31 July 2009

Estonian Bicyles on Celluloid

Our fine friends over at Estonia Cycle Chic posted this clip from a famous [for Estonians] film featuring a character who pedals about on his bicycle. Nipernaadi, from 1983. Lovely music, too.

30 July 2009

A Hub of Copenhagen Cyclists

A Hub of Copenhagen Cyclists
This is 'a hub of Copenhageners'.

We coined this phrase a while back, for fun. There is a long line of interesting names for animal flocks in English like:
- A leash of greyhounds
- A gaggle of geese
- An exaltation of larks
- A shrewdness of apes
- A troop of kangaroos
- A parliament of owls
- A siege of herons
- A crash of rhinoceri

We played a game over at Cycle Chic a while back and I fancied reviving it.

What words can we come up with for bicycles and bicycle culture? Let's write the dictionary, shall we?
Here's what we came up with:

Val - The King of Kargo Bikes in Seattle:
- A pallet of cargo bikes
- A lounge of recumbents

I came up with:
- A cove of beach cruisers
- A sweat of racing bikes
- A posture of upright bikes
- A load of Xtra cycles
- An insecurity of helmets [;-)]
- An elevation of high-heeled Copenhagen fashionistas
- A fold of Bromptons

Jason proposed these:
- A tower of tall bikes
- A cog of fixed gear bikes
- A trick of BMXers
- A basket of townies
- A cubby of folding bikes
- A tread of mountain bikes
- A convoy of commuter cyclists
- A union of unicycles

Steve proposes:
- A bank of velodrome bikes.

Get thinking. Add yours to the comments.

Bicycles, Art and GPS in Copenhagen

The good people from Blast Theory, in association with Copenhagen International Theatre, are participating in a month-long festival for art and performance called Metropolis.

Blast Theory's Rider Spoke project involves getting a GPS on your bicycle and a voice in your headphones. You embark on a bicycle journey combining art and modern technology and you ride around hunting down secret or hidden places in the Søndermarken neighbourhood of Copenhagen.

If you're in Copenhagen you can go on your GPS journey of discovery on August 12-16 between 17:00-21:00.

The trip lasts about 75 minutes and tickets are available on BILLETnet.dk.

Christmas in July on Bicycles

Christmas in July
Photo: Brian L. Jensen for Lokalavisen Frederiksberg
For about 40 [extremely long] years the World Santa Claus Congress has been meeting each July in Copenhagen. Over 100 "authorised" Father Christmasses meet up to discuss the upcoming Yuletide season.

It's was a gimmick started by Dyrhavsbakken - the world's oldest amusement park located north of Copenhagen dating from 1583 - four decades ago and each summer all these guys travel about the city to events. They traditionally take a dip in the sea and this year they decided to go for a bike ride.

It's a crappy photo of a newspaper cover of a strange event but by god it's people on bicycles in Copenhagen so I'll blog that shit. And no, I have no idea who the geezer is on the left so don't ask. And if you know, don't tell me.

Bicycles and Wines - Now With Censorship

I was going to do a post about wine labels featuring bicycles today. Nothing groundbreaking, I know, but hey. To my surprise, however, I found out that the Cycles Gladiators wine out of California, who use the above classic vintage poster on their wine labels, was just banned in Alabama for being pornographic.


First and foremost, it makes me happy that I live in Scandinavia. Censorship-free. You see ads like this on busses...

The ban is completely stupid, I know, but it's also the greatest marketing bonus for any product. Getting banned is free advertising.

Anyway, here's a wine called Red Bicyclette with a bicycle on the label. American owned, French grapes.

Then there's this one from Nevada City Winery in California.

Out of Australia there is Hill of Content.

And here's another Australian wine called Rolling. One of their labels features a cyclist. They've developed a story about the women on her bicycle:

The ROLLING label features the fictitious 'retro character, ‘Beatrice’, riding her bicycle through rolling hills. These hills are typical of the landscape at the beautiful Cumulus Wines Estate vineyard. Beatrice is a proud, confident, country woman.

Beatrice's scarf is in the colours of the local football team while the oranges in her basket point to the brand's locality.

Not sure about that screw top, though. While 'Bibs' or 'Bag in the Box' ['les bibs' in French... seriously] are now free of their stigma and many premium winemakers chuck their juice into boxes, I still get twitches when I see screwtops.

29 July 2009

Please Explain the Brompton to Me

I get it... but then I don't really.

Please explain the Brompton to me.

