28 February 2009

The Bicycle is Booming - Just Not in Denmark

True Style Over Speed
Forty years of working hard to create the World's Cycling Capital and, it seems, we're throwing it all away.

All over the world the bicycle is booming. Sales are up in the most unusual places after 'The Summer of the Bicycle', the oil crisis and the global economic meltdown in 2008. Even in Holland, where everyone owns a bike already, many companies are reporting increases in sales. Some of the larger companies are up 15%.

If we look at Denmark, the numbers for bicycle sales in 2007 are not reassuring. According to the industry organisation for bike retailers - Danske Cykelhandlere - the numbers are expected to be down 5%.

When I spoke with them the man tried to brush off the negative numbers by saying that Denmark has had a few years with high sales increases so a fall wasn't a problem. However, many other countries have experienced increases over the past few years, too, so there goes that theory. When pressed about bike helmets, he quoted word for word the same rhetoric as the Road Safety Council and the Danish Cyclists Federation. It was like hearing the same answering machine message again and again. They've prepared their spin well.

Denmark, like everywhere else, was affected in 2008 by a period with sky-high petrol prices and then the global financial crisis left its mark on the country as well. Car sales - both new and used - have plummeted.

It is prime time for people to ditch their car and hop onto their bikes or to invest in a new one, as we've seen all over the industrialised world. We have the bicycle infrastructure in place, so you wouldn't think it was an issue at all.

What has gone wrong in Denmark?

There is only one difference between Denmark and the rest of Europe in 2008. Intense bicycle helmet promotion campaigns have washed across the nation, initiated by the Danish Road Safety Council and the black sheep of the European cycling community, the Danish Cyclists Federation.

They have done so despite the fact that, at best, the scientfic jury remains out on bicycle helmets. Despite the fact that bike organisations all over Europe continue fighting against bike helmet promotion and legislation. Despite the warnings about how promoting bicycle helmets reduces the numbers of cyclists because of this uneccessary branding of cycling as dangerous. The latter has been heard loud and clear in numerous studies and papers and not least from the European Council of Ministers of Transports [ECMT] who stated in their 2004 report National Policies to Promote Cycling that:

"PROMISING, a research project commissioned by the European Union and coordinated by the SWOV Institute for Road Safety Research (2001), suggests that from the point of view of restrictiveness, even the official promotion of helmets may have negative consequences for bicycle use, and that to prevent helmets having a negative effect on the use of bicycles, the best approach is to leave the promotion of helmet wear to manufacturers and shopkeepers.
[The ECMT is a council on which all the National Ministers of Transport in the EU sit.]

It is interesting, and frightening, to note that the bicycle helmet campaigns run by the Road Safety Council and the Danish Cyclists' Federation do not feature science as a firm foundation. It is a textbook example of rhetoric and propaganda used to manipulate an unsuspecting population that has no knowledge of, or experience with, bicycle helmets, unlike many other countries where they've at least had a debate. Welcome to the Culture of Fear.

The Road Safety Council, on their website, do not inform the Danish people about the wide variety of scientific studies available on bicycle helmets in order for them to make up their own mind - which should be the case in a personal matter like bicycle helmets. They merely quote a single report from the Norwegian Institute of Transport Economics [TØI], from 2002. They don't mention the report from 2007, from the same TØI, that is much more sceptical of helmets.

It reminds me all too much of one Colin Powell, sitting in the UN, showing off his "proof" that Iraq was in possession of weapons of mass destruction. Our own right-wing prime minister bought THAT hype. Nevermind all the experts that said this wasn't the case. Or just think of the scientists that George Bush pulled out of his hat who refused to acknowledge that global warming was caused by humans. Despite the international scientific community's position that it was. Or rather is.

When you don't provide documentation and only rely on slogans and rhetoric, you are lying and you are no better than any other movement that exists solely on propaganda.

Danes cycle 30% less now than they did in 1990. The number of children driven to kindergarten or school has risen by 200%. If we still cycled that lost 30%, we could save 1500 lives a year in this country. [It's worth mentioning that the cycling rates in Copenhagen are much higher than these sad, national statistics.]

Together with Holland, Denmark is the safest country in the world in which to ride a bicycle. Why aren't we broadcasting THIS fact to our citizens? If we wish to reduce cyclist injuries, we should tackle the problem. Cars. Cars injure cyclists and cars kill them. Restricting this killing and maiming should be the goal instead of promoting bicycle helmets which are only designed to protect the head from non-life threatening injuries in solo accidents under 20 km/h.

