31 August 2010

Florence Finds Her Pedersen

There is a brilliant article that you simply must read.

A Strange and Not Unpleasant Experience
by Florence Williams for Bicycling.com
What's a cyclist to do upon falling in love with the rare Pedersen bike--except rescue a battered one from a hippie paradise and cajole its mysterious creator into reviving it?

What a fantastic tale.

Here's more of my photos of Pedersen bicycles. Didn't get a shot of Florence on hers - we couldn't manage to hook up when she was in Copenhagen.

30 August 2010

Take from the Rich, Give to the Poor

A spot of retro Sherwood-Forest-Taking-from-the-rich-giving-to-the-poor Cycle Chic is this competition entry from the UK for the Robin Hood Tax.

Bike Share in Valéncia, Spain

Here's an advert for the bike share system in Valénica, Spain. It's called Valenbisi. 2750 bicycles in all, docked at 275 stations.

A short and sweet advert that is brimming with positive imagery. "Easy, inexpensive, fast" are the three words on one of the signposts. Perfect.

Via: Cycle Chic Valéncia.

27 August 2010

My 40 Neighbourhood Bike Shops

View Bike Shops in My Neighbourhood in a larger map

Addendum: 23 December 2013: The original count was 27, but I've been discovering more and more bike shops. I will now put the number at 40+.

A while back I counted the number of bike shops in my neighbourhood - because somebody asked, not because I wanted to - and I came up with 22. Or around there.

I figured I'd whip up a map to show it visually. I live in the middle of that forest of placemarks. All the shops featured are under 7 minutes journey by bike from my front door.

On the map there are 27 bike shops, and while two of them are supermarkets that have a large selection of bikes and accessories, the rest are working bike shops for repairs and sales. Some are small shops that concentrate on repairs, some are larger with a bigger selection of bikes to buy.

I'm quite sure I've missed some - or even am unware of some along some of the streets leading away from the city. And this is just my neighourhood of Frederiksberg.

Most people find the shop they like the most and stick with it. It's a cuthroat business. Locals all have an opinion about their local shops. "He's too expensive..." "He's good and the service is fast.." "He's grumpy..."

This mouth-to-mouth knowledge sharing is incredibly important to Copenhageners. When you move to a new neighbourhood, you need to find supermarkets, corner shops and bike repair shops before you need to know anything else.

26 August 2010

Copenhagen's Bicycle Butlers - Park Illegally and get your chain oiled and tires pumped

Photo: Niels Ahlmann Olesen for Berlingske.dk / Urban.dk

The City of Copenhagen has been on a 'charm offensive' since April 2010. The goal is to get more people to use the bike racks around the city's Metro stations, instead of leaning them up against everything else.

Here's the simple trick. If you park your bicycle illegally, the City will move it over to the bike racks. Instead of finger-wagging, they will then oil your chain, pump your tires and leave a little note on your bicycle asking to kindly use the bike racks in the future.

How brilliant is that? And the great thing is that the initiative has worked.

"It's about getting people to stop parking their bicycles in areas that emergency service vehicles need to access if there is an incident at a Metro station", said Project Leader Poul Erik Kinimond, as his colleague Morten Schelbech oils a chain in the background. Twice a day they move bicycles at the city's largest Metro stations.

"We're been called "Bicycle Butlers". People really like what we do".

When the project started in April they were moving around 150 bicycles a day. Today that number has dropped to between 30 and 50.

"It's been a bigger success than I had expected. At the beginning I wasn't keen on rewarding people who parked illegally. The idea was to tackle the problem in a way that wouldn't make people angry because we moved their bicycles", sais Kinimond.

"But we haven't had one single person who was angry", added Morten Schelbech.

He doesn't think that people will begin to park illegally in order to get a free oil and air service.

"We can recognize the same bicycles that are parked illegally several days in a row. They don't get oil or air."

The "Bicycle Butler" project will continue until at least January, 2011.

Thanks to Rasmus, Lars and Charlotte for the link. Via: Berlingske.dk

Cycling Politicians - Iceland

The Icelandic Minster for Education and Culture, Katrín Jakobsdóttir, on her bicycle in Rejkjavik.

Thanks to Morten for the link.

24 August 2010

Bicycle Rush Hour in Copenhagen

With my Copenhagenize Consulting hat on I've produced a series of short and sweet films for the City of Copenhagen's Bicycle Office. Short films on five different bicycle subjects for use in presentations when their employees travel to conferences and what not.

I rather fancied this longer version of the Copenhagen Rush Hour film - a Director's Cut if you will - and decided to slap it rudely onto the internet. Shot over a period of several months, featuring a number of locations, I hope it shows what rush hour is like in the City of Cyclists.

Most of the footage is taken in the morning rush hour, although with some exceptions. It's more concentrated in the morning than in the afternoon.

There is also a set on Flickr of rush hour shots if you like: Bicycle Rush Hour in Copenhagen.

Rush hour on bicycles in Copenhagen seems to be a popular subject on youtube. Here's a film shot by a visitor. And this one is pretty famous by now. And then there's this one.

But really... isn't this the goal? A return to where we used to be?

World's Greatest Bicycle Lock

World's Greatest Bike Lock
Well, the Twitterverse seems to like this, so I'll slap it here, too.
The World's Greatest Bike Lock.

Or a practical joke. Both are cool.

In Vino Veritas - Bicycle Poetry

After posting the previous translated text from 1934, I remembered some footage I have from a summer street party a couple of years ago. My friend Henrik grabbed my camera and was walking around interviewing people, asking them "What's the best thing about the bicycle?"

He filmed one chap, rather late in the evening with all the inebriation that involves, and the result is one I've never quite forgotten. A chap fires off a volley of urban poetry completely from the hip. In vino veritas indeed.

He starts in English and then hops over into Danish at 0:48 in the film. Poetry/urban ramblings are difficult to translate, but I gave it a shot, below. It reminded me of Storm P.'s irony.

