, iconic wind farms, historic fortresses, and new urban spaces. Pretty much all an urbanism office could ask for.

Inside the halls of our new space on Nordhavn
Here’s to our future at Nordhavn, with new neighbours, landscapes, and of course, a rolling start to the forthcoming CPH Bike Hub. As always, our doors are open, so shoot us a line or drop by for a coffee, you can find us on the second floor of Sundkaj 7.

08 January 2018

Copenhagen Bike Hub

by Stephanie Patterson

Copenhagenize Design Company’s time at our very cool co-working space on Paper Island/Papirøen is sadly coming to an end – the island's old industrial buildings are being demolished to make way for a new residential development. We’ll miss the creative vibe in our office - and on the island - that we have experienced daily for over four years. Paper Island was a freestyle creative hub that captured the imagination of Copenhageners and visitors alike.

Harbour bathing is a regular, year-round activity at our office

Instead of resigning ourselves to tristesse, or to merely search for new offices, we decided to finally dust off an old Copenhagenize idea. Luckily, some ideas get better with age. Back in 2008, Copenhagenize Design Co. CEO Mikael Colville-Andersen envisioned that "Danish bicycle culture needs a physical home. A place where ideas can be fostered and discussed. A launch pad and showcase for Danish bicycle innovation". Colville-Andersen had teamed up with Marie Kåstrup - who is now the head of the bicycle programme for the City of Copenhagen - and developed a list of ideas that would place focus internationally and nationally on Copenhagen as a bicycle city. A list that included harvested ideas from abroad but also original ideas like establishing a bicycle center and even a bicycle museum. The mayor of traffic at the time, Klaus Bondam, embraced the idea and worked, for a time, on the concept of an Urban Showroom, without completing the idea. However, the original idea from 2008 led to the establishment of the Bicycle Innovation Lab, the first cultural center for cycling complete with a bicycle library and events. We wrote about the launch of BIL here back in 2011.

With the impending need for new offices, the idea has surfaced once again and this time a strong tailwind is pushing it along. Enter: CPH Bike Hub. With the growing global interest in reestablishing the bicycle as a feasible transport form in cities, Danish bicycle planning, social cycling innovation and product design - among other aspects of the cycling community - can benefit from gathering under one roof.

Statement of support from Gil Penalosa from 8-80 Cities, who regularly bring delegations to Copenhagen.

We are thrilled that the idea has now gained purchase and is in a serious development stage, moving steadily towards becoming a reality. We're pleased to have a long list of colleagues join us on board. The core development team, apart from Copenhagenize Design Co. includes Cycling Without Age and the Danish Cyclists' Federation and Leader Lab. A veritable dream team.

The idea for the CPH Bike Hub is not just sharing office space and innovation with colleagues. It also includes creating a destination for visitors. With all the delegations that come to Copenhagen to learn about bicycle planning, we have plans to develop a conference space to host them. Not just the delegations that Copenhagenize Design Co hosts, but also the City of Copenhagen and the Danish Cyclists Federation will benefit from having dedicated space to host visitors. Plans also include an exhibition space, a café/bar and meeting rooms.

Indeed, the City of Copenhagen supports the general idea of creating a space for cycling:
"The City of Copenhagen’s Bicycle Program welcomes all initiatives that will accelerate local innovation and product design in the field of cycling, bringing global attention to Copenhagen’s unique cycling culture. Establishing a physical meeting point for co-creation and showcasing will be valuable to the city as well as to the global community."
Marie Kåstrup, City of Copenhagen

Core Concepts for the proposed CPH Bike Hub.

We have seen the emergence of similar bike hubs in places like Barcelona with BiciClot  and the Netherlands with the Dutch Bicycle Centre and we hope that the CPH Bike Hub will contribute to this growing trend and the global dissemination of knowledge and experience.

