28 July 2012

Communicating Cycle Tracks to Citizens

Hi Cyclist!
Photo by Jaime Dieppa from Citibici.es

This sign is currently positioned along the City Hall in Copenhagen. It's from the City's DoT and Bicycle Office and uses the behavourial communcation template Copenhagenize Consulting developed a few years back.

It reads:

"Hi, Cyclist! Soon you'll be able to ride safe and secure along the City Hall Garden on a 2.80 metre wide cycle track with a curb."

This stretch along the City Hall is one of the few stretches of main streets left that doesn't have a separated cycle track. It's been a painted lane next to a bus lane, which is next to six lanes of traffic.

So now it's getting redone so it adheres to the Best Practice in the rest of the city. And that 2.80 metre width is one way, of course.

Cyclist 1258919
There are about 20,000 cyclists - in both directions - on this artery and making it safer will encourage more to use the route.

27 July 2012

Death Race 2000 - Ignoring the Bull

Oh goodness me. It was back in 2009 that I started referring to The Sacred Bull in Society's China Shop.

Yesterday, Tiago and David sent me this film clip from the cult classic Death Race 2000, made in 1975. It's Ignoring the Bull - The MOVIE!

It's corny satire and, indeed, a cult classic, but boy is it ever a great illustration of The Bull.

But why do elderly citizens score so high? You'd think slow moving targets were easy and score lower on the scale. Sheesh.

Here's the full version of the film on YouTube if you fancy a laugh:

26 July 2012

Small Town Sweden - Big Bicycle Culture

Bromölla Cycle Track
Here's a brief reportage from a short R&R trip I made to Sweden earlier this week. The details of which you can read over at Cycle Chic - great getaway hotel if you're in Copenhagen or Sweden or are cycling touring in the Skåne area.

I took the Øresunds train from Copenhagen Central to Bromölla and from there it was a 7 km ride to the design hotel on the coast.

I've written previously about even small towns in Sweden have excellent cycle tracks and even keep them cleared of snow in the winter. I've also briefly covered infrastructure between small towns in Denmark as well as the infrastructure connecting cities all over the land.

While Denmark features over 10,000 km of national bicycle infrastructure connecting much of the nation, it is worth highlighting that Southern Sweden does just fine as well.

Bromölla Train Station Seatbelt on Train Bodelssons By The Sea_16
The trains all have roomy bicycle compartments and I always get a kick out of the seatbelts for bicycles that are provided. My Crescent bicycle from 1955 has a sturdy double kickstand but with my bags on it, I secured it with the seatbelt just in case.

From Bromölla to the hotel I was led through the woods on a country lane by directions offered by the hotel. Lovely. On the way back to Bromölla, I used the roadside cycle tracks.

Bromölla has a population of only 7400. And yet the town features cycle tracks on all the main streets. Including, if you look at the photo at the top, fully separated cycle track under the railway bridge.

Bromölla Nymölla Cycle Track_1
Between Bromölla and Nymölla (the latter with a population of 272), there are cycle tracks alongside the road the whole way. I passed several Citizen Cyclists along the way, even at midday on a Tuesday. In the town many elderly citizens were running their daily errands. The infrastructure makes them safe and makes them feel safe. Duh.

Bromölla Nymölla Cycle Track_2 Bromölla Nymölla Cycle Track_3
Signage along the cycle track specifically for the bicycle users and, at right, even a small town like Bromölla has bicycle traffic signals for crossing the regional highway. I'm not a big fan of crossing buttons for pedestrians or cyclists, but when I hit the button the lights changed instantly so bicycle users are prioritised even here.

Bromölla Train Station Bicycle Parking_2

Bromölla Train Station Bicycle Parking_1 Bromölla Train Station Bicycle Parking
The bicycle parking at Bromölla Station was adequate. There were three bike racks on three sides of the station with room for roughly 250 bikes - and they were well-used but not over-filled.

Bromölla - Swedens Smallest Library
As an added bonus, I got to see Sweden's smallest library outside the station. With books free to take home and bring back - if you remember to. All very casual and cool.

It was a warm and fuzzy feeling seeing this small town providing safe infrastructure for it's cycling citizens. Although it must be rather embarassing to see, for people in other regions and countries, that small Swedish towns in the boondocks are light years ahead or even large urban centres.

22 July 2012

Some Things Never Change

Danish Bicycle History - Some Things Never Change
Some things never change. Not least the nature of our bicycle culture. We still have trouble finding our bicycles in the bike racks.
Is This My Bike?