Actually, it's Jørgen Leth meets Storm P. in a smoke-filled bar over several bottles of wine. (A cultural reference for the Danes...) It's much better in Danish, this vowel movement. The flow is pure and unrestricted. It's quite fantastic.

Anyway: Danish monologue translated from 0:48:

"It's... it's Copenhagen.

People are so fantastically ridiculous when it comes to bicycles that they don't have any identity about it. But nevertheless they are so subconsciously graceful with their bicycles that they don't understand what they're doing when they do it and these days they've become so agressive on their bicycles because they can't afford that car - all to do with finances and stocks - and they actually understand Copenhagen without actually understanding, 100%, what they're doing.

Because Copenhagen is a happy city. In Copenhagen there is tolerance. And in Copenhagen there are cool people. That's what Copenhagen is all about. In Copenhagen we have a surplus so that even when there's cloud cover we don't get clouded by it. We cover our women, we have children but we stay the same because we ride bicycles. And bicycles are wheels, tires, rubber. It keeps us in contact with the ground, keeps us grounded. There's actually a shred of truth to it. I mean... how can you get angry with a cyclist? He's riding a bicycle! So there's a limit. There's nothing that can boil over or under... he's cycling.

So there is actually an aim – not aiming high or low – he's riding a bicycle. And cycling is fantastic. It's all about him and there's a reason he does it. It's not something poor prostitutes do, or something kids born later than their siblings do or something people in the future do... it's all about riding a bicycle."


"Yeah, I doubt it. I had a televison named after me. It should have been a bicycle.
The bicycle exists between us. Period."

23 August 2010

For Cyclists - New Traffic Etiquette

How to Signal

For Cyclists

As there has recently been a rather tactless criticism directed towards us cyclists, it must be permitted for me to bring some modest, if not harmful, proposals for a new traffic etiquette for cyclists and other wheeled persons.

Let us begin at the beginning. You set yourself up on the bicycle, have a good look around – first up and down and then from side to side – wherefter you rest for a moment whilst regarding the road ahead and behind. Do this several times and take your time doing it. Therefter you push down on one pedal and up with the other. The bicycle is then propelled into motion. You can, of course, repeat this process, but experienced cyclists rarely need to.

You will now find yourself in the so-called traffic, unless you are riding on the island of Saltholm, but we'll assume you're on a busy street.

As soon as you've run over the first person you come across you immediately accelerate and try to dash across the intersection while the yellow light is lit. If the light turns red in the process, pretend like nothing happend and continue on – there is nothing easier than pretending like nothing happened. Those who are approaching from the side – whether in a car or on foot – will no doubt let you pass. They will think that it is them who has made a mistake. So ingrained is the bad conscience in all of us.

Never cross an intersection when the light is green, as you risk being knocked over by someone running a red light from the other direction. This is very important as it can still cause misunderstandings, court cases and outbursts of anger.

Now you continue riding. Let's say you have to turn to the left. Extend your hand – please be careful it can't be seen – to the right. This means that you won't be turning that way. There has been some discussion about this question but as a cyclist you must never doubt. Your entire focus must be on your riding.

The use of a bicycle bell is absolutely out-of-date and simply unecessary. The bell can't be heard above the noise and you should therefore only use your bell after midnight – or after you've arrived home.

During the day, instead of a bell, you should use different verbal expressions, shouted with a loud, high-pitched voice. It is recommended to acquire a copy of J.F. Braldrelunds ”Dictionary of Danish Swear Words”. It contains more than enough content for this purpose.

On corners you attempt, wherever possible, to brush the person or persons who dare to stand there. It is best if you're travelling fast enough that you manage to knock one of them over. Then you can confirm beyond a doubt that the person in question was in your way or, in other words, ”That taught them a lesson!”

If you're going from the street into a port leading to a courtyard or similar, always weave through the pedestrians as dramatically as possible. The bell must NOT be used here – remember that! If you use your bell you'll make people jumpy and it will be much more difficult to weave past them.

In the courtyard you discard the bicycle as carelessly as possible, in order to give any potential bystanders the impression that you're cool (superior in intelligence).

Ensure that the bicycle is placed so that anyone and everyone can trip over it. You'll quickly discover that the person who trips over it will pick it up and place it politely against the wall – usually under a sign that reads: ”Bicycles will be removed”.

Regarding bicycle lights, you need not take this question too seriously. Bicycle lights are simply no longer used and are only rarely seen on bicycles.

This is generally because the police aren't bothered much if you cycle without lights, as the statistics show. In 1932-1933, on the stretch between Here and There, only one bicycle light was observed. According to the police report it wasn't possible to identify the cyclist – he was riding like a madman.

An absurd idea has popped up in the minds of some so-called people who are believed to live inside unexcavated bronze-age burial mounds. Putting a licence plate on bicycles, as well as a hook under the saddle on which to hang a telephone book and a pair of eyeglasses.

The thought is incredibly impossible – a licence plate that must host a number like seven million three hundred and thirty thousand, six hundred and forty three would be wide enough to fill City Hall Square, and if you placed the digits vertically the licence plate would rip down the electricity wires.

Yes, well, those were my modest proposals for a new traffic etiquette for cyclists. We have, for far too long, been viewed in a negative manner by Mr Motorist and pedestrians – or rather sleepestrians – and I feel that these proposals will please every motorist and sleepestrian – we apparently haven't evolved any further than this in our sorry old world.


The above was translated, modernised and edited for clarity from the original text by one of Denmark's most loved satirists and cartoonists, Robert Storm Petersen. Better known at Storm P.. It was first published way back in 1934 (in 'Snak om en ting') and again in 1993 (in 'Udvalgte historier')

1934. Storm P. was a daily cyclist and he used satire often in all manner of cartoons and commentary about life in Copenhagen, not least about a cycling life. The above text reads a tad old school, but it is clear that some things never change. Not least bicycle 'behaviour'. He takes the piss out of those eternal complainers bitching about 'those cyclists'. They've always been there, even in countries saturated by bicycles. They are even still around if you read the letters to the editor in virtually every Danish newspaper. More now than ever in this current anti-cycling climate in this country.

