29 February 2012

Danish State Spoils Motorists

The Danish government backed out of their election promise to create congestion charges around Copenhagen last week. It boggles the mind. The car centric mood in this country is stronger than any period since the 1960s, it seems.

To highlight this point, the Danish version of MetroXpress published this article yesterday, about a new study from an analysis institute - CASA, that shows that Danish motorists have been subsidized for many years. I've translated it here:

Petrol prices that continue to rise, high environmental taxes and the risk of a congestion ring. Motorists have felt as though they are a hunted flock that politicians would rather see taking public transport.

The fact of the matter is that the State has spoiled motorists rotten over the past 20 years.
That's the conclusion in a new report that analysis institute CASA published yesterday. It shows that motorists who drove 100 km from, for example Helsinge or Herfølge to work in Copenhagen pay 17 kroner a day for the commute. The same trip cost 67 kroner in 1990 - in 2012 kroner.

"Motorists should stop whining and recognise that they have been spoiled by the Danish parliament through the years. It has never been cheaper to drive to work as it is right now", says Senior Consultant Karl Vogt-Nielsen from CASA, to Metro Xpress.

The calculations focused on what the journey costs based on the price of petrol and tax deductions. According to Karl Vogt-Nielsen, politicians should, among other things, change the tax on petrol prices.

"Even though petrol prices have been rising, the petrol tax hasn't followed the price rises over the past ten years and therefore it's become relatively cheaper from year to year. I think the government should change that", he explains.

Petrol taxes, however, are not something the government is willing to touch.

"When you look at how high petrol prices are now, raising petrol taxes is not the right way to go", says the Social Democrat's tax spokesman Thomas Jensen.

It's not just the petrol tax and tax deductions that make it advantageous to drive to work, says the analysis institute. Since 2001, the previous government has lowered the registration tax on cars so much that they, according to CASA's calculations, missed out on 6.5 billion kroner ($1.18 billion) between 2001 to 2011. Add to that the low petrol taxes and the state could have put 10 billion ($1.8 billion) in its coffers.

"The question must be asked whether society is better served giving 10 billion kroner to motorists or to public transport, job creation or public health", says Karl Vogt-Nielsen.

The government has already written a change to the registration tax into their policy, but they they aren't placing it in the state's coffers. The money is to be divided up and used, for example, making it cheaper to buy an environmentally-friendly car.

"We have committed ourselves to making a proceeds-neutral restructuring of the registration tax, and promote the spread of environmentally-friendly cars. We have to get roughly the same amount of money into the state's coffers as we do now", says Thomas Jensen.

So, more cars is the conclusion from the current government. Wonderful.

28 February 2012

Car Addiction is an Understated Problem and other films

It's be three and half years since I first blogged this video, made by students at the Dutch Film and TV Academy. I'm surprised it only has 5424 views on YouTube. It deserves so much more.

The dialogue goes like this:

Motorist is shown an ink blot.

Doctor: What do you see?

Motorist: Car.

Doctor: (Voiceover): The first phase is denial.

Motorist: Car.

Motorist watches bicycle films.

Doctor: (Voiceover) You have to present the addict with the cure for the problem.

Motorist gets onto stationary bicycle.

Doctor: (Voiceover) Then they have to take their own initiative.

Motorist outside on bicycle.

Doctor: (Voiceover) When they can do it on their own, we'll let them go. Car addiction (or slavery) is a underestimated problem. We have to help these people.

Doctor's last line: Yeah, somebody has to do something about traffic jams.

Then there's this one. Italian asks how the guy got there today and replies, "Bicycle". Italian men laugh. Italian men get into car and explode.

Tagline: Cyclists live longer.


Voice from PA system: "Attention to the owner of the blue Saab 900, license plate XB22BH. You have forgotten to enable your handbrake."

"Attention, the blue Saab is rolling towards the yellow Lotus."

Tagline: No inconveniences? Take the bike!

