23 May 2012

Car Industry Strikes Back - BMW

BMW is at work in the Car Industry Strikes Back series. Sporty cyclists featured in the background. The text "Grace vs Pace" is prominent. But which is which? Does the car have pace and the cyclists grace? Or vice versa? We're not sure.

But the point is clear. Joy wins.

The joy of driving a BMW far exceeds riding a bicycle.

And now their calling it Efficient Dynamics. Less emissions. More driving pleasure. Greenwashing supreme.

Thanks to a follower on Twitter for the link.

22 May 2012

New York's New Marketing FAIL

They're at it again, those New Yorkers. The city's DoT has chucked another bunch 'o money at a fancy ad campaign aimed at maintaining the status quo of the automobile's role in society.

Seriously... I can't think of any other city on the planet in recent times that has spent so much advertising money on finger-pointing and "behavioural" campaigns aimed at the vulnerable traffic users of their city. Desperately trying to cement, in the public consciousness of it's citizens, the rather outdated philosophy that cars rule supreme and everyone else are mere pawns to be swept aside without regret. Stand in the way of a Queen, you're stupid. You'll get taken. And you know what? We can afford to lose you.

This New York Postian attitude from the DoT towards a city that otherwise has great potential for being much more pedestrian, public transport and cyclist friendly is the primary reason why New York is so far off reaching any sensible level of liveable citiness. Paris makes New York like a Le Corbusier nightmare.

This approach is right out of Mad Men. "Cars! They're toasted!"

If I was a walking/cycling New York taxpayer, I'd be rather pissed that the city was chucking money into campaigns like these. One FAIL campaign is one thing, but this is just a continuation of a theme. The haiku posters of last year were in the same vein. Cars will hurt you. Stay out of their way, moron. The Don't Be a Jerk campaign went even more directly after the people who do least damage and most good to any city, instead of employing rationality and going for the motorist jugular. Like I say all over the world in my Bicycle Culture by Design talk, if your cyclists behave badly, you have crappy infrastructure. Period. Fix it, and fix the behaviour problem. Good design breeds good behaviour.

New York is the uncrowned champion of Ignoring the Bull, it seems. And they love it so much they keep on doing it. New York will always be great, sure. What a town.

But on the Liveable Cities chart, they are still stuck in Mosesland and can't get out.

Streetsblog have a write up about the campaign right here. As they point out, there is no equivalent campaign aimed at motorists. Through a link on their article I learned about the That's Why it's 30 campaign.

Look at the photo at the top of that link. Look at the poster. It tells people that when hit by a car at 40 mph (not kilometres) you have a 70% chance of dying. When the car is doing 30 mph, you have an 80% chance of surviving.

Where on earth did they get those numbers? In the rest of the world, this is the gold standard:
Hit by a car doing 30 mph - which is 50 km/h - you have a 45% chance of dying, not 80%. That's why the 20's Plenty campaign exists. This is just '30's Dirty'. Who provided NY with these stats? Not anyone who is serious about safety. Why isn't Manhattan one big 20 mph zone? In two years, 80% of Barcelona will be covered by 20 mph zones. Over 80 cities in Europe have adopted them.

If you're seriously about saving childrens' lives, you adopt 20 mph zones. This research is on of the many reasons why. This article in Forbes states that "The death rate more than doubles for pedestrians when speed increases from 25 to 35 m.p.h.. “That’s a big number. That’s something we hope all drivers will think about.” "

Indeed. Or what about this study in the British Medical Journal about 20 mph zones and the massive benefits. The BBC covers this as well, and Movement for a Liveable London has this piece on A City of 20.

Here's an illustration from the Swedish Road Directorate, showing what it's like to have 30 mph speed limits in a city. And New York is bragging about 30 mph? Is it possible to be more out of touch with reality and statistics?

Campaigns that place the responsibility on New Yorkers who walk and cycle and that allow automobile traffic to wreak the same havoc as it has done since engineers started messing with human streets back in the early 1900s are, quite simply, ridiculous. No city that continues on this course will ever achieve any decent and respectable level of urban cycling.

You know the campaigns are a massive marketing FAIL when The Onion whips up the same thing in an afternoon.

It's 2012 on my calendar. This old-fashioned approach to 'traffic safety' is embarrassing to see - especially from a city like New York.

Want to see change? It's easy. I'll give you this one pro bono, NYC. Spend all your marketing money for one calendar year on campaigns that cut to the chase. That go hardcore after motorists, and nobody else. I'm talking rational, right to the point, in yer face New Yorker style campaigns. Like the photo at the bottom of this article.

