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.
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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.

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

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There are loads of bicycle traffic lights already, which is a brilliant sign.

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Newer developments feature infrastructure bicycle infrastructure, as well, including a roundabout.

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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.
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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:
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The future appears bright in Ljubjlana.
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05 August 2014

The Green Waves of Copenhagen

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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.

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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.

02 July 2014

The Greatest Urban Experiment Right Now

Copenhagenize Traffic Planning Guide
Right this minute, right here in Copenhagen, what might be the greatest urban transport experiment in the world is well underway. It wasn't planned but it's working handsomely.

Above is our simple traffic planning guide for liveable cities. Make cycling, walking and public transport the fastest way from A to B and make driving a pain in the ass and you have basically the most effective way to change the mobility paradigm for the better. It's that simple. All the campaigns for "ride a bike - it's good for you/it's green/it's healthy" are a complete waste of money if you don't follow the guide. This presupposes protected infrastructure for cycling, of course.

Right now in the City of Copenhagen, a new Metro Ring is under construction. We're not fans of the Metro Ring. A city this size doesn't need a metro - it needs tramways like so many other cities in Europe. We don't advocate shoving citizens underground. We want them on street level on foot, on bicycle and in trams. The Metro expansion is a fantastic waste of money. It is projected that cycling levels will fall by around 3% when it's done. Our colleagues around Europe - especially the Dutch - basically point and laugh when I tell them that we have bus routes with 50,000 passengers a day and the City is building a Metro instead of tramways.

The Metro is already falsely advertising the travel times. Advertising station to station, but not the first and last mile to and from the station. We did our own travel time survey using real world scenarios and the bike usually beats the Metro in Copenhagen.

Fine. We don't like the Metro but damn, right now, we love the Metro construction. The City is following the traffic planning guide for liveable cities to the letter. Copenhagen has 17 Metro stations under construction and this is having a massive effect on mobility patterns in the city. Driving is a pain in the ass.

What has happened?

Cycling levels have stagnated for years in Copenhagen. Hovering between 35% and 38%. Falling from 37% to 35% after intense helmet promotion.

Now there are new numbers from the Danish Technical University's Travel Survey.

Between 2012 and 2013, the modal share for bicycles (people arriving at work or education in the City of Copenhagen) exploded from 36% to 41%.

Forty-one percent. A leap of 5%.

The car's modal share fell from 27% to 24%.

But wait, there's more. The average trip length in Copenhagen rose 35% from 3.2 km to 4.2 km between 2012 and 2013. That means that the oft-quoted statistic about how Copenhageners cycle 1.2 million km a day need to be upgraded to 2,006,313 km per day.

Since 1990, by the way, the number of cyclists has risen 70% in Copenhagen. The number of car trips into the city centre has fallen from 350,000 to 260,000.

Okay, okay. But what does it all MEAN? When the results of the travel survey came out, journalists were scrambling for answers. Two researchers at DTU were "surprised". They were quoted in the Danish press as saying things like, "uh... the City's new bridges and traffic calming on certain streets seem to have worked. Giving cyclists carrots encourage cycling."

The detail they forgot was that the new cycling bridges aren't finished yet, nor is the traffic calming on Amagerbrogade. The Nørrebrogade stretch is from 2008. Cycling rose on that street by 15% but that was BEFORE 2012. Duh. Bascially, there hasn't been much carrot dangling in this city for a few years. So forget about THAT hastily thunk up theory. Things are happening NOW, in 2013 and 2014, sure, but that has nothing to do with the data from 2012 to 2013. Double Duh.

What HAS happened is that 17 huge construction sites fell out of the sky all at once. Not something that happens every day. In addition, most of central Copenhagen - between 2012 and 2013 - was under further construction because of the upgrading of district heating pipes under many streets that had to be ripped up.

Look at the guide at the top again. THAT is what has happened. Driving was rendered incredibly difficult. Copenhageners, being rational homo sapiens, chose other transport forms. Public transport has increased, too, but the bicycle is clearly the chariot of choice. It's no surprise at all why cycling is booming.

What is happening right now is a fantastic urban experiement. So much data and experience is and will become available.

Mark my words, however. When the Metro construction is finished in 2018... probably 2019... we will see a sharp drop in cycling levels, back to the standard levels we plateaued with for the past few years. You read it here first.

