27 September 2011


Ljubljana Cycle Chic_6 (2)
I felt at home on my recent visit to Ljubljana, Slovenia. Arriving from Copenhagen in a city with 10% modal share for bicycles is always a pleasure. I was attending to three bits of business. Opening European Mobility Week at the Foreign Ministry with the Danish Ambassador and the Slovenian Foreign Minister, giving my Four Goals for Promoting Urban Cycling talk at the City Museum and opening the world premiere of my Monumental Motion exhibition.

A busy but thrilling and rewarding couple of days. Inbetween gigs I cycled around the city with my friend Janez, Ljubljana's Cycling Officer and some urban planning colleagues.
Ljubljana Cycle Chic_17 Ljubljana Bicycle Life_7 Ljubljana Bicycle Life_19
Ljubljana Cycle Chic_20
I was given a Bullitt to ride so I felt even more at home, although the Nihola would have done it, too. Thanks to Miha at Emil Hernandez for the loan.

The goal of the cycle ride around the city was to look at some problems in the bicycle infrastructure network and to see what we could do about it. With 10% modal share, I knew that there was decent infrastructure in place. We started in the city centre with some infrastructure that was... well... interesting.

Ljubljana Cycle Chic_24
We headed out to the near suburbs, towards a "problem intersection" that needed some Copenhagenizing. It was on the way out there that I looked down. And saw something quite lovely.

Ljubljana Bicycle Life_8
I speed up alongside Janez and asked him what the hell we were cycling on. It looked remarkably like a Copenhagen-style cycle track.
Ljubljana Cycle Chic_30

Oh yes, he assured me. It was. Then he told me a splendid story. Back in the late 60s/early 70s a team of urban planners travelled from Ljubljana to Copenhagen to study bicycle infrastructure. This was at the height of the Cold War - although the Iron Curtain as far as Slovenia/Yugoslavia was concerned was more of a dangly bead curtain, but hey. They studied infrastructure and went home and just built it. Copy/paste. Ctrl+C/Ctrl+V. They built 45 kilometres of these perfectly separated cycle tracks and THAT is where Ljubljana was launched onto it's journey as a bicycle-friendly city. From 2% to 10% in just a couple of years.

It boggles the mind that urban planners in other cities and countries don't do the same. Copy paste best practice from Denmark or the Netherlands. Save time. Save money. Save fixing the mistakes later. Amazingly, cities are still putting in bike lanes painted on the LEFT side of parked cars, instead of along the curb. As Jan Gehl says, the only function they have is protecting... the parked cars.

Ljubljana Bicycle Life_23
Here are some Citizen Cyclists heading home on a stretch of it in the early afternoon. Squint your eyes and you're heading out of Copenhagen along one of the motorways. Style Over Speed. The bicycle is quick and convenient and that lets you ride in style.

Amazing. Since then a few of the cycle tracks have been removed and the city has been struggling with connecting the network. They've been at 10% for a few years, not least since independence. Slovenia also has higher car ownership rates than Germany. Urban planners started to think car as opposed to bike over the last decade.

But what a legacy. Cycle tracks since the early 1970's. With a bit of vision and dedication, the established mainstream bicycle culture in the city can easily move towards 15%-20%. If the right choices are taken.

A new bike share programme has been established this year, and is a whopping success.
Ljubljana Bicycle Life_10 (2)

A bike box (pleasingly on the stretch that featured the Monumental Motion exhibition) is in place
Ljubljana Cycle Chic_64
There is even a pre-green for bicycles at this intersection.

Ljubljana Bicycle Life_4 (2)
There are loads of bicycle traffic lights already, which is a brilliant sign.

Ljubljana Bicycle Life_18 Ljubljana Bicycle Life_16
Newer developments feature infrastructure bicycle infrastructure, as well.

Ljubljana Bicycle Life_9
There are still glitches along the way. Great bollards separating the motorised traffic from the bicycles, but then cyclists are forced to stop as cars swoop to the right unencumbered. A traffic light for the motor vehicles, forcing them to stop - since the the drivers will otherwise look left for cars as they merge, instead of at the cyclists on the right - and one for the bicycles and that problem is fixed.