I'm not a betting man but I'm ready with a bet.

2008 was a legendary year for cycling in Copenhagen. Thanks to our City's Bicycle Office and not least our Mayor in charge of the traffic department, Klaus Bondam, we have had a fantastic array of visionary bicycle projects put into play.

- Among other initatives: at 117 intersections the stop lines for cars have been pulled back five metres, creating more visibility and security for cyclists.
- One of our main arteries and the busiest bike lane in the nation - Nørrebrogade - has been more or less closed off to cars, with an increase of 15% in the number of cyclists.
- We have expanded the wildly successful Green Wave to other main arteries leading to the city centre.

All of these things are the most progressive moves towards increasing cycling in Copenhagen since the first physically separated bike lanes 25 years ago.

The City of Copenhagen's biannual Bicycle Report is due out in April, I believe. The City has established goals for cycling. They want to increase the percentage of cyclists in the city from 36% to 50% by 2015. It also wants to increase the percentage of cyclists who feel safe and secure in the traffic from the 58% in 2006 to 80% in 2015. With all the great projects in this city throughout 2008, we should expect a positive jump in these numbers.

Here's my bet. Because of the intense bicycle helmet propanganda in 2008:
- the percentage of cyclists in Copenhagen - 37% - will not rise. It will either fall or remain unchanged.

If I'm wrong, I'll wear a purple helmet for a month. Readers in the UK will know what I mean by purple helmet. If I'm right... we'll that's up to anyone who decides to take the bet.

It's sad that we have no group or organisation in Denmark who are working for promoting cycling positively - well, apart from Copenhagenize.com and Copenhagen Cycle Chic and The Slow Bicycle Movement. We should get the Dutch Fietsersbond to outsource their knowledge, vision and respect for science and open an office here.
Cykelhjelm - Don't Get Scared, Get the Facts from Colville Andersen on Vimeo. If you consider the fact that there is no place in the world where bicycle helmet usage has resulted in lower head injury levels, it's unlikely that it will happen here. Instead, we're fueling the car-centric fire and waging a religious crusade against a large percentage of our population who choose a safe, healthy, life-extending, disease-preventing transport option. I hope that those of you out there in a position to influence will learn from these mistakes. And everyone who fancies it is welcome to support Cykelhjelm.org's Facebook group Cykelhjelm.org - In Defence of Danish Bike Culture - which is in Danish - here. More on helmets from Copenhagenize.com: The Culture of Fear - Cykelhjelm Society - Helmets for Pedestrians and Motorists - Helmets or Health? - Cycle Helmets and Other Religious Symbols - Clever Dutch and Arrogant Danes

27 February 2009

Ring That Bell!

Copenhagen Bike Bell

One of our readers, Bob Allen, offered us this lovely article for publication here on Copenhagenize.com. It was originally published over at Sustainable Times but it fits perfectly in here. Thanks, Bob. On an editorial note, the bicycle bell is required by law in Denmark.

Bicycling For the Rest of Us - Ring That Bell! by Bob Allen.
There was no pleasing the boss at a bicycle shop I worked for years ago. I could sell one of the most expensive bicycles in the place and come off the sales floor to be greeted by a scowl.

Selling a bicycle, even an expensive one, was never enough. You had failed unless you also made sure the bicycle rolled out of the shop bristling with accessories. “Sell bells!” the shop owner would exhort.

Accessories offer a much better profit margin than bicycles. Bicycles don’t have much markup. After paying shipping costs and investing significant time to properly assemble and adjust a machine, financing overhead expenses and the time spent finding a buyer for the thing, it’s a wonder many bicycle shops can keep their doors open.

Many could not survive without the profit generated by their service departments and accessory sales. And herein lies a conundrum.

Bicycling is inherently simple. All you really need is a bicycle. You don’t need fancy add-ons. You don’t need special clothing. All you need is a bicycle and the will to make it move.

In providing a dazzling array of doodads, the bicycle industry is indeed creating potential profits for local bicycle shops. But it also is making a simple thing seem more complicated than it needs to be.

Does this discourage potential riders? I suspect that anything that makes riding a bicycle seem more out of the ordinary than it already is perceived to be might be counterproductive. If, for example, people feel they need to get fully kitted out in the latest bicycling attire before venturing out, how many actually venture out? How many fewer bicycles get sold if people think buying a bicycle means equipping an entire new lifestyle?