I know the bicycle well and I'm of the opinion that it's a good bicycle, a lovely ride and wonderful design. I rode one on a 30 km ride in Japan and was amazed that I could effortlessly keep up with the gearheads. Transporting it around Japan on a train was easy, albeit clumsy.

In the self-ironic film above, I even rode it around a skatepark for a laugh.

What I don't get is the cult of the Brompton. It's a good bike, but it's not the best bicycle ever made. There's no such thing. And I understand brand cults - just look at the Mac crowd for starters - but what's it all about with the Brommie? I have a folding bike myself, a Mobiky, so I'm 'in the loop' regarding the trials and tribulations of folding bikes.

When I was at Velocity in Brussels back in May there were Bromptonites present and they were very visible. At the galla evening at the end of the week they all arrived in concerto. Charming in many ways, frightfully old school British, dragging their bikes into the coatcheck queue, drenched with Belgian rain.

I felt like I had wandered into a lepidopterology conference by mistake.

I don't wish to be flippant [in this post]. I'm sincerely curious. I can see that the Brompton is experiencing a revival. An old school quirk becoming new school hot. Wonderful stuff. Nice one. All good.

But let's hear from the Bromptonians, Bromptonites, Bromptidians.

What is it about the Brompton?

Cycling's Many Benefits

It's a healthy, life-extending, safe transport form.

Oh, and it gets you discounts at a brothel in Berlin. Can't beat that. Ride your sustainable bike to the Maison d'envie brothel for some global warming that'll melt poles.

As The Telegraph reports:

"A Berlin brothel has come up with a novel way to offset the impact of the global economic crisis and target a new group of customers at the same time - offering a discount to patrons who arrive on bicycles.

"The recession has hit our industry hard," said Thomas Goetz, owner of the Maison d'envie brothel.

"Obviously we hope that the discount will attract more people," he added. "It's good for business, it's good for the environment - and it's good for the girls."

Customers who arrive on bicycle or who can prove they took public transportation get a €5 ($7) discount from the usual €70 ($100) fee for 45 minute sessions, Mr Goetz said. He said the environmentally friendly offer was working a charm.

"We have around 3-5 new customers coming in daily to take advantage of the discount," he said, adding the green rebate has helped alleviate traffic and parking congestion in the neighbourhood.

Germany is one of the few countries in the world where prostitution is legal. It has about 400,000 prostitutes who, since 2002, have been allowed to enter formal labour contracts."

28 July 2009

Retro 'Safety' and Clean Hubs

Retro Safety
It's been ages since I've seen one of these. They are sooo 80's and frightfully retro. A friend of mine and I laughed when we saw it down at Baisikeli. It was like finding an old Duran Duran fan magazine and giggling at the hairdos and clothes.

It flips out from your back rack in order to remind cars that they should keep their distance. And you flip it back in when you park it. A little reflector lights up the known universe so you're 'seen'.

Automatic Hub Cleaner
Another retro feature is this hub cleaner thingy. You just put it there and it keeps your hub clear of grease and dirt. Unlike the flip-outy thingy above, you can actually still find these and it's not unusual to see them on bikes around Copenhagen.

Promoting Rock Hard Cycling

This amuses me.

27 July 2009

Driving Kills - Health Warnings

Driving Kills
I think it's safe to say that we have a pressing need for marketing cycling positively if we're to encourage people to ride bicycles and begin the transformation of our cities into more liveable places.

Instead of scare campaigns about cycling [a life-extending, healthy, sustainable transport form], wouldn't it be more appropriate to begin campaigns about the dangers of automobiles? Many people in car-centric countries no longer regard cars as dangerous. Maybe they realise it, but the car is such an ingrained part of the culture that the perception of danger rarely rises to the surface of peoples consciousness. Sure, there are scare campaigns for cars out there, but what if we just cut to the chase?

Much like smoking. Only a couple of decades ago, cigarettes were an integral part of life, whether you smoked or not. That has changed radically. We think that we could borrow freely from the health warnings now found on cigarette packs around the world. In order to be thorough, we asked a doctor a couple of years ago whether or not the health warnings on cigarettes could be directly transferred over to health warnings on cars. The answer was a resounding "yes". Every single one.

Removing the status associated with driving is something that is slowly evolving in this, the age of Demotorisation. Speeding that process might be a good idea. We don't even have to mention bicycles, because it's not all about that. It's about reducing societal harm caused by car crashes, harmful emissions and noise pollution.

