31 January 2009

94 Billion for Bikes

Copenhagen Rush Hour
The current Danish government has hardly been synonymous with 'environmentally friendly' during the time they've spent in power. Things are, however, changing slowly. It's as though some intern mumbled to the ministers "um... the whole world is coming in December 2009 to the UN Climate Conference... um... shouldn't we try and look a little bit green?..."

The government, in collaboration with all the other parties in the Danish parliment, bar one, launched a new traffic plan on January 29th.

The Minister of Finance, Lars Barfoed, said that it was "two-thirds green and one-third black". Meaning two-thirds of the 94 billion kroner [€12.5 billion/$16 billion] budget will go to collective traffic and bicycles and one-third to asphalt/roads.

1 billion is earmarked for bicycle infrastructure and related projects and Barfoed says it's the largest amount set aside for cycling in modern times.

It is rare that a federal government in Denmark places cycling firmly in a transport budget. It has always been the responsibility of a city or county to continue developing our bicycle infrastructure.

The 1 billion kroner is aimed at increasing the number of cyclists and making cycling more attractive as a transport form. Apart from spending money on building and developing safe infrastructure, there is in 2009 100 million kroner for use in the following prioritized categories:

- Cycling projects on a county level that contribute greatly to increasing the local bicycle traffic, including commuting.
- Projects in companies and organisations that are aimed at strengthening cycling.
- Projects that contain concrete initiatives for improving traffic safety for cyclists. This includes, for example, safe school routes so fewer are injured and ensuring that children and youths are encouraged to continue cycling.
- Projects that contain concrete ideas for campaigns and the like that create public awareness regarding cycling projects.

Copenhagenize.com thinks that it's about time that cycling is mentioned on a national level, as has been the case in Holland since the early 1990's. It remains to be seen if the money will help increase cycling. In fact, 9 out of 10 traffic experts in Denmark have given the new traffic plan a firm spanking.

Considering the fact that the government is trying to play catch up regarding the UN Climate Conference, the whole package seems a little too political and not visionary enough. Lots of icing but the cake is dry and mouldy.

Let's keep the optimism, however. It's a good plan for cycling simply because cycling is in it and, with that, cycling has been elevated to being an equal partner in the traffic. A respectable, feasible and attractive form of transport. Which it already is in Copenhagen, but large swathes of the nation are behind the times in this regard.

Regarding the money for projects in 2009, it would be brilliant if we could outsource the concept development for these projects to, for example, the Dutch Fietsersbond / Cycling Union. Alternatively, they could set up a branch in Denmark so we can use the money on projects that promote cycling as positive instead of more of the fearmongering we've witnessed in Denmark in 2008.

Via: Politiken and other Danish media.

28 January 2009

The Most Efficient Machine Ever Invented

Swedish Bike Beauty
So I read an article in The Independent - a link sent by Claus - wherein it stated that "The energy efficiency of a bicycle has been estimated to be the equivalent of the average car doing 1,600 miles on a gallon of petrol."

For the roughly 6 billion of us who don't know what a gallon or a mile is, that is about 640 km per litre.

Lovely numbers. Does anyone know where this estimation originates? I'm curious.

The article has some cool quotes. I've seen them before, but repetition is sometimes nice:

Iris Murdoch: "The bicycle is the most civilised conveyance known to man. Other forms of transport grow daily more nightmarish. Only the bicycle remains pure in heart."

Elizabeth West: "When man invented the bicycle he reached the peak of his attainments. Here was a machine of precision and balance for the convenience of man. And (unlike subsequent inventions for man's convenience) the more he used it, the fitter his body became... Progress should have stopped when man invented the bicycle."

Jose Antonio Viera Gallo: "Socialism can only arrive by bicycle" [maybe not the wisest quote to chuck around Stateside... chuckle]

The journalist, despite clearly being a 'gear-dependent' type of cyclist tried to work out how much he saved by cycling:

"Let's take just one London commuter as a case study (that would be me). The cheapest way for me to travel the five miles from home to desk would be to buy a £1,208 annual travelcard. My bike was pretty pricey, at £700. Let's say it lasts seven years, so costs me £100 a year. I'm no good with a spanner so I get it serviced probably once every nine months. A basic service costs £55, so that's £83 a year for maintenance. My lights, lock, shoes and clothes don't come to more than £150. Let's divide that across two years – so £75. So cycling to work costs me about £258 a year (you could do it for less). Take off the £200 a year I spend on the days I'm forced on to public transport and I save £750 a year. That's enough for 266 pints of beer or a return flight to Sydney."

