31 March 2008

Green Clean - Must Have for Cyclists [and parents of small children]

Wysiwipe - Eco-friendly towelette - just add water!
There aren't many things I can't live without, but this is one thing my family and I use everyday.

Enter the Wysiwipe. Tiny, enivironmentally-friendly and biodegradable towelettes. They look like small tablets, hardly bigger than a coin, and they don't weigh a thing. All you have to do is add a small amount of water and they expand. All of sudden I have a wet towelette with which to wipe oil from my bike off my fingers or wipe my baby daughter's face after she massacres a piece of melon.

No perfume, no toxins, nada. Just a biodegrable towelette that you can discard with a clean conscience.

I always carry some Wysiwipes in my bag and, since I usually have a bottle of water in there somewhere, it's the perfect combination. Perfect for urban cyling or any outdoor activity you can think of.

Available for purchase online at the Wysiwipe website. You can even see a film about how they work.

Ah, life's simple pleasures... :-)

Spring Cleaning - Winter Cycling Photos


Today was springlike in Copenhagen so I thought I'd clean up in the winter cycling photos. Erik from the cool Swedish site Ecoprofile posted these photos from the hilly city of Gothenburg. A bit of late-winter snow fell and the next morning the bikes were rolling. Like most towns and cities in Sweden, the bike lane snowploughs are busy as bees when it snows so that people can pedal to work and school without problems.

And the pavement is cleared for pedestrians and postal workers, too.

Canine Power Assistance for Weak Legs

Canine Pedalling Assistance
This dropped into our inbox like a bone into a newly dug hole. Thanks to Mark for the link.

A unique alternative to e-bikes. The Dog Powered Trike. As it says on the website:

-it gives the rider precision steering control, with great braking
-total stability,
-the ability to help by pedalling,
-can handle up to 4 dogs,
-and the thrill of dog mushing/pulling!

WWW.DOGPOWEREDSCOOTER.COM

Since e-bikes never sell in Denmark and Scandinavia unless you're disabled or elderly, [the rest of us have normal leg muscles :-)] this is at least a cool twist on walking the dog.

Fascinating and not a little weird.

29 March 2008

Intelligent Traffic Control in Copenhagen

Bike Symbol with Red Flavour
The Mayor in charge of traffic and environment, Klaus Bondam, has a new idea. He has been trying, together with the Lord Mayor Ritt Bjerregaard, to implement road pricing in Copenhagen in order to limit the amount of motorised traffic.

The problem is that the national government is of the right-wing variety and they are blocking the plans. Even though the studies from cities that have road pricing are overwhelmingly positive.

So he has now proposed something City Hall calls '
Intelligent Traffic Control'.

It involves setting up sensors that measure air pollution in Copenhagen and the levels of pollution they report will regulate the traffic heading into the city.

If the pollution levels are too high on any particular day, all the traffic lights on the main roads into the city will turn red and stay red longer than normal. The time the traffic lights are green will be reduced by 10 percent.

Motorists will be informed by the internet or text messages before they leave for work so they can choose alternative transport forms.

"It will create queues on some of the approach roads, but it certainly our hope that people will think about it. The signal we want to send is that you have to use your car with careful consideration", says Klaus Bondam.

He is aware that cars still pollute when they're stopped at a red light but: "There are fewer people in the areas in question than there is in the densely populated areas. But the whole idea is to get people to leave the car at home", he says.

Won't this make life miserable for motorists?

"It's about cutting down on the Co2 emissions that the transport sector is responsible for. Besides, we have to adjust to the fact that more and more people are living and working in the city", says Klaus Bondam.

He would prefer the proposed road pricing scheme, which would charge money for driving into the city, but the national government has blocked that initiative.

"As long as we can't use road pricing, we must use other ideas in order to lower emissions." He is ready to tackle angry motorists.

"I don't mind getting spanked for being unpopular. There are few other things that people get so emotional about than their car. If they don't agree with me, they can vote differently at the next election. I've never disguised what I think", says the mayor.

»Motorists think they're protected from harmful emissions because they're sitting in their car. But that is the biggest old wive's tale. You're exposed to the emissions, maybe even more so than others."

He refers to the fact that 800 Copenhageners die prematurely each year because of pollution.

"Either we can not do anything and let the CO2 levels rise and rise, along with the illnesses that follow", he says.

"Or we can make a choice as a society and say that it's not enough to treat the symptoms. Denmark has a responsibility to lead the world on an environmental level", says Bondam.

He will reserve 7 million kroner for a pilot project.

via: politiken.dk

Those Hardy Canadians and Swedes


This is quite possibly the most organic bike rack imaginable. Just embed your front wheel in the snow, as these cyclists did outside McGill University in Montréal. Spotted over at the very cool website Spacing Montreal.