Driving Kills

On Tom Vanderbilt's blog How We Drive we can read:
"The number of global road fatalities, using WHO’s annual figure of 1.2 million, since the swine flu outbreak was first detected (using a very rough benchmark of a month ago)? 98,630."

In Denmark, 4000 people die every year because of the health hazards related to cars - and that's ten times greater than the number of people actually killed in car crashes. Respiratory illnesses, heart disease, stress-related illnesses caused by noise pollution, etc.

Driving Kills
Very few people are aware that the levels of dangerous microparticles from exhaust are actually higher INSIDE the car than if you're cycling next to it. So let's focus on this fact and hopefully encourage motorists to think twice about their last-century transport form.

Where is the legislation dictating that 30% of the surface area of cars must feature health warnings? Just like cigarette packaging rules in the European Union. There are a variety of smoking texts that can be applied to the car health warnings, so we save time and money right there in not having to think them up.

Car emissions cause emphysema / Driving causes cancer / Driving clogs your arteries / Don't transport your children by car / Driving - A leading cause of death / Quitting will improve your health / Driving harms unborn babies / Driving is addictive / Car emissions are toxic /

And so on. Wikipedia has a comprehensive list.

Driving Kills
Seriously. Imagine carmakers having to plaster 30% of the surface of each side of the car with health warnings. On the sides of trucks, the message would be massive. Imagine the impact it would make on the public psyche.

If we think practically about implementing this idea, certain clauses would be necessary. Electric cars would not need to be plastered with the "Dangerous emissions" warnings, just the ones about how driving kills, etc.

In the first phase car owners would be able to purchase large stickers with heavy duty adhesive and in various sizes depending on their vehicle. Using reflective material so the warnings are visible at night would be a good idea. A little cottage industry would pop up, with companies offering to stick the warnings on, while you wait. Consumers could choose from a list of approved warnings instead of just being stuck with whatever they're given.

In time, carmakers could implement the warning labels directly into the design and paint job of the car, as long as they adhere to the directive's requirements for size and font.

Public transport companies would benefit and they could propose targeted warnings that would benefit trains, busses and even bicycles. This BMW advert, above, is a fine example of how bicycle shops could enjoy increased sales. Ok. Kidding. It's a creepy ad from BMW.

If there is a fee involved with purchasing the stickers for your car - which there should be - the proceeds could go to planting trees in cities, to charities dealing with obese children or illnesses caused by car pollution.

Driving Kills

A good idea whose time has come. Coupled with mandatory motoring helmet laws, we'll well on our way to the demotorization of our cities.

Addendum: We've learned that a similar proposal - not quite as logical as the above - was discussed in Brussels with high-ranking members of the EU government. Back in 2008. Not much came of it.

Then a reader sent us this link to a health-warning proposal back in 2007.

26 July 2009

Paris Transformed - Is London Next?

Paris Bike Culture - Cycling Sociably
Lizzie Davies has an interesting piece in The Guardian today about Paris' Vélib' bike share programme and London's similar system in the works.

"It's 2am on a Friday night and I need to get home. There are no taxis, the last metro left 10 minutes ago and, tottering on my three-inch heels, I'm not keen on walking it, either. Unlike when I was a Londoner, and no night out was complete without an excruciating night bus at the end of it, this is no cause for despair. I simply do what every savvy Parisian does now: I take a Vélib'."

It really is that simple and that's why Vélib' is such a massive success, despite the growing pains. When Wifealiciousness and I visited last year I said that we were going to have to try the Vélibs because of these bicycle blogs. "No way. There's no way I'm riding a bicycle in Paris traffic..."

Shortly after arrival at our favourite hotel we were on the streets and this Parisienne rode past...
Prepare for Paris Cycle Chic
"I can do that... ", said my lovely muse. Indeed, several chic Parisiennes pedalled past and Wifealiciousness needed no more convincing. If they could do it in Paris, so could she. For the rest of that long weekend we rode everywhere. Even up to Sacre Coeur - a vertical Paris-Roubaix - in 25 degree heat. Her in heels. Easy and lovely.

We saw parts of Paris we'd never seen before, even after having lived there and visited dozens of times. Remarkable.

If it's done right in London, I really can't see how it won't transform the city like it did in Paris.

Although the journalist writes: "The Vélib' scheme has managed to turn a city of tumultuous traffic and angry drivers into a haven for adrenaline-junkie cyclists."

Cycling in Paris is much like cycling in Copenhagen. I don't think 'adrenaline' when I think about riding a bicycle in the French capital. Not at all. What I saw is recorded in this photo set of Paris Cycle Chic as well as this photo set of general bicycle life photos.

