25 January 2010

Advertising in a Bicycle Culture

Copenhagen Bike Culture Advertising
Recently the Danish State Railways [DSB] announced that bikes are now free on all the S-Trains in the Greater Copenhagen area.

It was pretty big news here but DSB launched a comprehensive campaign to let the people know about it. On the busiest bicycle street in the western world, Nørrebrogade, they put up a mock S-train carriage on the bike lane. The morning bicycle rush hour on this street, which averages 38,000 cyclists a day, would find it hard to miss the advertising campaign. Whether people rode through the train tunnel or past it. On this stretch the bike lanes are double wide, around 5 metres.
Copenhagen Bike Culture Advertising
When the cyclists stopped at the red light up ahead, they were given a brochure about the fact that bikes are now free on the trains, as well as a free ticket for the train. Rather cool.
Copenhagen Bike Culture Advertising
Print adverts in a variety of themes about the new initiative feature prominently in the city these days. This advert on an outdoor ashtray, featuring beer glasses as wheels, reads:

"Invite your bicycle back to your place when you've been out on the town.
Bicycles now travel free on the S-trains."

The same spot in the top photos is quite a popular place for people to advertise or raise awareness about various issues.

There are few other place in the city where you can get face to face with so many people. When cyclists roll to a stop at the light - and they are often 50-75 cyclists at a time in the rush hour - you can easily get your message across. 10-15,000 cylists in the morning rush hour... that's a lot of citizens. They can't walk away from you because they're waiting at the red light and they're not hidden inside cars.

This spot sees all manner of activity. For example, our nurses went on strike a couple of years ago and they stood right here with banners to win popular support. They handed out bread rolls to cyclists. Other times you'll get handed fruit or what not with the brochures.
Copenhagen Bike Culture Advertising

Below is the former 'bicycle mayor', Klaus Bondam, handing out bread rolls a while back at the same spot.


John said...

Bicycles on public transportation seems to be only element of bicycle infrastructure where North America can claim some parity with Northern Europe. When will the Danes put bike racks on buses?

Kevin Love said...

My prediction is that Danes will never put bike racks on buses.

Why? Because most North American bus bike racks take a not-so-whopping total of two bikes. If a bus has 60 passengers, then you need a low, low, North American bike usage rate to avoid being swamped by demand.

Sirius7dk said...

Another thing about bikes on buses, why not cycle all the way instead of taking both?

I am aware of cycle parking at bus stops in the Netherlands, but personally I would cycle all the way instead. That way you save money and are not bound by the time table either :)

Rasmus Jensen

Mikael said...

I've never understood bikes on busses and am quite sure we'll never see it here. There is bike parking at bus stops in rural areas, sure, but in the city the bicycle takes you where you want to go and often the same place as the bus or the metro.

And like Kevin, says, what's the point with two racks on a bus filled with people?

Anyway, every taxi in this country has a bike rack for two bikes in case you need it.

William said...

I think there's a basic difference between Denmark and the US in relation to busses and trains.

Danish busses travel very short distances between stops - sometimes as little as a few hundred meters.

It is my impression that U.S. busses travel have a lot longer between stops, making the wait (for people to de- and attach bicycles) less important.

I don't know this, but thinking about the route the 4A-bus takes, I just can't see it as being practical.

Green Idea Factory said...

Great approach from DSB s-Tog!! (My only suggestion would have been to power the lights with a portable wind turbine OR have real DSB employees - or actors - powering the lights from stationary bikes parked out of the way -- I think there is some gear available, ja?).

Regarding bikes-on-the-front-of-buses, this has made a huge difference in, uh, kick-starting both commuter and recreational cycling in Canada and the USA. Also, a three-bike version has been available for more than three years, and I think places like King County Metro (Seattle) are using it.

Keep in mind, dears, that a comparison between bike+PT share in Canada and the USA (@John, "North America" technically includes everything down to the Panama Canal) is not really possible due to totally different transit-riding situations and, indeed, bike share. I would agree, however, that transit authorities in Europe can in some places be much more uptight than in Canada or the USA, but, again, the goals are different, the light rail vehicles often do different things, and both Canadian and USA cities and especially smaller towns have way more buses by comparison than nearly all European urban areas (or, really, only buses, if that). Therefore very often the only chance for bike + PT is the front of the bus.