If you really want to be a world leader, go for health warnings for cars. Better yet, helmets for motorists. You want change? I don't think you can handle change. You fear it.

The great thing is that I'm getting fed brilliant material for my upcoming Copenhagenize book. So thanks for that, DoT.

The Good City - Visions for a City on the Move

If you're wondering about the sporadic publishing here on the blog over the past while, it's simply because we have so many exciting projects on the go around the world at Copenhagenize Consulting.

One of the projects has been preparing our offering for the upcoming exhbition The Good City - Visions for a City on the Move, which the Bicycle Innovation Lab is curating. The exhibition opens on June 8th in Copenhagen, the first stop on a world tour.

It's an exciting exhibition. We're presenting our own vision from here at the company but we are also curating the vision from a third-grade class at LaCour Vej School. Nine and ten year old urbanists. They have been working hard on the redesign of the roundabout next to their school.

Here's the spiel about the exhibition from Bicycle Innovation Lab:


Friday the 8th of June at 12 o'clock, Bicycle Innovation Lab will inaugurate the international traveling exhibition The Good City. To herald the opening of the exhibition and the issues behind it, a mini-conference will be held the same day at the Danish Architecture Centre from 9.00 to 12.30. The exhibition runs from June 8th to July 8th.

The world loves us. Copenhagen is a constant source of inspiration for cities around the planet, not least because of our bicycle culture, which has peaked at 37% of our citizens on bicycles. Our politicians have promised us that 50% of Copenhageners will use the bike in 2010... then 2012... then 2015 and now 2025. Since the promises were made, cycling levels have fallen to 35%. Copenhagen is the only city in the western world where cycling levels are falling, not rising.

With these words, international bicycle culture consultant Mikael Colville-Andersen, of Copenhagenize Consulting, pinpoints the notion of Copenhagen as a pioneer in the field of cycling and urban development. Despite all good intentions and strategies, it has proven difficult to motivate an additional 15% of Copenhageners to choose the bicycle.

With The Good City exhibition, we seek to reverse this negative trend and inspire new visions and action. We have asked a number of prominent Danish and international architects, traffic planners, city planners, researchers and organisations to guide us toward the goal of 50% of people on bicycles, at the same time transforming Copenhagen into a better city to live in.

The Exhibition
Official opening and reception on Friday, June 8th from 12.00 to 15.00 In Havnegaden – around No. 3, 1058 Copenhagen K.

The Good City exhibition is designed on a series of posters, with graphics and text portraying the history of Danish cycling, and how we imagine the city can further develop this tradition.

The exhibition is located outdoors at the new waterfront park on Port Street at the Custom House from June 8th to June 22nd and at Amagerbro Square from June 22nd to July 8th. Thereafter the exhibition will be an international traveling exhibition.

The Conference
Friday June 8th from 9.00 to 12.30. At Danish Archtecture Centre, Strandgade 27B,1401
Copenhagen K

In preparation for the exhibition, we will hold a mini-conference that focuses on Copenhagen as a Bicycle City. Bicycle Culture in Copenhagen has become one of the city's major international brands. When it comes to cycling, Copenhagen is so far advanced that there is no turning back. But can we continue to be one of the world's most innovative cycling cities if we fail to develop and innovate our city and bicycle culture? There is a strong focus on increasing the number of cyclists, but how do we move from an abstract idea to reach that definitive goal? How do we create an innovative bicycle culture? And how can it be combined with concrete steps towards a better city?

To reflect on this we have invited four speakers:

• Architect for the City of Copenhagen, Tina Saaby works with architecture policy, which places emphasis on the sustainable city as a place with room for diversity, more bikes and more life between houses.

• International urban mobility consultant Mikael Colville-Andersen, of Copenhagenize Consulting,works to create and promote bicycle culture in cities around the world.

• Researcher in mobility behavior and the modern everyday life Malene Freudendal-Pedersen from Roskilde University who among other things, works on sustainable mobility as a possible future utopia.

• Project leader and one of the instigators of Bicycle Innovation Lab, Lasse Schelde, works with new ways to develop and promote bicycle culture in Copenhagen and internationally.

Participants will be asked about their own innovative task. The presentations will be followed by a visit to The Good City exhibition. After the program has officially ended, there will be a reception with time for refreshments and discussion.