Alternatively, I wrote this reportage about the visit over at Copenhagen Cycle Chic.
Paris Bike Culture - Cycling Sociably
The journalist in The Guardian article confirmed something we've been on about here at Copenhagenize.

"Sociologists, when asked why the harmless bicycle has become the target of such anger [bikes getting vandalised and stolen], have blamed the phenomenon on class resentment. The people who have taken most enthusiastically to the Vélib', they point out, are Paris's privileged bourgeois bohemians, or "bobos", who inspire as much loathing as they do envy.

"It's a bit like the 4x4s that people have a go at to get at the rich," said Sebastian Roché from the National Centre for Scientific Research. So has the vélorution reached the end of the road? Not quite. In Paris, fans are staying loyal despite the odd bad experience and in cities around the world, authorities are using the Vélib' system as a model for their own bike-hire efforts

It's the status shift. It's the beginning of a very positive development. The bicycle is gaining status at the expense of the automobile. Like in Japan, the demotorization of Paris is well underway. It's not just about the bike, it's about many, many people in the city realising that it's a nicer place to be.

Making the bicycle a status symbol for urbanites is the key. The way forward. No talk of safety, 'fancy gear', health issues. Just sexing it up and making it cool. I've read somewhere that 2 million bicycles have been sold in Paris since Vélib' started. It's happening in Paris.

Paris... well done you. Let's hope London makes it work. Boris Johnson is oft quotable: "a cyclised city is a civilised city" but can he make it happen?

So Old School, it's New School

Pushin It
On our little summer holiday recently, to the Danish island of Bornholm, we visited a quaint little amusement park called Joboland. It opened in 1933 on a large farm and while it has been modernised with a waterland and various rides, it is still charming.

This has nothing to do with bicycles, apart from the fact that we rode our bicycles there, but I love this old roller coaster. Despite it's age, it is frightfully modern. Fully sustainable and hippie green. :-)

The kids have to push the car up to the top. Workin' it, musclin' it. Human powered goodness.
Pushin It2
At the top they get in and are rewarded with a ride down. Not a bad thing for kids to learn. Generating your own power for your needs.

With all the modern focus on producing your own energy, like lighting christmas trees with bicycles, charging your mobile phone, generating power for a battery with a bicycle, and all that, this old school roller coaster is hot again.

By coincedence, the island of Bornholm is the pilot location for the 100,000 electric cars planned for Denmark.

25 July 2009

Bicycles & Football in Copenhagen

Wherever large numbers of people congregate in Copenhagen, large numbers of bicycles are present.

Football matches are no exception. The National Stadium, Parken, is a magnet when the national team plays or when concerts are given but also when F.C. Copenhagen plays home matches.

F.C. Copenhagen won The Double last year and they get, on average, around 20,000ish spectactors for home matches. A lot of people drive to the match, but there is limited parking so in the hour or so leading up to a match, the streets are filled with people walking to the stadium from train stations and the bike lanes feature thousands of bicycles.

After a match it is textbook Slow Bicycle/Pedestrian Movement as people file slowly away from the stadium. Cars are often caught in the masses of pedestrians and cyclists, forced to inch slowly along. I don't know how many people arrive by bicycle but I'll guess that it's easily one third, if not more. I'll bet that just as many people again take public transport.

The film above was shot by my son Felix and I. In the bike portion, Felix was sitting in the box of our Bullitt cargo bike. It's dark, it's rainy but it just may give you an idea of the flow of bicycles away from the match. F.C. Copenhagen won 1-0 so the mood in the ocean of bicycles was good, despite the rain.

24 July 2009

How Cities Are Promoting Cycling

Here's another rundown on how cities are promoting cycling around the world. Anyone who has seen Sesame Street may remember the song "One of these things is not like the other..."

The punchline is at the end of the post.

Offical film from Transport for London

Official film from the City of Geneva

Offical film from the City of Copenhagen:

Official film from the City of Gothenburg

Official film from the City of Paris

Official film from New York's Department of Transport

Five bullseyes/nails on the head/ and one sad, misguided, feeble attempt at car-centric fearmongering thinly disguised as 'promotion'.

23 July 2009

Bicycles and Hip Hop

Got sent this music video from Hugo in Melbourne. As he puts it;
"The worlds of hip hop and cycling finally collide in Keep Pedalling, the new film clip from Hugo and Treats. Filmed on one sunny day in Brunswick, North Melbourne, Australia, at the Brunswick Free Ride. No politics, just Bicycles. Directed by Colby Welsh, Josh Beahan and Hugo. Keep Pedalling, people."