It's surely no coincedence that when the Vikings discovered America 1000 years ago, they headed straight for what is now Canada. We northern tribes understand each other. Just getting on with it, despite the weather.

Which brings us to this beautiful sculpture in Västerås, Sweden. A tribute to bike culture led, of course, by a woman on a bike. Västerås is a snow-bound chilly town with weather that the Montréalers above would understand and embrace.

Nevertheless, 33% of all journeys are made by bike.

28 March 2008

Bike Basket Fantastic

Bespoke bike baskets by David Hembrow
It's been a while since we've blogged about bespoke bike accessories. Perhaps we've been saving our energy for this post about the most beautiful bike baskets you could imagine.

A long while ago, in the quiet rolling hills of Somerset, there was an English basketmaker. His fine craft was passed down through the generations, father to son, until it ended up in the nimble fingers of one David Hembrow.
Bespoke bike baskets by David Hembrow
David produces all manner of baskets, using the finest English willow, but it is his personal passion for bicycles that make him create wonderful, custom-made bike baskets. His love of bicycling even caused him to up stakes and relocate himself and his family to Assen, Netherlands, where bike culture has thrived for at least as many generations as David's family has practised their craft.

David's website is a goldmine of inspiration for thinking up a custom-designed basket for your bike, as well as a personal insight into David's craft. You can see heaps of photos of baskets he's made - standard and customised - as well as view a film wherein he makes a basket.

Bespoke bike baskets by David Hembrow
It's also fascinating to read about his family's proud history of basketmaking. There are even lovely photos of his family, as below, riding their bikes with two-tone willow baskets sitting proudly up front.
Bespoke bike baskets by David Hembrow

Only the imagination sets the limit for what David can create. He'll happily engage you in a discussion about your needs and your desires. As you can see below, the man can do anything your heart, or his, desires.
Bespoke bike baskets by David Hembrow
The prices are reasonable for hand-crafted quality and we are quite convinced that a Hembrow bike basket will compliment any bicycle on the planet. It's bespoke, it's old school craftwork and it's timeless.

Not merely content with making baskets, David's passion for cycling has caused him to branch out into Study Tours of Dutch bike infrastructure for politicians, cycle co-ordinators, cycle campaigners and anyone interested in cycling infrastructure.
Read more about the study tours here.

hembrow.eu

Slices of Bike Culture

The bike lanes are wider at busy intersections, in order to cope with upwards of 25,000 bikes per day.
Bike Lanes

People moving about on the City Hall Square.
Afternoon on City Hall Square

No snow to clear, so let's just keep the bike lanes clean and tidy, shall we?
Clean Sweep

27 March 2008

Bicycle Helmet Articles / Cykelhjelm artikler from Copenhagenize.com

The Collected Articles from Copenhagenize.com On Bicycle Helmets
Artikler fra Copenhagenize.com om cykelhjelme

Are Fabric Covered Helmets More Dangerous?

The Negative Effects of Helmet Promotion and Legislation in Sweden
- How helmet promotion and legislation is killing off childrens cycling in Sweden
- Hvordan promovering af cykelhjelme og påbud reducerer antallet af børn der cykler i Sverige.

Fear of Cycling - Bike Helmet Promotion
- Part of the Series by Sociologist Dave Horton.

Airbags Instead of Bike Helmets
- Dutch test external airbags for cars to protect pedestrians and cyclists.

Culture of Fear - Cykelhjelm Society
- The Culture of Fear and how it relates to bike helmets and cycling in Denmark.
- Frygtkulturen og hvordan den relaterer til cykelhjelme og cykling i Danmark.


A Walking Helmet is a Good Helmet
- A brilliant and logical campaign promoting pedestrian helmets has hit the streets of Copenhagen.
- En fantastisk og logisk nye kampagne til fordel for gåhjelme - cykelhjelme for fodgængere - er lanceret i København.


Helmets for Pedestrians and Motorists?
- Wherein we explore the shocking lack of helmet promotion for pedestrians and motorists.
- Hvori vi kigger på det chokerende mangel på cykelhjelmkampagner for fodgængere og bilister.


Mexico City Repeals Bike Helmet Law

... and so does Israel.
Growing Global Resistance to Helmets Laws

Sue Abbott - Australian Cyclist Prepares for Court
Sue Abbott - Australian Cyclist Fights Helmet Fine

The Clever Dutch and the Arrogant Danes
- Interview with a traffic consultent from the Dutch Fietsersbond about the Dutch policy on bike helmets.
- Interview med et trafikkonsulent fra det hollandsk cyklist forbund om Hollands cykelhjelm politik. Sammenlignet med Dansk cyclist forbund.


