13 October 2011

Zipcar Strikes Back

Two days in a row we get to add new installments to Copenhagenize's The Car Industry Strikes Back series, showing how the bicycle is increasingly regarded as a threat to the market share. General Motors sailed into The Perfect Twitter Storm yesterday and today....

There is a car share company in the States called Zipcar. Car sharing is good. I use a car share programme here in Copenhagen - okay... only about 3 times a year, but hey. It's there when I need it. Once again, it's interesting to note and track the rising resistance of the car industry and related auto-centric industries to the rise of the bicycle in our cities. It comes as a bit of a surprise that Zipcar would go after bicycle culture in a campaign, but here they are, doing it. Zipcar is, of course, on Twitter, if anyone is interested.

20110909 zipcar-5door
It was Jym Dyer on Twitter who pointed us in the direction of Zipcar's "Sometimes you just need a Zipcar" campaign, pictured above in situ, from his photostream on Flickr. As he puts it:

"These people apparently live in a world where bike messengers don't exist, so nobody has figured out how to carry papers on a bicycle. Apparently baskets, racks, xtracycles, worktrikes, and bike trailers don't exist either, because you have to carry architectural models on your handlebars. The only alternative, apparently, is a 5-door car. Architects who can't envision carfree spaces are a big part of the problem.

Indeed. The campaign also has a Facebook page where you can add your own dialogue to the photo. I suggest everyone get in there and turn back the automobile tide with their wit. Because there are a whole lot of misconceptions in there.

Jym also pointed out that the architectural model the woman is holding - besides being butt ugly - has an entire ground floor dedicated to car parking. Sooooo last century.

So. How would these well-dressed - and shockingly visionless - architects get to their meeting? Zipcar obviously can't envision how the bicycle has been used for over a century in our cities. Let's help them out, shall we?

Send lawyers, bikes and money Doghouse
At left: Two lawyers outside the Copenhagen City Courts, carrying all manner of legal documents on their bicycles.
At right: A decent front rack - with or without a box - could make it simpler to transport the architectural model - and other things.

Picking Up The Kid Dad and Son
Front racks come in a variety of sizes - I even use it for transporting my kids' bikes from time to time. And everything else under the sun.

Cargo Bike Action
Here's an average load for me and the kids. Two plants, two metal cupboards, a doll and a bunch of other stuff on the Bullitt.

Bike Messenger Paris Bike Culture - La Petite Reine
Like Jym said, what about bicycle messengers? Either a traditional cargo bike or a larger version, like La Petite Reine in Paris (pictured), or a variety of other versions.

Zipcar isn't just playing the anti-cycling card. They're slapping a whole bunch misconceptions out there.
Oh puhlease. Zipcar's advertising people really should get out more often.

Red Light People Green Thing
Christmas Shopping Groceries
The Daily Haul Snowstorm Christmas Shopping
Cargo Shopping Cycling Shopaholic
Carry on in Copenhagen Winter Carrying
Too easy.

Thankfully I've never experienced this cliché but the last two times I've moved flats, I did it on cargo bikes:
Load 5 Me Load 4 Me
And you may remember this film of our friends moving flat in Barcelona by bicycle.

Transporting musical instruments by bicycle?
Musical Transport Bike Battle
At left: A musician arriving at a café in Copenhagen for a gig. A couple of those Christiania bikes and those boys need not take the bus.
At right: A musician setting up to play on a square in Copenhagen with his cargo bike as transport.
Here's a Copenhagenize Flickr set about music, musical instruments and bicycles.

Okay, this one is, in a way, one of those things that's not like the others. To get to the lake/stream, you may want something more than a bicycle depending where it is. But why wouldn't that canoe fit on the subway? They could just stand up, pressing it against the ceiling. If they DID want to transport it by bike, it wouldn't be THAT difficult.
Juletree - Copenhagen Yule Sofa-moving bike, Beijing, China.JPG
That yule tree is not that much shorter than the canoe and that sofa is certainly less handy - and heavier.

Bike Culture Taxi
Now here's a question. Do Zipcars come with detachable bike racks as standard? Nah. Didn't think so. Every taxi in Denmark must be equipped with two bike racks. If you need a taxi and have a bicycle to transport, the driver gets out and takes out the rack from the trunk, sticking it into the standard holder on the back of the taxi. Wouldn't THAT be a good idea for Zipcar and other car share programmes?

