30 October 2010

Amsterdam Bicycle Police

Amsterdam Cycle Chic - Police
Here are two bicycle police officers in Amsterdam on my recent visit. I went over after taking the shot to ask them a couple of questions. They were extremely sweet and friendly - quite a contrast to the Danish bike cop I tried to engage in a conversation a while back.

I asked them how many bicycle coppers there were in the city and they said that there are always 12 on the streets. I asked them if they ever wore helmets and they just laughed. I was struck by the difference between these very human and accessible enforcement officers and the guerilla warrior look in Copenhagen.

I was curious to hear if Amsterdam still had beat cops - police patrolling on foot - and they said that they did. Isn't that lovely? Beat cops walking about the city? Isn't that a fine little detail in the life of a liveable city?

29 October 2010

San Francisco Critical Mass - From '09 to '10


In a few hours the streets of San Francisco will be filled with bicycles. This year's Halloween Critical Mass gets underway tonight.

I rode in the Critical Mass last year - the video above is about the event - and man, it would be cool to be back to ride this year. In lieu of being there, I watch the film.

While I remain critical of critical mass, there are many great examples of positive versions. Budapest springs to mind.

San Francisco's version is somehow unique and special

Check out the Flickr set about the ride, too.

The music in the video is by a friend of mine, Andy, in the UK. Atlum Schema is the name. Check it out at www.atlumschema.co.uk. This song of his seems to fit the video so perfectly.

The Human Bicycle Celebration


FC Stjarnan is an Icelandic football club from Garðabær and they have become youtubey famous for their creative (and time-consuming) celebrations when scoring goals. Above is the human bicycle.


Here's a compilation of their best goal celebrations.

27 October 2010

Lovin' Montreal


I recieved a tweet from Gabriel today. It read, simply, "Hey @Copenhagenize, give some love to Montreal" and included the link to the film, above.

Gabriel is right. It's high time to give Montreal some amour. Despite the fact that I often hear how Montreal is doing amazing things about getting Citizen Cyclists onto bicycles, it's been tricky finding material/documentation. That is a good sign. It means the city and her citizens are just getting on with it, instead of getting bogged down in discussions. On two occasions I've met lovely people at conferences from Vélo Québec, the province's cycling NGO and between them and the grapevine, what is happening in Montreal is quite astounding.

The above film is a great start. An intersection in the city. Loads of people on bicycles. Fortunately, my friend Marie from the City of Copenhagen's Bicycle Office was in Montreal earlier this month and I begged her to take some photos of the city's blossoming bicycle life.

Bixi Business
Like in over 130 cities around the world, a bike share system has kickstarted the return of bicycle to the city. In Montreal's case it's the Bixi. In October 3 million trips had been registered so far this year.
Voilà
Bicycle symbolism is always good.
Velorution Quebequoise
And bicycle-related street art doesn't hurt either.
Taking His Time
Great to see sights like this.
Goûtez. Souriez. Continuez.
And, being from Copenhagen, three-wheeled bicycle vendors warm our hearts.
Hatted Up
Montreal has supermums, too. Which is one of the surest signs that the city is doing something right. I recall reading that Montreal has the highest level of female urban cyclists in North America. Can any reader confirm that?
Double Flow Lane
And infrastructure is the key.

Montreal... here's my love. I would love to visit the city and see 4real.

Marie has more photos in her Flickr set.

Road "Justice"

You're going to love this...

RoadJustice.ca.

Does the thought of an angry motorist driving about the city taking photos and filming whilst behind the wheel make the city a safer place? Hardly. Does Angry Motorist's congratulations to Toronto's new mayor Rob Ford give him street cred? Nah.

We recommend Angry Motorist hook up with this chap in Montreal and buy one of these.

We Love The Future


Paul from Brisbane sent us this advert he spotted in a copy of The Economist. For the insurance company Ageas.

He writes:
"I like a future that looks like that."

Indeed.

Helsinki by Bicycle


One of our readers, James, sent us this film he made on a visit to Helsinki. He writes:

"I recently traveled around Europe and took advantage of easy bike rentals to explore different cities and bike cultures. Denmark, Netherlands, Finland, and Sweden to name a few. While I was in Helsinki I shot a video with a couple pocket cameras and I think it helps capture exploring a city. From getting lost, finding amazing sites beyond what can be reached on two feet, finding your way again, and how a single speed and two wheels can help show the best sides of a city."

We agree.

26 October 2010

Brain On, Motor Off - Brilliant Bicycle/Pedestrian Campaign from Germany


This was originally blogged on 27 November 2009. The Dutch national Bicycle Council - Fietsberaad - has reported that this campaign has been a massive success.

"83 percent of the approximately 950,000 people who remember the campaign, have been directly affected by it. Within months 26 per cent preferred taking a bicycle or walked for distances of up to 5 kilometres. That means a reduction of 60 million car kilometres, which is 13,650 tonnes of CO2. Calculated nationally in Germany it would mean a reduction of 3.8 billion car kilometres , or 1 million tonnes of CO2." - From the Fietsberaad's website.

Brilliant. Going right to the heart of the matter. Placing negative focus on cars in favour of bicycles and pedestrianism. And the campaign was inexpensive: the Ministry of the Environment invested some 1.3 million Euro in the towns of Bamberg, Dortmund, Halle and Karlsruhe in 2009

The original post:
Strange how this one snuck under the Copenhagenize.com radar. It's a national campaign in Germany called Kopf an, Motor aus or I suppose it would be Turn on your brain, turn off your motor in English. It's funded by the German Federal Ministry of Transport and if campaigns that promote cycling and pedestrians positively get us all hot and bothered and giggly, then consider us all hot and bothered and giggly.

It's all about eliminating short trips by car and who can't be thrilled to see a massive poster like the one above in Dortmund reading, "A Big Thank You - to all Dortmund Cyclists."

Not a dry eye in the house. In the other cities that hosted the campaign there were similar posters and billboards thanking the citizens of those places. Here's another one from Dortmund:


The Kopf an, Motor aus website is only in German but run it through Google Translate for more information.

Here's some more bicycle-related photos from the website. The effect of Cycle Chic on bicycle marketing in Europe is not to be underestimated. It really has hit a nerve and is visible even in government brochures in some countries, particularly France.

