29 December 2008

Tuktuk & Vienna

A lovely working model of a tuktuk bike rickshaw as seen in the bedroom of a boy I know.

If you're ever in Vienna, pay a visit to the Embacher Collection. Loads of bikes to look at. They have a website, too.

The English version looks like it was translated by an online translation tool but it works. This is what they write about the Long John.

"The only two-wheeler load-carrying bike with a maximum load of around 140 kg (incl. rider). Nevertheless, the load can suspiciously be balanced out easily, something that passers-by find hard to believe. On start there are many onlookers and the other awestruck bike-lane users make space when they are being."

27 December 2008

Last Christmas [Trees]

Well, this should about wrap up the yule tree transport series. A lovely photo from Holland by Thomas Schlijper.

Long John Christmas in Copenhagen
My co-blogger over at Cycle Chic, Lars, has the photo at left, and the one at right is yours truly.

Now we're on the lookout for crates of New Years champagne being transported around the city.

23 December 2008

Ball Dropping and Package Delivery

They're dropping the ball in NYC. But it's a good thing. The ball that drops on Times Square at midnight on New Years will be powered by people. There is a 'power lodge' in place and it's attached to bicycles. People can pedal for a time and help charge the batteries that will power the ball droppingness.

230 hours of pedalling are required to generate the power needed for the 10-15 minute duration. On December 17th, there was 95 hours collected, about 35% of the total. Here's hoping more people will get out and pedal.

We posted previously about the christmas tree in Hyde Park using human-powered goodness to light up.

Thanks to Lynn for the link. Read the article on Reuters.

In other Stateside news:

UPS has started enlisting the help of bicycles and trailers to deliver packages.
"The company estimates that for every three bikes deployed during peak season on the West coast, it will save around 17 gallons of fuel per day and about $38,000 dollars in vehicle maintenance costs."
You can read about this initative here. Thanks to Toby for the link.

22 December 2008

Bullitt in the Wind

Human Battery - Bullitt with Wind Mill and Solar Panels
Got a call from Larry vs Harry the other day. One of their customers had converted a Bullitt cargo bike into a power station with a wind turbine and solar panels charging a battery.

That's something I had to see for myself so I called Ulrik Bing from HumanBattery.dk and met up with him and his colleagues last week.

The bicycle and the wind, in Copenhagen anyway, are often at odds with each other. It's a frightfully windy city and it always seems like there is a headwind. The very idea of combining the two is fantastic.

Creating a Bullitt with a wind turbine and solar panels is just one of many ideas on the go with Ulrik Bing, Carsten Koch [the construtor] and Claus Nørregaard. With the UN Climate Conference on the horizon in December 2009 they have a thick idea catalogue with ways to bring climate consciousness to the people.

Speaking with them and hearing their enthusiasm as they rattle off their many idealist ideas is infectious. The Bullitt cargo bike is a flagship for their projects.

One thing they mentioned was converting all the stationary bikes and spinning bikes in a fitness centre to power a certain selection of the electronics in the centre. They could run the lights, the tv, etc. and contribute to bringing down the electricity bill. All that human-powered energy can be exploited.

Thinking bigger, a company could have their employees ride bicycles with batteries. Riding to work would generate energy saved up in a battery. Upon arriving at work the bikes would be plugged into a grid that could power, just for example, all the lights in the foyer.

Another project on the drawing board is a canal boat - there are many in Copenhagen used for tourist tours - and converting it to accomodate a solar panel roof and wind turbines. The idea is that it could sail around the harbour and act as a music venue. Docking at a quay for an audience on the shore. The ticket price would be human powered contribution to the energy needed to run the concert. Guests could ride stationary bikes on shore, hooked up to the ship, and ride for a period of time. You ride, you get to see the concert.

Ulrik spoke often of 'doing something in order to get something'. It's a kind of a mantra. We need to get people actively involved in energy creation. In the flurry of ideas there was one about how kids would have to pedal - either on their own battery-equipped bike or one at home - in order to see tv or play computer games.

Human Battery - Bullitt with Wind Mill and Solar Panels Human Battery - Bullitt with Wind Mill and Solar Panels
Carsten [at left] takes the ideas and makes them happen.

There are other bikes in their arsenal. One of them is connected to a light bulb and you can ride to see how much effort it takes to keep the light lit. Then they switch the light to an energy-saving bulb. The effort required to light it is much lower.

These kinds of tools are great for schools and the general public. They really hammer home how much energy we use and take for granted. Schools could take part in competitions with other schools to see who can generate the most energy with pedal power. Companies could do the same. The number of applications is infinite.

