31 January 2011

Bicycles by Martin de Thurah

A brilliant film by the Danish director Martin de Thurah that featured at the Danish pavillion at the Shanghai world exposition in 2010. Fantastic cinematography by de Thurah and Kasper Tuxen. They've also teamed up on other projects, including the quite legendary video for Royksopp. The above film is one of a series. It is entitled EXPO Bicycle City.

Here are three of the others.Water City, Mermaid (about sending the Little Mermaid to China) and Family City.

Thanks to Eneko for the link.

Subversive Bicycle Photos from Queensland

Bicycles piled up outside a picture theatre in Cairns, ca. 1915
Bicycles outside a cinema in Cairns, 1915.

We all know that it's too hot to ride a bicycle in your regular clothes in Queensland. You need all manner of special clothing and a lightweight bicycle to be able to tackle the heat and topography. And an electric assist motor if you can get your hands on one. Everybody knows that. That's why nobody ever rode bicycles in the state until 1975.

This is what we know.

So please do not distribute these photographs. We risk word getting out that bicycles existed prior to 1975 and that they weren't carbon fibre wonderbikes used by packs of men in tight, stretchy clothing on the weekends but rather bicycles for transport. People might get the idea that cycling for regular citizens was 'normal' or some godawful propaganda-like notion.

And don't let the rest of the country see these shots either. They'll call Queensland un-Australian. We're convinced that it was that bastard Julian Assange who leaked these photos. We're issuing a warrant for his arrest. We'll hang him up in a bike bib and make him look like Borat.
Bicycles parked outside Maryborough City Baths
Bicycles parked outside the City Baths in Maryborough.
Bicycles parked on the pavement at Mackay, Queensland, 1948
Bicycles parked in Mackay, 1948.
Bicycles parked outside the Lands and Works Office, 1904
Bicycles parked outside the Lands and Works Office, 1904.

Boys on bikes at Barramornie Station, August 1924
Boys on bikes at Barramornie Station, August 1924

Unidentified father and son posing with a bicycle for a travelling photographer
Unidentified father and son posing with a bicycle for a travelling photographer

Shearer on the move with his bicycle
Shearer on the move with his bicycle, ca. 1906

A modern Australian shearer
A modern Australian shearer, ca. 1900

Photos from The State Library of Queensland, on Flickr.

30 January 2011

What New York Learned in Copenhagen

A cool, short clip from the Danish Foreign Ministry's Denmark.dk website featuring Helle Søholt - architect and partner (with Jan Gehl) in Gehl Architects.

28 January 2011

Wheelchairs on Danish Trains

Wheelchair Friendly Train Wheelchair Friendly Train
I headed west last week for a meeting with the Danish company Veksø, who produce urban furniture as well as the bicycle counters that featue in so many Danish cities, as well as international cities. There are 33 bicycle counters in 10 Danish cities alone.

On the way to Fredericia - "Gateway to Jutland!" - the Intercity train stopped at a few stations, one of them being Middelfart. From my seat I watched three ladies in wheelchairs boarding the train.
Wheelchair Friendly Train Wheelchair Friendly Train
The conductor and a stationmaster worked quickly and efficiently to get each lady onto the lift, raise them to the level of the train and get them on board. This is a major route that connects east and west Denmark, there are timetables to be kept, and still Danish State Railways take the time to get three passengers with special needs on board. It was impressive to watch.

In a perfect world the platforms would be level with the trains but there are different models of trains - regional and national - so this isn't possible. The regional trains I usually frequent are flush with the platforms making it easy to roll on roll off, whether its a bicycle or a pram or a wheelchair.
Wheelchair Friendly Train
Once on board, however, it's just a question of leaning back and enjoying the ride. Getting a bicycle on board the Intercity trains is, of course, easy.