At time of writing, we are working hard with colleagues to establish the foundations of the CPH Bike Hub, secure financing and gather as many likeminded companies, organisations and individuals as possible. The list of colleagues continues to grow and includes the following:

· CYCLING WITHOUT AGE - Worldwide cycling non-profit for the elderly
· COPENHAGEN CYCLES - Global distributor of innovative bike trishaws
· LEADERLAB - Nordic sustainability business accelerators
· VELORBIS - Leading Danish bicycle brand
· MATE - Rapidly growing local E-Bike brand
· CYKELKOKKEN - Innovative and well-known Copenhagen cycling chef
· COH & CO - Sustainable materials bicycle producers
· SCANDINAVIAN SIDE CAR - Cutting-edge Danish cargo bikes solutions
· HOE360 CONSULTING - Danish green mobility consultancy

Morten Kabell – the former environmental and technical mayor of Copenhagen joined Copenhagenize Design Company in early January 2018 as COO and he is now also spearheading the work to establish CPH Bike Hub together with our colleagues. The timeline is still under development, but we are looking forward to letting the world know about the launch when the time comes.

Stay tuned. We're excited.

For more information about joining the CPH Bike Hub, email Morten at morten @ copenhagenize .eu

19 December 2017

2017 - A year in Review

2017 saw yet another instrumental increase in urban cycling in cities across the globe, further legitimizing pedal power as a mode of transport for citizens the world over. As another year has passed, another busy twelve months came and went for the team across our four Copenhagenize Design Co. offices. This year solidified the work of our newest office in Barcelona, developing new partnerships with the Municipality to study bicycling in Catalonia. We have had an exciting year collaborating with new client cities from Montréal to Antwerp, completing transformative mandates in Detroit and Strasbourg, and continuing progressive work to elevate the bicycle agenda in forward-thinking cities like Long Beach and Bordeaux. 2017 also marked an exciting point of growth for Copenhagenize Design Co. as our management team expanded to include partners James Thoem, Clotilde Imbert and Michael Seth Wexler. Our Year in Review (Download the PDF here) looks back at our highlights from the last calendar year as we gear up for an incredibly exciting 2018. 


Having launched in September of this year, Mikael released his first television series “The Life Sized City” – offering a fresh look at urbanism around the world. Premiering with Canadian broadcaster TVO, and produced by Montreal-based DBCom Media, Mikael travels the world, hearing from engaged locals involved in fascinating urban projects – at both the grassroots and government level. The first season went live across Canada this year with episodes featuring the cities of Medellín, Toronto, Paris, Bangkok, Tokyo and Tel Aviv, while Mikael continues his journeys into 2018, kicking off season two in Cape Town.


For the fourth time since 2011, Copenhagenize Design Co. crunched the numbers and analysed over a hundred and thirty urban regions to reveal the 20 most bicycle-friendly cities in the world. These findings were seen by readers of WIRED magazine in all corners of the globe. Using 14 parameters – this year adding cargo bike logistics as a parameter – the crème de la crème emerged with some surprises, as Utrecht stole second place from Amsterdam, while others such as Copenhagen, Strasbourg, Malmö, Bordeaux and Antwerp remained stable in the top 10.


A trip to Copenhagen is a must in order to understand what makes a truly bicycle friendly city. Every year, planners, engineers, city officials, politicians, community leaders and academics from around the world come visit our team in Copenhagen to learn firsthand how good bicycle infrastructure design really makes a difference. This June as every year, we welcomed back an international group of thirty participants for an immersive bicycle urbanism experience, and a whole lot of fun. Our master Class has connected a network of many engaged urbanists across the globe to bring a piece of Copenhagen to their home cities and share ideas with one another. 

Throughout the year, we also have the pleasure of welcoming international delegates to Copenhagen who aim to reach new levels of quality bicycle infrastructure design in their cities back home. Delegations of urban designers, traffic engineers and politicians from Barcelona, Bordeaux, St. Petersburg, and Burlington, Canada each visited our Copenhagen team at different points of the year for several days of lectures, workshop activities and lots of cycling around the city. These groups were able to fill their idea catalogues with best practice in design, bicycle policy and network planning. Planning for a number of delegation visits in the new year are already underway.