Tagline at the end: If siting on a bicycle is like this... we do we sit in traffic jams?
Ride your bike to work. It's a good cause.

Busses are Beautiful

Earlier this year, Mary from here at Copenhagenize Consulting spoke in Bogota at an ITDP conference about Cycle Chic, marketing cycling and our work at the company. An interesting discussion arose about how it could be possible to use the cycle chic 'method' to promote public transport use.

Today I saw the coolest bus advert yet. It's from Norway. Sure, it's not for busses in urban areas, but it show what is possible for using advertising and positive messaging to promote bus use - or anything else. Like urban cycling, trains, you name it. And we love the ironic lyrics in the song used in the video.

Hi, Cyclist! Your Bicycle is Here

Hej Cyclist Here is Your Bicycle_2
The area surrounding the nation's busiest train station, Nørreport, is a labyrinth of construction as the City is renovating the on-street facilities and making it a nicer place. The result is that there is less space available so the City of Copenhagen has these signs up on Købmagergade, near the station. We are always thrilled to Copenhagenize Consulting's "Hej Cyklist" behavourial communication template in use. This campaign was developed for the City by the consultancy Atkins Danmark. It reads:

Hej Cyclist! Can't you find your bicycle?
It's now parked in Rosenborggade.

In order to create space for everyone, we've drawn a bicycle parking zone here on Købmagergade. Bicycles parked outside the zone may be moved to the bicycle parking zone in Rosenborggade.

They include a little map so you can find your bicycle. How lovely.
Hej Cyclist Here is Your Bicycle
Around the corner, here are the bicycles that have been moved. A cool design of the photo that combines the bicycles on the sign with the bicycles parked behind it.

It reads:

Hi, Cyclist!

Your bicycle is here. If your bicycle wasn't parked in the parking zone on Købmagergade, we moved it here. Now there is better space for everyone.

Hej Cyclist Here is Your Bicycle_1
Here's the other angle.

Nørreport Temporary Parking
Up by the station, here is some more temporary parking. Looking forward to when the station area is finished being renovated, but we like the fact that these racks are placed smack in the middle of what used to be motor vehicle lanes.

Here are some related signage examples:
"Maybe We Moved Your Bicycle" - polite signs from the City of Copenhagen let bicycle users know where to find their bicycle when it's been moved away from emergency exits leading up from the Metro.

"Copenhagen's Bicycle Butlers - Park Illegally and get your chain oiled and tires pumped". The Bicycle Butlers have been a massive success.

"Walk your bicycle on the train station platform" - A firm message but with a soft and appealing graphic.

27 February 2012

Police & Tickets - No News is Big News

Policeman Hunting Cyclists
As we highlighted last week, the Danish police announced they would be going after bicycle users this week and sure enough, they were at it. Hiding behind a tree along The Lakes, as above. This officer was largely stopping bicycle users who were scooting over the sidewalk, as illustrated below, in order to turn right while avoiding the hundred or so bicycle users waiting at the red light.

Yes, hundreds of the world's best behaved cyclists waiting for red lights and once in a while a citizen on a bicycle rolls across the sidewalk (red arrows), only to be stopped by this police officer. I watched for a while and the policeman spent more time leaning against a tree than writing tickets. And this was rush hour.

Policeman Hunting Cyclists_1 Policeman Hunting Cyclists_2
He did get to unfreeze the ink in his pen a few times though. None of the bicycle users who cut the corner did so at any great speed and none of them bothered any pedestrians on their A to B journey.

Anette Jerup Jørgensen is a researcher at Danish Cyclists Federation and she said in an article in a Danish newspaper today that, "What happens in our bicycle culture is that there is a pragmatic interpretation of the rules. People think that as long as they don't bother others, they can bend the rules here and there."

"A survey has shown that 75% of respondants have turned right on a red light within the past couple of months and by far the most of them think that it was okay to do so. So there is a conventional practice of ignoring the red light and an unspoken norm that it doesn't matter, as long as you take care of pedestrians."

