27 April 2012

Cool Bike to Work Film from Hungary

The Hungarians do it again. New advert for Bike to Workk campaign. As we've said before, the Hungarians are world champions in promoting cycling positively - check out this previous article about it.

The message on this new one is, quite simply:

"You can cure your lack of exercise. Bike to Work!"

Cool style. Go, Hungary!

Thanks to Aron at Hungarian Cycle Chic for the link.

24 April 2012

Launching Copenhagens Bicycle Superhighways

Last week, on April 14, 2012, the first stretch of Copenhagen's new and long-awaited Bicycle Superhighway network opened and Copenhagenize was there for the bike ride.

It was back in 2009 that we first wrote about the plans for these bicycle superhighways. The boys at Trunk films made this cool film that includes the Superhigways project. The project has taken time to develop but now the routes are getting ready for use. In addition, when we first wrote about it, there were plans for 13 routes. That has now been increased to 26. 300 km of dedicated superhighway routes when the project is complete.

The 17.5 km Albertslund Route is the first one to launch. The route runs through a number of municipalities, including Copenhagen, Frederiksberg, Albertslund and Rødovre.

They are being called Bicycle Superhighways, but it's worth noting that the routes follow existing, separated bicycle infrastructure. There will be some improvements on certain sections and various facilities will be added.

It has proved to be a logistical challenge getting so many municipalities to work together. Copenhagen is comprised of 550,000 people but the greater metro area is comprised of many different municipalities. Planning routes through them has taken longer than expected, but now the project is finally underway. I shudder at the thought of how many meetings were required and how many litres of crappy, municipal coffee were consumed. But I respect that sacrifice for the cause.

Bikes Allowed Copenhagen Train With Bicycles
Me and the kids headed out to Albertslund on the local train, using the large bicycle compartments on board. A lot of other people had the same idea.It was a bit crowded, but we all helped make the bicycles fit.

Everyone gathered at the meeting point next to Albertslund Station and after the usual speeches by the usual type of politicians everyone started rolling towards Copenhagen.
Cykelsupersti Inauguration-001 Cykelsupersti Inauguration-006
This area of Greater Copenhagen is a product of the late 60s and early 70s. Back then planning for bicycles was integrated into the design of the areas. As a result, cycle tracks avoid main streets and there are many overpasses over the cycle infrastructure for cars, allowing safe routes to everywhere in the area.

The superhighways follow these existing routes.
Cykelsupersti Inauguration-009
Like this route through a housing development. Lovely, wide streets for bicycles.
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Pumps have been placed at intervals along the route, although there are also bike shops in the neighbourhoods along the way.
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We stopped at Damhus Lake for the official opening. The entire route was marked with an orange stripe along the side of the cycle tracks and the last bit was painted in front of a media scrum.
Cykelsupersti Inauguration-012 Cykelsupersti Inauguration-011
Cycle track (at left) and tunnel under a motorway (at right).

There are some interesting projects related to the new routes being planned. Sensors under the cycle tracks that can register if there is a group of cyclists riding together. If so, the lights at the intersections will turn green in order to let them continue freely towards the city.
Cykelsupersti Inauguration-015 Cykelsupersti Inauguration Cykelsupersti Inauguration-007
Railings and footrests - first implemented in Copenhagen - are in place at intersections (at left). The Bicycle Office's cargo bikes were in action carrying juice and oranges for the participants (centre), but many people had their own refreshments - like the all-important beer (at right).
Cykelsupersti Inauguration-008 Cykelsupersti Inauguration-006
Signage has been updated to reflect the new routes. The Albertslund route is called C99. The C stands for the Danish name for the superhighways - Cykelsuperstier.

It all looks lovely and rosy but there have been challenges. The Danish Road Directorate, like many planners/engineers around the world, were tough to dance with in the preparations. It was a nightmare to get them to grant permission to add the new signage markings to the road signs (above left). The idea of painting an orange strip along the entire route was also a bone of contention. They refused to budge and, as a result, the orange stripe is painted with regular water-based paint that will be gone in a few weeks. (top right)

So much for the Road Directorate assisting in new projects with an open-minded, progressive attitude. They are stuck in their antiquated mindset and stand in the way of innovation and progress. Traffic is merely a rubik's cube that has to be solved and not much more.

If we are to further expand our bicycle culture and infrastructure we need visionaries on board, not pencil pushers.