Hugo on MySpace.

Thanks for the heads up, Hugo!

Demotorization as a Lifestyle Choice

Since the Second World War we've been coining new words at a faster point than at any time in the history of homo sapiens. Advances in technology is the main reason, of course. Once in a while a new word pops up that tickles my fancy.


A propos the earlier blog about the Audi car advert featuring a bike, Todd sent me a link to this article:

Japanese Auto Sales Decline as Youth Lose Interest

"A lifestyle choice automakers are calling "demotorization," many Japanese youth feel owning a car in a congested and expensive city such as Tokyo is more trouble than its worth, and choose public transportation instead.

TOKYO — In a special report from the Associated Press (AP), AP Business Writer Yuri Kageyama notes that many twenty-somethings in Japan aren't interested in owning a car today. A lifestyle choice automakers are calling "demotorization," many Japanese youth feel owning a car in a congested and expensive city such as Tokyo is more trouble than its worth, and choose public transportation instead.

This has many automakers concerned, particularly when adding in the current troubles in the U.S. vehicle market. About half the autos produced in Japan are sold in Japan, while the other half are exported.

According to the report, the Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association predicts auto sales in Japan will fall to 4.86 million in 2009 — below 5 million for the first time in more than three decades. This year, sales are projected at 5.11 million, the worst since 1980, said the AP report.

Kageyama reports that automakers and dealerships are looking for new ways to appeal to the young Japanese car buyer. For example, signing major league star Ichiro for TV ads and offering colorful vehicle accessories designed to appeal to young Japanese females.

Demotorization. A lifestyle choice. Nice. For the record, I'm not anti-car. Cars aren't going to disappear. I'm pro-liveable cities. I prefer the rehumanization of our urban centres and in order to achieve that, cars will need to be restricted in cities. Which is where the bicycle comes in.

The youth of Japan are not only choosing public transport. As this video from Tokyo will attest:

22 July 2009

Bicycles and Copenhagen Beaches

Beach Bicycle Parking
If there's one place that bicycles congregate apart from outside train stations, it's the beaches of Copenhagen. Last year I posted about how the 5000 bicycle racks at one of the main beaches in the city - Amager Strand Park - are hardly adequate for the mammoth number of Copenhageners who take to the beach by bike on hot summer days.

Here's a little photo reportage from a couple of weeks back. It's quite telling that while approaching the beach with my boy I heard many people remark about the number of bicycles. "Look at all the bicycles!" "I can't believe how many bicycles there are!"

These comments are from hard to impress Copenhageners who are used to seeing armadas of bikes each day. I even am amazed every time.
Beach Bicycle Parking
The racks are filled up quickly on a day like this, with the temperature over 30 degrees. There are three bridges over a lagoon to the main beach and at each one there are clusters of bike racks like in the photo above. This beach is the closest to the city centre. A 10-15 minute bike ride from the City Hall Square, so it gets the most visitors. There are many other beaches around the city, though.
Beach Bicycle Parking
When the racks get filled up, unofficial 'overflow parking' takes over.
Beach Bicycle Parking
Most of the bikes are placed along the winding path along the stretch of the beach.
Beach Bicycle Parking
Here's the pathway. The pace is casual and calm. There's no hurry when you're at the beach.
Beach Bicycle Parking
Many people just want to get as close to the water as possible.
The array of bicycle types is a feast for the eyes. Every type imaginable is present.
And when arriving sustainably, you get a sustainable view. Looking out at the world's first offshore wind turbine park. 27 wind turbines on the outer harbour provide the city with 3-4% of her energy needs. So aesthetic to look at, in my opinion.

Wishful Thinking

The bicycle is booming and everyone is getting in on the act of exploiting it in marketing. There's been Mastercard, Walkers Crisps, bottled water, more bottled water and now, as you can see above, Audi, the car maker.

It's an original advert, sure, but apart from apparently advocating driving down steps and through pedestrian areas, the use of the bicycle in the advert is typical of a car company. It's there to exploit the current popularity of the bicycle but it is rather symbolic that it disappears at the end.

Given my other activities, it's no surprise that I would prefer to see the woman actually riding the bicycle, especially since the city in which she is in looks happily devoid of traffic.