Unless, of course, the City of Copenhagen has the cajones to embrace this experiment and use it to finally make The Leap - as described by author Chris Turner - into the future of our city. Expanding and widening the cycle tracks. Reallocating space from falling car traffic to bicycles and public transport. The new BRT route in Copenhagen is a good step. Let's see how much farther we can go. Designing cities instead of engineering them. The citizens have shown us that they will be on our side if we do the right thing.

Otherwise, this rich petri dish experiment will just rot and be forgotten.

18 June 2014

Copenhageners Test-Drive The Bicycle Snake

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The long-due first elevated cycle track of Copenhagen is not finished yet but already used and appreciated by bicycle users... and pedestrians.

The new bicycle infrastructure named "the snake" is still under construction but every day but, when workers are gone, citizens find a way to test it and most of all to benefit from the shortcut to reach their destination. They avoid doing a detour all around the boring shopping mall. Actually, due to the works, the former space used by the cyclists under the new bridge is closed. This is clearly confirming the need for this almost-fixed missing link between Bryggebroen and Dybbølsbro. Users are impatient to get back their shortcut, blocked during the works. So they push aside fences and squeeze themselves and their bicycles through the narrow gaps.

Generally speaking, developing a good network for the cyclists is a lot about creating the relevant shortcuts thought the city. In general, Danes respect the road signs, but when it comes to forcing them to make a more than 800 m. detour on their daily commute for over 2 months, the bicycle users disagree.

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After a first ride on the newly orange surface, I can say that cycling on this infrastructure is a new kind of urban experience. Coming from Dybbølsbro after turning right and then waving through the buildings, the view opens up on the Copenhagen harbor: an urban landscape made up of glass, water and sun reflections.

We're looking forward to getting this bridge definitely open and to see how the Municipality will rearranged the connections around this infrastructure. While waiting for it, you can have a look at the Copenhagenize's suggestions.

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17 June 2014

Bike-Train-Bike - Connecting Bicycles and Trains in Europe

5.5_BiTiBi_project_website_banner_CIZE_20140604_zzz
Copenhagenize Design Co.'s team, all the partners involved in BiTiBi - Bike-Train-Bike – and the European Commission are glad to launch today our new EU project.

BiTiBi is an EU-funded, three year project to promote the intermodal use of bicycles and public transit in urban commuting throughout Europe. Indeed, the future of urban mobility is a return to a tried and tested combination of bicycles and trains. Combining the two most energy efficient modes of transportation, the bicycle and the train, provides a seamless door-to-door transport connection. The project aims at improving the livability of European cities and improving the energy efficiency of our transport.

It is not realistic to expect everyone to bicycle 15km to and from the office, but to cycle a few kilometers each way and hop on the train for the bulk of the trip could dramatically provide countless economic, social and environmental benefits for urban regions. From 2014 to 2017, BiTiBi will work with partner municipalities, train operators, bike share schemes and other actors involved in achieving a more energy efficient commute throughout several European cities.

Innovative pilot projects will be implemented in the regions of Barcelona, Milan, Liverpool and in Belgium with the help of ten partners, in order to inspire all European cities to consider a modern, multimodal approach to transport.

5.5_BiTiBi_project_website_banner_CIZE_20140604_yyy2In the Netherlands, the OV-fiets public bike system is available at the train stations. It will be used as the model inspiring the development of the pilots in the other cities. Indeed, BiTiBi services will use the Dutch model in general as inspiration in promoting the bike-train-bike modal merger over cars and the combination of cars and trains. The project aims to solve the typical issues such as lack of parking for bikes at stations; no last mile solution when taking the train; ineffective fare integration or worse, none at all; bike services not corresponding to user needs; no bicycle friendly access to train stations; lack of knowledge about the available services and cultural barriers to use a train-bike-train combination.

In cities of Spain, England, Italy and Belgium commuters will find in the coming years an efficient way to reach every morning the train station and then their final destination.

In three years, in the scope of the pilots, safe and convenient bike parking facilities at train stations will be implemented, public bikes and integrate payment system of bike and rail services will be provided. During all these years, partners will communication the advantages for combining bicycles and trains and share the results of these intermodal experiences.

You will be able to follow all the news concerning BiTiBi on the dedicated website. Moreover, the Facebook page /biketrainbike – and the Twitter @biketrainbike will allow to keep in touch with the newly launched project.

Discover the BiTiBi Vimeo channel and the Instagram #BiTiBi.