£55 for a service?! I pay about €13 down my local bike shop but nevermind that. And people could save even more cash by just buying a normal bike and using the clothes in the closet at home. [you KNEW I was going to say that, didn't you...] Nevertheless, it's a good indication of how people can save some money.

He also quote Cycling England's stats about the health benefits:
Cycling England estimates that every new cyclist saves the nation £382 a year in costs related to health, pollution and congestion. It says a 20 per cent increase in biking by 2012 would save £107m in premature deaths, £52m for the National Health Service and £87m in costs to employers through reduced sickness. A cut in pollution would save £71m a year, while reducing congestion would save £207m.

Here's the article from early January 2009.

27 January 2009

Silly Impulse Buy

Useless Equipment
I found this in a box in the cellar. For reasons unbeknownst to me I seem to have purchased this 'cykel computer' a few years back for the rock bottom price of 20 kroner [€3.00]. One of those classic supermarket impulse purchases of an item I have absolutely no use for.

What possible interest do I have in recording my distance travelled, my speed, my whatever else the thing records? Even if I did record it, I have nobody to talk to about it. The other 499,999 other daily cyclists with whom I share the bike lanes certainly don't give a shit about my average speed or distance travelled - let alone their own.

If I showed up at work and said "hey! I just did XX km in XX minutes!" I would be met with strange looks and worried grimaces.

So after taking the shot I promptly chucked this Cykel Computer into the trash - the electronics container, of course, so the city can dispose of it properly - and my life is better off for it.

But a shiny, new bell... THAT'S something important AND useful. Hmm. I'll keep my eye out for one.

26 January 2009

The Oregon Report

Visitors From Portland, USA
Back in October a large group from Portland, USA visited Copenhagen on an in-depth study trip, as I posted about here. There is also a photo series from our bike rides around Copenhagen on Flickr.

The report highlighting their findings is now available online and it makes for interesting reading. It's available as a 16 page .pdf document here.

Here's the summary:

The Case for an Integrated Mobility Strategy

The Case for an Integrated Mobility Strategy is the final report from Portland, Oregon's Blue Ribbon Committee for Trails. Appointed in April 2008 by Metro, the area's elected regional government, the Committee was charged to take the work the community has developed, evaluate where regional trails fit in the region's priorities and recommend potential strategies for expanding the region's trail network.

From the report: ''With smart investments in a network of routes and trails for biking and walking, in ten years we can more than double the number of people who choose to walk or bike. People like us in cities around the world with climates and hills as challenging as ours have done it. Their air and water are cleaner, their communities are stronger, and they are more active and healthy as a result.''

Topic sections include:

- The special case for greenways: Greenways provide premier routes and distinguish the region.
- Solution requires a more integrated approach to mobility.
- Costs are small relative to other options: The financial investment required is within the region's capacity.

25 January 2009

Fishy Copenhagenizing in Seattle

Here's a little Copenhagenize.com reportage from one of our readers, Koll.

"These folks catch the fish out off the of the peninsula of Washington State (Port Townsend), then ride the ferry boat across to Seattle and tow their catch to the farmer's market in Ballard (Seattle's most Scandinavian neighborhood and home to many original immigrants and fisher-people) by bike every Sunday, that's a good 5 mile [8 km] ride after getting off the ferry, and the whole shebang is about 30 feet [10 m.] long!

The trailers hold 3 coolers each, and are made from aluminum ladders with wheel assemblies and a unique hitch that that connects to each of their Surly Big Dummies (Xtra Bikes with extended wheelbases, made by the owner, Rick). Anyway, an awfully cool setup (and wonderful fish!) Here is their website (which is all about fish, not bikes, but there you go)."

The Ballard Market is darn fun, with lots of carts, bikes, and just folks rolling in. Not Copenhagen, or even Portland, but pretty cool all the same."

Now how on earth would we ever have heard this splendid tale if one of our readers didn't take the time to photograph and send a description?! Thanks so much, Koll.

24 January 2009

Dreams on Wheels World Tour

The Dreams on Wheels exhibition of Danish bicycle culture was seen by a couple hundred thousand people in the main Australian cities through the last half of 2008 and now the exhibition has morphed into a bigger and better version 2.0. It has been given wheels and has just rolled into Edinburgh yesterday. Anthony Robson from .citycycling took some shots at the premiere.