He takes their view to the extreme with this text, taking their generalisations to task and ridiculing them.

Much of this sounds familiar today. Cyclists have often been declared outlaws, even when just regular citizens turning right at red lights or rolling across pedestrian crossings at 4 km/h.

I love Storm P.'s angle. Some things never change so behavourial campaigns aimed at cyclists are probably a considerable waste of money. Focus instead on tackling the destructive capabilities of the automobile.

More on Robert Storm Petersen in Danish and in English. There is also a museum in his honour in Copenhagen.

22 August 2010

Coca Cola on the Bicycle Bandwagon

Coca Cola, like an army of companies before them, have gotten on the bicycle bandwagon. The bicycle is hip, nostalgic, futuristic and oh so very now. Say what you like about Coca Cola, every bit of positive portrayal of Citizen Cyclists on wheels is welcome.

Via: Cyclelicious.

Keep Posties Cycling - Bike Ride


On 27 August a group of cycling postmen and postwomen, politicians and cycling campaigners will deliver the letters to Royal Mail’s new Chief Executive Moya Greene. The event will create some media attention and hopefully lead to a reviewing of the Royal Mail’s arbitrary plan to phase out cycle delivery.

Keep Posties Cycling - Friday 27 August

A week today, CTC will deliver hundreds of protest letters to Royal Mail's new Chief Executive to demand she reconsiders the decision to phase out cycle delivery. Please send your letters in today (all you have to do is fill in our online form on www.ctc.org.uk/royalmail ). We will deliver the letters on Friday 27 August at 8.30am outside 100 Victoria Embankment EC4Y 0HQ. If you can join us, or if you own an old postal bike or old Royal Mail uniform, please get in touch (campaigns@ctc.org.uk). Act now or in the future all post will be delivered by van and over a century of history will be lost forever.
Postal Carriers
Spread the word - together we can Keep Posties Cycling! www.ctc.org.uk/royalmail

21 August 2010

Something About Worldwide Cycling

Halfdan Rasmussen was a Danish poet - and resistance fighter during WW2 - who was well-known both for his nonsense verse for children and his societal critique. In one of his books - Tosserier i udvalg from 1960 he included a satirical song/poem that rings incredibly true in 2010. The illustration, above, is from the poem, picturing a devil on a bicycle.

It is a satirical piece taking the piss out of motorists and their disdain for cyclists. It dates from 1960 when urban planning in Denmark was already starting to revolve around the car and people were buying them in large numbers. Cycling levels were falling and - like we see even today here in Denmark - cycling was getting a heap of bad press.

It is incredibly difficult to translate it quickly, not least because it's designed to rhyme in Danish, but here's the meat in the sandwich:

Something About Worldwide Cycling
Speech given at KDAK's AGM by the President of The SADMBIIPD Party
"Sammenslutning af Dannebrogsmænd med benzindrevne indretninger købt på dollarbasis" or "Union of Danish Patriots with Petrol Driven Vehicles Bought with Dollars"

Dear party members! Those who are gathered here today to speak about the motorists' cause
know all too well that it isn't Hamlet or Van Gogh that are society's motor today.

He who wants to feel must learn to hear the motor-driven song in his blood
if he wishes to follow the times and drive the past farther behind us.

As we all know our chosen party is elected legally by the voters
with percentages from the agricultural and heavy-machinery industries.

But if our party will be known as one that honourably pays its debts
it is, however, here we must danse and leap if we are to profit from society.

There is, however, one thing that makes our fight difficult, in every respect;
People with a knife up their sleeves
who knock the lamp out of our hands in order to build foundations on sand

These methods and this fanaticism, pretending to be something they're not
label themselves as savage cyclists that is financed by foreign powers!

Those of us who drive our cars to our daily chores, to watch over our proud old nation
meet each day, both here and in Herning, the pedalling provocation of the masses

Nothing is sacred for these subjects who create chaos and remote-controlled defiance
in order to profit from future generations who have a completely different currency than us!

Therefore, and without wavering one bit, but because of reasons that demand an answer
we should stand firm and fight these tormentors - in order to preserve the tormentors we have.

Those who wish to cycle must cycle on the path, in a democratic and noble way
Because like it says in the encyclopaedia, pigs in fine clothes are still just pigs!

So we must and will fight like lions and strike these mad dogs of cycling
before they maul us all, large and small.

It is cycling that threatens the nation, the king and the long arm of the law
It is cycling that squeezes the lemon, like a baby hyena at it's mothers breast

Countrymen and farmers, from Jutland and Denmark alike, at home and abroad, at sea and on land!
Like Holger Danske we throw down our gloves and shout at every cyclist, 'STOP'!

Stop, because you're driving our country into the ditch!
Stop before the hour to light your bike lights arrives
The abyss before us is enormous. The canyon is wider still.
The greatest day will be that when the cyclists leave!

Sound familiar? :-)

Thanks to Hans for the poem.

20 August 2010

Where There's a Will, There's a Cycle Way

Where there's a will, there's a cycle way
More playing around. Displacement activities make the world go 'round.

Bas from Cycling Evolution sent me this photo:

Taken at the Stasi Museum in Berlin and "reflecting a world of (eco)resistance in the DDR period", as Bas put it. It inspired me to whip together the poster above. It reads "Where there's a will, there's a cycle way."

19 August 2010

Rational Editorial from The Edmonton Sun

What a surprising - and welcome - editorial in the Canadian newspaper The Edmonton Sun, entitled Bike Helmet Law Premature.

Is rationality the new fear-mongering?

"We live in the age of the “easy answer,” of belief dominating fact, because everyone has an outlet for expression, no matter how hideously uninformed they may be.