I wonder what the 500,000 bicycles on the streets of Copenhagen each day could generate. How much energy is produced and, if there were batteries connected to the bikes and they could be plugged in, what could we power with it?
Human Battery Pedal Powered Lamp
Pedal powered lamp.
Ulrik, Carsten and Claus are speaking with some of our major energy companies about collaborating on the many projects in 2009. We'll keep you all posted about how it's going.

The HumanBattery.dk website is under construction and will be expanded.

20 December 2008

Wind Powered Amusement Park

The famous Tivoli Gardens in the centre of Copenhagen plans to be the world's first amusement park to be powered by wind energy.

Tivoli Gardens were opened in 1843 and, with the exception of Bakken north of Copenhagen which opened in the late 1500's, it is the oldest amusement park in the world. It inspired Walt Disney to build Disneyland.

In collaboration with DONG Energy [Danish Oil & Natural Gas], Tivoli aims to be wind powered by 2010.

Next year, in December 2009, the world will descend on Copenhagen for the UN Climate Conference - also called COP 15. It will be time for the countries of the world to sign a new climate agreement to replace the Kyoto Agreement.

There is enormous focus on this climate conference.

There will be many environmental projects launched between now and then and we're going to cover what we can here on Copenhagenize. Focus on bicycle culture, of course, with a bit of sustainability thrown in. And hopefullly a load of good things involving both bicycles and sustainable projects.

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19 December 2008

Christmas Tree Transport

Christmas Tree Transport
Caught this chap the other day heading off somewhere with a recently-purchased seasonal tree. For an office perhaps?

Here are some other tree transport shots.
Copenhagen Yule Christmas Tree Transport Long John Christmas in Copenhagen Juletree - Copenhagen Yule

Four Cargo Bikes One Day

Watching Soldiers
A father and daughter watch the Queen's Lifeguards marching through the city, as they do every day, on their way to the changing of the guard at the palace. They're sitting in/on their Triobike. They are really gaining in popularity in Copenhagen.

Take Off
A Nihola rolling along Nørrebrogade. With a little accessory on the front - a propeller that spins happily. Here's me guessing that it's for the pleasure of the kids who ride in the Nihola.

Soup and Hot Chocolate
Custom-made soup and hot chocolate vending bikes on Amager Square. The past year has seen an explosion of custom bikes for selling goods on the streets here in Copenhagen. The City relaxed the rules about vendors and that really opened up the streets to creative bike designs - and it's a plus for creating a vibrant city.
One of the national newspapers sell subscriptions from a Christiania bike on the busy pedestrian street Strøget.

18 December 2008

Salt Guards and Keeping Bike Lanes Clear

In the previous post about the poster from the City reminding us to clear our sidewalks - they'll take care of the bike lanes and roads - there was a discussion about using salt on the infrastructure.

We salt our bike lanes and roads here in Copenhagen. Sometimes the wide stripe of salt on the bike lane is my weather report. If I see the stripe I know that snow is forecast and the city is ahead of the game with a preventive measure to ensure that the bike lane is as clear as possible until they can get out with the bike lane snowploughs.

In Copenhagen, in the late fall, barriers are set up all over the place, along the roadside where trees and bushes are in the splashing zone of traffic. In the photo above you can see the black plastic shield to the right of the stylish cyclist. In many places they are wicker - woven branches - and they look more organic than black plastic. Nevertheless, the trees and bushes are protected from the salty, slushy spray after snowfall.
Well-Heeled Winter Riding
Keeping the bike lanes clear is important. Not least for safety. But it is also a practical issue. 80% of Copenhageners continue to ride throughout the winter. That's roughly 400,000 people. If this massive group is somehow restricted in getting to work or school, imagine the chaos. Those who don't drive will have to take a bus or a train. 400,000 extra people all of a sudden standing at busstops and train stations throughout the region would be a logistical nightmare and a transport chaos.

Parents would be late getting their kids to kindergarten or school. There would be lost man hours because of people arriving late or not at all. The bike lanes are kept clear for the most basic, practical reasons.
Bike Lane Snowplough

Even the small town of Höör, in Sweden - population 7000 - have bike lane snowploughs. Here's an earlier post about it.

17 December 2008

Winter Message from the City

City Reminder
Public service poster from the City of Copenhagen about the winter weather. Featuring a lovely photo of a cyclist in a winter wonderland.

The text reads:
Happy Christmas. If it turns out to be white we'll clear the snow and salt the bike lanes and roads.

The only thing you have to do is clear the snow and salt the sidewalk in front of your property.

Read more about who does what on kk.dk/vinter.

Such a lovely tone and a pleasant photo. Nice.