You can see it at the Royal Botanical Gardens from 24 January to 21 March 2009. Here's some more info about the exhibition from Copenhagenize.com and here's some more info from the Danish Cultural Institute in Great Britain.

If you love the photos here on Copenhagenize and over at Copenhagen Cycle Chic, you can see them up front and personal at the exhibition since I provided the photography - a few hundred photos in all. You can see Danish bicycles and learn about how we developed our bicycle culture.

Dreams on Wheels will be visiting many cities around the world throughout 2009. I'll keep you posted.

The exhibition consists of ten white boxes which each contain a Danish bicycle from the likes of Velorbis, Pedersen, Christiania bike, Biomega, etc. In each box are photographs from a different Copenhagen location to compliment the bike.

There is also a large black box adorned with my photographs of cyclists and a selection of quotes by me about Copenhagen and our bicycle culture. Inside is loads of inspiration and information about Jan Gehl and the cycling city of Odense and other good things.

Here's an earlier post about Dreams on Wheels.

21 January 2009

Mikael's Bike Goes to Africa

Some of you may recall that Copenhagenize/Copenhagen Cycle Chic were the proud recipients of one of Yahoo!'s Purple Pedal bikes last year. The bikes are equipped with a mobile phone with a camera, which is run off a solar panelled box on the back. It takes a photo every minute when active and instantly transports it back to a Flickr website and the Purple Pedals website, complete with geotag. When the bike is stationary for three minutes, it goes to 'sleep' and will awake once again when it is put into motion.
Yahoo Purple Pedals
All quite flash. All went well for a good while. I rode it around, for example, when the Portland crew came to Copenhagen on a study trip last fall. Here's a photo series taken by the bike's camera.

After that there were some technical difficulties involving... well... technical stuff. I'm pleased to say that the bike is up and running again and, after a week in Copenhagen, the bike is now in Tanzania!

My friends at Baisikeli, the development org that sends used Danish bikes to Africa, were given the bike. Henrik, one of the two guys, is in Tanzania for a month to check up on the recieving end and the workshops that convert the bikes into ambulance bikes, water-carrying bikes, etc. He took the Purple Pedal bike with him.

I just checked the photo stream on Flickr and there were a couple of hundred black photos from inside the bike box on the plane but it is now registering geotags from Dar es Salaam airport. COOL! I had a few discussions with Yahoo!, who generously helped get the bike to Tanzania, about whether the US phone would work in Africa, where most mobile networks are European. So I'm thrilled that the bike looks like it's working.

You can follow the bike's journey in Tanzania on this Flickr photostream.

If you're in Copenhagen this spring or summer, you may get the chance to ride the bike if you rent a bike from the Baisikeli bike rental shop here in the city.

Here's a video I made when the bike arrived in Copenhagen.

You can see all the bikes around the world on the microsite for Purple Pedals here.

20 January 2009

Ja vi kan

Daniel from Slow Bike Miami Beach slapped the logo of The Slow Bicycle Movement into the Obamaicon machine and got this cool result.

My result was less effective but let me just say... ja, vi kan.

Copenhagenizing NYC

About DOT from Nicholas Whitaker on Vimeo.

Here's a great little film about the copenhagenization of New York City featuring the city's Transport Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan. She explains the efforts being made to created more liveable spaces in the city, including bike lanes.

Jan Gehl is a consultant for the city and here's hoping his successful efforts in revitalising the centre of Copenhagen are mirrored in NYC.

19 January 2009

Countryside Bicycle Lanes and City Roundabouts

Provincial Bike Lanes
I am so totally crap at covering the bicycle infrastructure in provincial Denmark quite simply because I rarely get out there. The opportunity arose a week ago when we motored out to the country in our car share car, to spend some time with all the kids and parents in my son's school class.

Just as in Holland and many regions of other European countries, there are bike lanes pretty much everywhere. They vary in style and placement, depending on the amount of traffic they get. If you're really out in the boondocks, you may be stuck for separated lanes, but between most towns there are either lanes on each side of the road or, like in the photo above, a two-lane bike lane running parallel to the road.

This bike lane runs between two towns. One with a population of 4000 and the other, 15,000. It is a part of the regional and national bike lane network. Roughly 10,000 kilometres in all. The respective county is responsible for upkeep of the lanes in its area. Such lanes are primarily used for transport, kids going to school or adults getting from A to B.

As in Holland, it isn't permitted to build any new roads or housing developments in the nation without including bike lanes and facilities in the planning.