Without question, high tech clothing designed specifically for bicycling can help a serious or competitive rider go faster and farther in greater comfort. But for the rest of us, everyday clothing works just fine.

Civilian clothes are better, in fact, if you are riding someplace where you will end up mingling with non-riders. There’s just something about wandering around in clickity shoes and bright tight Spandex that makes one stand out in a crowd.

There are many useful things that can be added to the basic bicycle. Baskets, racks and bags make it possible to bring home the groceries or carry an extra layer of clothes for changes in weather.
Old Bell
Fenders or mudguards can keep a rider caught in the rain a bit more comfortable while keeping debris off the bicycle. Lights can stretch riding time and are especially useful given the short daylight hours of a Wisconsin winter. A good lock is advisable for any bicycle left exposed to the criminal elements. A few basic tools can help keep you going out on the road.

And bells, ah bells. The old bicycle shop owner was right on this one. But it’s not about ringing cash register bells. A good bell is a civilizing addition to any bicycle. Not necessary, but nice.

None of these add-ons is necessary for traveling around on a bicycle. I just took a perfectly comfortable 20-mile ride with temperatures in the high 30s wearing the kind of plain old clothes that allowed me to blend right into the crowd of bluegrass fans at my destination.

If you have a good coat, or enough layers, and some good gloves or mittens, a warm scarf – essentially what you need to get through a Wisconsin winter anyway – you have all the clothing you need to ride a bicycle in the winter. Summer, of course, is easy. Ride as you are.

Rejection of bicycling-specific clothing is a first step toward reining in the “otherness” of bicycle riders. This simple stance rises to high fashion at the fabulous Danish web site www.copenhagencyclechic.com. The site’s curators have the curious belief that the everyday act of riding a bicycle doesn’t require you to look like a space alien. In fact, they chronicle example after example of ordinary people looking quite marvelous while riding bicycles.

Copenhagen, of course, is a city where bicycles are more ingrained in the culture than here in the upper Middle West. Bicycles seem to move freely throughout Copenhagen without many of the dreary little controversies that stalk two-wheelers here.

Many of these stateside controversies seem to be stoked by an “us versus them” mentality -- drivers versus bicyclists -- bicyclists versus pedestrians. When “us and them” blend, it’s much harder to point fingers.

Of course, it’s not so simple. Some of the finger pointing, even the middle finger, can seem well deserved if you are the offended party.

Some drivers subject riders to needless danger through inattention or malicious intent. These road hogs don’t understand that bicycle riders have an equal right to the road. Likewise, too many bicycle riders don’t realize that along with that right guaranteed by law comes an obligation to follow that law.

And even well intended and otherwise polite riders sometimes seem oblivious to how the simple act of breezing by a pedestrian on a trail can startle the heck of the unsuspecting biped.

And here is where the simple bell saves the day. A bell allows a rider to announce his or her approach in a gracious, non-threatening way. A nice bell gives the kind of cheery warning to a pedestrian that is almost always appreciated. I have a beautiful little brass bell on my three-speed that sustains its note for seven seconds. It could double as a call to meditation. I’ve even had people complement me on the sweet tone of this bell.

Contrast such warmth and appreciation with the reaction of somebody who has just been startled by a bicycle silently swooshing by at speed. The startled pedestrian probably doesn’t feel very warmly toward bicycle riders at that moment.

Communication works wonders, and it is not limited to rider-walker interactions. It is also a common courtesy, though often overlooked, for a faster rider to alert a slower rider who is being overtaken. A bell isn’t necessary for communicating with pedestrians or other riders. A simple announcement of “passing on your left” will do. But there’s something about a bell that makes the interaction sound more pleasant and less like a declaration of dominance.

Communication is not just common courtesy. It’s the basis of safe riding in traffic of any kind. While a little bell won’t help a rider in dealing with motorists, clear hand signals and riding in a predictable straight line – in other words not making the motorist guess -- will make sharing the road much more pleasant for all involved.

A simple bell will not change the world and make lions lie down with lambs. But the courtesy of using a bell -- or hand signals, or the directional signals in your motor vehicle -- surely can’t hurt. It’s a start.

Bob Allen has been riding, working on and advocating bicycles for a long time. He lives in Middleton.

For more bicycle bell photos, have a look at my Flickr photostream here.

25 February 2009

Copenhagenizing Copenhagen & Denmark

Beach People
It's always interesting to read about other people's angles on Copenhagenizing and green Danish issues. Here's an article from Climatewire, sent in by one of our readers.