Helmets or Health?
- We can promote bike helmets or cycling. We can't do both.
- Vi kan promovere cykelhjelme eller cykling. Men ikke begge dele.


Cycle Helmets and Other Religious Symbols
- Wherein we compare those who promote bike helmets with fundamentalist religious fervour.
- Hvori vi sammenligner fortalere for cykelhjelme med fundamentalistiske religøse propaganda.


Motoring Helmets for Real High-Risk Transport
- Finally, what the world has been waiting for. A company making helmets for motorists. Buy now, operators are standing by.
- Endelig. Cykelhjelme for bilister, lavet af et australsk firma. Køb dem nu! Det er hul i hovedet at køre uden!


Ask Me Why I Cycle Without a Helmet
- Campaign by the European Cyclists' Federation against bicycle helmet promotion and legislation. Scroll down in the article for the piece.
- Kampagne fra det Europæiske cyklistforbund imod promovering af cykelhjelme samt love til fordele for hjelmtvang. Scroll længere nede i artiklen.


Putting A Price on Bike Helmet Laws - (You Can't Afford It)
- An Australian mathematician has determined how bike helmets are far from cost efficient. On the contrary, they cost society a bundle.
- En australsk matematiker har beregnet hvor dyrt cykelhjelm lovgivning er for et land. Meget dyrt.


Scaring the 'skit' Out of the Swedes
- The car-centric Swedish Road Safety Council, NTF, has no problem with scaring people off their bicycles with propaganda.
- Det bilcentrisk råd for færdselssikkerhed i Sverige, NTF, er ikke bleg for at skræmme folk ud af sadlen med cykelhjelm propaganda.


Copenhagenize Injury Alert!
- 87,000 Americans are admitted to hospital each year because they fell over a pet. Where are the safety freaks on this issue!? There's helmets and safety equipment to be sold!
- 87,000 amerikanere ryger på hospitalet hvert år fordi de falder over et kæledyr. Hvor er sikkerhedsnarkomaner om dette issue?! Der skal sælges cykelhjelme og sikkerhedsudstyr!


Bicycle Helmets - Today's Bloodletting
- Sue Knaup compares bicycle helmets with bloodletting with leeches.
- Sue Knaup sammenligner cykelhjelme med igler.


The Bicycle is Booming - Just Not in Denmark

- Bike helmet promotion stunts growth of bicycle sales in Denmark.
- Promoveringen af cykelhjelme standser vækst i salget af cykler i Danmark.


Danish Bike Helmet Propaganda
- See how bike helmet propaganda is infiltrating Danish society.
- Se hvordan cykelhjelm propaganda infiltrerer det danske samfund.


Australian Helmet Hurdle
- Bicycle helmet laws restrict growth of bike share programmes in Australia.

Sensible Bicycle Helmet Usage in Denmark
- Film showing sensible usage of bike helmets in Denmark.
- Film der viser fornuftig brug af cykelhjelm i Danmark.


Get Yer Torches! It's a Bicycle Helmet Witchhunt!
- Wherein we explore how bicycle helmet advocates tend to attack bicycle advocates with a tone reminiscent of the witch hunts of old.
- Analyse af det tonefald cykelhjelm fanatikerne bruger imod mennesker som vælger at køre uden hjelm. Allerede tilstedet i DK. Desværre.


The Culture of Fear and a Very Important Book
- Review of the book Culture of Fear Revisited by Frank Furedi and how it relates to bicycling.

South African Bicycle Helmet Amusement
- South African café chain bans cyclists in helmets and South African blog calls for a stop to the socially unacceptable behaviour of wearing helmets in shops and other establishments.
- Sydafrikansk cafékæde forbyder cykelhjelme og en sydafrikansk blog kører kampagne imod cykelhjelme i butikker og supermarkeder fordi det er 'social uacceptabelt adfærd'.


Kissing Toronto's Bicycle Culture Good-bye
- Toronto city councillor proposes mandatory bicycle helmet laws. Silly git.

Political Helmet Mishaps (and Irish Hope)
- The Danish Socialist Peoples Party proposes bicycle helmet legislation without bothering with science.
- SF har et forslag om cykelhjelmtvang for de under 12, uden at de bekymrer sig om videnskab.


Danish Bicycle Helmet Law Defeated in Parliament
- The Socialist Peoples' Party's proposed law for mandatory bicycle helmets for under 12's is soundly rejected by the Danish Parliament.
- SF's lovforslag som vil gøre det lovpligtigt for de under 12 at bære cykelhjelm er stemt ned i Folketinget.


