21 February 2010

Aarhus - Bicycle City

Last year the City of Aarhus - Denmark's second largest city - launched a comprehensive campaign to encourage more citizens to cycle. The city's post code is 8000 and the campaign is subsequently called "8000 Advantages to Cycling".

Here's some of the highlights of the campaign. Aarhus lags behind Copenhagen and Odense in the levels of cycle traffic so this campaign is aimed at doing something about it. By and large, from a marketing perspective, the campaign does well to sell urban cycling as positive. There are snippets of fear mongering present in the form of bike helmet promotion, despite the warnings of doing so, but it's impressive in the current Culture of Fear climate in Denmark that the campaign is largely positive.

Photo from the campaign. The eternally iconic Cycling Girl so dear to Danish culture.

There were also various programmes as a part of the campaign to bring the joy of cycling to children.

The city sent people out onto the streets and bike lanes to hand out bottles of water and seat covers as encougagement for choosing the bicycle.

They whipped together a little youtube film, asking the people they stopped why they choose to ride their bikes.

The first girl: "It's healthy and it's fast."
The next chap: "I hate public transport and waiting for buses. And it's healthy, but I don't think about that very much. And it's free!"
The little girl in the plastic hat: "Because I like to ride my bicycle." Bless her cotton socks. And when asked if she rides to daycare, she replies yes.
Next guy: "It's easy and fast. It's not far to school and regarding grocery shopping, it's just the easiest".
Next girl: (I think she says...) "Save money."

A number of facilities were implemented along with the campaign. Posters, websites and banners can't do the job alone. Citizens need to see practical, physical additions on the urban landscape. Here we have a long row of new bike racks outside, I believe, a school. On this stretch leading to the school one of the car lanes was removed to create a safe and wide bike lane for the kids.

And this sign flashes when a truck turning right is present. A little too much ignoring the bull, in Copenhagenize's opinion - that is to say, if it stands on it's own and without any responsibility placed on the vehicle and driver of the vehicle.

Another visible inititative is the possibility for citizens in Aarhus to let the city know about potholes or other irritating problems regarding cycling. The city will prioritize repairing the problems that citizens send in.

Banners were set up throughout the city highlighting various advantages to choosing the bicycle. Here we have advantage 262: Exercise and Fresh Air.

Advantage 7522: Freedom and wind in the hair.

Cycling is hot and with the recent injection of federal money into cycling - 94 billion kroner - many Danish cities are eager to build even more infrastructure and launch campaigns.

This example from Aarhus leads the way.