ClimateWire - Feb. 18, 2009

CITIES: Bicycle-friendly Copenhagen strives to outdo itself (02/18/2009)

COPENHAGEN -- While the U.S. Congress debated whether to include less
than $1 billion in funding for Amtrak in the stimulus package, the
Danish parliament has put all its economic stimulus eggs in one basket:
transportation. The small Nordic country of 5.4 million people will
spend 94 billion kroner, or about $16 billion, by 2020 to improve
transportation. Two-thirds of that money will be used to make public
transit even better than it already is.

The government will invest billions in high-speed intercity trains that
will cut travel between northern Jutland and Copenhagen by a third,
install light rail systems, expand the Copenhagen Metro, and widen and
lengthen city bike lanes.

"We are making public transit a lot more attractive with massive
investments to increase capacity, improve on-time performance and lay
brand-new railroads. We are also making the biggest push to promote
cycling in recent memory," said Transport Minister Lars Barfoed.

For Copenhagen, already one of the world's most bicycle-oriented cities,
that is a very tall order. The oil shocks of the 1970s inspired Denmark
to build a vast network of bike lanes in the hope that Danes would start
driving less and biking more. Three decades later, the strategy has
borne fruit in Copenhagen, where a third of the inhabitants, or more
than 500,000 people, now bike to work every day.

For visiting American tourists, rush hour in Copenhagen is an
eye-opening event. There is more congestion on Copenhagen bike lanes
than on streets. Soon there may be more. The city now plans to increase
commuting by bike to 50 percent of workers by 2015. For many here, that
will be back to the future.

According to the Danish Cycling Association, in the last 15 years, Danes
have begun to slump on their handlebars. The country as a whole saw a 30
percent drop in biking as pedalers shifted to the comfort of cars. Now
the government is determined to spend 1 billion kroner ($171 million) to
encourage even more biking by improving cycling lanes, adding bike
parking and producing advertising campaigns.

The 'road to Copenhagen' may well be a track

Denmark is keenly aware of the symbolism of a possible new global carbon
emission reduction treaty at the U.N. Climate Change Conference in
Copenhagen later this year. The new public transit plan is meant to show
visitors that the Danes are leading by example.

"Now we will finally break the CO2 curve, which no previous government
has managed," said Climate Minister Connie Hedegaard. "We are putting
far more resources in public transit than into roads. By taxing cars in
a climate-friendly way, new emission demands on taxis and new 'green'
tolls on roads, we will cut CO2 emissions and reduce traffic jams at the
same time."

The legislation was supported by all parties in the Danish parliament
except a fringe former communist group. It is based on several core

* CO2 emissions from transportation should decrease and car taxes
should be redistributed according to environmental priorities.
* Most of the future growth in transportation should take place in
public transit.
* Train traffic should be reliable, safe and state-of-the-art.
* Road capacity should be increased in areas with traffic jams or
projected future bottlenecks.
* Bicycling should be promoted wherever it is a realistic option.
* Denmark should become a green technology laboratory for
* Bridges, roads and railroads should not disturb irreplaceable
* Air pollution in cities should be decreased.

Speeding up and sprucing up the rails

The biggest single item in the transportation package is 22 billion
kroner for new train signal systems to align the Danish railway network
to modern European standards, allowing better safety and higher train
speeds and even full automatization of the commuter train lines in the
Copenhagen area. Right now, commuter trains are run by mechanics, but
the newer, automated metro system runs pilotless within the city.
A third of commuters in Copenhagen bike to work. The city would like to
raise that to 50 percent.

An additional 13 billion kroner will be used to lay down extra railway
to double capacity on certain corridors and increase train speeds from
120 kilometers per hour to 160 kph, cutting transit time between
Copenhagen and Odense, the birthplace of fairy-tale writer Hans
Christian Andersen, by 25 percent to only one hour.

The line and signal improvements will also cut travel time between
Odense and Aarhus from 1 1/2 hours to 1 hour, and between Aarhus and
Aalborg, the country's fourth-largest city in northern Jutland, from 1
hour and 20 minutes to 1 hour. The government's ambition is to cut train
travel from Copenhagen to Aalborg, a distance of 260 miles, to only 3
hours from the current 4 hours and 30 minutes.