In a number of spots bike lanes lead towards a bridge and then disappear, while cars speed along at 50 or 60 km/h. Cyclists I saw just rode on the sidewalk. As we know, the majority of cyclists been 'naughty' do so because of sub-standard (or total lack of) sensible infrastructure.

It was a pleasure to be in the city and meet so many like-minded people. I reminded them not only to look at the negatives - the problem spots - but to remember the positives. It's a city that is lightyears ahead because of visionary planning forty years ago. Capitalizing on the positives will only serve to speed the journey towards a more complete, more effective network of bicycle infrastructure. Constant focusing on the negatives in discussion with city planners and politicians will only end up sounding irritating. This city has so much going for it. Getting to the next level - with the right tailwind - will be easy.

Ljubljana Cycle Chic_77
Thanks to Janez, from the City of Ljubljana and everyone else for their fantastic hospitality.

25 September 2011

Win and Buy Cars in New Zealand!

Thanks to Su Yin, loyal reader in New Zealand, for sending us this advert for a lottery. Poor guy on the left. Relegated to riding a bicycle but if he wins the lottery, he can have CARS!

Cool advert other than that little FAIL.

Is it just me or are most of these crappy examples of how to promote car culture, happily ignore the bull and 'car industry strikes back' coming out of Australasia?

24 September 2011

Brilliantly Overdone

Nice. However it could have been 2 minutes shorter and with lyrics that didn't refer to all the yadayada about the benefits of cycling and it would have been even more powerful.
Just slap on "Here Comes The Sun" by the Beatles and you'll say the same thing without force-feeding the eco-rhetoric down people's throats.

Beautiful graphics, though.

21 September 2011

Danish Bicycle History

Montage of historical footage from Denmark. Bicycle related, duh.

15 September 2011

Bicycle Care Station by Statoil

Statoil's Bicycle Care
Photo: Mads Odgaard
Norway's Statoil is a major oil company in Scandinavia and they have many petrol stations in Denmark. My friend Mads took these photos of a Statoil station in Copenhagen that has clearly accepted - dare one say embraced - the bicycle culture here in the City of Cyclists.

In no uncertain terms Statoil has reserved space for cyclists to fix, tune-up or pump their bicycles at this Bicycle Care station.

The sign, above, reads:

"Dear Cyclist,
You can care for your bicycle here. You can pump and wash your bicycle and, inside the shop, you're welcome to borrow a free bicycle care kit with oil, tire levers, allen keys, etc. 

I simply don't know how to make that text any nicer.

Statoil's Bicycle Care
Photo: Mads Odgaard
In the centre of the bicycle pictogram is a rack that folds down so you can hang your bicycle on it while repairing, caring, whatever. An air hose is on the right and, on the left, a dispenser with paper towels and plastic gloves.
Statoil's Bicycle Care
Photo: Mads Odgaard
Here's the view of the station. The bicycle symbol is prominent and quite splendid.

That's all it takes. That section of wall was unused but now it is useful. A modest investment and, in a flash, this station is bicycle friendly. If the Citizen Cyclist also drops a few coins in the shop, that's good for business, too, but the important thing is symbolism. Especially near the centre of Copenhagen where bicycles outnumber cars.

14 September 2011

Bicycle Club Names 1890s

The Holy Antonius' Last and Greatest Temptation
Cartoon from 1892. "The Holy Antonius' Last and Greatest Temptation". The Cycling Girl.

Reading a brilliant book from 1947 about the dawn of bicycle culture in Copenhagen and Denmark. Chock full of goodies. Here is an incomplete list of some of the many bicycle clubs active in Copenhagen in and around 1890-1897. There were scores more than these. Loving some of the names.