You can register for the conference by sending an email to minikonference@bicycleinnovationlab.dk no later than June 2nd with name, contact info, and company and position. Participation is free, however any cancellations must be reported no later than Monday June 4th or a fee of DKK 150 will be charged for catering.

18 May 2012


Big City Nature
Ah. Spring flowers in Copenhagen.

Note the swath of deadness where the exhaust from cars waiting to turn left have left their mark. 60,000 cars a day on this boulevard carving it's asphalt trail through the heart of the city. No politican speaks of doing anything about it.

15 May 2012

The Choreography of an Urban Intersection

Urban Intersection Choreography
We are in the midst of an interesting little project here at Copenhagenize Consulting. Something we've been planning for a while but only recently got started with. Like everywhere else, the ever-growing urban cycling boom is causing a backlash in Copenhagen. There's a lot of negative press about bicycle users and little happening to reverse that. When the police go out on their Viking raids for a week at a time, ticketing cyclists for trivialities, the press regurgitate all manner of hype about the 'lawlessness' that will surely cause imminent societal decay. Always forgetting to highlight the fact that The 99% ride by the book and have done for 125 years.

So. We thought we'd look at an intersection - an average one - to observe behaviour and chart patterns and numbers. The Choreography of an Urban Intersection.

We chose the intersection outside of our office window. Not only convenient, but also a unique intersection in that it is primarily a transport hub that connects a north-south road with the main east-west ring. On the four corners of the intersection there is only one shop. The other three corners are vacant. This is an intersection that people travel through. There's a supermarket 100 metres farther along, a hospital 50 metres away and the intersection is in one of the most densely-populated neighbourhoods in the country.

We filmed for 12 hours out of the window. From 07:00 to 19:00. In order to digest and observe we have enlisted the help of an anthropologists - Agnete Suhr. She is well into the material and busy marking desire lines, patterns and counting the traffic users.

Choreography of an Urban Intersection
Agnete's notebook. We're quite sure we'll understand what this all means when she is done.

Without revealing any hard facts or observations at this early stage, it is fitting that the very first traffic user to appear when I turned on the camera at 06:54 was a car roaring through a red light at easily 80 km/h. I believe Agnete is about 5 hours into the day at the moment and already the myths of lawless cyclists have been dispelled. It's really quite dull the way that Citizen Cyclists roll in all directions. It's a ballet more than urban jungle warfare.

There are 18.076 cars each day on the crosstown ring and 13.138 on the north-wouth road leading to and from the city centre. On the same routes there are around 8000 and 7700 bicycle uers respectively. So there is loads to observe.

There are two types of bicycle infrastructure that we're keen to chart. One is the classic cycle track that ends in the run up to the intersection, leaving bicycle users to mix with right-turning motor vehicles. The other one features a pulled-back stop line for cars (5 metres) and a stop line for bicycles up by the crosswalk. We've noticed that minor infractions like rolling through the crosswalk on the former type is more frequent than on the type with staggered stop lines. Simply because people feel safer getting ahead of the turning cars.

We'll be looking at cyclist-pedestrian conflicts as well, but there is really little to go after so far. Motorists, however, who buzz through yellow lights and worse, seem to be keen to win the statistic race.

All in all, it's fascinating so far.

Not surprisingly, we're inspired by William Whyte and his work. Not least this legendary film:

10 May 2012

The Scooter - The Unsung Mobility Option

It's important to provide facilities for all forms of human-powered transport. In my neighourhood, many kids live close enough to walk to school, including my kids. They can and do ride bicycles there, too, on safe, separated cycle tracks, but scooters are a popular option as well. I wrote this article in 2012 but now, in 2014, scooters are still going strong. Whilst in Paris on our summer holidays, my son Felix said, "I love Paris. I love a city where a grown man can ride around on a kick scooter and nobody cares." Indeed.

Felix started riding his scooter around the 'hood a few years ago. Disappearing off to football practice or to a friend's house. However, when he scooted to school he came home a couple of years ago saying he needed a padlock to lock it. There were too many scooters inside the school - said the school - so a parking rack was provided outside. I didn't really get what he meant until I saw the rack.

Scooter Parking at School
A couple of rows of funky scooter racks have been placed in the schoolyard. You rest the neck of the scooter in the slot and a little bar is tilted down over it. You lock it with a simple padlock.

Brilliant and simple solution. There are six slots per rack and three racks in all. 18 parking spots behind the school and 18 more in front.