You just lift it.
Danish Bicycle Culture *

The town of Middelfart has a special place in our family's history. My dad served in the British army after the Second World War. One of 2000 soldiers who are now referred to as The Forgotten Army (link in Danish). Danish men were encouraged by the Danish government to help the British army, now that Europe was liberated. There was still war against Japan at the time and the British needed men to get back home to work in the coal mines and factories, hoping to replace them with foreign soldiers. Over 20,000 Danes signed up after liberation in 1945. When they were later called up, however, only 2000 or so actually went to do their duty. They were never decorated or recognised by the Danish government upon returning home.

After my dad's tour of duty - which ended up being in Palestine protecting against Zionist terrorist guerillas - he returned to the UK, where he met my mum at a dance in Swindon. They ended up moving to Denmark. My mum was a prim and proper Wiltshire girl but fit in well in Denmark. This was the late 1940's and she had never uttered a dirty word in her life. On a trip to Copenhagen from Aalborg, the train stopped at Middelfart. My uncle saw the humour of the name and said to my mum, "Look, Barb! We're in MiddelFART!" My mother was shocked and embarassed at hearing such a word. She implored him to stop swearing. But my dad got in on the act, too. "We're not swearing. We're just telling you that this is MiddelFART... the town of MiddelFART"...

My mother probably went into convulsions, never having heard such 'language' and certainly not repeated. My Dad and uncle were loving teasing her.

Not a cracking, rolling in the aisles story in the big picture, but for our family, MiddelFART, plays its role in our storytelling.
Global Warming Preventive Measures
The question remains... do they have Fart Kontrol in Middelfart?

27 January 2011

A Whole Bunch of Links - Retweeting on the Blog

Twitter is handy, quick and efficient. It's blogging light. Sometimes I get carried away. Many of the tweets and retweets would fit in fine on this blog, but time... time is a bandit. So here's a reverse tweet post with some of the links from the past few weeks.

There are just over 3000 followers on twitter - which is a bit more than the number of readers - but I thought that maybe some readers don't use twitter, so here's a catch up.

I'm off skiing for the weekend - a 2 hour drive from Copenhagen - so these may keep you busy.

Stupid automobile industry - get your own goddamn ideas @larryvsharry

Pedestrians Texting or Listening to Music at Crosswalks Could be Fined $100 - Ignoring the Bull?

"Estimating the Employment Impacts of Pedestrian, Bicycle and Road Infrastructure" (pdf) Villescyclables

100 or so photos of bike share system bicycles - in use by Citizen Cyclists - from 9 or so cities. Flickr photo set.

Charlie Brooker on BBC2 explains how TV builds the Culture of Fear (not available in my area. damn.) @duncanfwalker

Foriegn embassies lead the way to urban cycling in China

Isn’t it time to end the Taliban approach to road safety? @kim_harding

New report quantifies just how much a car commute crushes your soul @grist

'1924 report: “Cars are healthy and make you travel less”' @amsterdamized

Pleasant Italian warning sign for tram drivers: "Pass at a man's pace". Very human.

49 photographs of cyclists signalling a stop or a turn. A Flickr set from Copenhagenize

All power to Detroit! Go bicycle or go home #detroit

While Danish postmen race their bicycles here in the UK, they end up in a skip @RichmondCycling

National Household Travel Survey, " 87% of surveyed Americans didn't ride a bike last week." @stevevance #amusing

Freakonomics seems to have forgotten the bicycle. Will 'cycling' be among the promised explanations?

This is nothing short of brilliant... and hilarious #cyclechic

British MP @julianhuppert questions DfT's constant 'Ignoring the Bull' in Parliament on Friday. @carltonreid

Happy to see so many bikes parked at my local mega- mart #suburbancycling @eva_lu_

The Hungarian chainless StringBike: News clip in Danish, but the string bike features.

Saving the world, one parking space at a time @randyrichmond

New bike parking for 2000 bikes in Malmö @malmolund (click 'translate' button) @ErikSandblom @cycleville

I'm looking forward to speaking at VeloBerlin in March. Cool speaker lineup, incl @mayoroflondon and sadikh khan (both tbc)

The City of Hamburg promised to keep cycle tracks clear this winter. Hamburgize reports on a different reality

'Portland enjoys a golden age of cycling - a century ago' 1st of 3 parts (and no ebikes or lycra!)