The past year was filled with a lot of positive change in American cities, as the number of protected bike lanes continued to rise, more innovative bike plans started popping up around the country, and we began to hear more cities talk about building a network for bikes as transport – an essential first step in the U.S. context. We got our hands dirty working hard with the City of Detroit’s Planning and Development Department to draft a forward-thinking protected bicycle network strategy for the greater downtown area, helping to set a standard for many American cities to follow. 

We held public meetings and helped the City imagine a more connected future for all of  their vulnerable road users. The plan is now in the final drafting phase and will go public in the new year! At the same time, our North American team stayed active in Detroit through working on a collaborative team of planners, landscape architects and consultants to draft a neighbourhood plan for the Islandview and Greater Villages community – with our focus on mobility and extending safe and practical bike planning from the downtown to the neighbourhoods.

Long Beach, long proclaiming to be the most bicycle-friendly city in the U.S. continues to impress with their political will to continually build more and more protected bike lanes on major roads to fill in their pledge from their recent Bicycle Master Plan. We continued our work with this modern administration and Development Services Department, helping guide them on issues of backlash from parking removal, misconceptions in commercial corridors and dealing with the ever-present issue of NIMBYism. Our work reached even further, offering local cutting-edge traffic engineers innovative ideas for intersection design and conceptual bicycle and pedestrian bridge links over the LA River.


The year started busy in our North American office, with the international Winter Cycling Congress being held in Montreal, Mikael presenting stories from Copenhagen and Russia, and hosting a number of delegates at our Mile End office. Our team began a first mandate with the City of Montréal, consulting on how they might best link bicycle infrastructure through the abandoned Outremont train yards, as a new university district rises from the rails. Throughout the year, Copenhagenize Design Co. advised on the local administration’s new bicycle framework plan, shared ideas with local leaders, collaborated with a number of local organisations to create design recommendations for problematic intersections, and continued to document the City’s bicycle infrastructure as Copenhagen-style footrests began to appear across the city. Next year is bound to be exciting as our team has high hopes for the new bicycle-friendly city administration.


French deputies are working on the production of a general law on mobility that will be voted by the Parliament in 2018. Copenhagenize Design Co. has contributed to workshops in the aims of  highlighting the importance of prioritising cycling as a serious means of transportation in order to change the modern transport paradigm in our cities. Our team has been continuing to do innovative work with the Eurometropole of Strasbourg on a comprehensive visual identity, a wayfinding strategy and the implementation of services to turn the bicycle superhighway network VéloStras into a world-class metropolitan network. Through the efforts of a pilot project, Copenhagenize Design Co. evaluated the reactions of the bicycle users to the modern and innovative wayfinding designed for the
VéloStras network. The new visual identity branding for the network will be implemented across the 130 km of cycling routes. Moreover, together with partners – Inddigo and UrbaPlan – our France office has contributed to the elaboration of a new bicycle plan which will be voted in 2018 and driven by ambitions for the most bicycle-friendly city in France.


In 2017 and ongoing into the new year, the Copenhagenize European teams have been supporting Omgeving, De Urbanisten, and COBE architects in a project that will shape future of Antwerp’s West Bank. As the city looks to overdeck an outdated ring motorway that has long served as a barrier within the urban fabric, the project team has presented a vision that engages local residents, nurtures local watersheds, and provides real mobility options. Copenhagenize’s participation in the project ensures the bicycle will play a primary role as a legitimate mode of transportation for traversing the former ring road and connecting the West Bank to the Centre City. 

Additionally, Copenhagenize Design Co. focused new attention on studying people not using a bicycle as a mode of transportation.Together with Kwin and the researchers of the Vrije Universiteit Brussel, our local office contributed to a profiling of non-cyclists of Brussels in order to get a understanding of their mobility habits and their perception of cycling. Based on this analysis and the target groups defined, our team is in the process of producing a catalogue of communication campaign ideas for Brussels Region Capital for the new year.