What's interesting - and under-reported - is that if you consider the enormous volume of bicycle traffic in the Copenhagen morning rush hour, there are very few fines given. A sensationalist Danish tabloid wrote today that "one officer handed out a whopping 34 tickets in the morning rush hour." You can bet that there were several thousands bicycle users rolling past the spot and that 99% of them did so as they do every day - legally. But that's not news, is it. "10,000 cyclists obeyed the traffic rules on a stretch of street in the centre of Copenhagen!" But 34 fines IS news.

I blogged back in 2007 about another police raid on cyclists. They handed out 777 tickets in the course of a work week. Out of literally several hundred thousand cyclists. But hey. It gets in the news. The police are "doing their job". Blah blah blah.

When I was cycling into the city this morning, it was business as usual. I watched the behaviour on the cycle tracks and there was little to report. A few right turns on red lights, etc. But nothing worth writing home about.

The funny thing is that the police always stand at the same spots. They are inadvertantly handing the City of Copenhagen's Bicycle Office a map over the Desire Lines of the bicycle users. On the badly photoshopped map up top, look at the cycle track on the right, with the green arrows. That was a stretch of sidewalk that many bicycle users used as a short cut to get to the next street over. Until the City made a temporary painted lane on the spot and later made it into a permanent cycle track. Observing and listening to the citizens' Desire Lines.

The sidewalk shortcut on the map, that ended with the rather bored police officer writing a few tickets should feature a right turn cycle track that avoids the red light, like at many other intersections. Like everywhere else, when a few bicycle users bend the rules, it's because there is inadequate infrastructure for them or there is no logical reason for them to stop there. The police, like many urban planners and traffic engineers, do not think Bicycle first. If they did, things would be very different.

One of our readers, Thue, sent us this photo from another regular hunting spot. Police on the right.

He also reported six Known Enforcement Spots in Trapster.com for where the police hang out a couple times a year to "enforce the law".

These spots are freely available to the City for planning retrofits of the intersections.

There is a new Twitter account @cykelrazzia where we'll be tweeting, in Danish, the location of these bicycle traps and we'll keep using the #cykelrazzia hashtag until the week is over when the police have reached their quotas and can then go back to tackling crime.

24 February 2012

Vintage Ignoring the Bull from Colombia

Here's a spot of vintage Ignoring the Bull for you. From Colombia, in the Year of Our Lord the Car, 1948.

Good thing they removed those pesky injured/killed pedestrians immediately after impact so other motorists didn't get blood splashed on their paint job.

23 February 2012

Hunting Cyclists for Fun & Profit

It's something we read regularly in the Danish press. The police had out traffic fines in order to make their statistics look good and to reach certain goals set for each police district. The article, above, is from November, 2011, but there are articles about it every year. The photo in the article is police handing out fines to bicycle users in Copenhagen. Cyclists are often the easiest target. You park your police car or police bicycle (illegally) on a busy street and starting writing fines.

It is often near the end of the year that police - if it looks like they're lagging behind in reaching the goal - will hit the streets to hand out of flurry of fines.

The article highlights the irony that in many police districts they become so focused on traffic fines that they use less time on crime.

Jørgen Jensen, a policeman from the western suburbs, is quoted in the article as saying, "Based on the bare figures, we go after certain areas in order to reach the targets."

Tom Steffensen, a policeman from Northern Sjælland, says, "If we want to prevent break-ins in suburban neighbourhoods but, at the same time, have to hand out traffic fines, then neither job will get done properly. Officers often say to citizens 'I'm sorry, but I have to write you a ticket so we can reach our targets.'"

At the beginning of each year, the 12 police chiefs sign a 'contract' with the national police chief about which goals must be reached in various areas over the course of the year. The police chiefs get a bonus at the end of the year for their district if the goals are reached.

This is a timely post because the police have announced - yes, they always announce it - that next week they'll be going after cyclists in Copenhagen, as the Danish paper Politiken wrote yesterday.