Anti-bike lane zombies: Amazing & hilarious @ErikSandblom

City of York has 'Cycle Chic' rides to encourage more women to ride. Ironically, the link in the last tweet is from the Make Sport Fun website. Sigh. @BikebytheSea

"The dangers of cycling on the road alone would make me terrified" #Irony? Read the comments too!

Redhead Cycle Chic' #CycleChic #london

Apparently ALL bike commuters stopped riding over Xmas in Melb. Lame excuse? Besides, it's not just about commuters

If you want to learn about bicycle research in North America, start with Professor Pucher's website @stevevance

If cyclists in Oregon can't hear music (but the deaf may cycle), then car radios should be illegal and drivers forced to have open windows

A propos shared bike share or bike rental helmets: Are Baseball Helmets Making Our Kids Sick?

Some fat guy working as a comedian takes the piss out of bikes instead of riding one

"Unfortunately, like smokers and gamblers, car addicts get very defensive about their habit" @KarlOnSea

First cycle chic, now subway sweeties. Next up for alternative transportation: bus babes? yes please.

Portland pushing to take over speed limit control from State DOT. (are you listening, Copenhagen City Hall?)

Enrique Peñalosa: the 20th century will be remembered for its catastrophic urbanism, for cities built for cars and not for people.

Enrique Peñalosa: "Cycling is, after all, just a more efficient way of walking." @sindandune

Enrique Peñalosa: A child in a tricycle has the right to same amount of space in the street as a person in a car

If deaf people can legally bike, how can we outlaw headphones? @BikePortland

I am a criminal: the penalty for not wearing a polystyrene hat... @chillikebab

Interesting conversation starter. What do U think? "Car Industry Strikes Back with hugs" @Kia_Motors

@BikingToWork study showed a 5-10 mph reduction in traffic speeds increased residential property values by about 20%

Hard to tell if guy in these pics is getting ready to ride a bike or rob a bank. @amsterdamized @BrooklynSpoke

Live the West Coast dream. My sister is selling her gas station/laundramat on an idyllic island on Canadas west coast

Selling cool bicycles with fear. GOOD fear. HEALTHY fear

Fashion on bicycles from 1936 and some home movie footage from 1940 #cyclechic

Off to drink coffee, shoot the shit and clean my salt-encrusted Bullitt at Larry vs Harry's workshop.

Reading I Am Not a Cyclist blog

Toss the Albatross: Bike share needs helmet choice @cyclefreo

I love it that Copenhagen buses have free wireless.

Non-hardcore #Ottawa cyclist shouts out for bike infrastructure #cycling #citizencyclist @cyclaw

Do motorists really want a fair deal? Didn't think so. @dave42w @kim_harding @theurbancountry

University of BC: "Purpose-built bicycle-only facilities have lowest risk of crashes and injuries."

Non-hardcore Ottawa cyclist shouts out for bike infrastructure #ottawa

How motorists have it so cheap or "War FOR the Subsidised and Careless Motorist"

Freiburgize! In the 1970′s Freiburg decided to encourage people to use public transport, walk or cycle

Life in the slow lane: You’ve got yer -izes on the 1 hand, and yer Chics on the other @24orangesNL

@bikesnobnyc is a fantastic scribe, but his music video skills need work

Mica’s Goal: More Cars Off of the Highway

BikeBiz Territory Report: Denmark

Latest rationale for mandatory bike registration in NYC is "...they're in Spandex or whatnot." @bikesnobnyc

Breaking news from the world of sport; Team Leopard's new uniform @Paybascyclechic

#BikeNJ follow up: 'N.J. lawmaker withdraws proposal to require license plates for bicycles'

Boris Johnson driver obstructs cycle lane'

Interesting that Greenlick uses the "if it saved only 1 life" argument. Why is that never used for car journeys? @carltonreid

Portland gives up providing a safe bike environment. Tells vulnerable users, "It's YOUR responsibility"

Banning family bikes. In Oregon. House Bill 2228 must not pass! http://bit.ly/f0xbL1 , http://bit.ly/dUVF28 @ErikSandblom

Another reason to keep building motorways: They provide cost efficient shade for... horses. @theretronaut

180 km of bicycle infrastructure in Barcelona. With more on the way.