In the above photo from the campaign in Berlin are celebrities Judith Holofernes from the band We Are Heroes, star chef Sarah Wiener and Olympic champion Britta Steffen.

By all accounts it seems to be a wonderfully, positive campaign. This focus on reducing the number of short trips by car and transferring them to public transport, foot or bicycle is something we're seeing more and more often in Europe. The Swedish city of Malmö has had great success with a similar campaign.

The Kopf an, Motor Aus campaign has a cinema and TV advert which, while nothing revolutionary on a marketing level, is feel goody.

I particularly enjoyed the moment when she refused to hug a motorist.

So a frightfully postive cycling/walking/public transport campaign funded by the national government in Germany. Not bad. Not bad at all.

Toronto's Rob Ford Hates Bicycles


Meet Toronto's new Mayor.

We blogged this back in August, writing:

"Um. Yeah. Okay... there are quite of few things that I could write. I think I'll just let Councillor Rob Ford from Etobicoke North in Toronto (Slogan: Working for the People) do it all on his own.

The man is, apparently, running for Mayor. Dark days for the development of Toronto as a more livable city - using the bicycle as a tool to that end - if the likes of this chap get into power.

Talk about ignoring the bull.

Thanks to Kevin for the link."


Dismal. But read this blog post from Curbside Cycles in Toronto. Hope ahead?

Is is time to listen to The Smiths?

A push and a rush and the land that
we stand on is ours
It has been before
So it shall be again

25 October 2010

Bicycles in The Red Light District in Utrecht

Utrecht - Zandpad - Bicycles and Prostitutes
After visiting the Dutch Cyclists Union - Fietsersbond - last week for a business meeting we went on a bicycle ride around the city of Utrecht.

What a lovely city with some interesting and enlightening infrastructure for bicycles. Like elsewhere in the Netherlands, Utrecht has a Red Light District. It's called the Zandpad (Sand path) and it is located along a picturesque canal. The women work out of long row of canal boats.

working girl7
Photo by Buzzthrill on Flickr.

Together with Suzanne, Wim and Theo from the Fietserbond we cycled past. Suzanne explained how the bicycle path along the canal had experienced some problems with the heavy traffic in area. Cars were parking up on the bicycle lane and customers were walking along it like a sidewalk.

In typical Dutch fashion, a solution was sought. Fences were put up between the road and parking and the two-way bicycle lane in order to allow unrestricted access for bicycles to ride past. Taking photos is frowned upon, but I took the photo at the top from a bridge and you can see the fences on the left. There were just as many canal boats on the other side of the bridge behind me.

You could, of course, lock your bicycle to the fence if you were a customer arriving by bicycle. An added bonus.

Utrecht Cycle Chic - Wim and Suzanne
Here's Wim and Suzanne. Theo decided to take his Velomobiel:
Utrecht Cycle Chic - Theos Banana

23 October 2010

While They're Waiting for Infrastructure....


... these kids in Florida are taking matters into their own hands. What a great little video about high school students joining forces to ride their bicycles to school.

22 October 2010

Citröen Uses Bikes to Sell Cars


So here's the Citröen advert we blogged about a while back when they were filming it in Copenhagen - The Car Industry Strikes Back - This Time With a New Angle.

Firstly, you don't see people on bicycles with Asian-style kleenex masks on their face, but hey.

After all the recent adverts from the car industry going after bicycles in their marketing - seeing them as competitors - this is a new angle.

It's cheesy, sure. People sucking in great lungfuls of clean air, revelling in the pure goodness of the Citröen. Embracing each other as they marvel at the car. Sheesh.

Let's just say it's refreshing not to be under attack from the car industry and be pleased that none of the cyclists hopped off their bike and into a car. At the end of the day the advert is quite positive. They're trying to show and tell that this car will - apparently - make the air in our cities cleaner and that is something that the people on bicycles (and everyone else) will benefit from.

UCI World Championship Road Race in Copenhagen


Not everyday you'll see lycra on this blog but here's a promo film about next year's UCI World Championship Road Race.

The time trial is going be a hoot. Because this is a high profile event, the city of Copenhagen is going to be highjacked by the race. Which is cool. The start and finish line will be on Hans Christian Andersen Boulevard right next to city hall and the route will cover most of the city centre and some suburbs.

The road race will have a start and finish on Geels Hill in the municipality of Rudersdal. According to the head of the Danish Cyclists Union, former racing cyclist Jesper Worre;

"We have created an interesting and demanding circuit going up Geels Hill. With no less than 20 laps of 14 km, we are convinced that it will be a very tuff and varied World Championship in Denmark 2011".

Some good climbs in the hills to the north of the city and a beautiful scenic area.

Looking forward to the time trial more than anything though. Right in the heart of the city.

www.copenhagen2011.dk/

21 October 2010

Copenhagen in Madrid


Copenhagen is making a guest appearence in Madrid these days. There is an exhibition at the Circulo de Bellas Artes called Miradas de Europa, which is translated on the website as Looking on Europe. Sponsored by the EU and the City of Madrid.

"A visual journey around the European Union as seen through the eyes of its photographers, this is an exhibition about tradition and local customs, historical places and events relevant to each culture, bringing us closer to a reality which is near at hand and yet largely unknown."

One photo from each of the 27 European Union countries is presented and a photo of mine is representing Denmark. Which is flattering and humbling.

Thanks to the Royal Danish Embassy in Madrid.

For the next month, at least, there is some separated bicycle infrastructure in Madrid... and more is on the way.

Circulo de Bellas Artes
C/ Marqués de Casa Riera 2, Madrid.

18 October 2010

Estonian Bicycle Music Video


Not every day we get to blog about Estonian music, but here's a brilliant music video from August Hunt, featuring bicycles, bicycles and more bicycles. Wonderfully filmed.

17 October 2010

Bicycles Are Returning to NYC


Clarence at Streetfilms has produced another fine film, this one about the leaps and bounds the city has made regarding bicycle infrastructure.

Regardless of age or ability, everyone deserves the right to a safe and convenient bike commute. In New York City, every day the DOT is making that more of a reality - thanks to an incredible diversity of bike facilities. The city has moved past simple, striped bike lanes and on to refreshing configurations like curbside, floating parking-protected, physically separated, two-way bike paths.