The new Copenhagenize Barcelona office hit the ground running. The results of a comprehensive Desire Lines Analysis in the Eixample neighbourhood of Barcelona were presented to the local city administration. 7 hours of observation and 2,627 cyclists were tracked in late 2016 and subsequently displayed in an engaging document for the local client at the beginning of this year to show how Barcelona’s intersections might be better conceived for vulnerable road users. Following this success, the local team has begun a new study for the Metropolitan Area of Barcelona analysing the  distribution of urban goods in low carbon emission zones. This work continuing into 2018 will culminate in the action of launching a micro-distribution pilot project – elevating and testing ideas of cargo bike logistics. As summer continued on, the City of Barcelona trusted our local team to make a review of all strategic work that the municipality has been developing over the last couple of years to improve bicycle mobility. With this project our team will be offering the municipality a global document from the perspective of best-practice bicycle infrastructure inspired by Copenhagen.


In 2017 we had the exciting opportunity to revisit Almetyevsk, a City we worked exclusively with in guiding their transformation into the most bicycle friendly city in Russia. The project began back in 2015, when we were commissioned to develop a bicycle strategy for this small city in the oil fields of Tatarstan. Two years and 100 kilometres of bicycle infrastructure later (yes, you read that right, 100 kilometres in 2 years) we returned to Almetyevsk to see firsthand how the city has transformed.

We had heard the skeptics before: “Nobody in Russia will ride a bike” “It’s too dangerous to cycle in Russia” or “You can’t bike in Russia, they have winters!”. But of course, Almetyevsk proved to be another case showing the importance of a network of reliable and safe bicycle infrastructure. Upon arriving on a Thursday afternoon, we were pleasantly surprised to see dozens of everyday people cycling along cycle tracks as if it was the most natural thing. 

Where once bicycles were relegated to playgrounds, they have now become an everyday mode of transportation in Almetyevsk, with everyone from children to seniors seen comfortably riding through the city along dedicated cycle tracks, guided by dedicated bicycle traffic signals, and welcomed with reliable bicycle parking.


Copenhagenize Design Co., together with partners from the BiTiBi project, organised a European conference in Utrecht (The Netherlands) to promote the efficient use of first and last mile bike-train combined trips. Over a hundred participants attended the event with speakers from Belgium, the  Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Italy, and Catalonia. They shared their successful local experience with intermodal projects and design and stressed the importance of building well-designed bike parking at train stations as well as offering reliable bikeshare systems for train passenger last mile travel (see below).

Copenhagen never ceases to inspire. With a rapidly expanding network of cycle superhighways connecting the region, widened cycle tracks, improved wayfinding, and newly dedicated ‘cycle streets’, the City continues to prove itself as the world’s most bicycle friendly urban centre. And these efforts don’t go unnoticed. New statistics released in 2017 show cycling and cycling infrastructure in Copenhagen to be more valuable than ever:
  • 97% of citizens are generally satisfied with the Copenhagen’s efforts as a cycling city.
  • 41% of trips to work or school are done by bicycle
  • The risk of injury for citizen cyclists has dropped 23% in the last ten years
  • 70% of Copenhagen children get to school by cycling, walking, skateboarding or scootering.
  • Copenhagen invests €39 per resident per annum on cyclingrelated initiatives
  • 48,400 bicycle riders cross Queen Louise Bridge on a typical weekday
  • The Farum cycle superhighway route has seen a 61% increase in bicycle traffic since opening in 2013
But the work is not done in Copenhagen. Much is still to be done if the city is going to reach the ambitious goal of 50% modal share by 2025. So here’s to 2018, surely to be another year of great cycling in Copenhagen.

PREVIEW 2018...