Trækfuglene (Migratory Birds)
Dansk Bicycle Club
Københavns Cycle Club (Copenhagen's Cycle Club)
Østerbros Cycle Club (Østerbro is a neighbourhood)
Ordinary Cycle Clubben
Frederiksberg Cycle Club
Aftenfrokostforeningen (Evening Lunch Association)
The Old Boys
Record Klubben
Nordiske Afholdsforeningers Bicycle Club (Nordic Temperance Associations Bicycle Club)
Københavns Kvadrille Klub (Copenhagen's Quadrille Club)
Kvindecycleklubben (The Women's Cycle Club)
Who changed their name to:
Damecycleklubben (The Ladies Cycle Club)
Selskabelig-Cyclist Forening (Sociable Cyclist Association)
Arbejdernes Bicycle Club (The Workers' Bicycle Club)
Cyclisternes selskabelige Forening (The Cyclists' Sociable Association)
Ringens Venner (Friends of the Ring - nickname for the wheel)
Dansk Cycle Ring (Danish Cycle Ring)
Amateur Cycle Clubben
The Old Tourists
Lægernes Cycleforening (The Doctors' Cycle Association)
Typografernes Cycle-Club (The Typographers' Cycle Club)
Toldopsynets Cycleklub (The Customs Dept Cycle Club)
The Old Friends
Orlogsværftets Cycleklub (Naval Shipyard Cycle Club)
Stjerneklubben af 31. Maj 1897 (The Star Club of May 31, 1897)
Kometen (The Comet)
Ordenens broderlige Cycle Klub (The Order's Brotherly Cycle Club)
Privat Cycleclub (Private Cycle Club)

Scary Season in Denmark - How Not to Promote Cycling

Here in Denmark, the summer's silly season is replaced by scary season. As the air gradually cools and the leaves fade to yellow, the people who produce "safety" campaigns start firing up their stoves to cook up a new batch of car-centric fear gulasch.

The new kid on the block is the Vejdirektoratet - Danish Road Directorate with their VejKryds.dk campaign that hopes to raise awareness about right-turn collisions. We blogged about this campaign back in May when one of our readers - by chance - was invited to a feedback session hosted by Megafon.dk aimed at testing the campaign on a panel of citizens.
You can read about the preview here: Fear Campaign Sneak Preview.
Fear Campaign
The campaign is now on the streets. Compared to the original proposal it is clear that the Road Directorate listened - slightly - to the feedback panel and toned down the campaign a bit. It's still corny as hell with a "rhyme" theme. The main tagline is "Du tror du bli'r set, men pludselig er det sket" or "You think you've been seen but suddenly it happens." Cue photo of a bicycle on the street and... a shoe.

The rhyme is a step up from some of the original proposals featuring such classics as "Hun tog chancen, han skreg efter ambulancen" or "She took the chance, he screamed for an ambulance". Whatever the geeky rhyme, it's still... STILL... the vulnerable traffic users who get pointed at accusingly by these people.
The on-street campaign is clearly going after cyclists. The handful of people who might actually click onto the website will discover that the Road Directorate grudgingly provides some "advice" for motorists and lorry drivers. Cyclists are given nine tips to follow and motorists are provided with three. Lorry drivers are given six tips plus three links to a bit of extra info.

Interestingly, municipalities are provided with a page, too, with infrastructural information to follow - if they haven't already - about moving stop lines for vehicles back five metres (at a cost of about $1000, it says) and with increased safety effects. By pulling back the stop line for vehicles five metres accidents involving vulnerable traffic users are reduced by 35% and accidents involving "late or slow pedestrians" are reduced by 15%.

That, of course, is mentioned nowhere on the on-street campaign. No, that might be rational and clever.

Readers are encouraged to invent some nifty rhymes and enter the competition.
For example, "Færre biler i byen, flere mennesker på cyklen" - "Fewer cars in the city, more people on bicycles"
"Sæt denne kampagne i bero, reducerer biltrafikken din ho" - "Stop this campaign, reduce car traffic you ho". (rhymes in Danish, anyway) Feel free to add your rhymes, if not to the website, then here in the comments.

Basically, what the Danish Road Directorate is saying with this million kroner + campaign is: "We are utterly incapable of (or uninterested in) working towards reducing the number of motor vehicles in our cities". It would have been cheaper to just slap that text on their website in a nice font and then use the extra money on building infrastructure or workshops for municipalities.

For the sake of comparison, here is an article comparing a Danish bike lights campaign with a Dutch one.

So, next up is a campaign from Byens Trafikråd - or The City's Traffic Council and they drew "Pedestrians" out of the hat. (The only other name in the hat was Cyclists). They are reusing a campaign they've had for a couple of years ridiculing pedestrians for thinking that the urban landscape was created for freedom of mobility and for their cheeky inconveniencing of motor traffic. Last year they called it "Ser du det hele?" or "Are you seeing everything?", this year they just changed the name to "Kryds med forsigtighed" or "Cross with Care".