The City of Cyclists music video has been seen 140,000 times on YouTube, Vimeo and on Japanese sites. Nice!

Girl wins €10,000 for trauma when bike fell near her in shop! (hope she had a helmet nearby) @cyclesocial

Scientific American on helmets

San Francisco Bicycling up 3% last year, +58% since 2006 « EcoVelo @ErikSandblom

Citizens of Lego City concerned about streetcar gentrification... @ErikSandblom @ellyblue

Absolutely hilarious. Downtown vs The Suburbs

New site against mandatory helmet laws: Helmet Freedom

A pedestrian braves the challenges of sprawl @UrbanLandInst @blackurbanist

"Helmet laws arguably infringe on civil liberties" and more

Bike industry stealing freely from my coined "Citizen Cyclist" phrase? :-)

Bilbranschen pratar cykelhjälm men tiger om bilhjälm

"Har jag låtits mig skrämmas till att skaffa hjälm?" @caminomagasin

Melbourne police embark on 12 day blitz on cyclists @sydcyclechic

Pyongyang Cycle Chic and Hot Cycling Cities for 2011 @BehoovingMoving

"Cars hold more people than bicycles do--every car on the road can replace up to six bicycles." :-)

Adding Bicycle Infrastructure Creates More Riders @randyrichmond @YubaBicycles

British streets too 'narrow' / 'not suitable 'for bike infstrastructure? Bullshit @KarlOnSea

Toronto's Separated Bike Lanes: Just Build Them Already #bikeTO @jamesschwartz

LOL, "If they put a curb on the bike lane, taxis will have to stop in the middle of the street." #bikeTO @jamesschwartz

Crap Cycling - Great Blogging

A Vehicular Cyclist Advocate yesterday

This is just a stepping stone blog post. I invite you to hop over to the ever-so-sharp Crap Cycling & Walking in Waltham Forest blog to read the latest offering. If you loved/hated our Cycling's Secret Sect post from a while back, you'll love/hate the post entitled "What Won’t Bring About Mass Cycling #5 - Vehicular Cycle Campaigning"

25 January 2011

New York Signage Revised for New Millenium

No Parking, No Standing, No Stopping Don't even think of parking here
Photos found on Flickr. Click on them to go to the source.

The other day I recalled those classic New York signs brought to the streets during the reign of Mayor Ed Koch. Simple texts that defined the New York attitude and that became instant classics. "No Parking, No Standing, No Stopping - No KIDDING!"

And, let's not forget, "Don't even THINK of parking here!" There must be millions of tourist photos featuring these signs in drawers all over the world.

All well and good. I just figured that it was time to update the signs for the new millenium. I humbly offer you:

Bike Riding, Bike Parking, Bike Enjoying - No Kidding! No Driving, No Parking, No Polluting - No Kidding!

Don't Even THINK of Driving Here

And true to the entrepenurial spirit of New York City, I'm selling the fukkers. Over at the online shop. On tote bags, messenger bags and coffee cups.

On t-shirts for men and t-shirts for ladies.

Whaddya gonna do? Sue me.

24 January 2011

Postal Racing

Postman Race
I'd forgotten about this photo from last summer. Two postmen racing down the bicycle path on their Christania bikes after finishing their rounds. Heading back to the post centre on Finsensvej. Enjoying every minute of it.

Love it.