Aarhus, Denmark's second-largest city, with 300,000 inhabitants, will
also get a new light-rail system that will service stations in the city
every 5 minutes starting in 2015. The central government will contribute
500 million kroner to the project, with additional investments coming
from Aarhus' city hall.

"A light-rail system will help the environment and public transit in the
city, and will have the same effect for Aarhus as the Metro has had for
Copenhagen," said Aarhus Mayor Nikolai Wammen.

Those who insist on driving get 'road pricing'

The state-of-the-art Copenhagen Metro opened in 2002 and currently
serves 22 stations on two lines. A Metro rider can reach downtown
Copenhagen from the airport in only 15 minutes. Under the new bill, the
metro will build a third line circling the city at a cost of 1.5 billion

"We're talking about an important change of direction in Danish
transport policy," said Johs Poulsen, a member of parliament from the
opposition Radical Party. "We're really placing our bets on increasing
public transit. At the same time, there is a breakthrough in individual
traffic, with the introduction of road pricing."

Under the legislation, the government will come up with rules to make it
cheaper to buy a new, more environmentally friendly car, but more
expensive to use it. The final rules will not be released until next
year, but they are expected to include road pricing, with tolls
differentiated according to the amount of pollution each car emits.

Car owners' lobby FDM was unhappy with the legislation, saying more
money was needed to ease rush-hour congestion on roads in a country
where buying a new car currently triggers a 180 percent tax.

The state-of-the-art Copenhagen Metro opened in 2002 with two lines.
Construction for a third line has received the green light.

FDM's complaints so far have remained unheeded, and the government
actually added more expenditures for certain drivers in the new bill.
Particle filters on trucks were made mandatory from 2011. New taxicabs
will have to be more energy efficient, emitting 20 percent less CO2 per
car compared to the current fleet of mostly Mercedes-Benz sedans.

Consolation for drivers: a 12-mile bridge to Germany

Some drivers got one wish fulfilled: Denmark will build a 12-mile bridge
to Germany over the Baltic Sea's Fehmarn Strait. The bridge will cost 32
billion kroner, or about $6 billion, and will be financed and owned
entirely by Denmark. Construction will begin in 2012, and the cost will
be recouped through tolls, so technically, the funding for this bridge
is not included in the total bill for the stimulus package.

The bridge will have a four-lane highway and a two-track railway
connecting Rodby in Denmark and Puttgarden in Germany. It will cut the 4
1/2-hour trip between Copenhagen and Hamburg by 1 hour when it opens in

Some German environmental groups oppose the bridge, but Denmark says the
link would cut CO2 emissions compared with the ferries that cross the
strait now.

It will be the third major transport link built in Denmark in recent
years. The Great Belt Bridge, connecting the Danish islands of Zealand,
home to Copenhagen, and Funen, opened in 1998. Two years later, Sweden
and Denmark were connected by the Oresund Bridge between Malmo and

Grainy Copenhagen Cycling Life

Copenhagen Cycle Moods [from Copenhagenize.com] from Colville Andersen on Vimeo.
Another film from the Copenhagenize.com editing suite, where the coffee is tasty and the chairs are comfy.

24 February 2009

Letter From Australia

Another article from a reader, this time a lovely story from John, in Australia.

Australia, like the rest of the world, is in a midst of a ‘bicycle renaissance’. Both urban and rural dwellers are forsaking the generic mountain bike sold in bulk at cut price department stores and are opting for bicycles with character.

Walk any inner city street of Melbourne and the numbers of ‘vintage’ bikes are increasing by the day.

With the popularity of these cycles rising and the cost of European styles quite expensive, astute collectors are selling their ‘old’ cycles on eBay etc and are raking in the cash. They are expensive to buy and even harder to find.

But sometimes life coughs up a wonderful surprise.

I spotted this old Australia Post Bicycle leaning against the back fence of a house from the window of a train near where I now live in country Victoria. I made a mental note of the location and when I returned home I told my wife I have found her new bike.

Two weeks later we drove to the town and meandered our way back along the train line until I found the house. Drunk with anticipation, I bravely called over the back fence and met the owner of the house who was more than happy for me to have the bike, but being gentlemen, we agreed on a nominal fee of $10AUD. (Approx DK40.00) and yes, it was an official ‘Postie’ bike used before they were replaced by a Honda motorbike.

We loaded the bike into the car and drove home where I pumped the tyres, adjusted the front hub brake, and lowered the seat and now this once majestic beauty of the suburban mail run was back on the road and as you can see my beautiful flame-haired wife complements the fire engine red frame and basket.