Cykelsupersti Inauguration-018 Cykelsupersti Inauguration-003
The bike ride ended at Copenhagen's City Hall, in the gardens. The traditional City Hall Crepes (Rådhuspandekager) were served. Although when we arrived at the head of the pelaton, there were a large group of cyclists already there. A group that had sped off ahead instead of riding with the rest of us. They were all over 55 - and resembed typical members of the Danish Cyclists Federation - and they had consumed most of the crepes 45 minutes before everyone else arrived.

Which was rather regrettable for those of us with children - we'd been hyping up the crepes with chocolate and cream the whole way into town.
Cykelsupersti Inauguration-016 Cykelsupersti Inauguration-019
My Lulu got chilly after about 15 km so we just wrapped her up in a blanket on the bike. She soon forgot all about the chill when we got to City Hall and enjoyed playing around in a velomobile.

All in all it was a cosy event to celebrate the first bicycle superhighway. The Bicycle Office and Cykelsupersti Secretariat did a great job organising it.

Here's looking forward the next 25 routes!

More information in English on the Cykelsupersti website.

15 April 2012

Cargo Bikes Delivered

Kindergarten Cargo Bikes
What a lovely sight that greeted us at Lulu-Sophia's kindergarten last week. A long row of cargo bikes for kids delivered and ready for use in the playground. They're from the Danish company Tress, who produce many kids of cargo bikes for schools and kindergartens

Kindergarten Cargo Bikes
Lulu hopped up on one right away. Lovin' it.

Add these to the many bikes in the educational institution armada in Denmark - as written about in the Cargo Bike Early Learning article here on the blog.

14 April 2012

Antwerp Bicycle Parking at Central Station

Not only is Antwerp Central Station the most beautiful train station I've ever seen, they have the most gorgeous and comprehensive bicycle parking facility I've ever seen. Nothing, anywhere, can beat this.

13 April 2012

Sorry, I was Speeding Slightly

Once again, the Dutch prove that they are the only country on the planet that completely refuses to ignore the rampaging bull in society's china shop.

Here the focus is - rightly and intelligently - placed on the motorist. The ones who possess the capability to kill and maim. Boy, what a simple concept. Bizarre it hasn't caught on. The Dutch campaign makes everything these car-centric monkeys dressed as clowns here in Denmark look like car advertisments, what with their insistance on maintaining the status quo regarding the role of the car in our society.

Mark over at Bicycle Dutch has a write-up about it, including interesting graphs about speed limits and the distance required to stop at various speeds.

12 April 2012

The Societal Costs of Car Use

Brilliantly simple and effective video about the societal costs of automobile use. Filled with nuggets of wisdom, effectively communicated. Love the bit about how cars are like gasses - it doesn't matter how large the container grows, the molecules will still occupy the whole space. Build more roads, more cars come. Welcome to Square One. Amazing how after 75 years of traffic engineers and planners failing constantly and consistently at solving traffic problems, we still give them outrageous amounts of funding to keep... failing.

Seriously, what other vocation in the world gets so much money to play with without having produced ANY results for three quarters of a century?

The Mexican office of the Institute for Transportation & Development Policy (ITDP) produced this film - in Spanish with English subtitles.

Thanks to Ludwig from UITP for the link.

11 April 2012

Your Daily Dose of Drama

Now this is vaguely related to Copenhagenize's usual fare but I'm blogging it for four reasons:

1. There are bicycles in it. (with material for people like us, who promote cycling positively, and for the myth-perpetuating safety nannies)
2. It takes place in Belgium - and I'm blogging about Belgium lately.
3. It's about marketing effectively.
4. It's bloody brilliant.

You saw it here first.

Thanks to Joel for the link.

Multi-faith Bicycles in Antwerp

Antwerp Bicycle Ride to Mosques
What IS it about Antwerp? Like I've been blogging about, it's quite a suprising city on so many levels. Here's another example.

While many "bicycle enthusiasts" get all neo-sanctimonious about bicycles, let's see how "religious enthusiasts" use the bicycle. Oh, wait... they use it just like any other Citizen Cyclist. 

The Muslim community in the Borgerhout neighourhood of Antwerp arranged a bike ride. Participants paid €2 to take part and the proceeds went to a school project in Kebdana, a village in Northern Morocco. They also hoped to promote better bicycle facilities and parking, as well as bringing all the different people in the community together.

The Fietsersbond donated two bikes to Kebdana and two others to teach new arrivals from Morocco how to cycle.