Visit Auckland and Break the Law
- Advert for the City of Auckland features a cyclist sans helmet, despite the country's backward helmet laws. Irony rules.

Promoting Cycling in London - But not in Boston
- London promotes cycle but in Boston, the coppers will confiscate your bicycle if you're nicked without a helmet.
- London promoverer cykling men i Boston konfiskerer strisserne børnenes cykler hvis de er taget uden cykelhjelm.


The Hierarchy of the Bicycle Helmet Empire
- Satirical look at bicycle helmet promotion.
- Cykelhjelm satire.


The Great Bike Helmet Hysteria - Part Two

The Great Bike Helmet Hysteria - Introduction

Mere om cykelhjelme på Cykelhjelm.org

Our Latest Bicycle Bridge - Åbuen

Another Bicycle Bridge
This new bicycle and pedestrian bridge opens shortly. It stretches over one of the main roads into the city, Åboulevarden.

It is part of the new "Green Path" bike lane/walkway that traverses the city and acts as a kind of "bike motorway" for those who just need to get from one end to the other as quick as possible. We posted about it earlier.

Architects Dissing & Weitling
designed it and the 8 sections were hoisted into place over the easter weekend, after being manufactured in Poland. The design is meant to symbolise a grand entrance to the city. I love that irony. That cars zipping along underneath are welcomed to the city on this route by a splendid bicycle and pedestrian bridge.

It's a wonderful project and this bridge is the piéce de la resistance.
Another Bicycle Bridge
In the photo above you can see the bike lane that runs parallel to the motorised traffic, separated by a kerb from the three lanes of traffic.

It's the second in a long line of cycle bridge projects. The first was over the harbour and there are at least two others starting construction soon.
Shadow Check

Copenhagenizing the Planet


Seems they're pretty excited over in Portland, USA. They have begun using lovely painted bike lanes and bike boxes.

Three cheers for Portland. It's a wonderful sight to behold. I love the way the workers in the photo are so concentrated and really making an effort to do it just right. Here in Copenhagen a truck stops, a man hops out and slaps down a template and starts spraying, followed by blow torching to make it dry quick. It's all over in a flash.

I seem to recall seeing lanes painted 'Copenhagen blue' in Portland, but this green is really a lovely colour. It's funny to see the massive text WAIT HERE, but motorists need a helping hand with this development, so it's a nice touch.

Readers' Bikes: Royal's Recumbents


Royal was kind enought to send us photos of him and his wife on their recumbents. All the way from Venice, California, via Copennhagen, to you.
Over to you, Royal:
"I love the photos of the bike culture in Copenhagen ... wish there was more of that in the USA. Although, if the fuel prices go high enough, there may yet be a bike culture here.

The photo I've attached isn't fashionable ... but it does show how much my wife loves her recumbent bicycle. :0)

The bike my wife is riding in Venice Beach, California (blue LWB recumbent) is made from the plans I bought from Bentech.

The maintube started life as a piece of muffler pipe. The seat is made from EMT tubing (cheap tubing used for electrical wiring). The rest of the parts came from cheap thrift-store bikes.


The pink bubblegum LWB lowracer is based on a delta trike design by S&B Recumbents.

They worked with me on developing this bike in exchange for me maintaining their website. We went thru 2 prototypes before the pink one. The first prototype was merely some thinwall steel tubing tacked together. They thought it was going to fall apart when I flew around the corner at 25 mph.

The 2nd prototype moved the crank from on top the main tube to under ... changed the head tube angle ... and worked on the chain routing. On the pink one, we had to add "wings" (gussets) to keep the bottom bracket from tearing off ... used a shorter front chain tensioner (the long one tore off when I hit a speed-bump) ... changed how we attached the seat ... and discovered the proper setting for the intermediate idler (so the rear chain wouldn't fall off when I switched to the littlest gear).

I normally can't afford to buy recumbent bicycles ... so I've had to resort to making my own.

There's a wonderful bike path that runs along the beach from Palos Verdes to Pacific Palisades (just this side of Malibu). It's about an 80 Km roundtrip. I have a friend & his wife that ride their tandem about 128 Km every Sunday.

My wife and I aren't exactly young skinny people, but we've always enjoyed riding our cykels. I'm in the process of making a couple of delta trikes for us to ride."

26 March 2008

Bike Culture Mischief


Aaron snapped this shot in the city centre last week. This is what youthful mischief and silly pranks look like in a bike culture.

Somebody placed a load of bikes from a nearby bike rack into a pile on one of the pedestrian streets.

We were all young once...

25 March 2008

The Copenhagen Framework

The Copenhagen Framework
So there I was sorting through the photo archives on my harddisks and I realised that I had a lot of photos of bike frames.