Danish Bicycle History - Wind
We still ride in stiff headwinds.

Danish Bicycle History - Some Things Never Change
We still ride in snowstorms.
Copenhagen February Traffic - Cycling in Winter in Copenhagen

Danish Bicycle History - Nørrebrogade
We still ride into the bright Nordic sun in the evenings.
Red Flare Sunset

Danish Bicycle History - Aerial
We still carry crazy stuff on our bicycles.

Danish Bicycle History - Taxi
We still have pedicabs.
Cycle Taxi Headwind

Danish Bicycle History - Bicycle Snowplow
And we still ride them in the winter.
Bike Taxi Convoy with Smile - Cycling in Winter in Copenhagen

Danish Bicycle History - Dr. Louises Bridge
We still ride across Queen Louise's Bridge.
Copenhagen Rush Hour_7

Danish Bicycle History - Bicycle Design
Kids still ride unique bikes.

Danish Bicycle History - Swan Song
We still have birds on our bicycles. (although city workers don't carry dead swans under their arms anymore...)
Heron Bicycle

07 July 2012

Open Letter to Danish MPs Against Helmet Law Proposal

FRB Hospital Bike
Last year, a proposal for bicycle helmet legislation was tabled here in Denmark. Copenhagenize Design Co. and Bicycle Innovation Lab promptly gathered a list of experts and we sent an open letter to all the members of the Danish parliament - and to the Danish press.

The bicycle helmet law was defeated! Rationality prevailed. Here is the letter we wrote to the papers and to every MP in the parliament.

The letter is also online here, on the Copenhagenize Consulting website.

Experts: Vote no to the mandatory bike helmet proposal and strengthen public health!
Danish experts in traffic, mobility and cycling recommend that all members of the Danish Parliament vote NO to the proposed bicycle helmet law.

You should vote NO to mandatory bicycle helmets in Denmark because:

- Denmark is the world's safest bicycle nation, along with The Netherlands.

- Cycling levels are falling and mandatory helmet laws further reduce the number of cyclists. We need MORE cyclists, not fewer.

- It will harm Denmark's leading role and international brand as a bicycle-friendly nation.

- Documentation for the effectiveness of bicycle helmets is, at best, doubtful and countered by numerous scientific articles around the world.

Copenhagenize Design Company and Bicycle Innovation Lab have teamed up to contact the country's leading experts in traffic, mobility and cylcing and get them to join our declaration. Their names can be found at the end of this letter. 

Why vote no?
Many European countries have already rejected bicycle helmet law proposals. Among them are the UK, France, Italy, Poland, Switzerland and Norway. The reason is that there isn't any conclusive scientific evidence that a helmet law will benefit the public health.

In addition, there isn't one single place in the world where bicycle helmet usage has reduced the number of serious head injuries. The worst thing about a helmet law is that we risk having fewer people choose the bicycle. A catastrofe for a society that is plagued by lifestyle diseases, rising obesity and children that don't get enough exercise. We have to INCREASE cycling levels.

Even the European Council for Ministers of Transport have made it clear:

"... even the official promotion of helmets may have negative consequences for bicycle use. If the importance of wearing a helmet is stressed, the implied message is that cycling is extraordinary dangerous. The report on cycling shows, however, that refraining from bicycle use has far greater negative consequences for health than increasing bicycle use without the wearing of helmets. To prevent helmets having a negative effect on the use of bicycles, the best approach is to leave the promotion to the manufacturers and shopkeepers".
European Council of Ministers of Transport - National Policies to Promote Cycling - 2004

We say no to bicycle helmet legislation in Denmar and our conclusion is the same as the European Cyclists Federation, the Danish Cyclists Federation, as well as cycling organisations in Holland, UK, Germany, France, Belgium, Ireland, etc.


- A bicycle helmet isn't even designed to protect the head against life-threatening impacts. It is designed - and tested - to protect the head against non-life threatening injuries in solo accidents under 20 km/h. A helmet isn't designed to help in situations where a cyclist is hit by a car or truck. Promotion of helmets - not to mention a law - has a very serious consequence: people stop cycling. We've seen it all over the world. Between 20-40% have been scared off their bikes and that impacts the public health. 

The advantages of cycling daily are 20 times greater than the marginal risk of hitting your head. 