Scooters are quite underrated as transport. They have an air of childishness about them. Playthings. But with so many kids kicking about the neighbourhood I've realised that they are a respectable form of transport in their own right. So certainly facilities must be made available for them.

Scooter Parking
Another place you see a respectable fleet of scooters is at the larger Danish hospitals. And here, as well, parking spaces are provided. The sign at Hvidøvre Hospital, above, reads, "Scooter parking". You'll see hospital staff, from cleaners to surgeons, rolling along the long halls on their A2B journeys. There are the simple versions like the ones in the photos (I love the little kickstands on both of them) but there are also larger ones for carrying gear, blood samples, medicine, you name it.

Lulu Scoot Felix Scoot
The Lulu got in on the act early on, as well as The Felix.

Vienna Cycle Chic-003
Scooter parking in Vienna.

Home from Sledding - Cycling in Winter in Copenhagen
Heading home from sledding with mum. With a helping hand.

Barcelona Moment
Quiet transport moment with a scooter and a bike share bike in Barcelona.

Vienna Urban Mobility
And in Vienna.

Prague Bike Rack
Bicycle/scooter intermodality in Prague.

NYC Transport
This guy rocked his scooter in New York City.

Heading to the Beach

Google vs The Facebook Bike in Dublin

Googleised Facebook bike in Dublin - courtesy of billyvandenende on Instagram

The Social Media Wars are now using bicycles as a battlefield. Bear Bicycles is a small company in Dublin selling Dutch bikes to the Irish market. My friend Philip sent me the above photo of one of their bicycles.

He explains: "For a cycling campaign, we have created a 'Facebook' bike - together with local cycling advocacy groups. The goal: to get people out of their cars and on their bikes, by showing how cycling is a social thing and how it positively impacts people's lives."

You can see the Facebook bike on Bear Bicycles... uh... Facebook page, as above.

Dublin is home to both Google's and Facebook's European headquarters. Battlefield Internet, if you will.

Yesterday, one of Philip's colleagues inadvertently parked the Facebook bike near a metro station close to the Google office.
When he got back, the Facebook bike had been Googlised. The metaphor of the footprint escapes no one.

Sure, sure. All in good fun. But hmm. Doesn't Google encourage it's employees not to be evil? Wouldn't you think that they would enjoy some healthy competition and encouraging social cycling?

Or perhaps Facebooks IPO has them riding scared?

We may never know the truth.

09 May 2012

Cats and Mice

The police in Copenhagen are going after those rogues of the urban landscape - the bicycle users - this week. It's generally slim pickings for them. The 99% usually cycle without committing any major terrorist actions - and have done for 125 years. The police are arch-conservative and continue to insist that societal decay is imminent. In the course of an average week with these bike raids - cykelrazzia in Danish - they'll ticket about 700-1200 people. Out of a few hundred thousand daily bicycle users. Brilliant use of resources.

The man in the photo, above, is Mogens Knudsen, Superintendent in Copenhagen Police Traffic Unit. It's his personal crusade to clamp down on cyclists and all talk of traffic calming, lower speed limits and other modern urban devices is swept aside by Mogens. If there is one law enforcement officer in Copenhagen who is desperately holding back the hands on the clock of progress, you're looking at him. As my colleague Lars Barfred put it, "For Knudsen, 30 km/h zones are like legalising heroin."

I debated with Knudsen a couple of years ago at the National Cycle Conference, which you can read about in this article. Little has changed.

If you're wondering what the photo is up top, it's a fine example of a bit of cyclist activism. The police were hiding around a corner, stopping cyclists who rolled casually around the corner despite the red light. There was a long period where nothing happened. Then they looked around the corner and found this sign hanging next to the cycle track.

It says, "Watch out cyclists. Police Checkpoint. No right turn..."

Bicycle users warning each other. To his credit, Knudsen took it casually. "It's fair enough. We're hiding around the corner and they are helping each other. It's large-heartedness." Yes it is.

What it also is, is a good sign. It's a sign that the bicycle users in Copenhagen are thinking differently. They are reacting to the rising car-centricism, not only from the police. Activism is a rare thing in Copenhagen, but it remains a necessity and I welcome every bit of it. Citizens reacting to 75 years of failed traffic engineering that continues to place the car on a pedestal. Even in Copenhagen.

We've been doing a bit of activism as well. Running a twitter account and Facebook group where bicycle users can warn each other. It's good fun.