Bandung Blue

I remember that I got these off of Facebook but I can't, for the life of me, remember where. I'm hoping a reader will fill me in.

The photos are, however, from Bandung, Indonesia. A hotbed of Citizen Cyclist activity, by all accounts. Painting bike lanes, like in the photos, and the city even has a Cycle Chic blog.

Brand Newish Bag

Pappas Brand New Vintage Bag
I'm not a briefcase'y kind of guy but I got a present from my friend Hans a while back. A vintage Danish bus driver bag - standard issue for those public transport heroes. Leather but completely waterproofed and ready for any weather.

I'd been looking for a bag to hang on my standard issue hook on the back rack of my bicycle. Previously it was only diapers hanging there, on the way home from the supermarket.

I've written about these historical hooks that live on in Copenhagen a while back. Now I've found a bag that I fancy hangin on mine.

Which is nice.

22 January 2011

Bike Bike in Calgary

Bike Bike Sean
If you're itching for a Cycle Chic fix and you find yourself in Calgary, Canada, this is your pusher. Sean Carter owns Bike Bike, a bike shop for Citizen Cyclists. In a city like Calgary, Sean is an ambassador for a virtually unknown land. This is Calgary - Cowtown, SUV-central, drive-600-metres-in-a-one-tonne-pickup-for-a-litre-of-milk Calgary. A shop like Bike Bike in Calgary is like a cricket equipment shop in downtown Tulsa, Oklahoma.
Bike Bike Selection
But he knows what he's doing, our Sean. He opened last year, intent on bring upright bicycles, bicycle culture and Cycle Chic to the city. I popped by a couple of times to say hello when I was in town in December and we had some good chats. Imagine being the only shop that sells "bicycles for the rest of us" in a city of a million people.

Sean explained that half of his work involves 'education'. People come into the shop, expecting the usual sub-cultural wares like carbon fibre wonderbikes, lycra and all manner of 'gear'. They don't really know what to make of it when they see wicker baskets, Batavus bicycles (with chainguards, skirtguards and back racks) and child seats on display.

Indeed, while we were sitting having a cider near closing time, a man came in and had a look around. He had heard of this place from a friend, he said. Thought he would check it out, he said.

Doing a loop round the locale he looked as stunned as a fundamentalist who had stumbled into a sex shop. I watched him. He took one intial glance at the bicycles and then ignored, concentrating on the shelves instead. The bikes just didn't compute. He was gone in under a minute.

Sean is used to this. He gets it all the time, he told me.

Upright bicycles dropped off the map in cities like Calgary back in the 1960's and 1970's when car culture reached its tipping point. By re-introducing the kind of bicycles that are normal in mainstream bicycle cultures, he knows that education is part of the deal. Re-training people to understand that riding a bicycle isn't restricted to long, sporty weekend rides. That popping down to the shops or the café - or riding to work - isn't an extreme sport.

He gets all the questions you might expect. "Aren't those bikes heavy?" "Why do I need a basket?" But Sean is cheerful, talkative and passionate. He knows his shit. He believes in what he is doing. He replies fluently and eloquently. Converting people's misconceptions about the bicycle after 40 years of marketing the bike in these parts as sport or recreation but not much else.

He didn't go half way when designing his shop either. You know, half of the inventory being 'weekend warrior' toys and then half - at the back of the shop - upright bicycles. He went the whole nine yards. Upright bikes. Cargo bikes. Lovely bells, too. Respect, we say.
Bike Bike Bike
Calgary is light-years behind many other North American cities in implementing bicycle infrastructure. The global boom in urban cycling, however, has reached this city in the foothills of the Rockies. There is a market for Sean's products. There are ears that listen to his impassioned pitches.

Business is good, I'm told. Betting the farm on a bike shop selling European bicycles and accessories in Cowtown (the city makes Houston look like Milano, belive me) is paying off. Sean knows how to market it, which makes me - who babbles about selling 'bicycle culture' positively - thrilled to bits.