Parisian Bike Culture Documentary

Paris Bike Culture - Cycling Sociably
Over at the Social Biking Blog I found a great little documentary on the American PBS channel's website about the Vélib' bike share programme in Paris. It's part of a series calld e2 about transport . There is only an excerpt lasting 3:00 minutes, narrated by Brad Pitt of all people, but it's definately worth a look.

The success of the Vélib' programme took everyone by surprise. Bike sales, of regular bikes, are booming.

Here's the link. And here's the link to the E2 series website where you can see the whole episode and the other ones, too.

And you're always welcome to see my little text and photo essay about the rebirth of Parisian bike culture over at Copenhagen Cycle Chic.

16 December 2008

Human-Powered Christmas Tree

A human-powered Christmas tree has been set up in Hyde Park, London, at the Winter Wonderland. It will be be in place until Friday, this week.

Fashion recycling brand and youth volunteering campaign vinspired has set up a Christmas tree in London fitted with festive lights that only light up when someone pedals on one of the ten bikes provided.

Former Rugby Union ace and Strictly Come Dancing star Austin Healey was the first to light up the London tree. Volunteers can sign up for a 15 minute session on the bikes.

Vinspired has also produced an online 'key stroke to pedal with the celebs' game. One of the cycling celebs is a lookalike Amy Winehouse. You make them pedal with the arrow keys on your keyboard.

Via: Bikeforall.net

Blue Barrister Bicycle

Lawyer's Bike
A lovely blue Short John outside of the City Courts. It's a company bike for a firm of barristers. There is a veritable boom in the number of company bikes in Copenhagen this year. It's great advertisting.
Send lawyers, bikes and money
Caught these bicycling barristers last summer, heading away from court.

14 December 2008

Christmas Tree Transport

Christmas Tree Transport
Heading to a friend's for dinner last week and this chap was heading home with the seasonal tree. The christmas tree celebrates 200 years in Denmark this year. The first tree was put up in a country estate in 1808, an imported idea from Germany.

13 December 2008

Simplicity is the Key to Sucessful Living

Per, in Oslo, fired this link off to us. A brilliant poster by Nick Dewar on readymade.com.
ReadyMade asked five artists to reimagine the populist poster art of the First Great Depression, as Jon Stewart called it. GD1 for short.

12 December 2008

To You. From Me.

Permanent Sustainability on Nørrebrogade

Single File
Good news this morning. The street here in Copenhagen - Nørrebrogade - that has been closed off to cars for a trial period of three months will now enjoy a permanent status.

"Our goal of transforming Nørrebrogade into a better place to be, making it easier to be a cyclist, pedestrian and bus passenger, has succeeded", said Klaus Bondam, the councillor in charge of Traffic and Environment.

"Even among those who choose to drive there is a majority for making the initiative permanent", he added.

We've covered this exciting development in previous posts. See the link list at the bottom. In summary, Nørrebrogade [North Bridge Street] is a main artery leading into the city. It slices through a neighbourhood where only 30-40% own cars so the traffic isn't local. The street has always had problems flourishing, despite the fact that 75,000 people travel down it each day.

It is the busiest bike street in the nation with 35,000 bikes a day. In addition, 65,000 bus passengers are transported down the street. Roughly 15,000 cars was the average.

The street was closed off to through traffic for a three month period. Busses and bicycles are allowed to use it but cars are diverted onto other streets. The street is also the home of the first Green Wave for cyclists. The traffic lights are coordinated so that cyclists can ride 20 km/h and hit green all the way into the city.

So. With all that said. The closing of Nørrebrogade is now to be permanent. The trial period has been a roaring success.

- In November there was an increase of 15% in the number of cyclists.
- Car traffic has fallen by an average of 40% during rush hour. It varies along the stretch, from 30% at the far end to 80% in the heart of the neighbourhood.
- Traffic on some of the side streets has fallen dramatically and risen in other places.
- On the two main approach arteries into the city that bookend the neighbourhood - Åboulevarden and Tagensvej - there has been a modest increase of 10% in car traffic. These two streets are actually designed for cars and can easily handle this increase.
- Busses enjoy a higher mobility level now. They can stick to their schedules along the entire stretch.

Most importantly, the majority of residents in this neighbourhood love the initative. 67% support keeping the street closed to cars. 24% are against and 9% don't know.

There is a flipside to the coin. Along certain stretches there is a no-stopping zone and trucks with goods are sent to loading zones on side streets. Unfortunately there are often cars parked in the spots. It's a behavourial issue, which will certainly be ironed out. It's only been three months.
There have been protests from local businesses. 61% of them in the area are against the permanent plan and 25% are for. The nay-sayers claim that business will be affected. This is rather silly. We have heard the same crap before in Copenhagen, starting back in the 1960's when streets were pedestrianized. Predictions of a commercial doomsday proved to be wrong. This is much the same as in other cities around the world. Creating more liveable spaces and improving quality of life/reducing noise and pollution has always served to increase business.

