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

21 comments:

Paul said...

What a lovely idea - and good news that it seems to be working. I think I'll go out and be nice to someone today.

Anonymous said...

And what happend if the bike is locked with a chain. do they break it?

Anonymous said...

A) People in Denmark rarely chain their bike to anything

B) If they're parked illegally at a metro station they're most likely parked on the open space around the station.

Amber said...

This is another classic reason why Copenhagen is in my to 3 favourite cities in the world. Imagine if the whole world had the same mind set when it came to the law. Just beautiful.

Neil said...

Danes must be much less self centred than the average person. I would totally park my bike illegally - not every day, but once a month or so - in order to get free service on the most tedious chores of bike maintenance.

didrik said...

That's just awesome. Carrots instead of sticks.

Anonymous said...

I must illegally park my bike at the nearest metro station ;)

tensaimon said...

I'd guess the idea is that as well as getting that free service, you also get a polite note explaining why they'd like you to not park your bike where you did - if there are good reasons then people will oblige out of their own good nature.

alfie kohn has a lot to say about this kind of thing in his book "the brighter side of human nature", worth a read if you think this plan was a good idea.

Anonymous said...

Hmm ... someone pouring a random oil on my chain and pumping my tyres to maximum pressure without asking? Not a nice thought. I can take care of my bike myself, thank you.

Green Idea Factory said...

Very nice.

Urbanplannercyclisthousebuilderetc... said...

Danish TV2Lorry had a segment about it (in danish)
http://www.tv2lorry.dk/moduler/nyheder/showregvideo.asp?dato=26-08-2010&cID=1&vId=561787

NickGT said...

this only works because Danes are honest and law abiding citizens, if this happened in other countries, it totally would not work

Anonymous said...

@Amber yeah that would be so cool, dont send a rapist to jail, give a rapist a little Chinese boy

oldeboots said...

@ Anonymous 08:36: One person's carrot is another person's stick.

Policy still works ;)

sporting goods review said...

This means people in Copenhagen have high awareness. They could think that better to park illegally coz they get rewarded, but instead, they respect the law. Great job guys!

ladyfi said...

What a great idea! Being pleasant gets you further than telling people off.

ladyfi said...

What a great idea! Being pleasant gets you further than telling people off.

Richard Tulloch said...

Maybe I should give the car that always parks across the bike lane in my street a polish. And then leave a warning note that cars parked here could get their nice polish accidentally scratched by a passing bike.

Joe said...

It just blows my mind that there is a major city where people habitually leave their bikes unlocked, and they are not stolen.

And it makes me a little sad, that I don't live there.

Beebe said...

While I love the spirit of the idea, carrots instead of sticks and whatnot, I would not be happy about someone oiling my chain or pumping my tires. I keep my tires where I want them and putting oil on my waxed chain would create a great deal of mess and work for me.

Thomas said...

Danish bikes are almost always locked, just not always *to* anything.
Tire pressure is not a big issue for most Danes since these bikes are mostly just solid but cheap things for transport, not your top-of-the-line sportsfetishthing; as long as your tire is not flat or too soggy - or too pumped, then there's no need to worry. Same deal with oil on the chain; only few wax their chains (or even oil them). In general, Danish towns and cities are not really geared to the super-fast, lycra-wearing clip-on sports cyclists.