Regarding uptightness, right now it is more or less against the law to put bike racks on the front of buses in the EU/EEA, as they are seen by authorities to be dangerous to vulnerable road users. Several people (including myself) have tried to get it going for many years, and fairly recently one consortium of a consultancy/private PT operator/bus manufacturer and regional authority did of a lot tests in seeking approval for a pilot in the Netherlands, but in the end it was not permitted.

We have all made it clear that collisions between rack-equipped buses and pedestrians/cyclists in Canada/USA are extremely rare... and also that there was no litigation related to this, at least up until 2007. In other words, in the sue-happy USA, no one ever took a bus operator to court for a collision involving a bike-on-bus rack.

Andy B from Jersey said...

Buses are often used for distances that would more often be served my trains in Europe. In Seattle, I used the bus with my bike to go into downtown, a trip of 20 miles, plus I had to ride 5 miles to get to the bus stop.

Bus routes in Europe are often of a shorter distances that could be easily and often done by bike if the person is a cyclist. Also since development is so dense in Europe, it is often very easy to walk to and from the bus stop. The bus routes around my moms hometown in Germany only goes 5 or 6 miles from downtown and stops are in very easy walking distances to/from nearly all practical destinations.

LGV said...

It's crasy to see how big are the diferences between your town and what's happen here ! even if we do better and better...
Copenhagen is an example for all the other cities

Dr Paul Martin said...

Here in Brisbane, Australia, bicycles can travel on the trains for free however I believe it is merely a token gesture.

They are not allowed during peak services (ie. inbound to the city in the morning, outbound in the evening) which is when they're likely to be needed the most! I fortunately travel in the opposite direction to most workers so it doesn't affect me. It allows me to cycle-train-cycle to work which is the best I can do given the haphazard bicycle infrastructure.

I wouldn't be surprised that when cycling becomes more and more popular (it slowly is again) they will then either ban bicycles on trains or make us pay for them. The only reason it works, much like the US 'model', is that there are hardly any cyclists around!

Now we just need more bicycle routes and to get rid of our short-sighted compulsory helmet laws... if only!

Dr Paul Martin

William said...

@Dr Paul Martin.
What you said made me think of the changes, regarding trains and cycles.

As far as I recall, it used to be so that during rush-hour in the morning, you weren't allowed to bring your bike into town, likewise in the evening, you were not allowed to take your bicycle out of town, and on the three most used stops in town, you were not allowed to embark or disembark with a bicycle (so you couldn't take it out of town, even if you were allowed to)

The next change was that the definition of rush-hour was changed, from two hours to 1½ hours.

Then you were allowed to bring your bike on the train in the rush-hour, but you were still not allowed to disembark on the three most used stations (during rush-hour)

Presently, you're not allowed to embark or disembark with a bicycle on Nørreport Station during rush-hour.

(And believe me, you wouldn't want to - that station is packed)

I hope that other Copenhageners can correct or add to this, if it's incomplete or wrong.

Jose said...

It was planned to install bike racks in buses in Madrid (Spain) in the way of Canadian/US buses.

However, the plan didn't go ahead as according to EU legislation those racks at the front were dangerous to pedestrians in case of a collision. The solution has been an experimental rack at the back for some bus lines, but with little success as nobody sees the bike from the inside and it could get stolen while stopped in a traffic light. Besides, the bus driver doesn't see you easily to know you're done loading/unloading your bike...

townmouse said...

Stick a few more of those together and you've got yourself a weather-proof bike lane. *sigh* just one more way in which the UK will never catch up with Copenhagen...

Nico said...

Brilliant advertising idea. Not a static billboard or poster, but interactive and memorable.

guss said...

We are tired that our cities are dung car.
Too much junk cars. Too much pollution.
We want clean cities only for people, and bikes ...
New Universal Order of Justice.