If you cycle on the sidewalk around a corner, instead of turning right on red on the cycle track, you can save 300 kroner on the fine. That's about $60. The same applied if you cycle down a one-way street. Save money on the sidewalk. :-)

And if you're a student you can get a 50% discount on any fine you get.


Here's our article about the last police raid on cyclists and how the City of Copenhagen has been handed a map over locations where infrastructure and desire lines for cyclists can be improved. No News is Big News.

Getting Carried Away

Chair Transport
Been busy lately. Running behind with articles but doing lots of great projects with Copenhagenize Consulting. I figured I'd post some of the photos I've taken recently. Citizen Cyclists carrying stuff around is the theme.
Shoes Suitcase
Shoes and a suitcase.
New Suitcase Heading Home Stag Night
Suitcase and a group of friends on a stag night by bicycle. Two cargo bikes filled with beer.
New frame heading home.
Copenhagen Perfection Lulus New Bicycle
Kids' bicycles in transit. That's me and Lulu-Sophia on the right, taking her new (used) bike home.
Guitar Strasbourg Cargo Bike
Transporting a guitar by trailier in Copenhagen and a trailer by trailer in Strasbourg.
Zagreb Cyclelogistics-003 Zagreb Cyclelogistics
The City of Zagreb has a respectable fleet of cargo bikes for cleaning the streets. As well as for bakery deliveries.
Bicycle Crate Zagreb Cycle Chic Danish Ambassador and Annie
Cool wooden crate in Copenhagen. Cool Danish Ambassador to Croatia, and his wife, on a Christiania Bike in Zagreb.
Muffins on the move.

08 May 2012

Car Industry Strikes Back - Ford

Nothing like a good Car Industry Strikes Back article to kickstart your day. Our reader, Krzysztof in Gdansk, Poland, spotted this advert for Ford Poland in the Gazeta Wyborcza newspaper. You're going to love this desperate attempt by Ford to sell some vans.

The main text at the top left reads, "Ford Transit - a machine for saving money"

Then, below, Ford tries to alter reality by writing; "Delivery bicycles do not exist. You don't need to switch to riding a bike to save money."

Yes. They just wrote that. Delivery Bicycles Don't Exist. In all seriousness. And then they paid to have it published in a newspaper. If Poland has an advertising standards commission, someone should let them about this advert. Lying, as far as I'm aware, isn't allowed in advertising.

The text continues with optimistic texts about how you can "Save on buying", "save on petrol", "save on service", etc. "The usual blah blah blah you'd expect from a commercial", as Krzysztof put it in his email to us.

He continues, "Now I know commercials go a far way to bend facts and I know delivery bikes are not popular in Poland (in fact I've seen just 1 or 2 in
Gdańsk so far) but come on... I felt like someone was lying while looking me straight in the eyes. This ad is something I just couldn't pass by."

When you live in Copenhagen, with 40,000 cargo bikes and you are involved with the Cyclelogistics project to promote cargo bike use in European cities, this advert is so stupid it's amusing. As ever with this Car Industry Strikes Back series, we can see that they're worried. That they see the bicycle as serious competition. And well they should. It's last century versus this century and we're winning it.

Paris Bike Culture - La Petite Reine
Cargo bike delivery in Paris.

Vintage Russian Cargo Bike - Home Flower Delivery
Vintage Russian cargo bike delivering flowers.

Montreal Cargo Bike Delivery_2 Cargo Postal Service Rio Cargo Bike Culture_5 Rio Cargo Bike Culture_1
Left to right: Supermarket delivery bike in Montreal.
Citizen Cyclist in Copenhagen carrying stuff.
Royal Danish post.
Rio de Janeiro and Rio, again. Two of 11,000 cargo bike deliveries in that city.

Flea Market Transport Fruit Bike Ice Bikes Espressomanden Cargo Bike
Left to right: Copenhagener moving stuff to a flea market.
The Fruit Bike, Copenhagen.
Ice Cream Bikes at Copenhagen Zoo.
The Coffee Bike by Espressomanden, Copenhagen.
Cargo bike in Amsterdam.
Newspaper Bike Sao Paulo Cargo Bikes (2) Cyclelogistics KOM 012 The Sushi Bicycle Vendor The Bikeman
Left to right: Newspaper bike, Copenhagen.
Cargo in Sao Paulo, Brazil.
Crêpes bike, Copenhagen.
Sushi bike, Copenhagen.
Bike repair bike, Copenhagen.

And so on, and so on.

The Cargo Bike Culture photo set kind of thumbs its nose in the general direction of Ford.