I figured they would look nice on a wall but I don't have room for hanging bike frames on the wall and Wifealiciousness would have a fit so I made a poster instead.

It's over at The Copenhagen Cycle Chic Online Boutique if anyone is interested.

Here And There - Bicycle Transport


Las sillas, originally uploaded by bilobicles.

Bilobicles on Flickr snapped this shot of a cyclist transporting stuff in Santiago, Chile.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the planet in Copenhagen, I recorded the Chilean's counterpart performing a similar task.
Have Bed Will Travel
Ah, the globaliciousness of the bicycle. Second only to football.

Pink Hermes Chainguard


hermes, originally uploaded by miss_kcc.

This splendid shot was taken by a friend over at Flickr, miss kcc. A lovely pink bike near a train station in Stockholm.

I've always felt sorry for bikes without chainguards - it's like a tree with leaves - but now, thanks to this photo, I feel sorry for any bike that doesn't have a chainguard like this one.

24 March 2008

Bike Meets Train. Falls in Love.

If you're travelling distances a bit longer than you'd like to cycle, or you have a flat or it's raining, you can always take your bike on the trains.

The InterCity trains and the Regional trains all have bike carriages and the Metro allows bikes, but it is on the local S-tog trains serving the Greater Copenhagen metropolitan area that is it easiest.

Every train has a couple of spacious carriages for bikes and prams. The bike racks are sturdy and flexible, allowing for the sway of the train. Just stick your back wheel in and sit down and enjoy a good book or newspaper. You need a ticket for the bike, which costs about 10 kroner.
Here's a 'klippekort' - a 10 journey discount card for bikes:


I'm still waiting to get a shot of a Copenhagen taxi with a bike rack. All taxis are equipped with a bike rack with room for two bikes. Stay tuned.

22 March 2008

Small Town Bike Lane Snowplough

Bike Lane Snowplow in Höör Sweden
A propos the post about Bike Lane Snowplough in Action, here's another bike lane being cleared of snow.

This time it isn't in Copenhagen where the bike lanes HAVE to be cleared in order to accommodate tens of thousands of cyclists. The bike lane snowplough above is from the small town of Höör, in Southern Sweden. There was about 20 centimetres of snowfall last night in the area and the regular snowploughs were in action at steady intervals along the highways as we headed home from the summer house.

But even in a town with a population of 7000, bike usage is high and the bike lanes are a vital artery and these smaller snowploughs clear the snow and spray fine gravel.

When a town of 7000 in a municipality of 15,000 has a bike lane snowplough - and I'll guess they have more than one, it seems odd that more larger cities don't.

20 March 2008

Become a Professional Cycle Freak


We reported about it before. Denmark is in desperate need of bike mechanics. So much so that the organisation of bike shops - Danske Cykelhandlere - started a campaign with free café postcards aimed at getting young people interested in taking the bike mechanic education.

With over 600 bike shops in Copenhagen alone (most of them earning their wage by repairing bikes) let alone the rest of the nation, you can do the math

From their website, (now defunct):
"There is a big shortage of bike mechanics. The reason is that more and more bikes are being sold and they need to be serviced and repaired. In addition, bikes are becoming more advanced. Gone are the days when people used half a weekend to fix up their own bikes as best they could.

They would rather send it to a mechanic. That's why the need for good bike mechanics is rising. Completing the bike mechanic education is quite like printing your own job guarantee, but it's close."


With Denmark virtually at full employment (back in 2008, when this was first written), there are shortages in many areas of the workforce. Bike mechanics are no exception.

The course takes three years. 40 weeks are in the classroom, the rest of the time is in an apprenticeship.

With all that said, you don't HAVE to take the course to open a bike shop. Many immigrants open bike shops with their skills from their homeland.

I find it a bit funny that the bike in the postcard is like nothing you see on the bike lanes in any Danish city, but hey. It's advertising.

19 March 2008

Bike Lane Snowplough in Action

Bike Lane Snowplough
I love our little bike lane snowploughs [okay, it's a whirly brush thingy in this case, but you get the point] that speed along in the early morning after a snowfall.

18 March 2008

An American Ambassador on a Bike


Normally I don't give a toss about whoever is sitting in the American Embassy here in Copenhagen, but the chap at the moment likes to bike.

James P. Cain is a Bushite, as far as I can tell, but he isn't shy about his passion for sustainability. Too bad he's here and not in public office 'over there', where he's needed.

He's made an effort to see as much of Denmark on a bike as possible. 2200 kilometres in all, by the time he's done. Last year he cycled around the islands of Falster and Zealand [the latter is where Copenhagen is located] in order to see the country and talk to Danes.