So. I found this app from Trapster.com. It's an app for motorists where they can warn each other about speed traps or other bothersome hindrances.

I've downloaded it to my smartphone and I was thinking it would be a great way for the bicycle users of Copenhagen to warn each about these police traps for cyclists next week - and every time. This applies to any cyclists anywhere - it would be brilliant in the Netherlands, as well.

I've emailed Trapster to ask them to include bicycle pictograms for their 'trapmap' - but haven't heard back yet. "Damn cyclists", they're probably thinking. But hey. The app works well and we could use it as is. If you are cycling in your city and see police pulling over cyclists, you go onto the app and report the location. It 'pushes' out to other users who have their app activated on their journey and warns them.

We'll also be using this hashtag for Danish cyclist traps: #cykelrazzia. Oh dear... should I start a Facebook group, too?

22 February 2012

Danish Bicycle Infrastructure History

Copenhagen Vintage Cycle Chic
The seeds of bicycle culture in Denmark were first sown 120 years ago. We found a fascinating article about some of the historical aspects of Danish bicycle infrastructure history and thought it relevant to include it here.

The first bike lane in Denmark was constructed on Esplanaden in 1892 and in 1896, Copenhageners were allowed to cycle on the side of equestrian paths.
Marking Bike Lanes ca 1915
Marking out bike lanes in Copenhagen, 1915.

Bike lanes along roads weren't, however, constructed back then, despite the rising number of cars on the streets and the rise of the bicycle as transport. There was a battle for space in the cities. Between bicycle users, trams and horses and carriages.

It was in 1923 that bicycle users and pedestrians were first allowed to use the one metre wide shoulder on country roads. Nevertheless, many bicycle users chose to avoid the shoulder because of the refuse that collected there, choosing instead to ride farther towards the middle of the road where the coast was clearer and the surface smoother.

Every year, members of the Danish Cyclists Federation collected many kilos worth of horseshoe nails and other sharp items from the roads surrounding Copenhagen. The loose, and sharp, stone chippings were also a pain. In 1918, the Danish Cyclists' Federation (DCF) complained to the regional authorities about these chippings but their concerns fell on deaf ears. Then again in 1922 the DCF published their demands in 98 newspapers: "Denmark's Cyclists Demand Bike Lanes Along Roads!"

There was a need for separated bicycle infrastructure, either with curbs or bollards, and it was time to demand them.

"If there isn't a boundary between the car lanes and the bicycle lane, then the bicycle lane isn't worth much. We have sad experiences from the country roads outside of Copenhagen", said Max Tvermoes, Vice Chairman of the DCF in 1922. The seed was planted in the minds of traffic planners about the importance of bicycle infrastructure. They had spent great amounts of money and energy in the first decades of the 20th century upgrading roads with better surfacing. The result was that cars became easier to steer and could travel faster, which made it more dangerous to ride bicycles.

The time was ripe for catering to the vulnerable traffic users. On the islands of Funen and Bornholm there was talk of constructing bike lanes along the country roads in 1922/23 but they didn't materialise. In Copenhagen region a cycle track was built along Roskildevej to Glostrup.

In 1926, the first experiences with building bicycle infrastructure appeared in print. The larger towns had implemented a lot of infrastructure, even though it was difficult finding space for cycle tracks in the narrow streets. City Engineer Rygner, from Odense, presented the many cycle tracks leading out of town in a published folder.

The Technical Road Committee (Den Tekniske Vejkomite) published a guide in a traffic publication - Dansk Vejtidsskrift - about how traffic departments could design roads that matched the demands of modern traffic. This included, of course, bicycles. The Committee recommended two types of bicycle and pedestrian lanes. Either placing the lanes on filled in ditches alongside the roads or placing them on the far side of the ditches, creating a buffer between the bicycle users and the cars.

Royal Danish Automobile Club 1922 - School
Royal Danish Automobile Club attempted to 'educate' cyclists with a school brochure from 1922.