They are focused on the 13-19 year old demographic and were out on the news with scare tactics for their campaign. Even the police's usual pundit suspect in Copenhagen, Mogens Knudsen cast his views into the fray supporting the scare tactics. The same Mogens Knudsen that I debated with last year at the national cycling conference. Surprise, surprise.

Once again, there is no talk of reducing speed limits in Copenhagen and implementing 30 km/h zones like in over 75 other European cities. No visible desire to improve life in Copenhagen by reducing car traffic - which apart from being dangerous in accidents also kills ten times more people than in the accidents themselves.

On the news a label was slapped on pedestrians in connection with this campaign. "Rødgængere" - reworking of "fodgængere", meaning "pedestrians". Replacing the word "fod/foot" with "rød/red". Pedestrians who cross against the light. We know that other terms, like "jaywalking" were inventions of the car industry. "Rødgængere" is merely a label used by car-centric organisations.

Again, the read-between-the-lines message is clear. "We are hopelessly inadequate at promoting cycling positively so we just choose the easy route. Cars rule." Followed by a shrug as they head down to the canteen for lunch.

Here you can see how the Dutch promote traffic safety in the briliant Drive With Your Heart campaign. And, while we're at it, check out how the Hungarians do it.

And here is an interesting article about Smeed's Law and how drivers are rarely blamed for pedestrian injuries or deaths and how crosswalks are more dangerous than you'd think.

In other news from the Fear Factory is this recent article in Politiken - a Danish newspaper. It's all about "Send the Children Safely on their Way on Two Wheels". Take one look at the graphic. The red, international standard warning triangle with a kid on a bike in the middle.

Can you figure out where we're headed? Thought so.When the illustrator recieved the gig I'm sure there was no ulterior motive in producing the danger!danger! theme. But this is incredibly representative of the current perception of cycling in Denmark. The intense helmet promotion from the Danish Road Safety "Council" (Rodet for Sikker Panik) and the Danish Cyclists' Federation over the past couple of years has completely and radically changed the perception of cycling in the population.

The article is the usual stuff about teaching kids to ride a bike and determining when they're ready to head out alone. According to the Danish traffic laws a child can ride unaccompanied from the age of six. But these kids don't read Politiken, the parents do. And that whopping graphic is what they register. Yet another negative symbol of cycling in a long, long line of negative symbols.

I could go on. Oh, wait, I'm going to...
One of the links in the aforementioned newspaper article was to a campaign by the Danish Cyclists Federation called "Alle Børn Cykler" or "All Children Cycle". It intends to promote cycling among children and school classes can participate, earning points for riding to school and... of course... points for wearing a helmet. This is, of course, yet another sign of the safety ideology inherent in the Culture of Fear infilitrating our daily lives. Even the Swedes haven't learned the lesson and now certain people are copying the bad example.

Our colleague Thomas Krag - urban mobility consultent and bicycle guru - was wondering about this and he puts it rather succinctly:

"All Children Cycle. With a helmet. This is the message in this years Alle Børn Cykler campaign, where the helmet has been awarded the yellow jersey. In second place is the bicycle. And after that the almost completely obscured human faces covered by helmets.

It made me think about Jörg Bechmann's PhD. Bechmann is German, studied sociology in Denmark and was until recently the head of the European Transport Safety Council. His PhD is referred to here, in Danish: Automobilisation as mobility paradigm - reflexions on cars, motorists and their spatial temporalities.

Bechmann analysed the covers of FDM's (the Danish automobile association) membership magazine, and found that through the years the cover changed from showing people and cars to showing just the cars and their technical qualities.

Now bicycle communication is apparently going through a similar dehumanisation. With the thought-provoking difference that the bicycle helmet, instead of the bicycle, is taking over the images.

Isn't it a little strange? Are there any obvious reasons why it should be so?"

Think about it. The dehumanisation of the bicycle. After 125 years.

For comparison, here's a page from the Dutch Fietsersbond's website about their Fietsschool - Bicycle School.