Classic car marketing condescending to the bicycle as a toy or a recreational activity. It does show, however, that car companies are a tad worried about how cities around the world are seeking to re-establish the bicycle as a feasible transport option in urban areas. Perhaps the way the advert ends can be interpreted as a subliminal wish by the car companies that the pesky bicycle would disappear.

21 July 2009

The World's Most Bicycle Friendly Cities - from Copenhagenize.com

Scanning the internet there seems to be a wide range of information about which cities are the world's most bicycle friendly. Many of them are opinion pieces and others use various criteria in making up the list.

Here at Copenhagenize we figured we'd just look at the hard facts. How many trips are made by bicycle in various cities? If there are many people choosing the bicycle in a city then that would indicate that cycling infrastructure is in place, that the culture is bicycle-friendly, that there is a will to transform cities into more liveable places and that cycling is, or has been, promoted positively.

We looked at the stats for OECD countries since these are traditionally cultures where the car is accessible to the citizens and is a main competitor to the bicycle.

In the interest of brevity, we chose to feature cities with percentages that are in double-digits. There are large cities and small on the list, from Tokyo to Davis, USA.

Copenhagen - 55% [41% city wide]
Gronningen, Netherlands - 55%
Greifswald, Germany - 44%
Lund, Sweden - 43%
Assen, Netherlands - 40%
Amsterdam, Netherlands - 40%
Münster, Germany - 40%
Utrecht, Netherlands - 33%
Västerås, Sweden - 33%
Ferrara, Italy - 30%
Malmö, Sweden - 30%
Linköping, Sweden - 30%
Odense, Denmark - 25%
Basel, Switzerland - 25%
Osaka, Japan - 25% [est.]
Bremen, Germany - 23%
Bologna, Italy - 20%
Oulu, Finland - 20%
Munich, Germany - 20%
Florence, Italy - 20%
Rotterdam, Netherlands - 20-25%
Berne, Switzerland - 20%
Tübingen, Gemany - 20%
Aarhus, Denmark - 20%
Tokyo, Japan - 20% [est.]
Salzburg, Austria - 19%
Venice (and Mestre), Italy - 19%
Pardubice, Czech Republic - 18%
York, UK - 18%
Dresden, Germany - 17%
Basel, Switzerland - 17%
Ghent, Belgium - 15%
Parma, Italy - 15%
Bern, Switzerland - 15%
Davis, USA - 15%
Cambridge, UK - 15%
Graz, Austria - 14%
Berlin, Germany - 13%
Strasbourg, France - 12%
Turku, Finland - 11%
Stockholm, Sweden - 10%
Bordeaux, France - 10%
Avignon, France - 10%

I may have forgotten some cities that deserve a place on this list. Feel free to let me know and I'll add them.

Surprisingly Positive

It's safe to say that the bicycle has been back on the media radar in many countries for a year or so. Invariably this simple transport form is subject to endless whippings due to misconceptions. Safety fanatics babble on, wishing we were all just as afraid as they are. Motorists rant about cyclists in letters to the editors and in comment columns. You often get the feeling that cycling is the nigga' of the transport world in many peoples eyes. Four decades of oppression... let my people go...

Generally, the journalists who write about the bicycle don't appear to have a clue what they're writing about, choosing often to portray the bicycle as the domain of "enthusiasts" or "hobby cyclists", because that's what they're used to seeing when they look out their windows. The growing numbers of regular citizens using the bicycle to get around their cities are often referred to as 'newbies' or 'amateurs'.

How condescending. How ridiculous. It's just riding a bicycle. The fine athletes riding in the Tour de France these days are no better at riding a bicycle than you or I. They're better at propelling them at speed in race conditions, sure, but I can't see how they're better at the simple act of riding a bike.

We're all equal. I used to see former racing cyclist, Brian Holm, every day. His son attended the same kindergarten as my boy and he would either roll up on the family's Nihola cargo bike or on his own basic city bike when delivering his son. Although he did drive the boy quite often, too. Anyway, Brian Holm is now the director for Team Columbia, currently enjoying success in the Tour.

I'd lose a race against a former pro if we were on racing bikes :-) but that's about it. On the bike lanes or streets we're equals. We can all watch out for traffic, assess risk, turn left and right. It's not a competition, it's interaction with our city. Although a pro may not fare so well in a 'urban bike transport competition' against a Copenhagen supermum - cycling with kid on the back seat, two bags of groceries dangling on the handlebars and dressed in heels and a mini-skirt.

