27 September 2009

Copenhagen 1937


Here's a travel film from Copenhagen in 1937. The first third and the last third are all about our bicycle culture.

What's interesting to note is that in the 1960's and 1970's, car culture was killing off cycling in the city and it was first really in the early to mid 70's that we started giving it a heart massage to get it back up to speed. We've never achieved these levels since, though.

But we're working on it.

Regarding the film, there's a bit of outdated speak that rings quite racist in our modern ears.

The speaker mentions also that there is one bicycle for every three citizens. These days there it is 1:1 and then some.

After the first couple of minutes there is a section about Copenhagen and Denmark in general and then we return to "a demonstration of bicycle traffic that is unparalled in any of the world's great cities." It starts at about 6 minutes in.

Beautiful footage and watch for the sofa being transported on a cargo bike!

14 comments:

Tinker said...

Um, first half and second half? Does that mean that the film is entirely about bicycling in Denmark? How about 1st third and last third?

MY first impression was that EVERYONE wore dark colors, but the view of homeward bound bicycle traffic, showed a bit more variety.

I'd bet that Denmark is a bit less agricultural in nature now, too!

KDT said...

What a gem! Some of those cargo bikes are amazing. Tak for that, Mikael!

Anonymous said...

A few speedsters ripping by along the edges, but most riders take it very easy, as do the motorists. Very fluid, anarchic, despite what the narrator says about 'well organized' or something. It works, partly because the motorists also proceed gingerly. Loved seeing people holding hands as they rode, and all the turn signals the riders gave.
Charming video, even with the OMG moments about the Vikings and the 'white race' in the beginning.
/martin

Tom said...

thought you might like this. Lego and biking one.
http://gizmodo.com/5368807/cycling-psa-gets-the-point-across-with-a-little-lego-ultraviolence

Anonymous said...

It's interesting to note that Denmark has had unusually high cycling rates for decades, before the construction of cycling facilities.

This may explain why investment in infrastructure doesn't reap as many benefits elsewhere; perhaps it's easier to maintain high levels than create them.

The low quality of cycling-specific infrastructure in other jurisdictions relative to what is in Denmark obviously doesn't help either.

Frits B said...

Cycling rates were not unusually high. This is 1953, and private car ownership had not really taken off. My father bought his first car in 1962 and rode a bike from the early thirties on (born 1910 - and before you think I'm a very late baby, I'm 70 myself). What helps is that Copenhagen is flat so cycling is easy. Moreover it was a big city already, bigger then than Amsterdam is now for instance; people needed vehicles and the obvious vehicle was the bike.

Mikael said...

On the streets shown, there were no bicycle lanes, but I have seen a great number of historical photos with bicycle lanes, like we have now, running along streets.

Separated bicycle infrastructure is a century old.

All in all, I love the pace in this video. It is traffic calming at it's best.

azphotomac said...

Wonderful images for those of us who have never been... just makes me want to visit that much more. Here are some additional movies from other locations by the same person...

http://video.google.com/videosearch?hl=en&safe=off&client=firefox-a&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&resnum=0&q=James+A.+Fitzpatrick%27s+Traveltalks&um=1&ie=UTF-8&ei=QdbASr-3EpGgsgOGqJlG&sa=X&oi=video_result_group&ct=title&resnum=4#

velorutionist said...

1:04 “…contributed much to the stability and progress of the white race…” Perhaps normal speak for 1937, but today we would be saying WTF?

Brandon said...

"...a gay and hospitable metropolis..." - it seems that this was a widely used description of the city during that time as it's also at the bottom of that poster you found Mikael: http://www.flickr.com/photos/16nine/2311551791/

townmouse said...

I had to laugh at the bit about the Vikings carrying 'the torch of civilisation' - so that was what it was! And there was me thinking they just torched stuff...

ModelCarGuy said...

Thank you for that. It was a joy to watch.

Safety in numbers.

Wayne said...

If there were bike lanes 100 years ago, given the high numbers of bicycles and low numbers of motor vehicles, it's apparent they were installed for the convenience of motorists. Removing bicycle users from a traffic calming mixture by sequestering them to the side of the road would enable faster motoring.

Kalle said...

Wayne and Mikael are both wrong about 100 year old bike lanes. Their function then was not to "separate" cyclist to make them "safe" as it the alleged function of similar facilities today. Neither was the motive to clear the streets for the cars; facility building motivated by motorist convenience started a little later. Motivation for bike lanes 100 ago was: surface conditions. (Here's a nice abstract of ancient cycling facility history: http://www.cyclecraft.co.uk/digest/history.html)