Nighttime Roundabout
Meanwhile, back in the city, I love this little roundabout near our place. You're not really in any doubt that bicycles have the priority here. The bike lane is raised up in a kind of circular ridge, which doubles as traffic calming for cars.

18 January 2009

Boehner's Boner

Thanks to Sean, who sent this in to Copenhagenize.com:

Over the weekend, John Boehner, the Republican leader in the United States House of Representatives, made a rather unfortunate comment about the economic stimulus package currently being debated and cycling infrastructure on CBS's "Face the Nation" - a well-known political news program.

“I think there’s a place for infrastructure, but what kind of infrastructure? Infrastructure to widen highways, to ease congestion for American families? Is it to build some buildings that are necessary?” He stated. “But if we’re talking about beautification projects, or we’re talking about bike paths, Americans are not going to look very kindly on this.”

You can see the segment on You Tube (at 5:05) or view it here:

You can also read a brief article about it on the political web site "The Hill."

If inclined, you can also contact Representative Boehner to share your opinion.

Thanks, Sean, for sending this in. There is also a page at the League of American Bicyclists about 'Who's Trashing Talking Cycling' with some good counter arguments.

Isn't this politician's name pronounced Boner, when Anglicized?

17 January 2009

Spanish Bicycle Advert for Mastercard

A Spanish advert from Mastercard featuring a bicycle. Lovely stuff. I particularly like the subversive Euro-pinko undertones. Sending a 'real' bicycle to America. :-)

16 January 2009

Instant Copenhagenizing with Lightlane

Now we're talking. The Lightlane is 'Instant Copenhagenizing' where the bike lane follows you wherever you may ride, projecting a bike lane with red lasers on the asphalt. The idea is from Altitude in the States. Until your city or town councillors dish up the cash for safe, separated bike lanes, this is fine alternative.

Thanks to Joanna Goddard for the illuminating heads up.

NIKE: Yoghurt vs Gasoline

NIKE hops onto the bicycle in advertising trend by editing a short version of an existing online film featuring two brothers, as far as I can tell.

It's a part of their Game Changers campaign. It's simple, effective and straight to the point.

15 January 2009

Real Women?

Geoff, one of our readers, sent this along to us. With this comment:
I've grown so accustomed to your stylish photos [on Copenhagen Cycle Chic - Ed.], that when I saw this image on another blog, I became just a little bit depressed.

I'm an American, so the outfits don't stand out as much for me, but labeling the women as "real" is unfortunate as now other people will think they need lots of technical clothing to go on a little ride to the park. Even if you're not stylish, just wear what you have on. Anyways, you've heard it all before, but this time it's from one of the US's biggest bicycle companies.

It is, indeed, interesting and another example of overcomplicating cycling in order to sell unecessary equipment and clothing. A continued branding of cycling only as a 'sport' or a 'hobby' and not as a feasible, sensible transport option for either commuting or just popping down the shops for a loaf of bread.

Are they 'real women' or are they merely 'Trek women' and not much else? Right off the bat, I'm sure that they are all lovely people. No problem there. But in best Copenhagenize style I wonder about this definition of them as 'real' women.

What is Trek saying? That real women wear 'sports clothing' when they ride a bicycle and, if you wish to be real, you should ride a bicycle in the same fashion as these featured 'real women' and invest in man-made fibres? Perhaps the copyrighter misunderstood the gig. Maybe he/she meant to write "real sports/recreation cycling enthusiasts of the female persuasion" but the brevity demanded of the internet made it get cut down to size.

Can real 'real' women not ride a bicycle as it was intended when invented in the late 19th century or does that make them unreal?
Surveying Her Kingdom
Imagine if this gold-plated statue celebrating the Danish 'cycling girl' high above the Copenhagen City Hall square was one of these 'real women'. She would look quite different. And would probably be sponsored by some sporting goods company. Thankfully, she doesn't and despite being erected in the 1930's, she looks much the same as real Copenhagen women today.

Trek wants to sell gear and clothing and bicycles. Fair enough. They're a company. It's a market economy. But do they really need to insult the hundreds of millions of women who ride their bicycle each and every day around the world, wearing the clothes in their closets and riding comfortable, non-sporty bicycles? Not to mention completely dissing the millions of American women who should be presented with everyday cycling as the effortless, enjoyable activity it is. If I owned a bike company in North America, I know I'd be tapping into this gold mine instead of trying to get a couple of thousand women to join bike clubs.