Antwerp Bicycle Ride to Mosques
My friend Stef, from the Belgian NGO Fietsersbond.be took these shots a few weeks back.
Antwerp Bicycle Ride to Mosques

Antwerp Bicycle Ride to Mosques
The ride went past six different mosques and it was promoted by the imams - top photo. Each mosque got a banner that reads: "Borgerhout Cycles! And this mosque is in on it, too".

Antwerp Bicycle Ride to Mosques Antwerp Bicycle Ride to Mosques Antwerp Bicycle Ride to Mosques
A festive day by all accounts. A repeat next year is on the cards.

Heres a film about ride from the website Steunproject.be.
Antwerp Bicycle Ride to Mosques
Of course, a bicycle repair cargo bike was on hand, too.

Okay. Cool, right? Wait til you see what goes on in another neighbourhood in Antwerp.
Antwerp Religious Transport_7
Copenhagenize Consulting were talking to an architect in Israel last year. He lives in a town with a lot of Hasidics and was wondering how to get them onto bicycles. They lacked role models, basically. I figured that getting photos of like-minded Hasidics in other countries would help. In the neighbourhoods in Montreal with a lot of Hasidics, I've heard that many of them ride bicycles but I've never caught a photo of it.

I've more than made up for it. Last Saturday I rode through this Antwerp neighbourhood and it was a buzz with bicycles. I love the above shot - two citizens from different backgrounds have a chat on their bicycles.

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Everywhere I looked, there were Hasidics moving about their 'hood on bicycles.
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Antwerp Religious Transport_1 Antwerp Religious Transport_2

Go Antwerp! Fantastic.

The Hasidic community in Brooklyn have made themselves famous by their opposition to bike lanes through their neighbourhood. But I'm curious if any New York readers could tell us if they ride bicycles?

So while were on the 'Bicycles Bring the World Together After Religion Screwed It Up' topic, let's get some of the others into the post:
priest on a bike Monks cycling in Luang Prabang
Catholic priest in the Netherlands, via Daniel Rink on Flickr. Buddhist monks in Laos, via Exodus Travels on Flickr.
Nuns on bicycle... NYC-Nun
Nuns on bicycles in Poland, via Klearchos Kapoutsis on Flickr and a nun in New York City, via Warzerjaff on Flickr.

Oh, and here's a humanist, for good measure:
The Rugger Bike - By Gant

Bicycle Piano in Antwerp

Antwerp was full of pleasant surprises. 'Piano Paul' and his bicycle piano was certainly one of them. Yep, he rides it down to the pedestrian street to play. And boy, does he play.

10 April 2012

Antwerp Bicycle Infrastructure

Antwerp Cycle Track New_1
I was on a whirlwind Tour de Benelux last week and one of the stops was Antwerp, Belgium. The occasion was the opening of my Monumental Motion exhibition and a keynote talk about Bicycle Culture by Design.

While I could find Antwerp on a map, it was one of those cities that I knew little about. Arriving by high-speed rail from Rotterdam, however, I was astounded at the sight of the most beautiful train station I've ever seen. From then on in, the city continued to surprise me in the most pleasant fashion. I was guided around the city by the charming Stef, from the Belgian Fietsersbond.be and while most of our conversations were about art and architecture, I was shown the city's bicycle infrastructure.
Antwerp Cycle Track New
Antwerp has a modal share of about 16%, which is very respectable. There were also a great many brand new cycle tracks around the city, some of which had only been completed a few days before. As I understood it, it's an election year and the incumbent mayor had promised 100 km of bicycle infrastructure before being elected. The race was on to complete the cycle tracks up to the next election. Which is quite brilliant.

Above, the cycle track was completed before the street. That's a lot of street space taken away from motorised traffic and handed back to bicycles and pedestrians. Great for traffic calming and inspiring citizens to choose other forms of transport.

Antwerp New Cycle Track for Me
The cycle track outside the stylish and charming B&B that had been arranged for me - La Gloria No. 10 - had been completed only two days before my arrival. They didn't have to hurry on my account, but I'm glad they did.

Antwerp Cycle Track
Another new stretch of bicycle goodness.
Antwerp Cycle Track_1
Quirky little bike box.
Antwerp Cycle Track_2
Safe separation along a stretch of 50 km/t roadway.

Antwerp Tramway Antwerp Tramway_1
There are also many tramways in the city and, on the narrower streets, the solutions look like this. Like any experienced urban cyclists in cities with tramways, the tracks are not a problem.

All in all, Antwerp is a cool city.