Bicycle users in the 1920s were 'irritating' to motorists. They often rode in rows and crossed the streets when it pleased them to do so. Using the streets like seven centuries of city citizens before them - just on two wheels. Traffic behaviour was a new phenomenon now that cars started multiplying. It was in 1924 that red reflectors were made mandatory on the back of bicycles but tackling the growing number of accidents involving cars was tricky. Giving each traffic user group a section of the streets was the way forward.
Copenhagen Nørrevold 1918
Nørrevold, Copenhagen, 1918.

In December 1928, Denmark's Cycle and Auto Industry Association and DCF tried to call attention to the problem of traffic accidents - contacting all the authorities they could, from the government to the local parish councils.

Curb-separated cycle tracks, painted lanes or bicycle streets?
By the mid 1920s the construction of bicycle infrastructure had become such a hot topic that it was discussed at the AGM of the Association of County Councils in July, 1929. Separating traffic was a compelling necessity, even though it cost money and demanded space, stated Vice-chairman Henningsen of the National Tax Council (Landsoverskatterådet) in his speech at the AGM. His main message was that cycle tracks should be of high quality, otherwise cyclists would just use the road. But which solution was best and least expensive?

Cycle tracks physically-separated by curbs or grassy strips, bike lanes on the side of the road and separated with painted lines or cycle tracks parallel to the roads and separated with grass, trees or ditches? Or perhaps it was necessary to build fully-separated bicycle roads? There were many opinions on the subject around the country

County Inspector Troelsen from Aalborg, in his speech about "bicycle stripes", said that on the country roads of Northern Jutland the bicycle users didn't mind cycling on the narrow painted lanes on the shoulder of the roads. The county road adminstration had therefore widened the asphalt on the sides of the road to allow for one metre on either side for bicycles.

Aalborg town had built physically-separated cycle tracks along the roads leading to the town centre but they were little used. "Building physically-separated cycle tracks along our country roads is, in my opinion, the wrong approach". They were also more expensive to build.
Bike Lanes on Country Roads 1930s
Bike Lanes on Country Road, 1930s

Holbæk County supported cycle tracks parallel to roads. They also painted lanes to separate bicycle from cars like was popular in Germany at the time. They were a cheaper solution in case the roads needed widening, and many roads did back then because of increasing traffic.

Bicycle roads were widespread in the Netherlands due to the densely-populated areas that were rare in rural Denmark. That country had a Bicycle Tax for financing a national network of cycle tracks. A Bicycle Tax was discussed in Denmark, too. Taxign bicycle rubber was a proposal to pay for cycle tracks, but it never ended up happening.
Building Bike Lanes in the 1930's
Building a cycle track in Copenhagen, 1930

County Road Inspector Ellert, from Holbæk, proposed in 1933 that the motorist tax should also be used to build cycle tracks because motorists also benefited from them.

Denmark's first Traffic Law, in 1923, was revised in 1932. Using existing bicycle infrastructure was made mandatory. This was certainly relevant in cities and towns where there were many cycle tracks, but less so in the countryside. In 1930, there were only around 88 km of bicycle infrastructure along roads. In 1933 this had increased to 342 km but that was only 4% of all the country roads. Hardly adequate for what was then the world's most cycle-friendly nation with 44% of the population using bicycles each day - 1.5 million people.

In the second half of the 1930s, safer bicycle infrastructure came into focus. The cheap solution of painting stripes on the edges of roads didn't protect the cyclists.

The Netherlands shared this view. The head of the Town Planning Office in The Hague said, at the International Road Conference in 1938, that "The usual reserved stripes for cyclists, with only a line separating them from the road, can only be regarded as surrogates".

Even though Danish traffic community wasn't crazy about the idea of building safe, physically-separated infracture because of the high price, they were positive about buffer zones between bicycles and cars. This could mean a "dead zone" comprised of trees planted in a wide grassy area or a ditch.