I love watching cycle sport and a summer without the Tour on the telly is unimaginable. I had posters of Bernard Hinault and Laurent Fignon on my walls as a boy and tried to emulate them when I was racing. The Tour is the world's hardest sports event and the athleticism and drama are awe-inspiring. But it's not about the bicycle, it's the sportsmen. A carpenter with crappy tools can build just as fantastic a house than one with a full arsenal of expensive tools. The Tour is human drama.

Everyday cycling is human, too. It is public domain. It belongs to each and every one of us. Just as the cities in which we live do. Encouraging people to ride bicycles in the city, to work or the supermarket, should be a priority.

Funny thing is, it's not all about the bicycle, to be honest. The gearheads wish it were, but it's not. The bicycle - and bicycle infrastructure - is merely a fantastic tool for creating more liveable cities.

If you put in bicycle lanes, the number of pedestrians increases along that stretch. The lanes not only benefit those citizens who wish to cycle but they act as traffic calming. More cyclists and pedestrians on a stretch of street increase the attractiveness of the stretch. Property values rise. Businesses flourish. What a fantastic tool indeed.

I wasn't actually planning to write all this. The point was that after reading negative or uninformed media coverage about the bicycle for over a year it was refreshing, shocking, amazing to read this piece in The Irish Times by John Gibbons:

Cyclists Unite - You have nothing to lose but your chains.

It was such a suprising piece that I had to re-read it twice to make sure there wasn't any of the usual negativity. There wasn't.

"The seemingly irreversible long-term decline of the bicycle may at last have been arrested.

Minister for Transport Noel Dempsey clearly thinks so. His department published the first ever National Cycle Framework Policy (NCFP) earlier this year. Dempsey aims to have 10 per cent of all commuting done by bike in 2020. What’s equally clear is that a multiplicity of factors killed off the bike, and only what the NCFP calls “strong interventions” can reverse these.

A major roadblock is the persistent notion that cycling is dangerous. The British Medical Association calculates that its health benefits far outweigh any hazards cyclists face on the road.

A Danish study found 40 per cent lower premature mortality rates among adult cyclists than their car-bound counterparts.

Read it for yourself. It's refreshing. It's true. It's the way forward.

20 July 2009

The Sushi Bicycle at the Beach

The Sushi Bicycle
While small in size [if you don't count Greenland], Denmark has 7000 km of coastline and much of that is beach. In the summer the beaches around Copenhagen are filled to overflowing with tens of thousands enjoying the heat.

So why not start a sushi bicycle service to roll down the paths at Amager Strandpark, selling delicious sushi to the beachgoers? A custom three-wheeler cargo bike with refridgerated box, bringing the fish to the beach.

Fishing was never this easy. Classic Copenhagen.

To see what the bicycle parking looks like at this beach, we have this post from last year right here.

18 July 2009

Copenhagen Bike Life [While Copenhagenize is on Holiday]

Cycle Mural
Copenhagen Art.
Appropriately, it's on the western world's busiest bicycle route. Nørrebrogade.

17 July 2009

Copenhagen Bike Life [While Copenhagenize is on Holiday]

Bicycles Excepted
Copenhagen Signage. One Way Street - Bicycles Excepted.

16 July 2009

Copenhagen Bike Life [While Copenhagenize is on Holiday]

Bike Seatbelt
Copenhagen Bicycle Seatbelt.

Kissing Toronto's Bicycle Culture Goodbye

monkey finger
Well, that was that, perhaps. Toronto's blossoming bicycle culture is at risk of being pedalled back into the stone ages because a city councillor is proposing mandatory bicycle helmet laws for all ages AND bicycle licencing/registration.

Michael Walker is the name of the councillor and he, like many car-centric, uninformed politicians before him, is doing his bit for promoting cars and killing off the growth of a carbon neutral, life-extending transport form - bicycles.

His proposal was seconded by another councillor, Suzan Hall.

Walker doesn't seem to be aware that bicycle helmets are designed for protecting a head from non-life threatening injuries in solo accidents under 20 km/h. He seems to think they are some kind of wonder drug that can protect heads from collisions with cars, trucks and rogue meteors. He doesn't seem to realise that the societal and health benefits of a cycling population far outweigh the benefit of helmets.

Here's the pdf of his motion. His shocking disregard for pedestrian safety is alarming. I cannot see any reference to helmets for pedestrians in the motion.

As it's been seen all over the world, mandatory helmet laws kill off cycling. 20-40% fewer cyclists as a result. And fewer cyclists means an increase in health care costs, pollution and the continuation of a car-centric society. Bullying people who choose a healthy transport option serves no good purpose.