It’s a real problem when it comes to respecting the balance between individual liberties and public safety and civility.

When the nature of a debate has become so muddied by personal and special interests, it’s usually a good time to step away from it and assess reality. A proposal for an adult bike helmet law in Alberta is one such example.

Much of what we learned about bike helmets growing up is no longer true. Accepted standards for helmet construction have changed multiple times, and even some of those certified by national safety bodies have failed miserably in testing to protect their wearers.

So we don’t really know which helmets to trust. One independent study showed the most common design of modern moulded helmet might actually be contributing to head injuries, due to the hard outer shell compressing the inner foam lining more quickly on impact than it takes for the lining to absorb the head’s impact.

It’s easy for the pro-helmet side of the debate to point to grotesque statistics, like the fact that there are about 70,000 bicyclist head injuries in North America every year. But as one U.K. statistician pointed out, you’re as likely as a pedestrian to be killed in a road accident as you are if you’re a cyclist.

There are a lot of injuries to cyclists, and there are lots of accidents between them and other vehicles. But very few of them actually result in fatalities.

So, as much as safety experts would like to follow the modern trend of framing civil liberties debates as simple black-and-white issues — witness the plethora of half-truths and outright lies associated with the anti-smoking industry, for example — the bike helmet issue is not resolved.

Comparisons with seat-belt laws are not apt. The reality is that mandatory belt laws are demonstrated to lower fatality rates in every jurisdiction in which they’ve been introduced. The same cannot be said of bicycle helmets.

Were they able to concretely provide some evidence not only that helmet laws work but that helmet standards are sufficient, this wouldn’t be a debate. The fact that it is means the word “mandatory” should come off the table."

Via: Editorial from The Edmonton Sun.
More information about Canadian helmet laws.

New Communique from PDOT

The People's Department of Transport in Portland - PDOT - have issued Communique #4.

Copenhagen Squeeze

This was spotted by a friend of one of my good friends. A narrow street in the centre of Copenhagen. A parked car, illegally parked truck and a van trying to squeeze through. Probably taken in the morning before the shops open and trucks are allowed to deliver goods in the city centre, but funny all the same.

Especially with the addition of the Ingen Cykler Tak sign on the left. Which means No Bicycles, Please. Meaning on the sidewalk outside that shop. But great shot all the same. This is EXACTLY the situation where you need a bicycle.

18 August 2010

King Sized Bike Shop Advertising

This bike shop in Altlandsberg, Germany decided to go all out to advertise their place. Co-owner Christian Petersen [Danish name, surprise, surprise] is visible in the window, surrounded by 120 bicycles hung on the facade.

Thanks to Frits for the link!

Great Minds Think A Bike

Great Minds Think a Bike
Just me playing around with poster designs. Prototypes for clients often lead to other bits and pieces.

Available as a poster here if you like. I'm not fussed either way.

16 August 2010

Bike Route Planner - Copenhagen Style

Cycle Copenhagen Cykel ruteplanlægger Route Planner

A new bicycle route planner has hit the Danish internet and it's pretty cool. Brian Haunstrup developed the Cycle Copenhagen route planner as a thesis project at the Institute for Geography and Geology at the University of Copenhagen. It was further developed and administered at Web Bureau Klikbart.

What makes it more interesting and useful than all the other route planners out there is that you get to choose from five different routes from your A to B (via C if you like) journey.

You punch in your addresses and then you choose one of the following options:

Shortest Route - Get there in a hurry, but take care!
Optimal Route - Use the best cycle tracks and get there a little bit safer.
Safest Route - Steer around the heaviest traffic.
Greenest Route - Take a trip on the green cycle network
Quiet Route - Enjoy quiet time on smaller streets.

I've tested it out on some different routes and apart from a couple of minor glitches [it's in Beta, so no problem] I could clearly see the difference in routes. An extra bonus is clicking on the tab Vis Netværksdata (Show Network Data) on the top right of the map.

A list shows up that gives you info about noise pollution levels, three levels of car traffic and three levels of bicycle traffic. In the screen grab, above, you can see the route I chose in green and then various layers of information added, including high, medium and low bicycle traffic as well as high car traffic levels. Click on the map and a box pops up. In the case of the screengrab, it's showing the number of cyclists crossing Queen Louise's Bridge each day. Brilliant stuff.

An English version is planned as well and Brian has plans for thematic routes. Fancy an architecture tour of the city? Select architecture as a theme, punch in how many stops you want and how far you want to ride and the route planner will generate a route for you.

If only commercial and/or municipal projects were this well thought out. We'll be linking to this puppy on the website and we hope it lives a long, healthy life.

Cycle Copenhagen Bicycle Route Planner - www.cyclecopenhagen.dk.

Personal Emotional Mobility

Car Designer
On my trip to Melbourne I arrived on the Monday and was scheduled to give my talk on the Saturday. Felix and I were picked up at the airport, together with another chap who was also speaking at the State of Design Festival.

A car designer. Former head of design for BMW. His name is Chris Bangle. Charming and personable with great humour.

He gave his talk on the Tuesday at the BMW Edge venue at Federation Square. I was looking forward to hearing about car design - all design is interesting to me - and it was going to be interesting to hear how the automobile industry and its designers are tackling the needs and moods of this new century.

According to the State of Design programme's text about Bangle we would hear all about how:
"We are becoming more aware of ‘personal mobility’, the choice we make for moving around. However, Bangle perceives the need to consider ‘personal emotional mobility’ if we are to seriously tackle behaviour change and develop more sustainable mobility products. People have developed ‘emotional’ attachments to their modes of transport, so if we want change we need to provide new experiences that act equally as a catalyst for emotional connection and sustainable outcomes."

To say I was disappointed is an understatement. Sustainability and the environment were hardly mentioned.

What I did learn was this funky and fresh new catchphrase created by Bangle to describe the evolution of designing cars: Personal Emotional Mobility.