In the late 1980’s, as an 18 year old, I was fortunate enough to live in Denmark for 12 months (Esbjerg to be precise – please no jokes about the smell) and rode a 'typisk Dansk cykel hver dag til Esbjerg Gymnasium'. On returning to visit Denmark on a number of occasions I continued to marvel at the beauty of the Danish Cycling Culture, its purity and lack of pretension.

Thanks so much for sending this along to us, John!

23 February 2009

The Bikes and Cyclists of Sevilla

My mate Martin has sent us this little cyclo-reportage from a visit to Sevilla, in southern Spain. He has previously posted about Japan.

Though not officially a bicycle built for two, the Sevici offers lots of opportunities for innovative riding configurations.

A late-winter visit to Seville in southern Spain surprised me, in all its bikealiciousness. You may know Seville for its gorgeous, gravity-defying bridge, the Puente del Alamillo, built for Expo '92 by Santiago Calatrava. But I'm guessing that we'll soon recognise the Andalucian capital as a great biking city as well.

A new tram line - the city's first - through the city centre, lots of pedestrianised streets and a Metro system (though its completion is delayed) all tell me that the city mothers and fathers have seen the bike light.

The Sevici system, a JCDecaux arrangement already introduced in Paris, Lyon etc has got underway and the inner city streets are full of young and somewhat older people making good use of their 30 minutes of free riding time. (The next hour costs €1 and each hour after that €2.) You'll find some 2500 Sevicis and 250 parking stations around the central city. Read more in Spanish or English at www.sevici.es

Just onto the Triana side of the Puente de Isabel II my photographer spotted these rather sturdy looking bike racks and a lovely red Orbea, a vintage Spanish brand.

Here at Plaza Nueva the Sevicis stand ready, in an orderly fashion opposite a row of bikes owned the old-fashioned way.

And here's hoping to a prompt return to Seville. Just to check the biking situation, of course!

22 February 2009

Snowstorm in Copenhagen

Snowstorm Group
An unexpected snowstorm blew in over Copenhagen Saturday night. Should have been rain, but it fell as wet snow propelled on gale force winds. Bloody cold, too. The busses were busier than usual but the bikes continued flowing. Quite impressive to see so many Copenhageners on their bikes heading out for a Saturday night in that weather.
Snowstorm Saturday Night

Snowstorm Ploughing
The snowploughs had their work cut out for them. Here's one at 22:15, flying through town, clearing the snow on the bike lanes. I rode around on snow for the most part, but like all the cyclists I saw, I just took it easy so there was no problem, even though it was slippery until the snowploughs arrived.

Winter Rush Hour in Copenhagen

Winter Rush Hour
The snow continues to fall in Copenhagen but the bicycles continue rolling. This is Nørrebrogade, the busiest bike street in the nation. You can see that the morning bicycle rush hour, while thinned out a bit, is still respectable.
Queen Louise
Bicycles crossing Queen Louise's Bridge.
Quite often you witness a little traffic jam when some cars don't make it over the intersection. But when the bike traffic lights turn green, there is little mercy. Often cars are stuck in the intersection while hundreds of bikes roll past, unaffected by the car's fate. Flowing like a river in front and behind the car. I love it when that happens.

21 February 2009

The Copenhagen Collection

Copenhagen Collection
After a dinner for the crew of the TV series I'm shooting we came out of the restaurant and realised that we had a fantastic collection of Copenhagen bikes.

The chap on his 'flavour of the month' fixie had left but add it to these bikes above.

From left: Anders' old Danish postal service bike
Simon's black workhorse, with a basket for his skateboard
Dan's classic Centurion city bike
Anders' racing bike
Amdi's vintage Peugeot folding bike
Me and my Velorbis Scrap Deluxe.

Needless to say, I was the only one who actually noticed the fine variety of Copenhagen bicycles gathered in one place. Copenhageners don't notice bikes or have long conversations about them. You'll get a "cool bike" once in a while - if your bike is cool, that is - but rarely more than that.

The goofy smiles in the photo are the result of two bottles of snaps [schapps], good food and laughs. We were off to a pub, after which all digital recording ceased.

19 February 2009

Winter Bicycle Lanes in Copenhagen

Colourful Hat
It's been snowing for a few days now and all day today the city has been continually dusted with snow.

The bike lane snowploughs have been working overtime. You can hear them drone past late at night and they continue through the day. A fleet of small tractors are assisting them in keeping the bike lanes clear and salted.