Bike riding is on the rise. Commutes that were unthinkable years ago, are becoming attainable. Riders are more confident in their knowledge of the street grid. One resource that helps is the NYC Cycling Map. Use this cycling freebie to not only link up to the best routes in your neighborhood, but also to find alternatives and experiment with your riding. You'll be amazed how easy - and safe - it can be.

So for inspiration and major cajoling, I decided to hop on my Batavus Dutch crusier and show you my new commute from Jackson Heights, Queens all the way to the Streetfilms offices in lower Manhattan via the Manhattan Bridge. It's a hardy 11 miles each way, and yet almost 90% of the journey is on some sort of bike facility or marked bike route. Furthermore, about 5 miles of it is on completely separate car-free bicycling paths, its no wonder that many days I arrive at work in a zen-like state.

Bicycles by Night

As a follow up to the previous post about the live updated bike share tracker, I thought I'd have a look at the action at 22:30 on a Saturday evening.

Here's the screengrab from the Bike-o-meter. I realise that in a few countries there is an awful lot of focus on 'commuting'. The act of riding a bicycle for transport often only gets mentioned as a way to get from home to work and back again in North America, Australasia and Britain.

This is a far too narrow way to sell urban cycling. The cities that are booming - thanks to the bike share systems but also a whole slough of of initiatives - are working to firmly re-plant the bicycle on the urban landscape. Making the bicycle the way to get around the city all all times. Down to the shops. To a café. The supermarket. Et cetera. Getting to and from work is only one aspect of it but it gets too much press.

Look at Barcelona. From no bikes three years ago to almost 5% modal split. The bicycles are on the move all day long. At 22:30 in Barcelona 13% of their bike share bikes are in action. Impressive.

When the bicycle returns to a city it becomes an intergal part of life. Not least nightlife, now that we're talking about a Saturday night. This is a good idea of the bicycle in use at night in Copenhagen. And here's another post about the Nocturnal Life of Copenhagen Bicycles.

In Barcelona, Dublin, Seville, Valencia, Milan the bicycles are moving people about on their Saturday night social activities.

(And now that it's daytime in North America, it's nice to see some respectable numbers from the cities 'over there')

16 October 2010

Utrecht


I'll be in Utrecht on Tuesday and I'm sooo looking forward to it. I'll be meeting with the Dutch Cyclists Union - Fietserbond. Kindred spirits, indeed.

15 October 2010

The Bike-o-Meter


Paul Martin sent us this, too. From the same craftsman as the bike share live map in the previous post. Wonderful, simplified graphics.

Check it out right here - The Bike-o-Meter.

Bike Share Usage Comparisons

Melbourne Helmet Demonstration 25_1DC SmartbikesParis Bike Culture - Vive la Vélib'Vienna City Bike Couple 2Dublin Cycle Chic - DublinbikesBarcelona Bicing CardGirocleta Girona 02
Paul Martin in Brisbane sent me an online toy this morning and I've been playing around with it. It's a live map of bike share system use in a variety of cities.

I decided to compare the levels of bike share use in 12 cities. Nine of them in Europe, as well as Melbourne, Montreal and Washington, DC.

I checked the levels of usage at 08:00 AM in all the European cities (I'm including London and Dublin under that label). The morning rush hour is beginning, people are heading to work. I checked the current weather conditions, too. It's late-autumn in Europe and morning temperatures are getting chillier.

So, here we go. At 08:00 in the morning local time on a Friday:


PARIS - VÉLIB [8 AM / 10°C / cloudy]
753 bikes in use
4.3% in use / Normal
753 is highest so far today

MILAN - BIKEMI [8 AM / 8°C / shallow fog]
110 bikes in use
9% in use / High
1142 is highest so far today

LONDON - BORIS BIKES [8 AM / 10°C / light drizzle]
404 bikes in use
9% in use / High
404 is highest so far today

BARCELONA - BICING [8 AM - 12°C / party cloudy]
847 bikes in use
17% in use / Extremely high
882 is highest so far today

DUBLIN - DUBLIN BIKES [8 AM / 6°C / party cloudy]
76 bikes in use
20% in use / Extremely high
78 is highest so far today

BRUSSELS - VILLO [8 AM / 9°C / mostly cloudy]
106 bikes in use
6% in use / Fairly high
106 is highest so far today

VIENNA - CITYBIKES [8 AM / 8°C / cloudy]
54 bikes in use
7% in use / Fairly high
72 is highest so far today

SEVILLE - SEVICI [8 AM / 15°C / fine]
265 bikes in use
13% in use / Very high
265 is highest so far today

VALENCIA - VALENBISI [8 AM / 16°C / mostly cloudy]
101 bikes in use
10% in use / High
175 is highest so far today

That brings us to the cities outside of Europe. In Melbourne when it's 08:00 CET, the time is 17:00. Rush hour going home on a Friday. Prime time for bike share system use. The weather is, coincedentally, very similar to many European cities. Drizzle in London, light rain in Melbourne.

There are comparable levels of bicycle-friendly infrastructure and a general perception of 'crazy drivers' in Melbourne and a number of the cities on the list, which makes an even better comparison. So how is their bike share system doing? Remember, Melbourne is the only city on the list that has an all-ages, mandatory helmet law (and one of the very few places that actually enforce it.)


MELBOURNE - BIKESHARE [5 PM / 8°C / light rain]
3 bikes in use
0.7% in use / Very low
7 is highest so far today

There is still little improvement in usage in Melbourne, despite enormous media coverage.

I checked out Washington, DC and Montreal as well. Please note that the time in these two cities was 02:30. Middle of the night. Was anybody using their bike share bicycles?


WASHINGTON - DC BIKES [2:30 AM / 11°C / cloudy]
7 bikes in use
1.2% in use / Low
38 is highest so far today

MONTREAL - BIXI [2:30 AM / 10°C / light rain]
20 bikes in use
0.5% in use / Extremely low
243 is highest so far today

Well... um... in the middle of the night in Washington and Montreal there are more bike share bicycles in use than in Melbourne.

Last year, Copenhagenize selected The World's Worst Bike Share Programme - Wheels4Wellness. It still may be the dubious winner of the title, but goodness me... Melbourne just may be gaining.