In January 2018, Copenhagenize Design Co. welcomes a new member to its international, multidisciplinary team. Morten Kabell is stepping down from four years as the Copenhagen mayor of the Technical and Environmental Administration and after a rewarding 20 year career in municipal politics. He has chosen to continue his work in urban development with Copenhagenize overseeing organisational structure and development, helping to orchestrate the company’s growth in the coming years. He will also act as another external face of the company, alongside CEO Mikael Colville-Andersen, representing the consultancy at conferences and events around the world.

Copenhagenize the book offers vivid project descriptions, engaging stories, and best practices, alongside beautiful and informative visuals to show the general public how to make the bicycle an easy, preferred part of everyday urban life. The book will serve as inspiration for everyone working to get the bicycle back into our cities. It will give planners and designers the ammunition to push back against the Automobile Age and convince the skeptics of the value of the lifesized city. This is not a guide on how to become Copenhagen, but how to learn from the successes and failures (yes, failures) of Copenhagen and other cities around the world that are striving to become more livable. The book goes live in 2018 through Island Press.

The Copenhagenize Design Co. European team has kicked off the second in a series of intersection studies in Amersterdam, to understand how the City can better improve bicycle flow, safety and comfort. Work is already deep underway from the end of 2017 and will continue on into the new year. Copenhagenize has now launched Desire Lines Analyses in cities around the world from Amsterdam and Copenhagen to Barcelona and Montreal.

06 November 2017

Traffic Safety Orgs Speak for Themselves - Not the Rest of Us

Classic traffic safety organisation narrative. "Stop cycling".

By Stephanie Patterson
With Mikael Colville-Andersen

In the diverse world of traffic planning, advocacy and various movements for liveable cities, there is an odd group of outliers who broadcast conflicting messages. While “traffic safety” organisations seem like a natural part of the gallery and of the narrative, upon closer inspection they exist in a communication vacuum populated exclusively by like-minded organisations. There is little correlation with those organisations who advocate cycling, pedestrianism or safer streets. The traffic safety crowd are in a world unto themselves, with little or no accountability for the campaigns they develop or the messaging they broadcast. They are often allied with insurance companies who clearly take comfort in working with others who embrace scaring the population at large through constructed fear.

In many ways, they are a classic subculture, with strong hints of sect-like behaviour. The English sociologist Roy Wallis argues that a sect is characterized by “epistemological authoritarianism”. According to Wallis, “sects lay a claim to possess unique and privileged access to the truth or salvation and “their committed adherents typically regard all those outside the confines of the collectivity as 'in error'”.

The American sociologists Rodney Stark and William Sims Bainbridge assert that "sects claim to be an authentic, purged, refurbished version of the faith from which they split". They further assert that sects have, in contrast to churches, a high degree of tension with the surrounding society.

We thought it appropriate to do a little communication meta-analysis of their techniques of the traffic safety subculture.


“If it is going to make any meaningful contribution to the reduction of danger on the roads, our criminal justice system needs to recalibrate away from the prejudice that motoring is innocuous and cycling dangerous and towards controlling the behaviour of those imposing greatest risk.”

Martin Porter - QC, personal injury lawyer and Author of the blog ‘The Cycling Lawyer’ made this statement in relation to a recent manslaughter charge that was issued to a cyclist in London who collided with a pedestrian, resulting in her death.

The final conviction of “wanton and furious” cycling brings up the question of how different road users are treated and perceived. Would someone driving a car receive the same level of punishment? Not likely.

Along with the legal system, traffic safety organisations are integral players in shaping how we view road users all around the world. The first thing we noticed was how all these organisations seem to ignore one of the key messages required to truly make roads safer.

Lower the number of motor vehicles on the road, and slow them down. We call it Ignoring the Bull here at Copenhagenize Design Company.

Anyone who works in traffic planning or advocacy will find the lack of focus on the obvious to be rather bizarre. As it is now, the campaign language and programs promoted by the traffic safety organisations unabashedly victimise the individual (primarily pedestrians and cyclists) rather than speak out about the dangers of motorised vehicles. They also tend to ignore the one most obvious solution to lower road fatalities – a drastic reduction in the number of motorised vehicles on the road.