Please find on the website, the presentation of BiTiBi in Catalan, Dutch, English, French, Italian, and Spanish.
We're looking forward to sharing with you all along the three years interesting news about how Europe in moving forward regarding combining bike and train.

03 June 2014

Explaining the Bi-directional Cycle Track Folly

Rooftop View in Copenhagen

If this was 2007, I'd expect some confusion and misinterpretation regarding Best Practice for bicycle infrastructure. It was a brave, new world back then. This blog was a lone voice in the wilderness regarding bicycles as transport in cities, with only testosterone-driven, frothing at the mouth sports and recreational cycling blogs for company in the woods. Now, there is a chorus and the voices are getting louder and more harmonious day by day.

Many, many people know better now. Knowledge has spread and the message is more unified.

One thing that baffles me, however, is why on-street, bi-directional cycle tracks are actually being promoted and implemented.

For clarity, when I saw "on-street, bi-directional" I mean the creation of one lane for bicycles separated by a line, allowing for two-way traffic - on city streets. I am not referring to a two-way path through a park or other areas free of motorised vehicles.

In Denmark, the on-street, bi-directional facility was removed from Best Practice for bicycle infrastructure over two decades ago. That in itself might be an alarm bell to anyone paying attention. These two way cycle tracks were found to be more dangerous than one-way cycle tracks on each side of the roadway. There is a certain paradigm in cities... I'm not saying it's GOOD, but it's there. Traffic users all know which way to look when moving about the city. Having bicycles coming from two directions at once was an inferior design.

This was in an established bicycle culture, too. The thought of putting such cycle tracks into cities that are only now putting the bicycles back - cities populated by citizens who aren't use to bicycle traffic makes my toes curl.

There are bi-directional cycle tracks in Copenhagen. They are through parks and down greenways, separated from motorised traffic, and on occasion they are on streets with no cross streets on one side. At all times they are placed where they actually make sense, to eliminate the risk of collision with cars and trucks. Cycle tracks are like sidewalks... you put them on either side of the street, except you keep them one way.

Sure, Denmark has developed an incredibly uniform design for bicycle infrastructure, with only four types of infrastructure for bicycles that creates uniformity, easy wayfinding and, most importantly, optimal safety.

You hear the same excuses in emerging bicycle nations and cities... "But I saw them in the Netherlands?!"

Yes, you might have. But I asked Theo Zeegers at the Dutch national cycling organisation, Fietsersbond, about this issue and he said,

"Bi-directional cycle tracks have a much higher risk to the cyclists than two, one-directional ones. The difference on crossings is about a factor 2. So, especially in areas with lots of crossings (ie. builtup areas), one-directional lanes are preferred. Not all municipalities get this message, however."

Fortunately, the Dutch are used to a constant flow of cycling. They're not new at this. They also have space issues in many of their small city centres that few other cities on the planet have. The bi-directional tracks you may see there are sub-optimal solutions.

In the recently published OECD report about Cycling Health and Safety you can read much of the same. Bi-directional are not recommended for on-street placement. One way cycle tracks on either side are the Best Practice that should be chosen.

It's really not a newsflash all this.

Imagine removing a sidewalk on one side of the street and forcing pedestrians to share a narrow sidewalk on only one side of the street. You wouldn't do that to pedestrians (sure, stupid examples exist but hey) so why on earth would you do it to cyclists?

The bi-directional cycle tracks we see in emerging bicycle cities can't possibly be put there by people who know what they're doing or who understand the needs of bicycle users or who really want cycling to boom. You can also see that in the width that many of them have. Incredibly narrow, making passing oncoming cyclists a lip-biting experience and making passing cyclists heading in the same direction a bit too hair-raising.

Another excuse oft heard is, "Well... it's better than nothing" - often spoken in a defensive tone. It is a flawed argument, lacking vision, commitment and experience.

This isn't about building stuff out of asphalt. We are planting seeds in the hopes that lush gardens will grow. We have the seeds we need. They are fertile, natural and ready to grow with minimal maintenence. Instead, people are choosing bags of GMO seeds from traffic planning's Wal-Mart. Limited fertility, modified for the simple needs of visionless gardeners. Potted plants instead of gardens.

If someone advocates infrastructure like this and actually believes it is good, they probably shouldn't be advocating bicycle infrastructure.