Half the businesses say that sales are down on the street. Funny how they blame the traffic initiative when in fact there are two reasons for it. The global financial meltdown is a main reason but there has also been a spate of gang shootings in the neighbourhood, which has caused people to stay away. All the more reason to improve the street and make the neighbourhood more attractive.

As we've mentioned before, it's important to remember that cyclists make better shoppers than motorists.

Previous posts about a car-free Nørrebrogade:
- The Drastic Measures of Visionaries
- Dots and Bikes and Bondam
- Load on, Load off
- Flexzone on Nørrebrogade
- Surfing the Green Wave in Copenhagen - See the film
- The Green Wave Spreads

Sources: DR, Politiken, excited text messages from friends.

11 December 2008

The Cyclist's Christmas

Cyklistens Jul 1896
Saw this in the window of an antique shop the other day. 'Cyklisten' [The Cyclist] was an incredibly popular magazine around the turn of the last century when the bicycle was booming all over the planet.

This is a cover for the magazine for the Christmas 1896 edition. Quite lovely. Didn't see a price. Didn't dare ask.

Worksman Industrial Bicycles

Thanks to Alex in NYC for letting us know about Worksman Cycles. He was doing a bit of research about NYC's pizza delivery bikes - the ones with a box on the front - and stumbled upon this company.

Founded in 1898, Worksman Cycles call themselves the oldest bicycle manufacturer in the USA. They produce human-powered transport for industrial and recreational use and it is wonderful to see all the cargo bikes and trikes they build.

The photo above is from their Photo Gallery, featuring an IBM repairman ca. 1957 on his cargo bike.

Here's an interesting variation on the kid carrying theme. I love the cosy canopy. Worksman Cycles state on their website that "Worksman Cycles has long been known as the world-leader in Industrial Cycles (Bicycles and Tricycles)".

A bit farfetched perhaps... what is the yardstick? Most bicycles sold? The most recognisable cargo bike brand in marketing surveys? Who knows. Maybe they could follow Carlsberg's lead. Their 'Probably the Best Beer in the World...' slogan is an advertising legend.

But let's not let a bit of exageration get in the way of what it a fine fleet of industrial bikes. Ice cream tricycles with umbrella and bell options, pizza bikes, 'hot rod' trikes and even cruisers.

About the cruisers they write; "These incredibly durable Worksman Cruisers are used by all major Downhill companies in Maui with over 40,000,000 miles (that's right...40 million miles) of tough use over the past 20 years". I don't know what a Downhill company is, but that's a lot of miles.
The bike above is equipped with coaster brakes. None of those high-maintenence, cumbersome cable thingys.

This is one of their 'hot rods'. Interestingly, you'll see versions of these in Denmark but they are usually used by elderly and handicapped citizens:

It's impressive that an American bicycle company has been around since 1898 and that it survived the car boom. Perhaps their ice cream trikes - a staple feature in neighbourhoods in North America for decades - were the key to survival. The prices of their bikes and trikes seem quite affordable, too. The website has an old school charm that signals these people are more content with making their bikes than worrying about navigation and graphic design. No nonsense. Just elbow grease. Which is quite lovely.

Check out their accessories page, too. Flashing pedals, bike racks, ice cream bells, baskets and stuff.

Cargo bikes are booming all over the place. New brands are popping up and that's great. It's also great that Worksman Cycles have been around the whole time and are still making their bikes.

The Simple Joy of a Vintage Bike Repair Kit

Bicycle Repair Kit
The Danish text translated:
Cycle Reparations Box
Jutland Special
'The Tough Jutlander'

[Jutland is the mainland peninsula of Denmark - nowhere near Copenhagen]

10 December 2008

City Hall Bike Parking

City Hall Bike Parking
I didn't know this until yesterday. At Copenhagen City Hall they have what is possibly the loveliest bike parking in the capital. Inside the back entrance, where most of the employees enter, there are two large areas for bike parking. Surrounded by the beautiful interior design from when the building was erected in 1905. You can bet that the parking for bicycles was built into the original plan for the building.

Needless to say, the racks were filled to overflowing. The person on the right couldn't find an empty spot and ended up squeezing her bike in.
bike rack at city hall
The racks are of a kind seen in many places in Copenhagen. You swing a handle thingy up and place it on your handlebars. It holds your bike in place. There were few bikes actually parked like that. Indeed, I rarely see bikes using this unique design. That's what kickstands are for. Or the classic racks that hold your wheel.