Here you can see the unfortunate results of Canadian helmet laws so far. Not much for Toronto to look forward to.

Here's a radio interview about the proposal from CBC:
http://www.cbc.ca/mrl3/8752/toronto/ondemand/audio/jul02bh_TOR.wma. Hilariously, in the URL there is the word/name ONDEMAND. In Danish "onde mand" means "evil man".

I'll never understand why politicians like him, or like the Danish Socialist Peoples' Party propose laws without considering ALL of the science. Thorough political groundwork is a rarity, it seems. This man is a poster child for The Culture of Fear Inc. Actually, he's probably a shareholder.

Regarding his proposal for bicycle licencing, Copenhagenize.com has written about this folly before. Right here.

Toronto... it's been lovely watching your bicycle culture grow. You have been a progressive city in many areas.

Shame it may all have been in vain.

Via: Biking Toronto, thanks to Joel.

15 July 2009

Copenhagen Bike Life [While Copenhagenize is on Holiday]

Wooden Bike Fender
Copenhagen Fender.

14 July 2009

Copenhagen Bike Life [While Copenhagenize is on Holiday]

Bikes Allowed
Copenhagen Transport.

13 July 2009

Copenhagen Bike Life [While Copenhagenize is on Holiday]

Kazi Kazi
Copenhagen Personalising.

12 July 2009

Copenhagen Bike Life [While Copenhagenize is on Holiday]

Copenhagen Necessity.

11 July 2009

Copenhagen Bike Life [While Copenhagenize is on Holiday]

Pink and Copenhagen Blue
Copenhagen Blue.

10 July 2009

Copenhagen Bike Life [While Copenhagenize is on Holiday]

Teapot Bike Bell
Copenhagen Bicycle Bell.

See a slideshow with all my bicycle bell shots.

09 July 2009

Copenhagen Bike Life [While Copenhagenize is on Holiday]

Bike Rack Space Management
Copenhagen Space Management.

08 July 2009

Copenhagen Bike Life [While Copenhagenize is on Holiday]

I Heart Copenhagen
Copenhagen Bike Saddle.

07 July 2009

Copenhagen Bike Life [While Copenhagenize is on Holiday]

The Daily Haul
Copenhagen Grocery Shopping.

05 July 2009

The Re:Boot Re:Bike

At the recent Re:boot conference/festival here in Copenhagen some of the participants whipped up a Re:Bike using a Nihola cargo bike. Re:Boot is a community event focused on digital change and culture. It's about tech but it's also about community.

Check out the bike on this website, complete with all the tech-specs.

And here's a little youtube film about the bike.

Lock 7 Cycle Café in Hackney

Lock 7 Cycle Cafe, London
There was one bicycle shop I knew I'd end up visiting when in London. I'd heard about the Lock 7 Cycle Café from a reader and, since I was staying in the same neighbourhood, Hackney, it was just down the street.

I'd also heard that the café was inspired by a trip the owners made to Copenhagen and I had to get an answer to that mystery. We don't have cycle cafés in Copenhagen. Well... I suppose we do... every café in the city can be cycled to so that kind of makes them all cycle cafés... but I digress. We don't have cafés that serve you coffee and food while your bike gets fixed.
Lock 7 Cycle Cafe, London
When I spoke with the owners I was told that it was merely the Danish capital's all-encompassing bicycle culture that inspired them to start a café in Hackney. Which is great.

Lock 7 is like an anchor for the blossoming bicycle culture in Hackney in particular and London in general. Sitting outside on a Tuesday morning with a coffee, the parade of cyclists/Cycle Chicistas rolling past was astounding. It has to be the most cleverly placed bike shop in London.
Lock 7 Cycle Cafe, London
In the city on a whole there are 2% trips by bike but in Hackney it's 8%. Lock 7 has a fine, relaxed atmosphere and friendly staff. When they started out the café was a lot larger but now the tables are a bit fewer to make room for the bikes. They repair them and they sell them and I spotted a shiny new Velorbis in the stable of new bikes. All they need now are some Bullitts from Larry vs Harry to complete the Copenhagen Connection.
Lock 7 Cycle Cafe, London
A location next to a constant flow of cyclists is a plus, but check out the rest of the location. It has to be the best view from a bike shop I've ever seen. Lock 7 is named after this seventh lock on the Regent's Canal that winds it's way through London. It's not because you need seven locks to secure your bike in the city. Four will do, apparently.

Lock 7 Cycle Cafe is located at 129 Pritchards Road, London [Hackney].