Wicked! Sounds lovely and hip and modern and this was the phrase around which Bangle's talk revolved. What does it mean? Well, um... it turns out it means that the car industry needs to rethink their design so that people can have a heightened emotional attachment to their cars. It's a catchphrase to describe the goal of getting people to buy more cars.

Bangle said one thing that stood out, bold black on white. He said that the number of 16-18 year olds in the US who aren't bothering getting their driving licences is growing fast. Cars register less on their radar. Then Bangle said it:

"We have to hook them back to the car."

That's what he said. Sitting in the audience it was remarkable to see how many people turned their heads to the person next to them with quizzical looks on their faces. Silently asking each other; "Did he just say that? Really?"

Here on Copenhagenize.com we highlight the numerous examples of the car industry backing itself into a corner and angling their advertising to attack the growing armada of Citzen Cyclists in an attempt to maintain their market share, as well as promoting bike helmets to scare people off of bikes. It was refreshing and depressing to hear those nine words.

Felix was busy with his Nintendo during the talk - fair enough when you're eight - but he did look up at one point and whisper to me, "Daddy... isn't it funny that he's talking about cars and you're here to talk about bicycles?" Well spotted, my boy.

In the car from the airport, just after we had met, Bangle and I discussed various aspects of our respective fields. Bangle asked me two questions in the course of the conversation. Did I think that bikes should be registered like cars. I said no, as I've written on this blog. He asked an interesting question about whether bikes are the top-end of pedestrian traffic or the bottom-end of car traffic. I replied that bikes were the top-end of pedestrian traffic. Cyclists move faster than pedestrians but are capable of pedestrian-like movement and spontenaity.

During his talk he referred to our conversation and added a bit of bike-bashing for good measure. He mentioned the top-end/bottom-end question and suggested that cyclists want to be both. Delivered with a crooked smile and roll of the eyes expression on his face. He also chucked out the line that "somebody has to pay for the roads". Something that the good people at the I Pay Road Tax website/org would have a field day with.

I approached him after the talk - we all went to the same restaurant - and mentioned this myth about 'paying for roads'. "Oh, I know..." was the reply. So he knew... but still chucked out the line to the audience.

At the restaurant that evening Felix made himself famous in Melbourne. He was drawing at the table, on yellow post it notes. He asked me how to spell 'bicycle' and I helped him, not knowing what he had planned. He tip-toed over to Chris and put a post-it note on his back. He had written, simply:

I ♥ Bicycles.

Chris took it with a laugh but a whole bunch of the people at the table fired off text messages about this innocent but effective eight year-old bicycle advocacy activism.
Elegant Transport
So. What is Personal Emotional Mobility? The car industry would love you to mutter "oooh, baby" as your hands caress the carefully chosen material on your steering wheel and "Oh yeah..." as you look down the elegant slope of your hood. They want to trigger emotional reactions in people. All while those people are incarcerated inside their vehicles - completely and utterly cut off from the society in which they live. Isolated and alienated.

It's no secret that the car industry has borrowed freely from the bicycle industry throughout the past century. No Henry Ford without Alexander Pope. No selling their products gorgeously without the massive success of early bicycle marketing. Et cetera.

So here's what I'm doing. I'm plucking this catchphrase of Personal Emotional Mobility from the clutches of the car industry and planting it firmly in the blossoming garden of urban cycling.

Because you know what the great thing about Personal Emotional Mobility is? It describes perfectly what the bicycle can offer the person who rides it. It is a brilliant description of what I, personally, get out of riding a bicycle in cities.

My personal and emotional attachment with the cityscape, as well as with my fellow citizens whether on bicycles or on foot, is intensified, heightened.

I interact with my urban landscape as I roll down the cycle tracks or streets of my own, or any other city. The bicycle is independent mobility and on it I am an integral, active and visible element in the city. Offering yet another human thread that strengthens the societal fabric.

Thank you, Bangle. Thank you BMW. Your desperate attempt to sell cars has given me the perfect phrase with which to describe the beauty of the bicycle in cities.
So This Century
And you know what? We're changing the world for the second time around with our two and three-wheeled machines. Citius, altius, fortius.

Roll on.

Torrential Rain? Police Suggest Taking Bikes

Heels and Brolley
We've had some torrential rain here in Copenhagen over the past couple of days. These almost tropical rainstorms are increasing in frequency over the past few years. Flooding of roads and overflowing of sewer systems are often the result.

Last night a new rainstorm was forecast and I thought that the police's advisory was interesting. I caught it on Text TV before going to bed.

"Copenhagen Police encourage motorists to be extra cautious Monday morning.

"Get up early. Listen to the radio or go online. If it looks bad, take public transport or your bicycle.

Even if we don't get the same amount of rain, the traffic can be affected if the sewers once again can't keep up."

Very Copenhagen-esque. The bicycle - and public transport or a combination of the two - recommended as an alternative to the automobile during adverse weather. Nice.

Rainy Day2

Read the article in Danish at DR.

13 August 2010

Danish Cargo Bike Solidarity Race in Arizona

This is brilliant. If you're unable to attend the Danish Cargo Bike Championships, just hold your own. Nevermind if you're in Arizona. Or that you're the only cargo bike in a radius of 1000 km. Just get stuck in.

I'll let Cargobikecult do all the explaining. Check out their blogpost about the Danish Cargo Bike Championship Solidarity Race.

For loads of cargo bike photos check out our Flickr photoset.

Bloody Bicycles

Copenhagen Fashion Week 07
Believe it or not, sometimes I rather fancy taking photos of things other than bicycles. Street photography. Urban life. What have you.

Man walking with mirror on wheels. Cool shot. Started shooting. Realised whilst shooting that bicycles were reflected in the mirror. Stopped shooting, irritated.

Bloody bicycles. They're everywhere.

12 August 2010

Sim City

Abu Dhabi Bicycle
So on the way home from Melbourne Felix and I stopped in Abu Dhabi for 6 days to enjoy some daddy/son bonding at a nice hotel with a pool. And not much else. Abu Daddy and Felix Dhabi we called ourselves.