On the high usage routes the snowploughs run in pairs, one off to the right and the one behind off to the left, in order to clear the whole width of the bike lane. On routes with lesser traffic, like the photo above, the snowploughs just clear an even path through the snow to accomodate the cyclists. Then they head off to help out on the main routes.

Quite the logistical challenge, but it seems to run like clockwork. The mere fact that a few hundred thousands bicycles move around the city each day helps keep the bike lanes clear, too.

People are cycling a bit slower, but it's not that noticeable. Cycling straight in the snow requires little change of style. Cornering requires concentration, but the past few days I haven't seen anybody slip or slide or wobble, let alone anyone falling off. Experience pays off, as does the advantage of cycling in large crowds, where the flock adjusts the speed and increases awareness - in concerto.

Actually I find the sound of bike lane snowploughs outside my window to be a perfect weather report. I live on a street with a medium level of cyclists - about 10,000 a day - so it's a street that is salted first. If we hear the snowploughs drive past, it usually means that snow is on the way.

Nothing to do with bikes but I just saw on the news that in the suburban sprawl the rubbish collectors aren't bothering picking up the rubbish if you don't clear the snow off your sidewalks and driveways. Guess that's pretty universal.

Copenhagen Winter Cycling

Copenhagenize.com - Winter Cycling from Colville Andersen on Vimeo.
Scenes from a cycling life in Copenhagen during the winter. Featuring some of the 400,000 citizens who choose the bicycle throughout the winter.

Typically, after I edited this and put it up onto Vimeo, it REALLY started snowing. I'll do a redux at some point with the new footage.

There are a couple of shots of small tractors clearing and salting the bike lanes. When it snows heavier, they are recruited and assist the exisiting bike lane snowploughs.

18 February 2009

The Bicycle Mayor of Copenhagen

The Bicycle Mayor - Klaus Bondam from Colville Andersen on Vimeo.
Here's a quick and dirty film I made featuring Copenhagen's 'Bicycle Mayor', Klaus Bondam. There was a conference in Edinburgh in association with the Dreams on Wheels exhibition and they wanted a greeting from the Mayor in charge of the Bicycle Office in the City of Copenhagen.

Worth mentioning that we have several mayors and one Lord Mayor. Each mayor is in charge of different areas, like Health, Schools, Transport, etc. In other countries they call them councillors or suchlike.

Anyway, here's the man responsible for the http://www.copenhagenize.com/2008/10/surfing-green-wave-in-copenhagen.html, the closing of a main artery - Nørrebrogade - to cars and generally increasing awareness about cycling in Copenhagen.

Promoting Cycling... and beer

Yet another beer and bicycle advert - and yet another that doesn't engage in fearmongering about helmets.

Miller Beer. Genuinely Easy. Cool advert. Check it out.

16 February 2009

A Winter Commute

Copenhagenize.com - Winter Bicycle Commute from Colville Andersen on Vimeo.

I filmed my route down to the South Harbour, to a ship on which I'm shooting a TV programme at the moment. No main roads with tens of thousands of cyclists, even in the winter, just a quiet route.

Most of the bike lanes were snowploughed but as I got farther from the busy stretches, the lanes were still awaiting the ploughs. The snow, while only 5 cm or so, came quick so the ploughs were busy on the main commuters routes.

14 February 2009

From Copenhagen With Love

As I reported a while back, my Yahoo Purple Pedals bicycle went on an adventure to Tanzania. Henrik from Baisikeli took the purple beast with him on a trip to visit some of the workshops that Baisikeli send Danish bicycles to and to meet a container shipment of bicycles.

Schoolchildren with the Yahoo bike. Nice to see the Cykelhjelm.org sticker out travelling, too. Battling The Culture of Fear around the world.

You can follow the bike's journey on the Flickr photostream. The bike, when in motion, takes a photo every minute and geotags it. There are sometimes a series of black photos, if it's night, so be sure to scroll down and go to the next page.

Henrik on the purple bike.

There are wonderful street photos from life in Arusha, where Henrik is based. And loads of bicycles. Baisikeli works differently than many other bicycle charities. In fact, they aren't even a charity. They sell the Danish bicycles at local market prices to the workshops, who fix up the bikes and convert many of them to ambulance bikes, water bikes and other forms of cargo bikes. They then sell them to the local population at local prices, thereby creating a sustainable business circle. In order to finance the shipment of Danish bikes, Baisikeli rents some of them out to tourists, leases them to students and runs a corporate bike programme.