23 May 2014

Travelling Denmark on the Copenhagenize Bullitt


Copenhagenize über-intern, Dennis, rocking the Bullitt

At Copenhagenize Design Company we usually stick to urban bicycling, but some people, like our German intern, Dennis, like to take the bike off-road and get outside the city. Dennis decided to use the Easter holiday to discover Denmark together with his friend Enikö from Hungary. Now, you might be thinking, “Denmark?! That’s just Copenhagen and the rest is boring countryside.” But actually, the rest of the country has quite a lot to offer. And it is perfectly easy to cycle wherever you need to go. You just follow the signs from the national cycling routes (Denmark was the first country in the world to develop a national route system for bicycles, thanks to this man. 10,000+ km in all) and they will take you to the loveliest places.

Usually the routes follow calm country roads and the state is investing a lot of money to build first class bicycling infrastructure on the stretches which are a bit busier. Sometimes you still have to share the road with cars, but they are getting there.

When you travel long distances by bike you always have the problem of carrying capacity. A typical bike can only carry so much. But this becomes less of a problem if you use the Copenhagenize Bullitt. It is easy to carry a tent, sleeping bags and other stuff on the cargo bed. The rest went into the bicycle bags of Dennis’ mountain bike. Speaking of mountain bikes, you thought Denmark was flat, didn’t you? Well, it’s not. It has plenty of nasty hills. It is definitely not the Alps, but not flat like the Netherlands either. In the Danish national anthem, they sing about their hills and valleys. Anyway, if you don’t plan to do a 150km a day, it shouldn’t be an issue for anyone.



The yellow line on the map marks the route these two took – in total about 300km over the course of four days. The red dots mark the points where they set up overnight camps. Wild camping is not allowed in Denmark like in Sweden or Norway, but there are more than 900 natural camping sites throughout the country.  And that’s another amazing thing about Denmark: On those campsites you can typically find wooden shelters to pitch your tent in.

They protect you from the (usually strong) wind and the low temperatures at night.  And the best thing is that they are normally free of charge. Sometimes you have to pay a couple of Danish Kroner if you want to use the shower, but that’s it. Dennis and Enikö paid in total 50 Kroner for all three nights. That’s what we call a cheap holiday. But just because the lodging is cheap doesn’t mean it isn’t absolutely lovely. The first shelter was in the backyards of Kirsten and Torben Andersen’s farm (called Damgården) in Rødvig. Very nice people. And they raise all kinds of animals on their farm: Deer, rabbits, cats, goats… Really cool to wake up in the morning and enjoy the view over the beautiful farm and the animals.



On the way they stopped at some beautiful old villages. One of them is called Strøby. The fully loaded Bullitt looks pretty nice in front of this old church, don't you think?



Another amazing spot on the first day was Stevns Klint (Stevns Cliff). A beautiful place with a medieval church just on the top of the steep cliffs. Have you ever seen a church with a balcony just over the sea? Well here is is.



On the second day they cycled from Rødvig to Møns Klint. It was a long way with plenty of hills, especially on the island of Møn. The Bullitt has a great built in leg rest for the downhill stretches.



It was a great day through a beautiful landscape, running mostly along the coast. Quite spectacular is the way over the old bridge, which connects the island of Sjaelland, where Copenhagen is also located, with the island of Møn. The bridge is called Dronning Alexandrines Bro and can be accessed by bike.



It is truly amazing to wake up in the morning, hearing the rough sound of the sea and seeing the beautiful spring forest just outside the tent.

In the evening they finally arrived at Møns Klint, which is home to Denmark's highest cliffs. The bright chalk cliffs are just beautiful and there are shelters just on top of them. There is also a fireplace and a tap. Everything you need for a nice camp site.

On the third day Dennis and his friend headed back towards Copenhagen again. But not without having a closer look at the dramatic landscape of the island Møn. It is easy to navigate because you just need to follow the signs of the national bicycle route 9.


Along the route you’ll find a lot of surprises. Many times farmers sell their homemade bread, juice or marmalade. It is offered in front of the house and based on trust. So you just take as much as you want and leave you money in a little cash box.



And then there are the amazing farm house castles. Huge mansions with a long history. They just pop up suddenly when you don’t expect it.

You always think ”wow, ANOTHER castle!!”.



On the way back the two stopped at one last campsite in a nature reserve called Præstø Fjord. The new shelters are free and located just at the Fjord.


Thanks Denmark, you truly surprised us!