24 October 2011

Copenhagenizing Copenhagen


We always have a bunch of ideas kicking around at Copenhagenize Consulting. We are always working on individual, tailor-made solutions when we work with other cities - every city is unique - but last month we decided to try out some ideas right here in Copenhagen. In our own backyard.

Take It Easy
Earlier this year we blogged about how Copenhagen tries to keep Holding On To Cyclists by placing railings and footrests around the city to let bicycle users rest against them whilst waiting at red lights. Brilliant idea and we love it. The text on the footrest is a communications template we developed for the Bicycle Office.

These railings, are, however, limited in that these railings can only be implemented in certain locations where they don't interfere with pedestrian mobility. There are eight of them around the city now.
Copenhagen Lean
Copenhageners, however, will lean up against anything they can at red lights. We have a whole photo series dedicated to it. Have a look around the city. The metal poles are rubbed smooth by all the hands that rest against them.

There are many lightposts around the city that are positioned right at the stop line for bicycles so we developed the idea to exploit this space and cater to - if not the bicycle users' Desire Lines - then their "Stationary Desire Spots".

See our solution in the film, above. We call it the Copenhagenize Love Handle.
It was a massive success during the ten days of the pilot project. We placed six of them around the city, on busy bicycle routes. When the team was taking them down, people protested, saying they loved them. We also set out to track the behaviour change during the course of the pilot project. When a new "thing" appears on peoples' regular route, how long does it take for people to to notice the Love Handles? Would they use them? Answers: Two days. Yes.

The next prototype we whipped together was what we call the Copenhagenize Has Bin.

Before we made this prototype, you see, we had no bin... now Copenhagenize has bin.
Um... anyway...


A couple of years ago Copenhagenize Consulting suggested that the City of Copenhagen's Bicycle Office make rubbish bins tilted towards cyclists. We were thrilled when they finally implemented them. It wasn't quite what we had proposed - we sent them photos of Dutch "Blikvanger" - proposing something bigger, higher up and more noticeable, but hey. The city is bound by design guidelines and it was tough getting permission to alter the existing rubbish bins.

So... like with the Love Handles, we decided to just get out there and try out our own version. Rock and roll. Many of the Dutch blikvanger are on bicycle paths, away from roads. We wanted to make a portable rubbish bin that was easy to implement, easy to move and that could be placed on existing poles and masts in the heart of the city. This was more of a 'prototype' than the Love Handles but it, too, was a success.

The Copenhagenize Love Handle The Copenhagenize Love Handle The Copenhagenize Love Handle
It was hard to document people throwing garbage - we'd have to stand there for hours - but the nets did contain garbage. Loads of coffee cups and apple cores and banana peels. Things people consume on their bicycles. To be honest, we need to further develop the prototype, but we were so pleased to see that they were used. More of our friends noticed these than the love handles - probably because they were placed along crosstown routes along The Lakes, as opposed to the Love Handles which were on arterials leading from the neighbourhoods to the city centre.

All in all, it was fun. Designing, thinking out of the box, doodling, measuring, welding, implementing, documenting. A little bit of Copenhagenizing Copenhagen. We're now working on a concept involving Love Handles for another city, which will be fun.

25 comments:

cyclestuff said...

Two great ideas....simple, effective and makes a bold statement ("We consider cyclists"). Not sure why that chap shook his head, but hey, its a free world. It'll be a happy world too with more love handles in it :)

Nice to see creativity and innovation in action.

Mikael said...

Thanks! Like they say, "You can't please everyone all the time." Thousands and thousands of bicycle users roll past these points each day. One guy who shook his head is not a problem. Free world, like you say. And respect for that.

Blogger Sucks said...

In America, people would be afraid of touching a public handle because of disease.

Although, bicycle riders are a little more daring. :)

-danny

Anonymous said...

That would never be allowed over here in Australia. People might catch their helmet straps on it and strangle themselves. It's occupational health and safety don't you know.

Bristol Traffic said...

We in the Bristol Traffic Project applaud this idea, as it would stop local cyclists trying to trackstand from face planting. With an easy way to avoid falling down at lights, there would be less justification for helmets

townmouse said...

those bins are harder to use than they look! As we found out on the Cycling Embassy field trip (see Jim's video for details - and yes, I throw like a girl)

lvps1000vm said...

I don't like the bins as I feel that they are just a copy of car culture.

A thing of cycle culture is that you're aware of the surroundings - no problem to put a foot on the floor for a minute to drink water, buy an ice cream or throw garbage. As opposed to car culture and its drive throughs.

For me, the best cycle bins are just... normal bins, useful for pedestrians as well as cyclists.

kiwehtin said...

Hey, I think that guy on the cargo bike was in on this blikvanger thing...

I like the target sign: that's a pretty good piece of psychology there.

maria said...

Help needed! Germany's transport minister wants to introduce helmet laws unless riders shape up and wear more of them.

Frits B said...

lvps1000vm doesn't understand the rationale behind the bins. Here in Holland, "normal" bins are everywhere along cycle paths and they are well used. Nevertheless, lots of people, particularly schoolkids, just toss empty drink cans and such into the verge. The blikvanger was invented to appeal to their competitive instincts, so far rather successfully - it's fun to test your accuracy, although lots of empty cans around the bin show that many cyclists need more practice (but at least the cans are now concentrated around the bins which makes it easier to collect them). And there's the educational aspect: when kids get into the habit of tossing their empty cans into a blikvanger, they may also use the regular bins more.