If you are in Copenhagen and you have a bike that you don't need anymore, you're always welcome to take the bike down to Baisikeli in the Nansensgade neighbourhood. Tursensgade 10, to be exact.

Sailing on Copenhagen Blue


Five Schrader Valve Cores
Wifealiciousness found this little tin of valve cores in her stuff. Vintage. No idea where she got it from but it looks nice.

11 February 2009

Winter Cycling

SnowFall RushHour
Morning rush hour in Copenhagen after a night with snowfall. In the city there was only about 8 cm but the snow continued falling. Most of Europe has been hit by heavy snows but Copenhagen has been spared until now. Snowmen have been constructed across the nation in tribute. On the bike lanes, 400,000 cyclists just get on with it and head off to work and school.

Follow the Salt
I drafted behind a snowplough/salter this morning on my way to work. The salters started hitting the bike lanes last night - before the snow started falling - and the snowploughs picked up where they left off when the snow finally came. The lanes were cleared of snow when I went out to the bike shed at about 08:00. After all, 400,000 people have to get to work, so it wouldn't be very good if the lanes weren't cleared.

10 February 2009

Snow Up There and Over There

Thanks to my mate Per for this lovely photo from Oslo. The Norwegians are Vikings, too, so no whining about the weather up there.

Which reminded me of this little beer advert:

I posted about it before but figured it's rather appropriate for the season. A real American just getting on with it on his bicycle.

08 February 2009

Keeping the Flow Flowing

Clean Streets
While average citizens on normal bikes who cycle to work or school have no need for useless equipment it is, however, rather vital that the city in which they live is well-equipped for bicycle culture.

Here's another shot of one of our bike lane maintenence vehicles. This one was humming along yesterday, Saturday, sweeping the bike lanes. They're lovely little vechicles. Perfectly designed for the bike lanes. There's always room for cyclists to overtake. When it snows, however, you'll see cyclists sitting comfortably behind them on the freshly cleared bike lane. I've posted this photo before:
Bike Lane Snowplough
It's kind of like the mainstream bicycle culture version of the Keirin.

After a massive snowfall the bike lane snowploughs push the snow off to the left and the street snowploughs push their snow to the right, leaving mountains of snow drifts in between. A nice natural separated bike lane, in a way. In this case, small bulldozers move out and shovel the snow into dumptrucks, which promptly take the snow and dump it into the harbour. We've had pretty steady snowfall this winter, but no big dumps as yet. The rest of Europe has been hit a lot harder. Me and the kids are itching for 50 cm or more so we can get sledding.

04 February 2009

The Biceberg - Bicycle Parking Underground

Photos of the Biceberg in Zaragoza.

I'm liking this one. A Spanish company has developed an effective underground bike parking system they called The Biceberg. They come in different sizes and depths, depending on needs and space requirements. There are different sizes available - 23, 46, 69 or 92 bicycles. Depending on the size the watertight container that stores the bikes needs a hole between 1.5 m and 5.25 m in depth.

It takes thirty seconds to drop off or retrieve your bike. The system works with a subscription card with a chip. As far as I can see it is for subscribers who will use it daily.

Last year we posted about automated bicycle parking in Tokyo in the same vein. In Toyko, however, it's a high-volume affair at train stations. These Bicebergs are meant for smaller volume but also for spaces that are tighter.

See more on the company's website here.

Photos of the Biceberg in Gerona.

Here's a little film from the company's website.

Thanks to Mayte for the heads up.

02 February 2009

Worlds Apart

Fear Mongering for Profit
A visit to the supermarket the other day. Firstly, I spotted this 'fearmongering for profit' packaging. It's worth mentioning that the company selling this first aid kit isn't Danish [it's 3M]and while such large companies often produce packaging for the local market, it isn't always the case. In one fell swoop they are chipping away at established bike culture by portraying this healthy, life-extending transport option as 'dangerous'. Bloody ridiculous. Why don't they feature a photo of a motorist or a pedestrian? And since Copenhageners don't carry any tool kits, let alone first aid kits, on their bikes, what's the point in this stupid package?
Bling Bling Bike Lights
And then five metres farther along, these Bling Bling bike lights that you can decorate yourself with the shiny, sticky bits included. Marketing cycling as something fun, effortless and a part of daily life. Aimed at young cyclists, this packaging is pure, simple and positive.