Abu Dhabi. What a strange place. There were bicycles, as the photo attests, but the city itself is bizarre. I would guess that most people would be able to form a mental picture upon hearing 'Dubai' what with all the OTT projects they've developed and the massive press about the place. But Abu Dhabi, only a hour or so by car from Dubai, is lesser known. The story is similar. Abu Dhabi was settled in the 1700's when Beduins found water in the area. It got it's first paved road in the mid-Sixties.

Now it's just plain bizarre. If you've ever played the video game Sim City, this will make more sense. I used to play a lot. You could find cheat codes on the internet. You could just leave the game running and generate obscene amounts of cash while buildings and cities were built.

That's how I felt in Abu Dhabi. Like I was in a pause mode in the midst of a Sim City game using every cheat code available.

I've never seen so many skyscrapers in the process of being erected. (I've never been to Dubai) I think I lost count at 30. What struck me was that none of the buildings - not one - was architecturally interesting. They will all end up being anonymous skyscrapers.
Sim City 092
Generally, the whole damn place is Coming Soon! They should carve those words in the desert, visible when you're coming in to land. Ferrari World! Coming soon! Nameless faceless office buildings! Coming soon!

From what I gather, Abu Dhabi is aiming at becoming a business centre, whilst Dubai seems to want to be a Disneylandish tourist destination. There are outrageously wide and new motorways everywhere. Even Dubai is working on a metro to ease the instant congestion that has befallen the place, but Abu Dhabi is content with asphalt, it seems.
Crazy Speeds
80 km/h inside cities?! 60 km/h inside AIRPORTS? (watch out when you're duty free shopping...)

I didn't feel at all safe on the roads, sitting in taxis. While there I read about an extremely high number of traffic fatalities and checking this link I can ascertain that there have been 391 fatalties in Abu Dhabi in the first six months of 2010. So double that for the year. Almost 800.

There are only about 1.4 million people in Abu Dhabi. By contrast, the number of traffic fatalities is over three times higher than in Denmark, with her 5.4 million people. Madness. How about a 200 car pile up on the road to Dubai?

With all the focus all around the world on urban planning and with all the bad experiences with traffic congestion it's wild that Abu Dhabi have stuck their fingers in their ears and are singing "The oil is forever! The oil is forever!"
There is bicycle infrastructure along the long Corniche beachfront route - you have to cross eight lanes of traffic to get to the beach/cycle tracks but hey... - but these seem to be primarily recreational.
We didn't bother. To get anywhere and everywhere a taxi was required. So apart from a couple of trips to shopping mall hells (but it was low season so there were great sales! and arcades for Felix!) we stayed at the hotel and hung out in the pools and on the beach.
Abu Dhabi Bicycle 02
This ridiculously out of place billboard is complete fiction. Happy dad, happy child learing to ride a bicycle. I've never seen so many obese children in my life. At the hotel and at the shopping malls.

This blogpost seems to be a kind of city review of Abu Dhabi but really I felt the entire time that I was in some strange video game in some bizarre, fictional place trapped between the past and the apocalyptic future.

Our Father
Our father? Stop abusing your children.

11 August 2010

It's All About The Bike - Robert Penn

I had the pleasure of reading a new cycling book recently. "It's All About the Bike - The Pursuit of Happiness on Two Wheels" by British author Robert Penn.

It is a great read and the premise is so simple that you wonder why it wasn't done before. Rob decided he wanted the perfect bike. Not THE perfect bike... HIS perfect bike. The bike of his own personal dreams. He set off on a global pursuit to acquire all the bits and pieces that would end up being his dream ride. A bicycle he can grow old with.

He knows his gear and his journey sends him to Portland for a headset, to Italy for drive train, forks and handlebars, Germany for tires, Switzerland for rims and Belgium for spokes - wheels assembled in California where he also rides the Repack with Breeze and Kelly - and he travels about the UK to get his fingers on a frame, hubs and a saddle.

The journey is punctuated with nuggets of historical references which provides a perfect balance. It's an entertaining read and a key to the mind of a passionate man who loves to ride bicycles. I don't give a toss about the whole gear thing, but the book was accessible and welcoming even to 'people like me'. :-)

"The bicycle saves my life every day. If you’ve ever experienced a moment of awe or freedom on a bicycle; if you’ve ever taken flight from sadness to the rhythm of two spinning wheels, or felt the resurgence of hope pedalling to the top of a hill with the dew of effort on your forehead; if you’ve ever wondered, swooping bird-like down a long hill on a bicycle, if the world was standing still; if you have ever, just once, sat on a bicycle with a singing heart and felt like an ordinary man touching the gods, then we share something fundamental. We know it’s all about the bike."

Here's the team from Particular Books/Penguin on their way to the book launch last month. On bicycles, of course. You can read reviews of the book from the links on Rob's website - robpenn.net

It's All About the Bike: The Pursuit of Happiness on Two Wheels is published by Particular Books/Penguin on 29 July 2010 in the UK, and by Bloomsbury in the USA in Spring 2011.

Get Home Faster in Sydney

Sydney cycleways
Gerry from Infodesign in Australia sent us this great - and visionary considering the situation in Australia - example of how Sydney is putting some thought and money into promoting A2Bism as a way to encourage cycling in the city.

Cycleways - To get us all home faster. More bikes. Less traffic.

Check out the Sydney Cycleways website to see examples of other rather interesting slogans in use for the campaign. All and all it looks like a refreshingly modern and progressive campaign. Far from the traditional bike advocacy stuff you see.

A great approach to sell the idea of infrastructure - and bicycle transport in general - to the broader - and sceptical - population.

Moving Flat by Bicycle in Vienna

Here's another great video of someone moving flats in Vienna by bicycle. The event was part of the EuroEnviro 2010 symposium. One of the workshops featured the challenge of moving the entire contents of a flat exclusively by cargo bikes. A young couple were moving and 12 volunteers from the symposium showed up to help them. Most of the volunteers had never ridden a cargo bike before.