Paul said...

Here's a great 'Blikvanger' video from Holland......http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_kri8xOd7y4

TN said...

Amazing as usual. You guys are brilliant. Watching the first guy try out the handle was impeccable film-making.

Tallycyclist said...

The love handle illustrates another important point about humanity and life in general: flexibility. Sure, to those who believe that sign post and telephone poles should only look or be a certain way, the love handle may appear a little weird. These handles are simply practical for cyclist. Nothing more, nothing less. It shouldn't need the endorsement from the top engineers from an accredited university or the seal of approval from top traffic planners. It was put there for a purpose using available tools and serves that purpose. Couldn't get any better than that.

Keith said...

Nicely done, as usual. My only suggestion is that a "D" shaped handle (where the vertical leg of the D is the lamp post itself) might be slightly more intuitive to use and more versitile for different users as well. But using old handlebars as raw material is a brilliant start.

kiwehtin said...

I suspect the guy who shook his head and went "pfoh!" just has a completely utilitarian view of cycling in the urban landscape: a "radical vacuum cleanerist", you could say.

Despite your own view that bikes should be treated as something akin to vacuum cleaners – just appliances for transport –, you do go beyond that way of seeing things by celebrating chic cycling and well-made and well-designed bikes. Of course, what you are campaigning against – campaigning seems a bit of an overstatement but what I mean is the drift of your advocacy – is the geekish emphasis on power, specs and technotribalism that has long taken over the cycling world, especially in North America.

Some people have criticised Cycle Chic as some kind of snobbery for advocating style over speed (or style and simplicity of use over specs and complicated interface) – much like some have said the same about Steve Jobs and the Apple approach (FB post dig there! ), but in both cases, they miss the point: it's not trying to invent a new cult so much as wanting to simplify the experience and make it inviting, not daunting, for the average person.

I don't have access to Mister Pfoh's mind, but he strikes me as that kind of skeptic who doesn't get what you're aiming at and thinks all extra appeal should be stripped away from the purely utilitarian core – a Linux geek type if I can make the comparison.

Frits B said...

Can I say that I suspect that several cyclists passing by this handle might have wondered what could happen if they pulled it? Something to do with practical jokes and candid camera?

kfg said...

"a Linux geek type if I can make the comparison."

You can, but you may not. Linux geeks love functional little tools that modularly enhance the user environment.

Apple users ride trikes.

shuichi said...

Just interested. I like such a trial.

Mikael said...

Thanks for all the comments. Bins are a convenience and a necessity. Not every sidewalk bin is convenient for the passing cyclists on the cycle tracks. Not to mention the openings are often too narrow. We've seen too many cyclists slow down to throw something out, miss and then just ride on.

Detlef said...

Hello, lovely idea and great name for the handles.

Here in Emden we have since 2006 these yellow grips: http://www.ampelgriff.de
and here is a list of citys where you can find them: http://www.ampelgriff.de/staedte.php

In german wikipedia-article (http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ampelgriff) you also see a picture of a round version.

Sam said...

OMG! Sidsel! So proud to see you in the video!

Come to San Diego already, we could really use you here :)

Clyde S. Dale said...

I like the ideas there -- just wouldn't work HERE (Great Lakes region, USA), due to the infrastructure (and the fact that local folks seem to be psychologically averse to using the proper receptacles). My kids and I have found alternatives, though -- the bases of ped. crossing signals are a good place to rest a foot, and my kids have taken to resting one foot on ME (either the left, down, pedal, or my back tire, while I stand on the ground)! We've leaned against the traffic light poles, as well....

I guess, as a veteran, I'm used to doing with less; the idea of putting a foot down is just part of the process, part of riding.

Sally aka Fixpert said...

These are great ideas, and well-executed: prototyped, tested, refined, and built to be scalable.

I enjoyed seeing some every day scenes of cyclists commuting in Copenhagen. I've read all about it, looked at photos, but haven't seen much footage of the seemingly banal things, like cyclists waiting at a traffic signal. It's really inspiring to see some every day moments like this, to have a concrete vision of what we're aiming for in our cycling advocacy in the States.

Thanks! :)

Ryan Grimm said...

I like the idea, but would place the handle with the hook down...or use the ampelgriff design, which is a lot more stable, and can be mounted on existing poles with a couple of those stainless steel straps used to mount stuff to posts.

The trash funnel...well, I'd make it larger, and place it on top of a standard trash barrel...with a larger funnel around it for those that miss the 'center target'.
Assign 'points' to the center (2 points) and outside (1 point) funnels, and it becomes much more of an interactive game.
Put on the barrel that a completely missed shot DEDUCTS two points....you'll be more likely for folks to stop and pick up their misses.
Make it THREE points if you pick up someone else's miss.....

Andre Kubasik said...

I've just come across those ring shaped kind of Love Handles for the first time myself, in Stuttgart, Germany.
http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-ng-Mke6w39U/UiiDbmeYTGI/AAAAAAAAALY/0PnmEw4XJpo/s1600/fellbach-wartegriff-c.JPG
An amazingly simple idea, certainly not expensive, but very convenient and a clear statement: "You're very welcome here. Thanks for chosing the bike." Love it!