Just before publishing this, I had a look at the current levels at time of writing.

Dublin: 09:00 AM - 42% bikes in use!
London: 09:00 AM - 17% bikes in use!
Paris: 10:00 AM - 7% bikes in use - up 2.7% since an hour ago.

Check out the Oobrien.com website and see the current levels in all these cities and more.

14 October 2010

The House of Lords, feat: Copenhagenize/BikeBiz

Westminster Bicycle
The Carbon Trust's Bicyclegate continued yesterday and made it into the House of Lords. The transcript of which I include here.

Generally, reading the questions and responses, it seems like an awful lot of peers with little experience of cycling pulling all manner of stereotypes and misinformation out of their robes. Fortunately, there are voices of rationality present, not least Lord Berkeley, Lord Davies of Oldham, Lord Greaves, Viscount Bridgeman and Earl Attlee.

Baroness Butler-Sloss seems not to worry terribly about pedestrians getting hit by cars, instead choosing to exaggerate the myth about "pedestrians leaping to safety out of the path of bicycles".

One Lord Kennedy of Southwark (Roy Kennedy, innit) went onto the BBC later to continue his rant against "lack of suitable suitable attire" on Boris Bikes. There's a bit of Rob Ford about this chap. Sorry... noble, honourble chap. [Thanks to Aedan for this link]

Lord Berkeley posed a question about Carbon Trust's ban on bicycles and Earl Atlee responded with, "My Lords, the noble Lord will be fully aware that this Government are concerned about the overapplication of health and safety regulations."

The whole question session wraps up with a bit of humour and teasing, which is always nice to see. Although if Baroness Trumpington were to come to Copenhagen, I'll take her on a lovely pushbike tour of the City.

Lords Hansards Transcript from 13 October 2010
Asked by Lord Palmer


To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to ensure that cyclists abide by the Highway Code.

Earl Attlee: My Lords, the Government support a combination of information, education, training and enforcement to ensure that cyclists abide by the Highway Code. The enforcement of cycling offences is a matter for individual chief officers of police. The hazards caused by cyclists who break road traffic laws are recognised by chief officers and action is taken where offences are detected. The Government support action taken by the police to deter and reduce the number of cycling offences.

Lord Palmer:
My Lords, I thank the noble Earl for that slightly unexciting reply, but does he not agree that it is a scandal how remarkably few prosecutions are made against cyclists who do not adhere to the Highway Code-most especially driving on pavements?

Earl Attlee: My Lords, I entirely agree with the noble Lord. I know that all noble Lords are extremely concerned about that type of offending. It adversely affects noble Lords, because they tend to be a little bit older than the average member of the population.

Baroness Sharples: Can my noble friend tell us how many successful prosecutions there have been against cyclists who have gone against red lights?

Earl Attlee: My Lords, the short answer is no. The reason is that most offences are dealt with by fixed penalties-the penalty is about £30-but detailed records are not kept because that would not be a good use of public funds.

Lord Haskel:
Does the Minister accept that most cyclists abide by the Highway Code purely out of a sense of self-preservation from the motorists who do not?

Earl Attlee: My Lords, it is most important that every one reads the Highway Code from time to time, in order that they understand their obligations as road users.

Lord Davies of Oldham: My Lords, I ride a bike - in fact, I was riding one this morning - so I declare that interest, but, in balance, I also drive a car. Let us get the issue of bike problems into some kind of perspective. What percentage of the road accidents in which our fellow citizens died last year were due to lawbreaking by cyclists, and why are the Government abolishing Cycling England, which seeks to train cyclists?

Earl Attlee: My Lords, we will have to wait for the comprehensive spending review later next week to answer that question.

Lord Greaves: My Lords, I speak as a motorist and a cyclist who seeks perfection in both areas and fails miserably a lot of the time. Does the Minister agree that there is a real difference between traffic offences committed by cyclists or anyone else and breaches of the Highway Code? Simply breaching the Highway Code may be impolite, foolish or dangerous, but it does not necessarily amount to an offence. Does he agree that cyclists are far more vulnerable than drivers of cars, lorries, et cetera?

Earl Attlee: I agree with my noble friend and, returning to the point made by the noble Lord, Lord Davies of Oldham, the reason why the police concentrate more on motorists is because they cause more serious accidents than cyclists.

Lord Berkeley: My Lords, the Minister said that the Government are keen to educate people about cycling. Could he start with one of his own quangos, the Carbon Trust, which has just put out a circular to its members saying that they must not cycle to or from work or between meetings, especially on Boris bikes, because it has not been able to do a risk assessment on the quality and safety of Boris bikes?

Earl Attlee: My Lords, the noble Lord will be fully aware that this Government are concerned about the overapplication of health and safety regulations.

Baroness Finlay of Llandaff: Does the Minister have any information on how many accidents occur at dusk and at night to cyclists who have no lights or high-visibility jackets?

Earl Attlee: My Lords, it is a legal requirement to have a rear light, a rear reflector and a front light. It is not a legal requirement to carry reflective clothing, but the Highway Code recommends that proper clothes-reflective clothes at night and fluorescent clothes during the day-are worn at all times when riding a bike.

Viscount Bridgeman: Will the Minister be assured that the All-Party Group on Cycling, of which I have the honour to be a member, sets an example for all to follow?

Earl Attlee: I am very grateful to hear that.

Lord Kennedy of Southwark: My Lords, will the Minister speak urgently to the Mayor of London? A consequence of his cycle hire scheme is a dramatic increase in the number of cyclists on the roads in London not in the correct attire, with no helmets or reflective clothing. Such circumstances dramatically increase the risk of serious injury or even death.

Earl Attlee: My Lords, it is very easy to overestimate the risk of accidents when riding a bicycle. The health benefits of riding a bicycle are very great indeed. For every year of life we lose to a cycling accident, we gain 20 years of life. Therefore, the bike hire scheme has great health benefits.

Baroness Butler-Sloss: My Lords, may I put in a plea for the pedestrian? A lot has been said about cyclists, but is the Minister aware that the group most vulnerable to cyclists is pedestrians? The reason why there are not so many accidents is that pedestrians have to jump out of the way on pedestrian crossings and when the lights are green for pedestrians on red lights. It is a scandal.