It all went well!

The bikes were provided by several institutions, including Heavy Pedals - a courier company; Lastenradkollektiv - a collective that rents out cargo bikes to the public and a bike kitchen.

It was sponsored by a bicycle NGO, Radlobby, in Vienna.

You may remember my friend Jordi and his friends doing the same in Barcelona.

Great inspiration for Marc from Amsterdamize.com who will soon be moving flats in Amsterdam.

Thanks to Peter in Vienna for the link.

10 August 2010

Motorist Ticketed - Motorist Stupid

Ticketed Outside School
There's a campaign at the moment in conjunction with kids going back to school, mentioned in the previous post. I was pleased to see our local officer outside Felix's classroom window ticketed an illegally parked car.

Yesterday the roundabout right by the school had a new feature. Nobody knows how but this motorist A. didn't see the roundabout and B. somehow managed to force his BMW up over the large rocks to rest in the middle of the island, somehow missing the tree. This happened in the afternoon, around three, when parents are picking kids up from school.

The motorist apparently tried to get the car out but couldn't. He then disappeared. Perhaps to return today. The cop in the first photo was on it. He'll figure it out.

This is why we should have 20 km/h zones around our school - and every other one. At the moment it's 40 km/h. Madness.

3D Warning Signs for Cars on the Road

Now that it's back to school time there is a lot of focus on kids getting to school safely. At Mølholms School in the town of Vejle there is a unique solution on the roads. A 3D warning sign that looks - to motorists - like it's thick and lying in the middle of the road.

You can see a very brief video about it here at TV2 News. It's in Danish but it's all about the images, innit.

It isn't easy getting permission to put up such warning signs on roads or bike lanes. I've investigated the possibilites before, because of some ideas I have about behavourial campaigns or warning signage for cars when approaching bike lanes or sidewalks. Instead of ridiculous car-centric campaigns like this one in Copenhagen.

Watch Out for Angles/Angels

I've blogged this photo before, above, but the journey from idea to implementation was long according to colleagues. There was the question of whether signage on the bike lane would be 'dangerous' because it would cause people to lose focus whilst cycling. It was eventually approved and it's used in various forms. The stickers above warn about right-turning vehicles. They are easy to apply and easily removed when the campaign is finished.

In related news, police are out in force at the moment because of school starting, happily ticketing parents who break the traffic laws when dropping off kids at school in cars. Nice to have a little focus on the bull for a change.

09 August 2010

Dan Maes Was Right About the Red Threat!

Sorry people, but Republican Gubernatorial candiate Dan Maes of Colorado was right. The bicycle is a Trojan horse that will destroy American values and society.

"This is all very well-disguised, but it will be exposed," Maes told about 50 supporters who showed up at a campaign rally last week in Centennial.

Maes said in a later interview that he once thought the mayor's efforts to promote cycling and other environmental initiatives were harmless and well-meaning. Now he realizes "that's exactly the attitude they want you to have."

"This is bigger than it looks like on the surface, and it could threaten our personal freedoms," Maes said.

Here's the proof.

Dan Maes Was Right! 001
Required reading.

Dan Maes Was Right! 002
There is no escape.

Dan Maes Was Right! 003
The funny thing is that if you google Dan Maes the 4th link is to The Craziest Republican of the Day - Dan Maes. And many links on the first page of the search are about his wacko comments. Gaffes are punished on the internet these days. That's why this blogpost and others like it should be re-linked, re-tweeted, facebooked, you name it.
Cycle Chic as Danish Stamp
And here's the piece duh lah resistance. A United Nations (un-American) stamp celebrating the Womens Decade (un-American) on a stamp featuring a bicycle (un-American). And this one is real.

I was inspired by Cyclelicio.us' post about the same Dan Maes: Red Bikes, Red Dawn. Here's a great gallery for Soviet posters.

Keep Posties Cycling!

Copenhagen Post

Got this from my colleagues at the CTC in the UK:

The Royal Mail recently decided to scrap bicycle delivery and switch to electric trolleys that are shipped out by vans. This would not only make a postal workers’ job less fun, but will have a negative impact on both road safety and the environment. CTC – the UK’s national cyclists’ organisation is campaigning for the Royal Mail to use cargo bikes and tricycles to deliver letters and packages instead, this is already the norm in other European countries.

CTC has launched a campaign to 'Keep Posties Cycling'. As well as hundreds of people sending us letters expressing their concerns about Royal Mail's plans, many postmen and postwomen have told us about why they love doing their work on bicycles and can’t believe that the Royal Mail are planning to force them to travel by van.

To take part in the campaign it only needs a few clicks on the CTC website.

The online form automatically generates a letter that will be delivered in one load by cargo bike to Royal Mail’s new Chief Executive Moya Greene at Royal Mail's headquarters.

Get clicking!

08 August 2010

Pedestrian Copenhagen

Just returned from a 40 km, 3 day canoe trip with 40 adults and kids from my son's school class. School starts tomorrow and we had a last gasp summer holiday on a Swedish river. I'm exhausted but happy. And too tired to generate original content, so once again it's Copenhagenize Cable TV - featuring yet another film from Streetfilms.org. This time about Copenhagen as a pedestrian city. Denmark is one of the most pedestrianized countries in Europe and Copenhagen is the pearl.

06 August 2010


Don't know how this one slipped past my radar. Brilliance from Streetfilms.org. Meet Veronica Moss, lobbyist from A.U.T.O. - Automobile Users Trade Organization. If she was Danish she'd work for the Road Safety Council [Rodet for Sikker Panik].

05 August 2010

Ulitmate Pannier

Now THAT'S a bicycle pannier! Love it. Shot is from Nepal.

Thanks to Paul Martin in Brisbane for this shot and all the other ones in this gallery from ABC. Showing the bicycle at work all around the world. I love the bicycle powered fan in the jail in Manila.