On my first visit to the shop I met a Dane living in the city. He was in to pick up a briefcase that could be attached to his back rack. He cycled to work. "Not as easy as in Copenhagen", he said.

Calgary is, however, getting into the loop. Their traffic planners know what needs to be done. I know the bicycle planners in the city and had a meeting with one of them on my visit. It may take time, but even cities like Calgary know that providing for bicycle culture is a must. It's on the table at meetings. It's in the consciousness. One thing I found interesting is that the car lanes are so incredibly wide in the city. Impossibly wide. Creating on street cycle tracks would be a piece of cake and would, in many cases, leave the number of car lanes intact. Just narrow them. Narrower car lanes only serve to improve traffic safety.

Until infrastructure is built, at least the bridgehead is established in Calgary. Sean Carter is leading the charge. Bicycle culture for Citizen Cyclists is in capable hands in Cowtown.

Bike Bike's website

Bike Bike Cartoon
And you ever have to pee at Bike Bike, this is what you'll see in the bathroom. Which kind of sums it all up.

Early Road Rage - The Birth of Car Culture

A drawing from 1900. Road rage and motorists taking over the roads got an early start. Very a propos this recent post about the Fighting Traffic book.

20 January 2011

Noctural Working Class Heroes

Riding home at 3 AM (early night in Copenhagen) on a Saturday I cycled past these two working class heroes. The chap in the foreground has been collecting bottles in the busy city on a Saturday night. Denmark has a 65 year old bottle deposit system where glass bottles are re-used up to 7 times and the deposit is quite high. 20 cents for a beer bottle and up to 75 cents for a 2.5 litre soft drink bottle.

Collecting bottles can be lucrative and on weekend nights - or in parks and on beaches in the summer - you don't need to worry about your bottles. People will come and gather them up for you. It's a great system.

Anyway, this guy is heading home with the night's haul. Working hard. Respect.

Ahead of him is a newspaper carrier heading out to deliver papers to the citizens. Most papers are delivered at four or five in the morning - if I get home at a 'normal' hour after a night out, I can manage to catch the bakeries when they open at about 5 AM and then pick up my newspaper off the doormat before stumbling into my flat.

Bicycles, as ever, are instrumental in keeping this city moving. The Germans confiscated the bicycles in the Netherlands during World War 2. When the German High Command in occupied Denmark proposed to do the same, there was a massive discussion. The Germans used Denmark as a bread basket for feeding their troops. One General wanted the bikes to be made illegal because of the Resistance but another understood that the country would grind to a halt without them. The argument went all the way back to Berlin where it was decided to let the Danes keep their bikes.

Anyway... working class heroes in the Copenhagen night have my deepest respect.

Bicycle Activism or Lack Thereof

F... bicycle helmets
This shot was taken by Sandra, who writes the wonderful Classic Copenhagen blog, just the other day. Among the other stickers and street art is a rather prominent middle finger whereupon there is written, in Danish, Fuck Bike Helmets. Is that a dagger waved in the face of the safety nannies I see before me? Reminds me of Helmetgate when a previous Prime Minister was, indirectly, ousted because he wore a bike helmet at a demonstration against the French nuclear testing in the Pacific.

Aside: We have a rather relaxed relationship with the word fuck. It bounced back to us from English, after it was sent abroad to infiltrate English from its meaning in dialectal Norwegian fukka (to copulate), and dialectal Swedish fokka (to strike, to copulate) and fock (penis).

Aaaanyway, I have often been heard to lament the fact that there is little or no bicycle activism left in Copenhagen or Denmark. Even though so much has been done, there is much left to do. Not least because the car is enjoying a revival over the past ten years or so, due to the massive economic growth in this country prior to the global financial crisis.

