06 April 2009

Parliamentary, My Dear Watson

Parliamentary, My Dear Watson
We've been discussing how the Danish press at large has completely and utterly let down the Danish national tradition of cycling by engaging in a bloodthirsty orgy of violence and danger over the past year.

That doesn't mean that cycling doesn't get mentioned in other contexts. For example, the editor of the debate section of one of our national newspapers, Politiken, used over 600 words in a rant about the new bicycle racks outside of the national parliament.

Which is cool. It shows that cycling hasn't disappeared from the public consciousness. The chap described how he was riding past the entrance of the Parliament - Christiansborg - and he was forced to stop up at the sight of the new bike racks.

He doesn't like them and he compared them to the Holocaust memorial in Berlin. He was really quite irate in an amusing way.

He thinks that these concrete blocks are ridiculous and don't fit in with the architecture of the Parliament. He would prefer to see the old copper bike racks back in place. Over 600 words about bicycle racks. Oh so Copenhagen.

I hadn't passed by the Parliament for a while so I popped in to see what he was on about. I met a woman parking her bike there and I engaged in her a chat about the bike racks. She seemed to like them. The most important thing for her was that there had been parking congestion outside the Parliament and it seemed to be fixed now, with these new racks.

Many MPs ride their bicycles to work. I often overtake the leader of one of the political parties on her Christiania cargo bike in the mornings, on her way to drop her kids off at kindergarten or school.

I don't seem to think that the new bike racks are an eyesore. Mixing old architecture with new is always tricky, but many examples in Copenhagen seem to work. These bike racks are solid and trustworthy and functional, much like our democracy.

Nevermind that half the bikes were just supported on their kickstands and not even occupying a slot in the stone.


anna said...

Bike racks are pretty important. In front of the university we have so-called "Felgenkiller" (meaning: bike racks that kill your front rim because of their tight construction). I hate them, also because one can't lock the frame to it. I don't mind what bike racks look like as long as they work. But I guess, once we passed that point I will also think about the looks ;-).

Mikael said...

felgenkillers are one of the great myths of bicycle culture.

seriously, there are hundreds and hundreds of thousands of them around europe and if there was a problem, we might have heard about it by now... :-)

Aaron said...

whether felgenkillers are a myth or not, i agree with anna that bike racks you can lock your frame to are preferable.

incidentally, holmes (conan doyle if you prefer) never actually used the phrase 'elementary my dear watson'. but i love the pun anyway!

lehommeauvelo said...

I though they were Coal Bunkers at first. They are Ugly and entirely out of Place in front of a Beautiful Building like your Parliament.

I prefer Cycle Stands that you can Lock your Frame to. I pariculary like the Cycle Racks in Fancy Designs like Bicycles that they have in some Countries.
Unfortunately where I live Vandals sometimes Bend your Wheels out of Shape on Racks that Hold your Wheels although we do not have these particular Type . Particularly if you leave your Bike Overnight.

Anonymous said...

At the Houses of Parliament in the UK there are loads of concrete blocks to stop terrorist attack I presume.

I wonder if this is an typically Danish way of modifying an imposing security measure.


rinandy said...

Cool blog! I just stumbled on it and now I’m a dedicated reader. If you have free time you might want to check out sports shops.

Anonymous said...

Definitely ugly. Perhaps a more appropriate design is the one that David Byrne chose for olde times square. I especially like the bicycle chain lock being worn around the waist.

Dapper Dan said...

'Wheel Benders' as we call them are a menace! They're only really useful when practically everyone has a bike and therefore no-one sees the need to steal bikes. I much prefer the 'Sheffield' stands an 'n' shaped hoop in the ground - particularly the good looking stainless steel ones in Bristol. Although I guess they do take up more room - but we're starting to get a cycling culture in Bristol - I've started a blog - check out http://bristolscyclechic.blogspot.com/ although it's early stages!!

lagatta à montréal said...

That is a terrible design - here I'd return to nothing but a wheel. Not pretty either.

At least it would be easier to change those than the dreadful Holocaustdenkmal in Berlin - the latter is hideous and an environmental disaster, big piles of concrete - but anyone who attempts to get it removed and rebuilt as something nicer like a memorial garden could be accused of being a neo-Nazi racist. It is an oddly totalitarian structure for something condemning a totalitarian dictatorship.

(Ironically I visited it with a German friend of Jewish descent who hates it too).

Adrienne Johnson said...

This is what a friend of mine would call a 'high class problem' : ) Is my bike rack aesthetically pleasing in this environment? I could use this problem.

David said...

Having studied landscape architecture, those bike racks look like they're masquerading as security bollards, or visa-versa. Here's my idea for a better solution: have engine blocks embedded in those big, concrete bollards. You can chain your bike around the holes in the engine block. The columnar patterns on the engine block will relate to the building's form. It'll also say something witty and important about cars today. If the security experts say the metal will crumble the concrete bollards in 20 years, I should hope violence would be stared down by then as well.

Mikael said...

if they were security bollards, they would be in front of the main entrance to parliament, but instead they're off to the sides.

David, again said...

Thanks for the clarification, Mikael.
I just reread my comment above. Egad. Poor grammar! I should stick to 3d modeling. ;-)