Earl Attlee: My Lords, I fully understand where the noble and learned Baroness is coming from, but in 2009 no pedestrians were killed, 66 were seriously injured and 14,000 suffered slight injuries on our roads. This is a 21 per cent reduction on all pedestrian casualties hit by cyclists compared to the 1994-98 average.

Lord Brookman: Following on from the previous question, I recall that this House, in which there are a lot of new faces, had a solution: the noble Baronesses, Lady Sharples and Lady Trumpington. Give them the legislation, and they will sort the problem.

Earl Attlee: My Lords, I think it is a little bit late for the noble Baroness, Lady Trumpington, to start riding a pushbike.

Noble Lords: Oh!

13 October 2010

"Lyrca is Killing Urban Cycling"

I'd be pleased to buy a beer or a glass of New World wine for Dr Chris Rissel from the University of Sydney. Or if I lived in an emerging bicycle culture where people named their bicycles, I'd call my 'ride' The Rissel.

First there was this from the good doctor and now this blipped onto our radar scope today:

Cycling versus the cyclist: the perceptive barriers putting off Sydney cyclists
Popular perceptions of cyclists can make or break our decision to take up the sport, says a recent study by the University of Sydney's Dr Chris Rissel and Michelle Daley of the Sydney South West Area Health Service.

While cycling is generally perceived as a positive, environmentally friendly way of getting around, the actions of some cyclists were disliked, which influenced people's likelihood to take up the sport.

"Our respondents spoke differently about cycling, the activity, and cyclists," Dr Rissel says.

"Nearly everyone was very positive about cycling and the health and pleasure associated with it.

"However, the actions of some people riding bicycles were sometimes seen as negative, and the lycra-clad image of cyclists put some people off because they didn't identify with it or thought it a turn-off."

The study also identified a hierarchy of cycling status, with recreational cycling seen as acceptable by most people, followed by cycling for sport or exercise.

At the other end of the spectrum, cycling for 'serious business', i.e. sport-focused fitness riding and bicycle couriers, were seen as far less approachable.

"We can use this information to encourage more people to cycle. We need to improve the status of transport cycling," Dr Rissel says.

"A more mainstream image of everyday cycling might appeal to non-riders who can't see themselves wearing lycra or being fit enough to be a cycling athlete."

Dr Rissel believes that making cycling more mainstream is the key to increasing cycling in Sydney, which has the lowest rate of bike ownership in Australian capital cities.

"Cycling, and especially cycling for transport, is not yet seen as a mainstream activity in Sydney. Encouraging more people to ride bicycles for short trips wearing regular clothes, without the need for specialised clothing or equipment, will improve and normalise the image of cycling."


Via Science Alert.


Basically, it's what we've been saying for ages now here on the blog. If we're going to sell this thing called urban cycling to the mainstream masses, we need to think differently. I often wonder what would happen if 95% of bicycle advocates were suddenly removed from bicycle advocacy and a new generation suddenly moved in - with modern ideas of marketing and a stronger understanding of basic human nature. Would cycling suffer? Not. Would it boom and expand? Yep.

And instead of whining about 'cyclists' running red lights et al, work harder to get larger numbers of regular citizens onto bicycles. Problem almost solved, as we discussed in Behavourial Challenges Urban Cycling.

Roger Geller - Sydney Can Be Saved

Portland Roger Geller
Roger Geller on a bike ride in Portland with Copenhagenize last year

Roger Geller is the Bicycle Coordinator for the City of Portland. He's in Melbourne at the moment, speaking at the Bike Futures conference.

The Sydney Morning Herald has an article today about his visions for a bike-friendly Sydney entitled Sydney Can Be Saved.

Roger is a great advocate for urban cycling and not least for Citizen Cyclists. He's also a pillar of rationality in a world of gear-fixated chaos. In one of his presentations he has a slide showing current helmet-wearing rates in Portland. Then he says, "Here's our goal for helmet wearing rates..." and then on the next slide it reads "0%".

He has stumped many an audience with that. His point is creating such a well-developed network of bike infrastructure - like in the Netherlands or Denmark - so that helmets aren't deemed necessary.

In Australia he is talking about infrastructure. Here's some outtakes from the Sydney Morning Herald's article today:

The man responsible for transforming Portland in the United States into a bike-friendly city says the same can be done for Sydney and Australia's other major cities. As the bicycle co-ordinator for Portland, Oregon, he's overseen the construction of 500km of developed bikeways. Almost 10 per cent of Portlanders now identify the bicycle as their primary means of transport.

Mr Geller says his city started with a "zero bicycle culture" 20 years ago. "Bicycling was relegated to the strong and the fearless," the bicycling advocate told AAP. "
The thing that changed it for us was political leadership back in the early 1990s." Now ridership is high and "inescapable", Mr Geller said.

"
People from all segments of society are riding - it's not just 20-year-old men."

The change in culture has been so successful some 130 businesses have asked for on-street car parking in front of their shops to be removed and replaced with bike parking.

Mr Geller rode Sydney's notoriously non-bike friendly streets earlier this week. Riding on the developed bike paths was "quite nice", he said. "But being off the developed bikeways it reminded me of riding in any large city - it's not for everybody."

However, Mr Geller believes Sydney can be saved. The key is building more and more dedicated bikeways.

"
Technically there's no reason why you can't do it," he said.

"I
f you look at cities like Amsterdam and cities throughout the Netherlands they're similar. "They are very small, they have very limited right of way, and still they're able to fit in facilities so that a third of trips are made by bike." Mr Geller said it wasn't a question of physical space but political and cultural will.

...

Mr Geller is also using his visit to dispel the myth that it's tough to ride to work in business clothes. "
There's an image that bicycling is sport and you'll work up a sweat," he said. "But that's just not the case.

"
If you can sit on a chair and get in and out of a car in a thousand-dollar suit you can easily sit on a bicycle seat and pedal at 15km/h."

Mr Geller will deliver the keynote address at the Bike Futures conference on Thursday.

Read the whole article here
.