Cyclist Demonstration on City Hall Square 1970s - Copenhagen
Gone are the days where this many people - regular citizens - could gather on City Hall Square to demand the re-implementation of bicycle lanes, as they did in Copenhagen in the 1970's. These people won their battle - and thanks to every one of them back then. Now, the 'war' has changed character, as has society. Activism - in its previous incarnation - long-haired and aggressive - doesn't really fly anymore. Not in a wealthy, highly-educated and egalitarian society like the Danish. Activism needs a new angle. I don't know exactly what that is just yet.

Street art is popular here in Copenhagen. It is rich in creativity and social commentary. Little of it is, however,I activistic.
Flere Fucking Cykler Køb en cykel bonderøv
I've spotted these stickers, though, around Copenhagen. At left; More Fucking Bicycles and at right; Buy a Bicycle, Redneck. Beneath both of the texts it reads, translated, "Loving regards, Vigilius Haufniensis". This is interesting.

Vigilius Haufniensis, I've discovered, is the non-de-plume of, and narrator for, the philosopher and Father of Existentialism, Søren Kierkegaard in his book The Concept of Anxiety, written in 1844. The name is Latin for 'The Vigilant Copenhagener'. A bit of googling brought me to a Facebook page, where there are a collection of photos and stickers and suchlike and a little used Twitter account, where the person - ironically - retweets Sandra's tweets, as well as Copenhagenize's on occasion. I checked with Sandra - it isn't her. Nothing like a bit of mystery.

These are photos found on Vigilius Haufniensis' Facebook page. The text can be translated as 'Ego Cars'! Whether it is Vigilius' own work or not is unclear.

Bike Lane Art
The extent of bicycle-related 'disobedience' I've seen is this lovely reworking of a Copenhagen bicycle pictogram on a bike lane on Nørrebrogade. A simple pictogram goes Cycle Chic.

Where are the Copenhageners who want congestion charges? A majority does - in polls - by where is the street art and/or grafitti? Where are the calls for lower speed limits? Safer routes to school? Where are the classic stencils reading "Fat Lane" in the car lane and "Fast Lane" in the bicycle lane? Where's the burning desire to make this city better

It's all gone to the Facebook dogs, perhaps. Click on 'Like' and you've supported a cause. Deed done. Open a bottle of Chablis.

The fuck finger from MISA and the stickers of the vigilant Copenhagener, however, are an interesting (re)start.

Politically Speaking
I'm sure many of you remember the Mohammed cartoons, published in a provincial Danish newspaper in 2005. Today a man was in court for smashing his way into the house of one of the cartoonists, Kurt Westergaard, threatening to kill him with an axe.

There is speculation that he will be charged, if found guilty, according to the Terror Laws. The paragraph, I discovered, is worded rather interestingly.

Paragraph 114 (”Terror Law”)

"§ 114. Life in prison for one who deliberatly tries to seriously scare the population [...] where the action can seriously harm a country or organisation... :

4) Disturbance of traffic safety..."

Maybe a group of citizens could try to bring the Danish Road Safety Council and the Danish Cyclists Federation - and various politcians and lackeys - to court for their promotion of bicycle helmets in this country, to stand accused of scaring the population and disturbing traffic safety.

Wouldn't THAT be a hoot. Although stickers and street art would be prettier.

Cycling Sucks

Charming film made by a group of Dutch students! Love it.

Via @iamnotacyclist on Twitter.

Removing One-Ways and Calming Storm Street

Bicycles Excepted
One-Way - Cyclists Excepted

The City of Copenhagen is currently working on some small but important changes on our cityscape that will make things a bit easier for the city's cyclists.

There is a network of one-way streets in the city - both the city centre and the surrounding neighbourhoods - which is mostly directed at motorised traffic. In some instances the one-way restriction applies to bicycles.

Not that it means much. Bicycles regularly follow these desire lines. The City is now tidying up and legitimising bicycle traffic in the opposite direction down one-way streets. This is, of course, the norm in many bicycle-friendly cities.
Vienna Bicycle Signage Praha Bicycles Excepted Paris Narrow
From left: Vienna, Prague, Paris

Here's an excerpt from the City of Copenhagen's press release:

Small sign on the road - big help for cyclists
It's not just bicycle bridges and massive intersection redesign that make the city better for cyclists. Often a simple sign or a small piece of bicycle lane can make things better for cyclists.