The last example of the crisis that Danish bicycle culture is in is clearly exhibited in an article in The Guardian last week - "Copenhagen's novel problem - too many cyclists". In it a person representing Visit Denmark - the national tourist board and a representative of the Danish Cyclists Federation bang on their jungle drums about how intimidating cycling is in Copenhagen. According to THEM, the two individuals. It's hardly credible that they desperately try to project their own personal perception of "intimidating" onto a larger population.

Why on earth ask the opinion of two - we're assuming - insecure cyclists? They've clearly never cycled anywhere else. Try Amsterdam. Enjoyable but chaotic. Imagine... this is Visit Denmark advertising Danish cycling culture. Do they talk about the risk of alcoholism when talking about Carlsberg? About a friend of hers who drank too much, got alcohol posioning and had to be put in a taxi? Or about how LEGO is simply too dangerous and despite the positive safety record, a man tells you that things COULD GET DANGEROUS in the future if LEGO keeps producing such small bits of plastic?

Amazingly, (or not) The Onion has already covered this New Tourism Marketing angle from Visit Denmark: The Onion: Denmark Introduces Harrowing New Tourism Ads

Denmark Introduces Harrowing New Tourism Ads Directed By Lars Von Trier

If you've read our previous posts about the book "Fighting Traffic - The Dawn of the Motor Age in the American City" by Peter D. Norton - Fighting Traffic and The Anti-Automobile Age - and what we can learn from it you'll know that the battle to limit the negative effects car traffic has on our cities is nothing new. Here in the age of demotorization the tide is changing. Some are ahead of the curve, others are hopelessly, frustratingly behind.

The Culture of Fear is alive and well and cycling - from a marketing perspective - is apparently the new smoking in Denmark

12 September 2011

Copenhagenize Challenges...

Svajerløb 2010 - Copenhagenize Push
Copenhagenize Consulting has challenged three other 'players' on the urban cycling scene in Denmark to an internal battle at this year's Svajerløbet 2011 - Danish Cargo Bike Championships. We hereby challenge these people.... and these people.... and these people. The latter is Copenhagen's Bicycle Office.

The challenge:
- We all participate in a heat of the Team Relay discipline.
- The bosses have to take part and the three others have to be employees.
- Choose your own cargo bike.
- Go hard or go home

So far, the Copenhagen Bicycle Office has responded to Copenhagenize's challenge.
So far, the other two have not responded.

Let the games begin.

Participants can challenge others to personal battles through the Svajerløbet 2011 website here: http://www.dmforladcykler.dk/TipEnVen.php

We Come Before You Do

Bicycle-related, believe it or not. A condom campaign against AIDS/HIV from Switzerland.
"We come before you do"

Ah, yes. The bicycle is back.

Thanks to Paul from Vienna Cycle Chic for the link.

11 September 2011

Cycling with Contractions to the Hospital

If you live in Denmark it's not unusual to have heard stories of pregnant women riding their bicycle to the hospital with contractions. We've all heard the stories. Today, however, Copenahgenize is thrilled to provide some photographic documentation. Our friend Ole of "I read Copenhagenize and sold the family car" fame hooked us up with two friends of his, John and Lina. The time came for Lina to give birth - the contractions were getting closer together - and the couple, who don't own a car (like 70.9% of Copenhageners) headed out to their bicycles. John and Lina are actually from Montreal but live in Copenhagen.

John and Lina have kindly allowed us to blog the photos that John took on the way to the hospital. It was only 1.5 km away but Lina had to stop a few times because the contractions were strong. The above photo was taken at 03:58. Head leaning on her pre-packed bag.

This photo was taken at 04:04. So the contractions were six minutes apart. I'll never know how it feels but having two kids I have a pretty good idea.

Like most bicycle stories, it all ended well. They arrived at the maternity ward of the hospital at 04:15 and baby Viggo made his entrance into the world at 07:19.

We're absolutely thrilled for John and Lina and they have our warmest congratulations on the birth of Viggo. And thanks to them all for letting us share their fantastic bicycle experience.