More Policies to Protect... Employers

Void Spaces
More Warnings from the Ministry of Silly Warnings

In light of Carbon Trust's failed and then revised bicycle policy yesterday, a number of readers have mailed us about similar Health and Safety (H&S) Policies. The thing that binds so many of these policies together - apart from their dodgy scientific foundation - is their claim to "help protect employees from preventable injury".

Who are they kidding? We all know that such restrictive - and often bicycle-unfriendly - policies are designed "to prevent the employer from preventable liability", as one reader put it.

Here is the H&S policy from the University of Florida. The reader who sent it in writes that "It really gets under my skin when the policy lumps bicycles in with motorcycles, scooters/mopeds, and Segways. Segways? Really? Segways? I do not have the words to express my indignation."

You'll love this. Apart from the usual helmet yadayada the University of Florida recommends "A plastic shatter-resistant face shield". Seriously. It can "help protect one's face in a crash".

Once again there is a shocking abscence of motoring helmets in this H&S policy. Or recommendations for plastic shatter-resistant face shields for car occupants. Sigh.
My Alltime Favourite Warning Sign Confined Space
If you're in possession of a fun H&S read, do let us know. We'll compile a library of giggles. I can offer up the Ace Hotel in Portland's Document of Bicycle Fear, which is included in this earlier post, just scroll down a bit.

And Richard from Cyclelicio.us tweeted the link to an article about how Britain’s biggest engineering company, Jacobs Babtie, banned staff from travelling on bicycles or motorbikes after declaring them too dangerous.

Motorcycle, Scooter/Moped, Segway, and Bicycle Use by Employees - Personal Protective Equipment Policy

UFEHS-SAFE1-05/20/09
Environmental Health and Safety - Business Affairs
University of Florida


OBJECTIVE
The purpose of this policy is to help protect University of Florida (UF) employees from preventable injury. The objective is to reduce the risk of employee injury or fatality through the use of appropriate personal protective equipment during operation of motorcycles, scooters/mopeds, Segways, and bicycles while in the course and scope of employment.


AUTHORITY:
Environmental Health and Safety (EH&S) is responsible for safety policy development and for monitoring compliance of UF facilities and operations. EH&S has enforcement authority when dealing with unsafe or non-compliant conditions and with violations of environmental, health, and safety related statutes and regulations.


POLICY:
This policy sets forth the requirements for use of personal protective equipment during operation of motorcycles, scooters/mopeds, Segways and bicycles by UF personnel while in the conduct of official business. All University employees who ride their personal or UF-owned motorcycles, scooters/mopeds, bicycles, or Segways for UF business purposes are required to wear a protective helmet. Employees may use their own personal helmet or a UF-provided helmet that meets DOT or CPSC standards. Use of a personal motorcycle, scooter/moped, Segway or bicycle for travel to and from work or for onsite recreational purposes is not considered “work related;” however, UF employees are strongly encouraged to wear their helmets whenever they ride.


PROCEDURES:
Appropriate protective headgear must be worn by any employee who operates a motorcycle, scooter/moped, Segway, or bicycle on University business as follows:


- Motorcyclists and operators of a moped or scooter must wear a properly fastened helmet that meets the United States Department of Transportation (DOT) FMVSS 218 standards. Helmets that meet FMVSS 218 have a manufacturer-applied sticker on the outside rear of the helmet with the letters “DOT”.


- Bicyclists and Segway operators must wear a U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) approved bicycle helmet.


- Helmets must be sized to fit the wearer snugly, yet comfortably.


- The helmet should have no obvious defects such as cracks, loose padding or frayed straps. A helmet impacted in an accident must be replaced regardless of its visual condition.


- Keep the helmet securely fastened when riding.


- A plastic shatter-resistant face shield is recommended and can help protect one's face in a crash. It also provides protection from wind, dust, dirt, rain, insects and debris. Eye protection is required under Florida law for anyone operating a motorcycle.

12 October 2010

Carbon Trust Reverses Anti-Bicycle Stance

London Turn

Thanks to an unexpectedly large number of re-tweets and re-posts and not least to Carlton Reid over at BikeBiz it appears that Carbon Trust is having second thoughts about their anti-bicycle stance - which we wrote about yesterday.

In this email sent round to employees this afternoon we can see a change of heart/ volte face :

"Since Friday’s email from a Health & Safety perspective regarding the use of bicycles for business travel we have been contacted by a number of staff seeking clarification on our overall position on cycling. Due to a number of recent serious accidents related to staff cycling the email was cautionary as we were reviewing our approach.

Our overall position on cycling has always been positive and we have always been supportive of taking the low carbon choice when travelling. To encourage staff to cycle we have provided access to cycle safety training, secure cycle storage (in place of car parking spaces), cycle maintenance, access to the Cycle To Work Scheme and showering facilities in our office.

Having reviewed our approach we want to clarify our overall support for staff using bicycles for business travel. This applies to staff using their own bicycles or those hired for business travel. Furthermore staff wishing to travel by bicycle will be reimbursed through travel expenses as we do other forms of transport.

We recognise there are specific health and safety issues with travelling by bicycle and therefore any staff wishing to travel by bicycle for business travel must comply with the following:

1. Staff must feel competent and confident in their ability to cycle for business travel (training is available).

2. The bicycle being used is properly maintained to a safe standard.

3. Appropriate safety equipment is worn at all times – a proper cycle helmet, high visibility clothing and front and rear lights.

We hope this clarifies the situation. Thank you."


Regarding #3, there is no helmet compulsion in the UK so wouldn't that be tricky to enforce that one? What is the legal background for making helmets mandatory when there is no law? And why does Carbon Trust not recommend Motoring Helmets for travel in cars or taxis? Doesn't make much sense.

Apart from that, it's nice to see Carbon Trust wake up and smell the bicycles.

Addendum:
Just found an email in my inbox from Carbon Trust's Head of Corporate Communications and Stakeholder Engagement:

Dear Copenhagenize,
In relation to your recent coverage of our position on cycling and using bicycles for business travel, the email did not clearly communicate our position and I have included below our statement that I hope will clarify things.