How about just be a little bit forward-thinking and selling car share WITH bicycles? We blogged about a great little film from Dublin that promotes combining the two. The bike share programme Go Car teamed up with Bear Bicycles.

By the way, I've heard that Paris is getting a large-scale Zipcar-ish car share programme with electric cars. Don't Zipcars still run on oil? Sheesh. Isn't it 2011, or what?

Here's more from Copenhagenize's The Car Industry Strikes Back series.


Mike said...

Comment done. Good fun ;-)

We'd love a carshare scheme in our village - so much we even put our own car into one- http://whipcar.com/kiwimike . Unfortunately everyone else is so wedded to car ownership there have been zero takers in 6 months. So we have a car we use maybe once a week, depreciating like crazy and costing £1500 a year in tax and insurance.

Comment here for completeness as can't work out how to link to a comment on FB:

Having decided riding sporty bikes with no luggage capacity was a dumb idea, they chose good Dutch bikes for their next business trip. They arrived healthier, faster and cheaper than hiring a congestion-causing, pollutant-emitting, expensive car for a short trip. All their stuff went into the attached panniers/baskets and the chainguard / fenders kept their nice clothes clean. They stopped off at a cafe to recharge, all the while eyeing each other up for being so fit. Jenna wondered what Eduardo would look like naked. Eduardo thought a girl like Jemma would make a great wife and mother to his children. They were able to find parking right outside the meeting in seconds. Their clients were impressed with their genuine green credentials and efforts to both save cash, time and make the city a more pleasant place to live and work. They won the pitch, started dating, had kids and made cycling a part of their everyday life.

Ryan said...

I've hauled some fairly heavy and large loads without any issues.

From what I see of other cyclists in my city, a growing number of people of people have front baskets now, and probably around 40-50% of bikes have a carrier.

Often I see people with bags hanging from the handlebars, more people seem to have trailers and on the rare occasion I see someone pulling a shopping cart, similar to the one pictured above.

When I use to take transit, I'd often see people lugging large, heavy items with them and they didn't look frustrated or upset.

Elberto Quonk said...

Comment done: "Already 20 minutes late to the most important meeting of their careers, Jenna and Eduardo pedaled furiously, not realising that they had possibly selected the wrong ratios. Of course, taking trial bikes to commute was ridiculous, particularly on such a flat road. The dull realisation was that they should've selected practical bikes perhaps with a basket or panniers -let alone a cargo bike - and a sensible selection of commuting gear ratios they'd not be in such utter shit, pedalling furiously."

I don't really ride a particularly practical bike, however with enough octopus ties and string I've carried all kinds of things on the frame or on my back. I like to think of it as freestyle urban portage (chapeau to BSNYC). The shame is that, as you say, carshares are a good idea and the general attitude we see here in the UK of bicycles being for crazy people isn't going be helped by this sort of campaign. Which is a great shame.

domotion2011 said...

Both the GM and ZipCar Adverts are more fuel for the fire. In the US the mainstream media is picking up on this. The LA Times reported on the GM campaign and the flack from the Bicycle blogs which are looked upon as a legitimate voice. This is one situation where the AD backfired. Will this spur greater debate in public? I hope so.

Siegfried said...

Richard Guy Briggs has given the answer to the Canoe problem years ago:


carfree chicago said...

To their credit, Zipcar also does some great marketing to drivers encouraging them to ditch cars altogether with their Low-Car Diet: http://www.zipcar.com/lowcardiet/

Rachell top_9_used_car said...

See so many bikes, I was pleased to walk in them because the cars and especially bored and pollute the environment.

Mag said...

Just like to add a couple of pictures to the house-moving "issue". Here in Montreal that's how it's done : you can put up to 4 electros on a single trailer, and get even the biggest pieces of furniture moved by bike


Nphorcer said...

Backlink: http://bicyclegeek.wordpress.com/2011/10/13/copenhagenize-takes-a-good-critical-look-at-zipcars-sometimes-you-just-need-a-car-campaign/

Evan said...

Thanks for addressing this! I saw this on the subway here in NYC a little while ago and the stupidity of the ad characters was mind blowing. The guy's not even wearing his bag! Morons. I kinda wish I was still on facebook just to comment on this.

Anonymous said...

For a great example of transporting musical instruments by bike, see Ben Sollee, folk cello player from Kentucky.

BruceMcF said...