Ironically, there is this poster hanging around Berlin at the moment, says one of our readers, Michael. An election poster for the liberal party. It reads:

Q: "Why isn't the FDP (liberals) not sharing the dream of a car free city?"
A: "Because no woman in the world wants to ride to the delivery room by bike"

Cycling whilst pregnant is virtually prescribed here in Denmark and there is no reason not to do it. Beats walking by a long shot, easy on the back and it increases your mobility radius while giving you decent exercise. Above is a book called Pregnancy and Exercise, written by a doctor. The cover image says it all.

Regarding cycling as a transport form for the majority of cyclists, I found this text on the Netdoktor website about cycling and pregnancy. It is highly recommended by doctors in Denmark to ride while pregnant, right up to the end if you can. But this text says it all about how cycling is regarded in Denmark:

"Cykling er ikke kun en transportform, men i lige så høj grad en motionsform"

In English: "Cycling isn't only a form of transport, but also a great way to excercise."

I love that. Reminding Danes that cycling is good exercise, too. 

La famiglia *
Above is my lovely ex with our boy and 8 months pregnant with our girl. We actually lived across the street from the hospital so getting there was a walkable cinch. The midwife clinic was also across the street and there is always a long line of pregnant women popping by for a check-up. Here are some photographs of cycling pregnant in Copenhagen:

PregnantPregnant in CopenhagenPregnant With Number TwoWith ChildLa ReineWith ChildWith ChildWith ChildWith ChildPregnant and Ice coffee

Football and Bicycles

Thanks to our reader, Philip, for this great story. The fans of Eintracht Frankfurt football club decided to ride their bicycles to this year's derby match against local rivals FSV Frankfurt on August 21, 2011. The result was a fantastic and festive "football critical mass" from the city centre to the stadium.

It was probably even more festive afterwards, since Eintracht Frankfurt cycled home with a solid 0-4 victory over their rivals.

Back when the word 'hooligans' was splashed over the press in the 1990s, the Danish fans started calling themselves 'roligans' - from the Danish word 'rolig', meaning 'calm'. The fans in the above photos could easily be dubbed 'Roll-igans' or even 'rad-igans'. Mainly because 'Pedaligans' just sounds stupid.

More photos over at Ultras Frankfurt 1997 website.

Here's a film from a couple of years ago of Felix and I riding home from an FC Copenhagen match.

The Most Beautiful Sign in the World

Beautiful Sign
These are up all over town - along with big adverts on buses and what not - and it reads:

Cycling World Championships
Hans Christian Boulevard and parts of the the city centre closed between 15 Sept - 21 Sept 2011

10 September 2011

Edmonton Ignores The Bull in their China Shop

Photo via West Edmonton Local on Flickr.

The Edmonton Police have responded to the fact that 69% of pedestrian/car collisions are the fault of the drivers by... going after the pedestrians. Classic Ignoring the Bull tactics in a car-centric city. Not only are they condescending to pedestrians, they are continue the unfortunate tradition of treating people like sheep by herding them into pre-determined migration paths that protect the automobiles from disturbances that may result, shock horror, in the need to slow down and be aware.

The campaign features outdated shock tactics using stickers on the sidewalk of young people... um... having a nap. There is more about the Edmonton campaign here.

The concept of "Jaywalking" was an invention of the automobile industry in early decades of the last century during a comprehensive and lengthy campaign to brand streets as exclusive space for automobiles. A campaign started to counter the massive societal revolt against automobiles. We've covered it in previous posts about The Anti-Automobile Age. The Edmonton Police should cut to the chase and get a sponsorship from local car dealerships. They could add a Ford or Chevy logo to their uniform and use the sponsorship fees to pay for their Christmas party.

If there are places where "jaywalking" occurs regularly, it is probably time for the city planners to redesign and to listen carefully to the Desire Lines of their citizens.

And perhaps police forces everywhere should stick to law enforcement and leave marketing and behavioural campaigns to people who know what they're doing.

Copenhagen 1935

Classic closing sequence from Poul Henningsen's DANMARK film from 1935.

09 September 2011

Bicycle Posters on Market Street

Ian Huebert_Fixie_MrktPoster
Thanks to our reader, Aaron, who sent us links to these posters that currently feature on Market Street in San Francisco. Light-hearted, whimsical, nice.
Ian Huebert_Market_MrktPoster

Ian Huebert_Fog_MrktPoster