The Carbon Trust actively encourages staff to take the low carbon option for business travel. As part of this we support cycling and actively encourage our employees to cycle by providing access to cycle safety training, secure cycle storage, cycle maintenance, access to the Cycle To Work Scheme and shower facilities in our office. The recent email to our staff was sent out of our duty of care for their health a safety, which is something we take very seriously, after a number of recent serious accidents related to staff cycling. Having reviewed our approach we support our staff in using bicycles for business travel as long as they feel competent to do so, the bicycle they are using is properly maintained and they are wearing the appropriate safety equipment at all times – a proper cycle helmet, high visibility clothing and front and rear lights. We will be reimbursing staff for cycle travel as we do for other forms of transport.

Bike Wash, Baby


99% of bicycle advocacy is outdated, out-of-touch with modern marketing techniques (or any successful marketing technique since homo sapiens evolved) and does little to encourage regular citizens to ride bikes. I'm rather tired of it.

Enter the bike wash.

Irreverant. Wacky. Wet. There is so little humour in bicycle advocacy, what with the inherent self-righteousness, so this is refreshing. Not saying it's the Way Forward, but fuck me, it was nice to see something different.

11 October 2010

Carbon Trust: Don't Ride a Bicycle

London Cycle Chic 05
London cyclists. Who clearly shouldn't apply for jobs at Carbon Trust.

There's something called Carbon Trust in the UK. They describe themselves thus on their website:

The Carbon Trust is a not-for-profit company with the mission to accelerate the move to a low carbon economy. We provide specialist support to help business and the public sector cut carbon emissions, save energy and commercialise low carbon technologies. By stimulating low carbon action we contribute to key UK goals of lower carbon emissions, the development of low carbon businesses, increased energy security and associated jobs.

Sounds great. Innovative. Progressive. N'est pas? One senses that this is an organisation that would, whether directly or indirectly, support transportation like... oh I don't know... bicycles. An organisation that places weight on science and rationality and common sense.

So here's the funny thing. Well... not really Joe Pesci haha funny... just quite sad funny. Thanks to a reader I've recieved an email which was sent round to Carbon Trust's employees. Have a read:

"For those of you who choose to cycle to work (or for work), you are reminded that you are responsible for ensuring your own safety.

As a reminder, the use of appropriate cycling helmets, lights and hi-visibility equipment are considered essential, particularly with the nights drawing in.

In addition, if you do not consider yourself a competent cyclist, who has taken appropriate provision for your own safety, we advise against you cycling to and from work and for work related meetings and events and from using the London cycle scheme.

The reason:
If you choose to cycle FOR work (e.g. attending an external meeting) again your safety is your responsibility. However, the Carbon Trust has a duty of care for all of us, and for this reason, the company does not advocate cycling to and from meetings on company business and an alternative method of travel should always be considered.

Expense claims for hiring Boris bikes will not be reimbursed by the company. The reason for this is that the company cannot assess the quality or safety of any Boris bike and it is impractical for it to undertake risk assessments for each individual journey and to provide training and equipment."


I was sitting here toying with ideas as to how to criticize or even ridicule Carbon Trust but I realised that just pasting their text into this blogpost and letting you read it was quite enough. I hope the CTC gives them a right good talking to.

08 October 2010

Cycle Touring Film Festival

Quintessential Denmarkishness
I'm off to Catalunya this weekend, to be a jury member at the Cycle Touring Film Festival being held in conjunction with the Cycle & Walking Tourism Conference in Palafrugell & Begur on the Costa Brava.

Bornholm Bicycle Ferry
While most of my work deals with increasing bicycle traffic in cities through infrastructure and positive marketing, I have been in the loop about cycle tourism on many of the visits I've made to other cities and regions. It's an interesting area of growth. Some countries are investing heavily in cycle tourism and Germany is the grand old man in the industry. Czech Republic and Hungary, too, are focusing on getting more cycle tourists to visit their regions.

I'm looking forward to networking about this growth area.
Denmark - The Country for your Holiday
Denmark has a long tradition as a cycle touring destination, as the poster above attests. It dates from the late 1940's and shows how Denmark was keen on attracting the British - then the world's most enthusiastic cycle tourists - to this country.

At another conference in Catalunya last April I had the pleasure of meeting a Dane - Jens-Erik Larsen - who was responsible for the idea of creating the world's first national cycle route network. He now works on the development of the impressive EuroVelo route system. Read more about that in this earlier post.

As for me, I'll be on the beach, in the cinema and attending a Cycle Chic party.

07 October 2010

Los Angeles & CicLAvia

LA Tweed Ride
In a few days Los Angeles will be experiencing the first CicLAvia bike ride, modelled on the popular car-free Ciclovia bicycle days in Bogota and Mexico City, among other places. It's on Sunday - 10.10.2010 and you can read about it here.

There was a time when bicycles were a regular feature on the urban landscape in L.A.. At the turn of the last century 20% of all trips in the city were by bicycle.

This is a great quote from a 1897 newspaper article:
"There is no part of the world where cycling is in greater favor than in Southern California, and nowhere on the American continent are conditions so favorable the year round for wheeling."

I included the quote in an article I wrote in the L.A. Times' Bottleneck Blog a couple of years ago. Also mentioning the fantastic separated infrastructure built to connect Pasadena with L.A. - the Arroyo Seca Cycleway.

Have a great ride, Los Angeles!

Location?

Bike Rack Space Management
I was hoping our Copenhagen readers could help out. I took this photo of this bike rack in this courtyard over 3 and a half years ago. I just can't remember where it is. In the city centre, sure, but I've never been able to find it since. Maybe it's not even there anymore. The rack, not the courtyard.

If you know where it is, let me know!

Crêpe Bicycles et al

Bike Vendors
I was in the city centre the other day and was quite amazed at the number of cargo bikes selling things. In this row there were two cargo bikes selling crêpes - I prefer Nutella - a bike selling bottled water and a bike preparing caramelized chestnuts. Behind me was a coffee bike and another bottled water vendor.

The rules regarding on-street vending were changed a few years back in Copenhagen, as well as the rules governing outdoor serving. The Mayor at the time, Klaus Bondam, was instrumental in this move. The idea was to bring more life to the sidewalks, squares and pedestrian streets.

The result was instant and brilliant. Cafés found it cheaper and less bureaucratic to apply for outdoor licences and you'll find tables and chairs outside cafés and bars all over town.