Bicycle Infrastructure Research and Steep Hills

In the 1930s, building bicycle infrastructure was the focus of many traffic studies that tried to determine how cycling conditions could be improved on the Danish country roads. Advantages and disadvantages about the various designs were studied. For example, should the infrastructure be on both sides of the roads or bi-directional on only one side. Traffic engineers investigated different types of surfacing that could be used on cycle tracks. Gravel, "bitukalk" (a mix of bitumen and chalk), cast asphalt and cement concrete.
Proposal for Cycle Track Design 1937
Proposals for Cycle Track Design, 1937.

The need for bicycle infrastructure was also analysed. It was determined that cycle tracks were necessary if there were 100 bicycle users - or 100 motor vehicles - an hour on a stretch of road.

Analysis of the many steep hills in the country also took place. One of the steepest hills, in Holbæk County, has a 10.7% grade - which was considerably more than the recommended steepness for implementing cycle tracks, which was 2.5%-4%, depending on the length of the incline. In the Netherlands the maximum grade had to be 2%, but Denmark is far more hilly. (Danes sing the praises of their hills and valleys in the national anthem)

Danish traffic planners did a flurry of measurements and counts to document when a hill was too steep. They did field work to study when bicycle users got off their bikes on hills and pushed them up and when they managed to cycle up.

Traffic departments could read the results of these volumes of information and recommendations in publications issued by the splendidly named Danish Road Laboratory's Road Committee (Dansk Vejlaboratoriums Vejkomite). In 1938 the publication was called "Views on the Implementation of Bicycle Lanes, Bicycle Stripes and Pedestrian Paths" and in 1944, "Bicycle Lane Fixtures".

Translated freely from the Danish from a brilliant article by Mette Schønberg - Head of Denmark's Vej og Bro Museum in Dansk Vejhistorisk Selskabs magazine Trafik & Veje, September 2009, pages 36-39.

21 February 2012

Early Cargo Bike Learning II

Cargo Bike Training
We've written before about how cargo bike culture starts early in Copenhagen.

Here are a couple more examples from last week. Above, heading home from kindergarten, a Copenhagen kid gets to try and ride the family's Christiania bike along the cycle tracks.
Bike Share
And this was spotted on my way home from picking up Lulu-Sophia from kindergarten. A mum sitting on the back rack and letting her kid get the feeling of the ride from the saddle of this Nihola.

The Secret Life of Cargo Bikes
Here's a glimpse into the secret life of cargo bike compartments. This one - one of many - was parked outside the kindergarten. All the essentials for a kid's life. Including a magic wand.

Things I Bring Home On My Bike From Kindergarten
I use the Velorbis to pick up Lulu-Sophia at the moment. Well, Lulu and friends, of course.

Things I Bring Home On My Bike From Kindergarten 2
The classic hook on the back racks of Danish bikes comes in handy when transporting a lunchbox. Although apples are doable as well - among many other things. Here's more on these hooks on our bikes.

Bicycle Snowploughs

Bicycle Snowplough 1941
This winter has, so far, been rather uneventful. No arctic deep freeze with snowstorm after snowstorm rolling in like the past two winters and many before that. It's been grey and dull and quite boring, with only The Lakes being frozen over to provide a sense of winter and the opportunity to skate.

Older people - including my dad - will wax lyrical about the three legendary winters back in 1939/40, 40/41 and 41/42. It was in 1941 that the municipality of Frederiksberg - where Copenhagenize Consulting is also based - needed some new ideas about clearing the obscene amounts of snow. Horse-drawn ploughs were in use all over the nation, as well as teams of men with shovels, due to the petrol shortage during those winters.

Frode Nielsen, an engineer at the city's transport department, invented the bicycle snowplough picture above.

It was made from two short john delivery bikes attached together with rods. The plough was made of beech, with a 3 mm steel edge, as well as small skids to keep the blade from catching on uneven surfaces.

You could, of course, operate the snowplough dressed as dapper as you like.

We got sent some films of modern versions. Great stuff!

And this!