Over the next couple of weeks the Traffic Dept. will be putting up new signs and and performing minor changes to the street markings in 10 different spots in the city so it becomes legal to ride down a one-way street.

"It's in the details that we find the key to becoming the world's best bicycle city. Therefore even the smallest changes are important and we have been listening to the city's experts on the subject - the thousands and thousands of Copenhagners who wear their tires thin riding around the city", says Mayor of the Technical and Environmental Department, Bo Asmus Kjeldgaard.

The Traffic dept constantly recieves ideas from cyclists about how the city can become better for bicycle transport. As a result, The City has done an analysis of 50 spots where small changes can make a big difference."

Interestingly, The UK Dept. of Transport is expected to alter their signage rules to allow for this "Cyclists excepted" rule, according to the London Cycling Campaign.

After the intial 10 spots with minor changes, the Traffic Dept. will start work on the larger projects that require more work than alterations of street markings.

Storm Street is Now Calm
Four Vehicles
Stormgade before the infrastructure changes

The City of Copenhagen has also issued a press release regarding what was one of the missing links in the City's bicycle network. The street Stormgade, above, in a rather extreme situation, but hey.

It's a narrow street with quite a lot of traffic but there was previously no separated bicycle lanes on it. Cyclists were forced to ride in traffic on one side and share a bus lane on the other. It isn't a long stretch of street, but it was far from optimal. In fact, according to the City of Copenhagen's "tryghed" index (sense of security), Stormgade had an incredibly low score from the city's cyclists. It was at 3.3 out of ten.

Stormgade in summer, 2010. Photo courtesy of the City of Copenhagen.

Now, at long last, the City has built separated lanes on both sides of the street. As a result, the citizens now give it a 'sense of security' index rating of 7.7. One of the highest ratings in the city. Cyclists now feel safer - and are safer.

Nice one, Copenhagen.

Whenever the City builds new bicycle infrastructure on a stretch of road there is an increase of 20% in the number of cyclists and 10% fewer cars.

The Mayor in charge of the Traffic Dept., Bo Asmus Kjeldgaard says, "It's great to learn that the new bicycle lanes on Stormgade live up to the intentions. Stormgade has for too long been a black mark on our bicycle net. It isn't anymore and cyclists appreciate it because it makes them feel safer. I look forward to the next bicycle counts from the street because I'm sure they will show an increase in cyclists."

19 January 2011

Electric Elderly Boogie in Copenhagen

Elderly Chitchat
Vistors to Copenhagen always get a kick out of the numerous electric scooters that many elderly - or invalid - citizens buzz around on. They are a main feature on the bike lanes, rolling along quietly at modest speeds, providing the driver with a massively-increased mobility radius.

Granted, many elderly citizens continue to ride bicycles, but these subsidised, electric boogie machines are primarily for those with reduced mobility.

I love 'em. Most are virtually homes away from home, decorated and with baskets filled with personal effects, often with pets in the baskets or on laps.
Four Vehicles Heading For The City

Pimp his Ride Share

Elderly Transport Style 'Ears to Him

Cool Car by Harbour Electric Mobility
Here's a funky weather-proof make called Shopper.
Elderly Transport Elderly Transport in the Rain
But an umbrella makes you pretty weather-proof, too.
Overtaking City Hall Square
They don't take up much room and are easy to overtake. As well as providing the user with a nice place to sit and soak up the sun.
Electric Elderly Transport
Just like bicycles, you wear what you'd wear while walking.
Electric Busses
And while we're on Electric Avenue, there are new buses serving Copenhagen's city centre. Electric, of course.

Amsterdam Cycle Chic_14
Amsterdam is starting to see an increasing number of these weird cars showing up on the cycle tracks, too.