Copenhageners go for ease-of-use and this extra bit of work to park your bike defeats the purpose of ease-of-use.

City Hall Facing South
The City Hall.

Bike. Racks.
A typical sight. A million handlebar holders and a bike leaning against the wall.
Bike Rack
Here's another variation on the handlebar holder. With this one you hang your handlebars on the swingy thingy. Again, very few people actually use them. But they look nice.

Ode to the Bicycle Bell

It is said that no other country has praised the bicycle in song, poetry and literature as much as Denmark. This love affair peaked in the 1930's and 1940's. Over at Cycle Chic we have a selection of historical cycling quotes in various posts.

I found this poem and illustration, above, in a poetry collection by Fini Løkke. It's from 'Situations 1965-1969'.

A simple little ode to the bicycle bell. Here's the translation:

the bicycle bell
beams, happy
and round, a little
brain without power:
touch me, please touch
you´re only real
as sound

I would have translated the last bit as
"you only exist
as sound"
but nobody asked me to translate it so I'll get my coat.

More from Løkke Publishing.

09 December 2008

Bike Licences Are Stupid

Photo by 'fixed gear' on Flickr.

So the bicycle licence beast raises it's ugly head again. This time in Seattle. Sure, it's only an opinion piece from a man who doesn't look like he's been on a bicycle since the days the plates above were valid, but still.

Copenhagenize is quite clear on bike licences. They are one of the most ridiculous inventions in the history of transport. "Bikes should pay" is a weak argument from the Automotive Defence League.

We've posted about this before in a rebuttal aimed at anyone who mumbles 'bike licences'. Here's the link. Use it freely.

- Bicycle licences are a logistical nightmare that almost always end up in the red. That's why they've been dropped all over the world. They're simply not cost-effective.

More cyclists on the streets and on the new infrastructure are a bonus for any city:

- More cyclists means less wear and tear on the roads which means less roadworks and fewer delays for motorists. Money saved.
- More cyclists means lower health care costs and fewer lost production days because of employee illness. Good for the economy.
- More cyclists means a healthier workforce. More money for the economy.
- Cyclists live longer - up to nine years longer - good for the economy.
- More cyclists means less pollution. Good for public health and quality of life. Higher quality of life means a more attractive city and increased property values.
- More cyclists means fewer people in cars - and people in cars are victims of a higher level of pollution than those cycling next to them.
- An urban freeway costs about 2500 times more per mile than an urban cycleway according to John Button's How to Be Green, in the Australian Edition published by Random Century Hutchinson Australia Pty Ltd. See the 28 reasons to ride a bicycle for more facts.
- Cyclists should be given bonuses, like in many countries, because they choose to leave the car at home.

Look at the above points. Do the maths. A city can profit from having more cyclists. Building bike lanes is a requirement, a given.

STOP THE PRESSES... I just recieved a great link from Paul. Somebody DID the maths, quite recently.

Scotland's economy could benefit by up to £4 billion each year if we cycled as much as people in parts of continental Europe, a report said. Here's the link to the rest of the article.

Portland Debate

Bike Portland had a piece about biking with kids.

It was picked up by a popular local blog and it's interesting [not surprising, just interesting] to see what kind of responses the Automotive Defence League seem to come up to the question posed: "Why is it alright to stick three kids in a bucket attached to a bike and ride around on Portland streets, but you get a ticket if you don't have them seat belted in your car?"

08 December 2008

Praying for Cars

Photo: Fabrizio Costantini for The New York Times
I don't really know what to say about this. It's bloody hilarious and horribly sad at the same time.

Detroit churches praying for 'God's Bailout'. Praying that the Big Three carmakers will get their money from Washington. I've been sitting here trying to think about something witty to write about this and I realised that it can't get any funnier.

The New York Times has the article here. Beneath the god crap there is a worry that the companies will go under and people will lose their jobs. I realise that and I understand it.

A couple of days ago, my dad sent me this link to a film about Ford's massive car factory in Brazil. They can't build factories like that in America and they never will be able to. So there is a need to be worried. But praying that god will make the politicians pay up?

Living in a largely secular country this story is odd. Only 7% of Copenhageners go to a church and no politician would dream of mentioning god in their work. As a humanist I prefer to place my hope firmly in the lap of Homo Sapiens. Oh... and in the bicycle.

There is a qualified workforce in the [fading] automobile industry who could switch to making wind turbines and solar energy and other sustainable products. A pipe dream? Perhaps.

Thanks to the ever-vigilant Jack for the link.