Real Women? I'll show you real women. They're on Copenhagen Cycle Chic every day but here's just a hasty, random collection from the Copenhagen Cyle Chic group on Flickr. From around the world. Real women, living real lives and just happening to do so on a bicycle.
Copenhagen Supermum Francine Carla always with her bike! zoooom Purple And Red Do Mix za-za-za zacuza zacuza Serious print #11 Il Pleut Dans Ma Ville

14 January 2009

Hunting and Bicycles

Thanks to BlackSeaFleet for the link to this great shot. A hunter cycling home with his quarry. It's from the strange Fail blog, who seem to think this is strange, but it gets a Copenhagenize thumbs up for innovation and balls.

13 January 2009

Germany con amore und fahrrad

laserfisch podcast episode #07 from laserfisch on Vimeo.
Found a couple of cool, little videos at Vimeo. This one, above, is from Hamburg. Time lapse with artistic pauses. It's worth mentioning that in many European cities there is a rather relaxed attitude to riding on the pavement [sidewalk].

Bicycle ride to the bakery from Janka Literski on Vimeo.
And here's a lovely little video from a girl in Berlin, riding to the best bakery in the city.

Earl Blumenauer - Bicycle Advocate

Representative Earl Blumenauer of Oregon. Photo by Stirling Elmendorf for NY Times

Interesting article from the New York Times about this 'Bicycle Evangelist', Rep. Earl Blumenauer. Have a read.

11 January 2009

Cyclist Shadows

3 Cyclists
Cyclist shadows in the late afternoon on Langebro - Long Bridge - over the harbour.
Cyclist Shadow
Alas, if only you could cycle right through cars like they were a cloud of mist.
Out of the saddle shadow.

Stop Me if You Think You've Heard This One Before

Thanks to Robert for sending this link to the classic The Smiths' song, 'Stop Me If You Think You've Heard This One Before'. Bicycles, bicycles, bicycles. The ease and joy of riding a bicycle doesn't really match Morrissey's melancholy personality, but hey. Cool song. Cool video.

09 January 2009

Ice Ice Baby

A little spot of winterliciousness from Austria, as photographed by 'Anuwintschalek' on Flickr. Perhaps her Triobike is parked nearby. With the record cold snap chilling most of Europe, it's nice to see how cyclists across the Continent either just get on with it or find unique ways to adapt.

Nice to see he is riding a normal bike and I love the mirrors. You never know who's skating up behind you.

08 January 2009

Long John Apples

Long John Deli
Meyer's Deli on Gothersgade have a lovely old Long John out front, with a couple of boxes of apples for sale. Practical, aesthetic and true to Copenhagen.

07 January 2009

Bicicle - Suspended Animation

Frozen Bicicle
The Lakes - Søerne - are frozen over as per usual here in January. The bicycle above is going to have to wait for the spring thaw before getting fished out.

06 January 2009

Copenhagen Reserved Parking

Reserved Parking
Typical Copenhagen. Someone needs to reserve this stretch of parking spots. For whatever reason, be it the arrival of a moving van or a temporary container. Who knows.

They used the traditional tape and orange pylons but this is often hardly a deterrent for motorists. I've tried this before and all too often a motorist will disregard your attempt to reserve the spot.

Finding parking is difficult in the centre of Copenhagen. It's frightfully expensive and the City removes 2-3% of all parking street-level parking each year, using the space for bicycle infrastructure or public spaces in general, be it trees, benches, what have you.

The solution above is simple. Mark off the space you need to reserve and then use some of those bicycles leaning against a building nearby, laying them down ever so nice.

A motorist may nudge a pylon out of the way but they will hardly hop out of their car to move a bicycle. Case closed. Problem solved. Copenhagen style.

05 January 2009

Get Some New Shit

A cool photo taken by my mate Philippe on a visit to Berlin. An advert for a streetwear shop. Love the slogan: "Get some new shit at Sneakerspot.de". Advertising in a bike culture.

04 January 2009

Metro Bicycle Parking

Bike Parking at Metro Station
All the underground stations on the new Copenhagen Metro have bike parking rooms. I never use them myself but the few times I've peeked inside...
Bike Parking Metro
... there is always loads of room. There is a bar on each wall, but bikes are just leanding on their kickstands. The Metro is brilliant but it doesn't go many places outside of cycle range - the red local trains transport you farther out into the suburbs - so there isn't that much use for the parking rooms I suppose.

The Metro was voted as the World's Best a couple of years ago and is quite cool. The URL is nice, too. www.m.dk.