Street vending boomed, too. What was surprising that most of it was bicycle-based. Cargo bikes are flogging all manner of food, drinks and goods. We've blogged about the many bikes here on Copenhagenize. The cocktail bike, the newspaper bike, the coffee bikes, you name it.

The streets are alive with bicycles in more ways than one.

06 October 2010

Bicycles and Wine - 2gether 4ever!


This just in from Hamel Family Wines in Sonoma, USA. How to use a bicycle pump to open a bottle of wine. THIS is what the world needs. Forget the techgeek overcomplication of cycling. THIS is what it's all about. And it reminds me of this. Which is why, as a resident of Copenhagen, I like it. Simplicity.

Ergonomic Crosswalks


Interesting idea that follows the desire lines of pedestrians. This Ergo Crosswalk is the brainchild of Korean designer Jae Min Lim. His idea was shortlisted at the Seoul Design Competition.

He suggests designing the stripes to follow the actual routes that people walk. Jae Min Lim on his design:

“When people cross roads, they tend to take the fastest shortcut. they sometimes do it intentionally, but mostly it is an unconscious act. this kind of action violates the traffic regulations and sometimes threatens the safety of the pedestrians. The ‘ergo crosswalk’ is a design that makes people follow the law, as well as consider their habits or unconscious actions. it will encourage pedestrians to follow the lines of the cross walk and protect them from any potential danger. If regulations cannot force people to follow the law, wouldn’t it be more reasonable to change the law and fulfill the main purpose of keeping the safety and convenience of the pedestrian...”


The stop lines for cars are pushed back to allow for a safe buffer zone. In addition, the design idea includes using not paint for the stripes but rather led lights that flash red or green. That last bit is a bit extreme. I doubt our cities need more flashy eye pollution, but that doesn't make the idea any less cool.

Here's more on Desire Lines relating to Copenhagen cyclists.

Via: Innovcity.fr & HowWeDrive.com

05 October 2010

Blame the Cyclists and Pedestrians

Watch the Blind Angles
I got handed a boiled sweet the other day, which is nice. Some lovely young ladies in goofy reflective vests were handing out these packets to cyclists in Copenhagen. The spiral pattern kind of matches the large warning stickers that are currently on the bike lanes at selected intersections.

The text reads "Watch out for blind spots" meaning that cyclists are being warned to watch out for trucks turning right.
Handout
Fair enough. But I've been looking around at the stickered intersections, like the one below.
Watch Out for Angles/Angels
I can't for the life of me find any campaign material warning trucks and cars to watch out for cyclists and pedestrians. Not one sign. No electronic signals at an appropriate height to warn truck drivers of the prescence of cyclists on the right. Nada.

It's the City's Traffic Council - Byens Trafikråd who are involved in the campaign, which has been running on and off for a couple of years. A couple of years! Still no corresponding warnings for the drivers of the large, dangerous machines. But then these are the people who have previously warned cyclists to use lights in this happy, cycle-promoting way...

Such is the car-centric development in this country at the moment. Is it really so difficult to at the very least even the campaign playing field? Like this campaign that places the responsibility on the vulnerable traffic users but that has no corresponding campaign for the drivers of the vechicles that actually do the killing and injuring.

Human beings, whether choosing to propel themselves around their city on foot or on bicycle, should not be bullied by car-centric campaigns and certainly not by taxpayer funded organisations. Run by people with so little understanding of marketing and scientific data that it's embarassing.

In somewhat related news, there was a campaign recently for Danish trucking. It was a well-executed campaign, with a catchy music video and events on public squares to raise awareness about how important trucks are for the transport of goods. The campaign is called "Holder DK kørende" or "We keep Denmark rolling".

The tone was simultaneously indignant and pleading. They are itching to regain some respect for their work in this age of awareness about pollution, traffic congestion and bad press about trucks causing accidents. Despite the folksy rap, using actual truckers, the campaign was a bit desperate.



We do, however, approve, of the inclusion of cyclists being seen in the rear view mirror at 0:13 in the video. It's dark and rainy but at least the truckers are trying to win hearts and minds.

The lyrics around there include "We sometimes stop in the street. Sorry if we take up space... but goods need to be delivered!..."

This wasn't an inexpensive campaign. It is quite professional. I'd prefer professional, intelligent traffic safety campaigns ON THE STREET aimed at motorists - of the same quality as this - instead of getting handed a boiled sweet on a street corner with a wagging car-centric finger waved in my face.

04 October 2010

Cyclist! Avoid Fines!

World War Two
The police here in Denmark went after cyclists last week, handing out fines for infractions. It was great to see how text messages played a role in Citizen Cyclists communicating with each other, texting warnings about which streets the police were hiding out on.

It reminded me of this photo, taken here in Copenhagen during the Occupation in the Second World War. There was a curfew back then and a blackout after dark. Here's an enterprising individual on Gyldenløves Street offering his assistance to his fellow cyclists. And helping gang up on the police.

The signs read:
"Greater traffic safety!" (that's funny...)
"Avoid a fine!"
"Stop Cyclist!"
"Fenders painted"
"Lights blacked out"
"Avoid a fine!"

He would paint over your white fender and black out your dynamo lights for you so that the coppers wouldn't get all in your face.

As seen at the Copenhagen City Museum.

You're Safer on the Bicycle Than on the Sofa

Great campaign from the City of Copenhagen earlier this year. The text reads, quite simply:

"You won't believe it...
You're safer on the bicycle than on the sofa!"

Lack of daily exercise is harmful to your health, while physical activity keeps your body healthy.
Cycling extends your life - daily excercise for minimum 30 minutes extends your life with up to five years."

Not a campaign from the Traffic Dept. but rather the public health dept.

On the website they state that:
"With these posters Public Health Copenhagen hopes to place focus on the fact that there are very good reasons to ride a bicycle each day and we would like to highlight that Copenhageners already cycle 1.2 million km each day."

Appropriate message in a city saturated with cycling. In Emerging Bicycle Cultures, it is always better to highlight the basic facts that appeal to homo sapiens, like A2Bism and quicker transport through our cities.

With all that said, this is an important poster in that finally SOMEONE is countering all the negative branding that cycling is suffering here in Denmark, thanks to campaigns and media coverage instigated by the Road Safety Council and the Danish Cyclists Federation.