He is kicking off this spring by heading to the mainland, Jutland, and the island of Funen before heading back to Copenhagen. Anyone who wants to ride with him is invited.

Let's be honest. Being an ambassador in Denmark isn't a nine to five job... :-) But it isn't a bad idea spending your free time riding around the nation you are stationed in.

Apparently he is passionate about the idea of a sustainable society and loves Denmark for that reason. His first stop this year is the island of Aeroe on March 17th, as the 'bassador is itching to see the Marstal Solar Power Plant - the world's largest and, quite possibly, the oldest. 18,000 m" of pure solar power joy.

He calls his initiative the ReDiscovery Bike Tour and if you are itching to hitch up with 'bassador Jimbo, here's the schedule.

If you take part, you get a coin like in the photo... which your tax dollars paid for anyway.

Sure, my tone is playful and ironic. But Go Jimbo Go. It's a fine initiative.

[And that last sentence is a disclaimer in order to prevent being picked up in the dead of night, bundled on board an illegal CIA plane and flown off to a secret prison in Eastern Europe... you know the story. All too well...]

17 March 2008

Bike Lane Snowstorm


Bike Lane, originally uploaded by [Zakkaliciousness].
Finally a bit of snow. My boy and I are itching to get sledding and it may be that tommorrow is the day.

Cyclists this afternoon just put their heads down and muscled on through it. Snow isn't slippery when you're just riding straight. And on a segregrated bike lane, you don't have any other traffic to worry about.

You ride slower, of course. And slow to a crawl when cornering and approaching intersections. But other than that, it's just another day on the bike lanes. In the above photo our bike lane snowploughs hadn't been past, but they came later on.
Snowstorm Cycling by Night

Moi, en hiver

Readers' Bikes: Karl's Trixie the Fixie


Trixie The Fixie, originally uploaded by KarlOnSea.

This just in from Karl.
Here's the story of how I ended up with Trixie the Fixie:

When I arrived back at Loughborough University just before the start
of 1989 autumn term, I had no ride, as my father’s bike which I’d
been using had been stolen over the summer break. A trawl through the local paper found a suitable sounding steed for sale in Leicester
(about 15 minutes down the train track), so I headed off there to
meet the vendor at the railway station. I was so not disappointed - a
Raleigh Record Sprint in black with gold trim; such a fast,
responsive, cool-looking bike, and a bargain at only £70.

But six weeks later, I was ARRESTED after someone else saw the bike in for repair at a local shop, and claimed that it was their bike,
which had been stolen only two weeks ago.

I was booked in at Loughborough police station, and put in a cell to
stew for a while. Then I had a formal police interview - a soundproof
room, with basically 60 minutes of interrogation technique from B
Movies. Lots of variants of "Let's go over this once again", and
"Come on sonny, admit you did it". The trouble was that I didn't have
a receipt for this second hand bike I'd bought from a bloke I'd met
at Leicester railway station. And THEY couldn't find any adverts in
the papers from that week matching what I'd described.

After the interview, I was left alone in the room with the arresting
officer, who had a 'couple of forms to fill in'. Stuff like, "How
long have you lived here?", "What course are you on?" and "So do you
take drugs?". At this last question, the adrenaline and my sense of
humour got the better of me, and I responded, "What here, with all
these policemen around? Nah, put 'em away and we'll have them later", which I think is probably when he ticked the box on his form next to the words, "Search warrant required?"

I was put back in the cells to consider my statements, while two of
Loughborough's Finest headed off to our house to search it. I'll
spare you the detail of this, other than to say that my housemates
were certain that the search WAS for drugs. However, during this,
they went through my room's waste paper bin, where they found the
torn-out page from a six week-old local paper, including the advert
for my bike. So I got released, but it took another four weeks to get
my bike back, as it had to be verified by the original owner. Even
now, I have a bizarre image in my mind of a 'Usual Suspects' line up
of bikes.

Anyway, that was a long time ago. Since then, the bike's been
resprayed twice, changing it from black to white, to sky blue. And
then last year, I finally got a new road bike, and so had no more use
for this old and trusted friend . . . . except that frame was such a
good ride, and I just couldn't be parted from her. So I converted her
from a 12-speed '80s classic into my hack bike around town - a fixed
wheel single speed machine, and so Trixie the Fixie was born.