Even a nine year old can figure it out that this is the only way to go:

However, the traffic safety organisations have settled upon strategies that are as uniform as they are blatant in their support of the status quo. As the following images show, these trends are not limited to countries who have high numbers of road fatalities, but in fact the same rhetoric and messages can be seen globally.

(Left) Road safety Australia, again victimising the individual and making being a pedestrian a dangerous activity. (Centre) Road Safety Campaign in Spain - 1998, a good way to turn people off walking (Right) More Australian victim-blaming without addressing the problem.

The influence of road safety organisations clearly extends to municipalities, inviting them into their echo chamber, from where they point their fingers at the non-motorist population.

Signage in Frederiksberg, Copenhagen sends people on a wild detour and instructs them to cross at the designated crossing, putting motorist convenience above that of pedestrians and cyclists. A local response (right) clarified the municipality’s intentions with the added text: “Frederiksberg loves cars more than you”

Just take a look the recent ETSC Road Safety Performance Index (PIN) Conference held in Brussels in June 2017. The speaker list only represented the views of the car industry and road safety organisations which support it. Talk about an echo chamber.

Speakers from other disciplines and with different points of view on methods of change, such as experts in user behaviour, strategies about behaviour change, and advocates of increasing alternative transport modes were absent as they always are. A diverse selection of opinions would include people who are not interested in maintaining the car-centric status quo in our cities, so why invite them?

Whilst the organisations’ messages and actions vary based on their country or region of reference, there are common threads which we can see in a number of the road safety organisations campaigns, including:

- Consistent use of the car industry’s favourite phrase, traffic accident, rather than fatality or crash. The rise of the hashtag #crashnotaccident hasn't penetrated the walls of their echo chamber.
- The use of the phrase vulnerable road users without any corresponding reference to dangerous vehicles
- Programs indirectly or directly implying that walking and cycling are dangerous and freely using classic Culture of Fear techniques to scare cyclists and pedestrians
- Anti-distraction programs
- Anti-drink driving
- Anti-speed programs

Their baseline is clear. Cars are here to stay - everyone else either get out of the way or bubble wrap yourself. What this communication subculture doesn’t talk about is rather telling. Basically anything that would brand cars as the problem - or reducing the number of cars.

We don't know how many of you are aware that the United Nations declared the grand Decade of Action on Road Safety in order to tackle traffic deaths. Actually they declared it back in 2011. Have we saved millions of lives together, as they claimed we would? Nah. What has happened since? Lots of expensive campaigns from highly funded NGOs but absolutely no reduction in the number of traffic deaths worldwide.

We analysed the communication narrative used by a number of traffic safety organisations and present some of them here.

FIA Foundation
(Left) Series of graphics by FIA. None of them call for a reduction in the number of cars that kill. (Bottom center) FIA's helmet campaign. (Bottom right) Children with their shiny new FIA helmets. 
(Top center and right) Images from the #staybright campaign insisting that pedestrians and cyclists dress up like clowns

Meet The FIA Foundation (slogan: For the Automobile and Society). They are the advocacy arm of the Federation Internationale de L’Automobile, who run the Formula 1 races. Their foundation is an international body funded by industry but also supported by heavyweight NGOs, UNICEF, UN Environment, the World Resources Institute and Save the Children. An organisation with this level of funding and recognition behind it should be leading the way in traffic safety, including sending the most effective messages and implementing the best programs to reduce fatalities. But they don't. Their primary focus is on glossy graphics telling everyone to bubble wrap themselves.
Unfortunately there are a number of unsaid things which we believe are key in combating the issue of road fatalities, including:

- Proposing any attitude change to the existing transport norms.
- In car centric cities – saying that we need to change our urban design to de-prioritise motor vehicles and make active transport a viable transport option, not just a recreational activity.
- Warning people about the inherent danger of driving a motor vehicle. Focusing on the fact that cars and cities don't work well together and that your risk of dying and/or killing others is remarkably high. Instead of scaring people away from bikes and walking, focus on inciting fear of driving
- In all seriousness, promoting and mandating motorist helmets, as the Australian government has recommended.
- Programs which restrict car usage or make driving more difficult.
- Campaigns for alternative transport options as the norm
- Campaigning for investment in alternative transport infrastructure

It's a tough sell. These organisations like FIA are clearly not interested in behavioiur change, but rather a continued acceptance of the car-centric status quo.


Global Health Observatory statistics from 2013 showed over 200,000 traffic fatalities occurred in both India and China. Between 30,000-50,000 fatalities occurred in Brazil, Indonesia, Nigeria and USA. Some of the countries with the highest rates of fatalities based on population size were Thailand, Iran, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and United Republic of Tanzania – all with fatalities between 15,000 and 25,000. We have taken a more in depth look at a few organisations across; INDIA - one of the countries with highest number of road fatalities, USA - the worst performing developed nation in terms of number of fatalities, and finally DENMARK - a country with low number of fatalities and generally good alternative transport options.

India. The country with the highest number of traffic fatalities of any nation annually.

With a fast growing economy, India has the opportunity to make wise infrastructure investments that improve its cities for its people. Lack of rules, crazy fast driving and cars being seen as indicators of social improvement, are all reasons why the road safety organisations are suggesting modifications to the existing infrastructure rather than addressing a change in attitudes to motor vehicles in India overall.

Due to the lack of diversity within the road safety authorities we see the same rhetoric over and over again. This recent #ipledge campaign wastefully uses highly influential cricket legend Sachin Tendulkar to spin the same old narrative. Pledging doesn't save lives.

#ipledge campaign by Aster saferoads based in India

Arrive Safe
This is an NGO who claim to be‘working with road safety to promote sustainable transportation India’ but it does not mention bikes at all in any of its activities and proposals to increase road safety. In its Road Safety Manual it provides instruction to road users including basic rules, how to drive safely and so on across 190 pages of the 200 page manual. The final 10 pages briefly mention the benefits of choosing another transport mode and how to look out for pedestrians, bike and rickshaw riders. Same old, same old.


A particularly gruesome example of the City of Phoenix spreading fear and victimising bike riders in one of their road safety campaigns.

Of all the developed countries in the world, the US is by far the worst performing in terms of road fatalities and injuries. Estimates from the National Safety Council recorded road deaths for 2016 at over 40,000, making it the deadliest year in nearly a decade. A study by Juha Luoma and Michael Sivak found several contributing factors to the US’ high road numbers of road fatalities. These included generally high speeds driven, low seat belt usage rates, high drunk driving rates, however the biggest reason:

Americans drive a lot and far and don’t look to be slowing down anytime soon.

We also know that vulnerable road users are increasingly making up the numbers of the death tolls. Car users’ share of road deaths in America fell from 42% in 2006 to 36% in 2015, while fatalities outside of cars (people on bikes, pedestrians and motorcyclists) rose from a quarter of the total to a third. So what are the road safety organisations doing to address this issue? All this shows is that cars are getting safer for those inside of them - but not at all for those outside. Mandatory external air bags on cars would be wise.

Department of Transport DOT
To be fair, the nationally run road safety authority has as of 2015 implemented the Safer People, Safer Streets: Pedestrian and Bicycle Safety Initiative and the Mayor's Challenge which encourage cities to improve streets for all people across seven different criteria. However, the same organisation stumbles by victimising policies such as helmet-first bike riding initiatives, ignoring reducing car usage and the danger of being behind a wheel - even if you are a safe driver.

AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety
Motoring organisations love traffic safety organisations for maintaining the status quo and placing focus on the dangers of transporting yourself in anything other than a motor vehicle. The AAA, like others around the world, focuses solely on either increased investment in road infrastructure or improved driver conditions. Research papers such as Safety Benefits of Highway Infrastructure Investments might have been a bit more valuable if it also took into account modes of transport other than cars and didn't spout off old-fashioned engineering "solutions".

The American Driver and Traffic Safety Education Association aims to be a leader in traffic safety education strategies. Alas - none of their strategies include choosing another transport mode when possible. Please start by educating people with some basic facts - fewer cars on the road, fewer deaths and injuries.

We’re not saying stop educational programs about safe driving - just give people a rounded education which presents all the facts.


DENMARK - The Danish Road Safety Council

So while we have looked at two countries with particularly abominable road fatality levels, we can also be critical of road safety programs in countries with better track records. Denmark's road safety organisation Rådet for Sikker Trafik (Road "Safety" Council) recently released this video as part of there “use two seconds more” campaign- a fairly violent way to scare cyclists off their bikes. At the same time they continue to promote the wearing of a helmets in Denmark - compounding the message that bike riding is dangerous. Just another example of road safety organisations using the Culture of Fear in favour of the car. Classic.

This organisation uses the same tactics as others in their private club. They have little scientific understanding of bike helmets and, instead, copy/paste info they recieve from like-minded colleagues in Sweden and pass it off as their own. They claim to be against mandatory helmet laws but this recent document would suggest that they are gearing up for helmet laws. Aligning themselves with the likes of an American, Jake Olivier, in order to continue their branding of cycling as dangerous. Broadcasting with all the arrogance they can muster that a "meta-analysis" is conclusive proof only reveals they know little about the science.

This is also an organisation who advocates cutting down roadside trees for "safety" instead of vehemently advocating for lower speed limits. Indeed, they have no mention of the European trend of establishing 30 km/h as a baseline speed in cities on their site. They are, like all the others, totally disconnected from the current trends.

(Left) ("Keep an eye on the side roads" painted on cycle tracks, without any corresponding messaging for motorists on those side roads who are obliged by law to stop. (Center) 2017 campaign urging people to "use two extra seconds" at the intersection so they don’t get killed - instead of campaigning for existing infrastructure designs to keep cyclists safe. (Right) A 2017 helmet promotion campaign aimed at college students, together with an insurance company. Classic tactics.

Three other campaigns in Denmark aimed at dressing pedestrians and cyclists up as clowns with reflective clothing instead of limiting the destruction caused by motorists. 

Campaigns for reflective clothing are also increasing in The Culture of Fear, despite a limited amount of science on the subject. No corresponding campaigns are in place for cars, even though black cars are more likely to be involved in accidents.

All the negative campaigns blaming cyclists and pedestrians for not equipping themselves with body armour and christmas tree lights would be more credible if the same effort was placed on motorists and cars. Traffic safety organisations can improve the message they are sending out to their citizens if they even the playing field and state in no uncertain terms how dangerous cars are in cities and how dangerous they are, generally. The culture of fear needs to be flipped on its head.

The Hiearchy of Hazard Control as applied to urban cycling. Bubble wrap solutions are the last resort.

While of course speed, drug and alcohol consumption, distracted driving, and badly designed roads can worsen the impacts, let’s not dance around the basic facts if cities and nations truly want to achieve Vision Zero. Providing an even distribution of alternative infrastructure options for people is clearly a key factor in making this change, but it also needs to go hand in hand with honest road safety initiatives that don’t misinform, misrepresent, or scare.

In short, as it is now, if these traffic safety organisations are only speaking to themselves, backslapping each other at closed conferences, and arrogantly exaggerating the effect of their tired, last century campaign strategies - as well as being so completely disconnected from the rest of us working to improve city life around the world - do we have to listen to them or give them any credibility?

Probably not. We can wonder, however, why they continue to recieve funding to broadcast flawed messages without any positive results and zero accountability.

Fluorescent in Traffic
Remember your reflective clothing in traffic.

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.

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!

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