03 August 2010

Bike Helmet Protest in Melbourne

Melbourne Helmet Demonstration 09
I had a brilliant week in Melbourne as a guest of the State of Design Festival. Loads of interviews and events that all culminated with my keynote speech on the Saturday.

There was, however, an event on the Saturday morning - July 26, 2010 - that was extremely interesting to be a part of. A group of citizens, rallied together by filmmaker and bicycle advocate Mike Rubbo, decided to go for a bicycle ride together on Melbourne's new bike share system bikes. A splendid idea. Melbourne's bike share system is shiny new, although unlike most cities in the world with a bike share programme, only 70-odd people are using them each day. In Dublin, by contrast, there are over 30,000 subscribers. Not to mention the cracking successes in Paris, Barcelona, Seville and most of the over 100 cities with such systems.

So, a group of people, many of them Copenhagenize.com readers, fancy a bike ride. Sounds lovely enough. They met up at the bike racks at Melbourne University. Hired the bikes without a problem. Now the tricky bit is that you can rent a bike spontaneously - the whole point of such systems - but you then have to figure out how to get a bike helmet. The State of Victoria, like all Australian states (not Northern Territory... they repealed their all-ages helmet law when they saw cycling levels fall drastically) has an all-ages mandatory bike helmet law.
Melbourne Helmet Demonstration 06
The bike ride was a demonstration to point out that a bike share system won't work with a helmet law and that Australia's failed helmet laws should be reconsidered.

I arrived at about 09:40, together with my son, Felix. After greeting some of the people I noticed two Melbourne bicycle cops lingering nearby. Speaking in low tones, eying the 'mob'. They had been there since 09:00, waiting for this 'demonstration' to kick off. Seriously. Two city employees lingering, doing nothing, for an hour because some people had announced they were going for a bike ride. Mike Rubbo had generated some good pre-press about the ride. Like this from the ABC and this article in The Age newspaper.

It included this poll, which signals a sea change in public opinion in Australia:
Should public-bike scheme users be excused from wearing helmets?
Yes... 71%
No.... 29%
Total votes: 13885

Melbourne Helmet Demonstration 22
Felix and I took a bunch of photos but this shot really sums it up for me. Mike Rubbo on the left, Dr Paul Martin on the right and an ominous-looking police officer keeping an eye on us all. Dr Martin is from Brisbane and flew down for the ride. He recently recieved a ticket for cycling without a helmet in Queensland and is intent on fighting it, following in the footsteps of Sue Abbott, from New South Wales. They were all wearing badges from The European Cyclists Federation's Ask Me Why I Cycle Without a Helmet campaign. Mike Rubbo also did a film about the bike share system in the days up to the protest.

(it was actually Felix, aged 8, who took this shot, which makes this dad proud, but that's another story...)

Melbourne Helmet Demonstration 02 Melbourne Helmet Demonstration 07
There were loads of cameras and journalists present during the whole event. People going for bike rides must be big news in Australia. After Mike Rubbo did the talking to the press the group was off.

Melbourne Helmet Demonstration 11 Melbourne Helmet Demonstration 08 Melbourne Helmet Demonstration 10
All in all, it was a frightfully well-dressed demonstration and with the exception of the recent Velo-City Global conference in Copenhagen and conferences in La Rochelle and Lleida, Catalunya, I hadn't before been with such a large group of well-informed people who knew their science about helmets and who were so passionate about promoting cycling.

Melbourne Helmet Demonstration 25_1 Melbourne Helmet Demonstration 04
Here is one of the bike racks for the bike share bikes and here's Felix joining the press corps to document the event. It was great to have him along to witness this little slice of democracy. I explained the whole situation to him as neutral as possible.

What from I understand the University of Melbourne grounds were private property so the police - and camera crews - tagged along as the group rode away.

Melbourne Helmet Demonstration 16 Melbourne Helmet Demonstration 19
As soon as the group hit the mean streets of Melbourne, the police moved in. Three bicycle cops and three (!) police cars were in action to tackle the 20+ well-dressed people on bicycles. Comical.

After some discussion the police informed the group that they wouldn't be ticketed but if they decided to continue riding, they would be. Six or seven of the group set off.
Melbourne Helmet Demonstration 17
And enjoyed it!

Melbourne Helmet Demonstration 14 Melbourne Helmet Demonstration 15
They were all ticketed accordingly. The fine for cycling without a helmet in Melbourne is a whopping $160. Not exactly encouraging people to cycle, now is it. Fining them for contributing to lower pollution levels, better public health, etc etc. is hardly the way to build the foundations of a bicycle culture. In contrast, Sydney is experiencing a greater boom in cycling, despite having less infrastructure, largely because they don't bother punishing cyclists for riding bicycles without helmets.

Melbourne Helmet Demonstration 23 Melbourne Helmet Demonstration 24
After the evildoers were duly punished, we all walked our bikes for the rest of the short route. One chap was straddling his bicycle and was told to dismount. Straddling bicycles is, apparently, illegal.

Melbourne Helmet Demonstration 18 Melbourne Helmet Demonstration 21
After the formalities were complete and the route was completed, the bikes were returned and we retired to a local café for a coffee. Pleased with the results, pleased that a debate, hopefully and finally, has been launched in this country. Hopeful that the work of so many Australians may finally reach a greater audience. Dr Dorothy Robinson, Prof. Piet de Jong, Chris Gilliam, Bill Curnow, et al.

Melbourne Helmet Demonstration 25
There's always room for a spot of Cycle Chic, even when protesting. At left is Jenny from Auckland Cycle Chic and at right is Saskia from Cycle Chic Sundays - Sydney. Both made the trip to Melbourne to hear my talk. Which was wonderful!

At the end of the day it's a David v Goliath challenge, but this was an excellent start.

Now it's interesting to see what Vancouver does or doesn't do with their impending bike share system.