Riding fixed is a bit of a fashion statement these days, and I don't
deny that it was my prime motivation for doing the conversion. But
once I'd got used to riding her, I found it went far deeper than a
mere fashion statement. Every time I ride this bike, it's like being
five years old again, and just doing it for the damned fun of it. I'm
reduced to a grinning idiot, sweaty and physically exhausted . . .
even before I start pedaling. In many ways it's just like being in
love. :-)

15 March 2008

A Pedersen in its Natural Environment


A classic Pedersen, taken by a French acquaintance, Guillaume Reguer.
Also known as the Dursley-Pedersen, it is one of the more famous Danish designs. In 1978 a blacksmith named Jesper Sølling found the designs for the bike and reintroduced it into production.
Pedersen Bike Website with interesting history section.

Hardly an hour passed after posting before Thomas from Pedersen On Tour in Germany sent a link and a photo, included here. Thanks, Thomas!

14 March 2008

Guest Photo Scottish Bike Rack


parliament bike racks, originally uploaded by Daveybot.

Thanks to Peter for pointing us in the direction of this great bike rack outside the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh.

The photo was taken by Daveybot on Flickr. If you look at the bike rack at the right angle they form the shape of a bike.

Together


Together, originally uploaded by [Zakkaliciousness].

I was sorting through my photo archives and I found this shot.
Classic Copenhagen. Riding in couples - with your mate, your sweetheart, your lover - is such an integral part of life.

And riding on bike lanes like the one pictured is, too. You can either continue straight on over the intersection or you can choose the right turn lane.

Just be sure to watch the bike traffic light, though.

Guest Photo: Bike Rack in Perth


This just in... straight from Perth, Australia to you, via Copenhagen.
My girlfriend found this funky bikestand just minutes away from our house. Had to share it with you ;)
The bike culture here in Perth/Western Australia is quite poor, but it is rapidly growing...well, we do have great weather nearly all year round, and a very flat city. Just too many car obsessed people, but we are spreading the word!
Keep it up in the North!

Greetings from the South,
Flo and Sophie


Thanks Flo and Sophie! Bike racks are so cool when a little creative thought is put into them.

By all accounts the low level of bike usage in Western Australia is a result of helmet laws that came into effect in 1991. This mirrors the same statistics in other cities and regions that implemented helmet laws. In Western Australia, after rising steadily at about 12% a year, bike usage took a nosedive after the legislation. A fall of 30%.

A shame, really, because as Flo says, it's a fabulous city for everything, including urban biking. It's reassuring that bike usage is on the increase again! I can understand that the helmet laws are not enforced in Perth, is this true, Flo? I should hope the police have better things to do...

13 March 2008

Readers' Bikes: Charlotte's Carradice in Boston


Boston is a notoriously unfriendly city for cyclists. The drivers here are legendary. I had the opportunity to live in Paris for a year where I developed the skills I needed to be more confident with urban cycling. I returned from Paris and fell in love with my first commuter bike:

I was devastated when it suffered a catastrophic failure.

I looked for ages to find just the right bike. There is a man here in Boston who finds old bikes that people are throwing away and fixes them up to sell on Craigslist. I called him about a bike he'd actually already sold and so we discussed my options. None were very exciting.

There was a moment of silence.

Then he told me he had a special bike that had been sitting in his basement for three years, waiting for the right buyer. He described it and it was intriguing. I showed up to see it and it turned out to be the right size and "my" color. The sale was a foregone conclusion. I really should get some more photos for you of the lug work, it is stunning. I am still updating and improving it for its new life as an urban cycle.

There is my bike and the outline of how I got here. I'm working on encouraging a number of women I know in America to get bikes, and so I've recently started a blog of my own, with yours as one of my inspirations.

Thank you for all your work, sharing cycling...
-Charlotte

12 March 2008

Cyclists Can Breathe Easy

Sideslide
A Dutch study has proved, yet again, that the level of dangerous microparticles are higher inside cars than on bikes.

I posted about how Traffic Kills More People Than Traffic Accidents before, but this recent survey reconfirms the science.

Despite the air pollution it is healthier to cycle in traffic than sitting in a car. The levels of particles in the air are greater inside a vehicle than on the bike lanes. So even though a cyclist breathes in more air than a motorist, the concentration of microparticles is lower for the cyclist.

The health benefits of cycling greatly overshadow the harm caused by breathing polluted air, the study adds.

The study was carried out by Gerad Hoek from Utrecht University and presented in the magazine for the Dutch cyclist organisation, Fietzersbond.

If a cyclist wishes to avoid unhealthy particles, it is recommended that he or she avoids areas with heavy traffic and rush hour periods. In particular, avoiding trucks and scooters exhaust is of utmost importance. The scooter is the greatest polluter. A veritable microparticle factory, producing even more dangerous microparticles than even old trucks.

Perhaps parents who transport their children in cars could be penalised for doing so. Paying a Child Health Tax or something like that.