Source: Trafik og Veje

15 February 2012

Charley in New Town

Back in 1948, the British Central Office of Information produced this film about Charley in New Town. Simplified urban planning with the interest of creating liveable communities.

Charley, of course, rides a bicycle. At about 05:00 cycle tracks are being paved in this model community in order to create easy transport to work and around the town.

Simple, sure. Sensible... quite.

Here's Charley getting the National Health Service explained to him and using a tumble off his bike as an example. Although portrayed in a rather rational way.

14 February 2012

GPS Bicycle Tracker

SpyBike - Cykeltrackeren
Many Copenhageners get kind of irritated when their cargo bikes - or even regular bikes - get nicked. There is especially a big problem with stolen cargo bikes in Copenhagen because they are expensive and the price for used cargo bikes remains high due to the decent level of quality on most Danish brands. Even a ten year old Christiania bike can set you back 1500-2000 dollars.

There is a lot of talk about GPS tracking solutions and I know a number of friends who have invested in GPS solutions in order to Brian, from the Danish website Seirjagt.dk, and we're pleased to be able to test out the Cykeltracker. After getting two Bullitt cargo bikes stolen, I'm keen to have some sort of security.

There's another model that fits into a rear reflector but this one, above, is a bit more clever. Providing that your handlebar tube is the right style and size, the tracker gear slides into the tube and looks like it's a part of the bicycle. You insert a SIM card and, via a text message, tell the tracker when you want it to start monitoring your bike. If the bike moves, you're sent a text message and you can then track its movements on a website while you gather a posse of friends and prepare to go after it.

The product is called Spybike for the English market and here are a couple of films showing how it works.

I'm looking forward to protecting my Copenhagen SUV. It's such a pain in the ass when your cargo bike gets stolen. Completely messes with the practical errands in everyday life.

Danes can order it at Seirjagt.dk. A new model is coming soon, which should be even cooler. I'll keep you posted.

13 February 2012

Straightforward Traffic Planning for Liveable Cities

Copenhagenize Traffic Planning Guide

11 February 2012

Street Cars Named Desire

We're all familiar, I'm sure, with the famous poster showing how much space these different transport modes take up. As well as the many modern versions of the same theme.

Chicago ads 1924-26 - Copy (4)
Here's another one, albeit one from Kansas City in 1925. The original, perhaps. As it says on the poster:

"At the left is an everyday scene of traffic conditions in our downtown district. And yet, by actual count, there are more people on the one bus or the one streetcar than there is in all of those automobiles."

There were numerous campaigns and posters in the US of the 1920s trying to get people to consider - or reconsider - taking public transport in light of growing congestion.

Chicago ads 1924-26 - Copy
Here's another poster, from Chicago, praising the streetcars for their efficiency of space. "One street car gives more service than 35 automobiles".

Chicago ads 1924-26 - Copy (2)
Another one from Chicago. A "balky automobile or broken down truck on a street car track often delays 50,000 people in reaching their destinations". The Chicago Surface Lines were really active in battling the automobile. They obviously lost the battle, but they went down with a fight.

Westinghouse ad 07.1926 Nations Business
Here is another poster/ad, this time from Westinghouse, in 'Nation's Business' publication in 1926.
"Without street cars most cities would throw up their hands in the face of growing traffic congestion."
"In St. Louis at any normal hour street cars only use one and a half percent of the street space."
"During a week day in Chicago's Loop, only two percent of the street space is used to accommodate the people who use street cars".
"Electric railway companies, far-sighted, confident, built more new mileage in 1925 than any year since 1916."

So many amazing numbers on all these posters about how many people were transported by public transport in the 1920s. 89% in Balitmore. 74% in Chicago.

Chicago ads 1924-26 - Copy (3)
The Rights of the Majority. Boy, do things look different now. But perhaps these vintage ads can provide inspiration.

10 February 2012

Jaywalking and the Motor Age

Kansas City Star - 30.04.1911 - First illustration of jaywalkers
First reference to "jaywalking" - Kansas City Star, 30 April 1911.

