25 May 2010

Police Target Bicycles This Week in Copenhagen

Remember - Stop For Red
It reads "Remember. Stop for red".
I've never stopped for red here, unless pedestrians are crossing. Sue me.

The police in Copenhagen don't often bother cyclists. When they do, they're kind enough to announce it in advance. This week is "Go After Cyclists" week. The police will be focusing on cyclists in the traffic in the hope of filling some quotas. Funny thing is, I don't recall ever seeing a "Go After Pedestrians" week. And I certainly don't see any long-term concerted effort to "Go After Motorists", which would save lives. But hey...

Here's a blogpost from a while back about a previous, symbolic 'bike raid week' in the Danish capital in 2007.

So, if you're riding around the city this week, chill. Wait until next week to navigate along your "Desire Lines" and experiment with the anthropolgical mapmaking of your personal urban mobility routes. Save your rolling casually across zebra crossings, turning right on red lights when there are no pedestrians in sight - and all the other bits and pieces - until next week. A fine will set you back 500 kroner [$100]. Money better spent in cafés and bars in the spring and summer months.

I've been peering closely at this bicycle culture for over three years. Documenting it in photos and on this blog daily. It is so incredibly rare that I ever see Copenhageners on bicycles blowing through a zebra crossing, sending pedestrians scrambling or flying across an intersection and causing cars to screech to a halt, like I see in other cities.

I see cyclists rolling across zebra crossings, sure. I see cyclists turning right on red, sure. I do it myself every single day. But it is hardly ever at the expense of other traffic users. It is almost always at a pedestrian pace. The Great Structural Fabric of Society does not fray at the edges when Copenhageners or Danes do such minor things anymore than it does when pedestrians cross against the light.

Urban mobility.


Edward said...

"I don't recall ever seeing a "Go After Pedestrians" week". Come to Adelaide, South Australia. They do it all the time. You'll see a pair of police officers standing on the side of the road ready to catch a pedestrian who dares to cross an otherwise empty road when the light is on red.

When you walk past some poor person who had committed "pedestrian crime" you will hear the police officer telling them it's all about road safety.

It's an embarrassment and it is done to appease whining motorists who cannot bear the thought that they, quite rightly, have to wait at a red light while pedestrians sensibly cross an empty road against a red light.

Anonymous said...

Our over reliance on rules shows how commonsense, empathy and respect for others have been made subservient to "me first". And no doubt the car culture has been a prime cause of this need for stricter rules to improve "our safety".

christhebull said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Amsterdamize said...

Welcome to my world, quota'd on a weekly/monthly basis

lagatta à montréal said...

There was a ghastly example of this here recently. A reckless driver mowed down a peleton of triatheletes training in L'Estrie (the region southeast of Montréal, where there are beautiful rolling hills) and killed three of them, injuring the others.


I don't like looking at the photo of this accident, but you will note, just as an aside, that at least one of the athletes' helmets flew off upon impact...

So how did the police react to this ghastly accident and a couple of others the same week? Simple, a clampdown.

A clampdown on cyclists, that is, not on reckless drivers. I was warned by some guys (merci, les gars!) to get down from my bicycle because the police had set up a trap to catch the many cyclists who ride a few metres on the pavement between the parc in front of a "Loblaws" supermarket at the corner of Jean-Talon and avenue du Parc, because the right lane on Jean-Talon, a very busy street, is right-turn only and there are many buses, trucks and cars turning from av du Parc up Hutchison, a side-street (as av du Parc ends there). The only "legal" place for cyclists to ride at that spot is the left-hand lane but a) cyclists don't have the right to ride in the left-hand lane and b) it would be utterly unsafe to do so - you'd get whomped by the chair end of a bus or truck. It is truly a trap, but this makes it a juicy target.

Anonymous said...

"Go After Pedestrians" ??? why and how? - in the UK there are, to my knowledge, almost no offences a pedestrian can commit. e.g. pedestrian crossing lights are only advisory for pedestrians.

The only law regarding pedestrians that I know of is that pedestrians must not dawdle on a crossing.