Michiel Slütter : 'Brommers zijn ultrafijn stofkanonnen'. Vogel Vrie Fietser no. 2. 2008, Fietsersbond, Utrecht

Ole Herten et al.: Skær 30 procent af forureningen. Cyklister nr 3. 2007, Dansk Cyklist Forbund, København

Bike Lane


Bike Lane, originally uploaded by [Zakkaliciousness].

Now THAT'S a bike lane. Wider than wide.
Just a tad wider than the Copenhagen average of 2.2 m. .-)

10 March 2008

Living Legend


Living Legend, originally uploaded by [Zakkaliciousness].

This chap is a Copenhagen legend. He rides his trike all over the city every day, visiting a long line of cafés and bars.

He sells nature stamps - not postage, just decoration for your envelopes - to support a charity... can't remember which.

Everyone I know has had the plastic folders with nature stamps in them thrust towards them while in town.

Such a dedicated chap. He rides 30 or kilometres a day to a rotating list of cafés and bars.

Remember that the next time you whine about a headwind... :-)

09 March 2008

Readers Bikes: Martin's Peugot in Melbourne


About 3 years ago I decided I needed a bike, after having lived 4 years in Melbourne bikelessly. One fine day when passing my local bike shop I went in, thinking 'exactly! - a bike. Time to finally start looking for that bike I've been thinking I should get...' Didn't really see anything I liked very much. All too techy or else v. cheap, clumsy sorts of 'city bikes' that just seemed wrong.

After dinner that night we took an evening stroll. Here we have biannual 'hard waste collections', which means the local council comes round with huge trucks and carts away all sorts of large household items people no longer want, plus garden refuse etc etc. When my wife realised it was hard waste day tomorrow, she wanted to go home again, well aware of my penchant for objets trouvés. Moi, insistent as ever, begged and pleaded that we should continue, and promised not to bring any of the 'great stuff' out there home.

Within just a few minutes I found it. Not more than a couple hundred metres from our house. Leaning against a pile of boxes. The bike I had started looking for that very day! Even my wife couldn't say no to this charming piece of French craftsmanship.

Never mind that it's a girl's bike. Never mind it's magenta. It had a spacious basket, straight wheels and at least one fender. It rolls fast fast fast and I normally coast past other bikers riding on fatter tyres.

All I've done is replaced the rear tyre, had it checked over by the local bicycle repairman and it now gets me to the local shops in minutes. The brakes scream, which can scare a few pedestrians but I smile and nod a friendly 'hello' as I slowly coast by.

The one thing it doesn't have is a name. But I am considering something French. Catherine, Charlotte, Juliette, or maybe even Eva. After the actresses Deneuve, Rampling, Binoche and Green. Such an important question will take a bit more thinking though...

What I know for sure is, I love my magenta girl's Peugeot!

Regards, and ride on, Martin de Melbourne

I love my bike


I love my bike, originally uploaded by [Zakkaliciousness].

It's a love affair. I admit it freely.

There has been murmurs from the readers about starting a Readers' Bikes section. I have one in my inbox which is wonderful.

How about this. Send me a photo [or a link to Flickr if you're on it] and tell me a story about your bike. The story is important. When you bought it, how you found it and rescued it from certain scrap metal death, how you fell in love on it, whatever.

Get sentimental. Let's see if it works.

08 March 2008

The Powerful Cycling Mothers of Japan



Japan has a bicycle culture that the UK and US, among others, drool over. I love seeing the bikes and the cycle chic whenever I'm in Tokyo. So very cool and inspiring.

The backbone of the bike culture are the young mothers of the nation. They practice the tradition of 'sannin-nori' - or three-on-a-bike - whenever they have to transport their kids. Most kindergartens in Japan ban mothers from dropping off their kids by car, so these sturdy 'mama-chariots' are an integral part of daily life. One kid up front, another on the back and the mum in the middle.

It's a sight you see often in Copenhagen, but in Japan these mothers form a formidable army of toddler transport.

When the Government's new cycling laws - a giant leap backwards by all accounts - banned the sannin-nori culture, the mothers of Japan got cross. Their initial protests were heard and it was quickly suggested that they could continue riding with two kids if they rode trikes. Not a bad idea, but the average 'mama-chariot' costs around £50. The cheapest trikes will set them back around £500. This isn't doable.

Cool Kids Bike Seat
These mothers possess the most powerful weapon imaginable: their wombs. In a country with a frightfully low birth rate, children are an even more valuable commodity for society than normal.

The mothers have threatened to stop having a second child in protest of the new laws. That threat has struck a popular chord.

This is bicycle culture protest at it's best.

Via: Various media, including The Times of London