I've posted about the brilliant book "Fighting Traffic - The Dawn of the Motor Age in the American City" by Peter D. Norton before but I just can't get enough of it. Previous posts are The Anti-Automobile Age and what we can learn from it and Fighting Traffic.

The Canadian writer, Chris Turner, wrote today about how there are no jaywalkers on sustainable streets over at Mother Earth Network. Here's some back-up for that brilliant article.

The very term "Motor Age" was invented by the automobile industry as a promotional term aimed at turning public opinion away from the massive societal protest at the appearance of cars on city streets.

The term "...carried a built-in justification for overturning established custom. It combined rhetorical closure and problem redefinition, just as similar phrases have been used in more recent years to justify workplace smoking bans, cleaner fuels and tightened security at airports."

For 7000 years cities and their streets were places where citizens gathered, moved and played. The automobile industry were forced to use marketing techniques to win the battle for space for cars. They've never looked back.

The cartoon at the top is the very first reference to another marketing tactic adopted by the automobile industry - jaywalking. A 'jay' was a synonym for a "country bumpkin" and pedestrians who dared to challenge 7000 years of city life were labelled as such. Crosswalks were invented to funnel pedestrians into controlled zones that would allow cars dominance over the streets.

Traffic fatalities were a major problem when cars started to muscle onto the streets. Most traffic safety campaigns placed the responsibility firmly on the motorists and the protests against them were massive.

The automobile industry needed to change this perception, and quick. They were successful.

"By 1930 the American Automobile Association had overtaken safety councils for leadership in school safety".

Boy Scout Cards Kiwanis Club Hartford Anti JayWalking 07.02.1921 National Safety News
Boy Scouts were enlisted by motorist organisations and Kiwanis clubs and they distributed cards to "reckless pedestrians" like this one from Hartford, Conneticut in 1921.

Auto Club of Southern California Sponsored Signs December 1923
They would patrol the streets teaching the citizens the New Rules of the Motor Age. The signs, above, were sponsored by the Auto Club of Southern California in 1923.

New York Herald Tribune 29.07.1925
This attitude, lampooned in the New York Herald Tribune in 1925, sounds awfully familiar to this day.

Chicago Motor Club safety poster Textbook for Schools 1932 Massachusetts Safety Council July 1923
It wasn't just jaywalking. Seven centuries of children playing in the streets had to be abolished as well. Drawing at left is from the Chicago Motor Club, a safety poster for their Textbook for Schools in 1932. At right is a campaign from the Massachussets Safety Council in 1923.
Charles P Hughes 1924 song Beware Little Children
A 1924 song "Beware Little Children" hammered home the auto-centric message to kids and parents. Mostly the parents, of course.
AAA poster 1927
The message is clear in this 1927 poster from the American Automobile Association. Obey. The policeman? Oh, sure. The Automobile Association? Most definately.
Frank Young Los Angeles Times 06.07.1922 Automobile Club of Southern California
"Of course not! The streets are for cars!"

Seven thousand years - a little brainfart lasting 100 years. Hasn't worked out. Can we have our streets back please?

Fighting Traffic - The Dawn of the Automobile in the American City, by Peter D. Norton is published by MIT Press.

09 February 2012

Montreal Cargo Bikes

Montreal Cargo Bike Delivery_1
I was in Montreal last week, after visiting Halifax for the Kickstand Sessions. I was pleased to see a number of cargo bikes on the streets. This chap, above, was delivering goods for this supermarket, below:
Montreal Cargo Bike Delivery_2

Montreal Cargo Bike Delivery (2)
These two cargo bikes were parked outside a shop in Mile End, on Bernard Street.
Montreal Cargo Bike_1
And this gentleman was riding around with his son on his Nihola cargo bike.
Montreal Nihola
Which he was also doing last summer, when I was in town.
Montreal Tour la nuit 041
Here are some other cargo bike photos from Montreal. Quelle ville!
Montreal Tour de l'Ile 031

Veló Montreal 002