Wow, got to blog this. Will link back here, but already have the above the fold art done:

jpg: http://i130.photobucket.com/albums/p278/BruceMcF/cycling/zipcar-upgraded.jpg

Anonymous said...

The first photo of the overburdened bicyclists looks like they're in Fredriksberg, Copenhagen doesn't it? (Just by the town hall). So it's probably a Photoshop manipulation that started off with two very happy Danish cyclists. Can anyone find the stock photo it was based on?

aronman said...

great answer from giant

Unity Finesmith said...

Canoe? No problem http://www.xtracyclegallery.com/2009/08/towing-canoe-with-radish.html

StepDoran said...

"Sometimes you just need a basket" is more true.

Estudio27 Architects said...

I don't believe they are real architects. No self-respecting architect wears a tie, and I thought it was mandatory for architects to ride a Brompton (with clip-on briefcase to the front and pannier rack to rear). Honestly.

Jym said...

=v= I'm glad you liked my flickr comment. Katherine Roberts a.k.a. Grrl Friday had an idea for a series of "sometimes you just need a bike" subvertisements which I put in my flickr stream just today.

I hadn't seen the shopping one until recently, at San Francisco's Union Square. This is the city's main shopping district, and is already saturated with cars. Union Square itself has been turned into an underground carpark with a strip of turf on top, as has the nearest former greenspace. There's no room for more cars, "shared" or otherwise, so guess where they park? Right in the bike lane, or in the bus stop.

aronman said...

news: http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/money_co/2011/10/gm-pulls-advertisment-that-offended-cyclists-.html

Abram said...

Option for a canoe or kayak hauled by bike made by Wike in Guelph, ON, Canada. http://www.wicycle.com/canoe_woody_wagon_bicycle_trailer.php And I know there are others like it.

And check out this Montreal company doing entire housemoves by bike: http://www.demenagementmyette.ca/

And I haul all sorts of things, including tables, desks and couches on my cargo bike.

What a lack of imagination these people have? Yes there are times when a bike won't do -- heavy industry, for one -- but their examples are all doable by bike.

Erik G. said...

Boston-based ZipCar bought out Seattle-basedFlexcar and proceeded to take most of their cars in Southern California out of city areas and concentrate them around universities, which had been a focus.

If you live near a university, you are ok, but a bunch of people lost care-share service thanks to this.

ZipCar also operates in Canada and the UK (London).

Kim said...

Last year I had to get a 16.4Kg pumpkin home from the allotment, I did consider hiring a car (or even joining the city car club), but that felt it was going too much against the grain. In the end, we found, we didn't need a car. Lets face it, it is far more fun without a car.

This year, the biggest pumpkin is only 4Kg...

Kevin Love said...

This being Canada, we build bicycle trailers to carry canoes. See:


Chris said...

Oh zipcar...indeed it's too bad that backpacks and panniers are inventions of a far distant future... also, take a look at this post - new art w/ slogan sometimes you just don't need zipcar

Jared said...

These ads are recognizably shot in Boston (the bike one is on Commonwealth Ave, the canoe one is on the Green line), which is trying to become more bike-friendly (just put in a bike-share program, unfortunately just in time for winter). I think ZipCar might THINK they're being bike- and public transit-friendly by saying SOMETIMES you need a car; but yes it could have been executed better.

Anonymous said...

All due respect (because I have a lot for this blog) but Zipcar is based in the US and in the US there are not as many of these kinds of smart and practical bikes as there are in Copenhagen. Zipcar's advert would be flawed in Denmark, but in the US it is less so. Perhaps these companies would have less possibilities to belittle the bicycle industry in the US, if there was a stronger, bigger bicycle industry. The US is so big and most of it does not have proper bicycle infrastructure. Also US companies, for the most part, don't manufacture those kinds of bikes, so the only options are to import ($$$) bikes from Europe. Just some thoughts!

Jym said...

@Anonymous - Zipcar's target market in the United States is dense urban areas where people are already living carfree. I've lived in two of these (New York and San Francisco), and I can assure you that there are cargo bikes, bakfiets and such afoot. What there isn't is space for more cars, which I suppose is why I keep finding Zipcars parked in my bike lanes and on my sidewalks.

I haven't seen nearly so many practical bikes in the greater Boston area, where Zipcar is headquartered, but that just means there's another opportunity for Copenhagenizing!