When we are dealing with something as important at the public health and sustainable transport forms, the documentation has to be watertight. We don't think it is regarding the proposal of making helmets mandatory for children under 15.

Denmark is the world's safest bicycle nation, along with the Netherlands. The number of head injuries keeps falling in Denmark and has done so since the 1960s, apart from minor, short-term periods. This is due to better infrastructure, traffic safety intiatives, the "safety in numbers" principle and people paying better attention. Daily cycling prevents a long line of illnesses and can extend life by up to seven years. We shouldn't risk having fewer cyclists - and certainly not children.

What is the state of cycling in Denmark right now?

The number of cycled kilometres in Denmark has fallen by 30% since the beginning of the 1990s. If Danes still cycled that extra 30% we could save at least 2880 lives a year. (Source: Lars Bo Andersen, Professor. University of Southern Denmark). Instead of working towards increasing cycling levels, we see a proposal that will ruin our bicycle culture.

The number of cyclists continues to fall in Denmark. Copenhagen is actually the only city in the western world where cycling levels have fallen over the past few years. We need to increase these levels. We can't do it with helmet legislation, but by creating better and safer conditions for the nation's cyclists.

Harming Denmark's strongest international brand

Bicycle helmets are basically misunderstood treatment of symptoms. We should, instead, discuss what kind of cities we wish to live in. If we wish to do something positive for safety, health and the environment we should arrange our cities so that they are safe for pedestrians and cyclists and we should give these groups first priority in our planning. The European Parliament doesn't want to legislate helmets but instead recommends 30 km/h zones as a solution. Another example is the 8-80 Cities concept - which means that cities should be designed for people from 8-80 years old - so that they can move around their city safely.

Among the cycling organisations in Europe, the new Danish law proposal has been met with stunned amazement. The proposal is in sharp contrast to the image of Denmark as a role model for cycling and it can harm our unique brand as a cycling nation. Cycling in Denmark creates jobs and export potential. These are put at risk when you don't understand the international consequences of the unfortunate messages we send.

It is through testing, experimenting and playful desire that Denmark wears the jersey as one of the world's best cycling nations - not through legislation and restrictions. Therefore, all the experts signing this letter encourage the members of Parliament to vote NO to the proposal about helmet legislation for children under 15.

What can you do instead?

An effective strategy for saving lives and preventing injuries is lowering the speed limit to 30 km/h in densely populated areas. This is in place in over 100 European cities. We would experience a fall in killed and serious injured cyclists and pedestrians AND motorists between 25-40% THAT is effective lawmaking.

Traffic calming in cities and better, wider and safer bicycle infrastructure have the same positive effect and we encourage you to propose and support such plans.

We are at your disposal

Each of the experts who have signed this letter can expand on why a bicycle helmet law is a bad idea based on our individual expertise. We are at your disposal if you want to know more. Feel free to contact us. We can also recommend international experts through our networks.

Best regards:

Mikael Colville-Andersen - CEO – Copenhagenize Design Co.
Lasse Schelde - Head of Project – Bicycle Innovation Lab
Professor, dr.med.,Lars Bo Andersen - University of Southern Denmark

Claus Hyldahl - Doctor in Orthopedic Surgery - Lægernes Test Center
Thomas Krag - Mobility adviser and former head of the Danish Cyclists Federation

Malene Freudendal-Pedersen – Asst Professor - Institute of Environment, Society and Spatial Change (MOSPUS)
Anne-Katrine Braadgaard Harders - Civil engineer and Ph.D student - DTU/AAU
Lise Drewes Nielsen - Professor -

Institute of Environment, Society and Spatial Change (MOSPUS)
Christer Ljungberg, CEO, Trivector. Expert in sustainable transport. Sweden.

One of our colleagues who signed the letter is Prof. Lars Bo Andersen from the University of Southern Denmark. He added a letter of his own to the open letter. The pdf of his letter, in Danish, is viewable here.

But we thought it relevant to translate his text;

Recommendation of a No vote on the bicycle helmet law proposal

By Professor Lars Bo Andersen, University of Southern Denmark

I have researched cycling and health over the past two decades and have published more articles and papers about the health benefits of cycling as transport than any other researcher in the world.

Mortality among cyclists is 30% lower than among those in the population who transport themselves through passive transport. Today, such a large percentage of the population cycles that this reduction in mortality results in a significant number of lives saved.

- According to Danmarks Statistik the cycling levels fell 30% between 1980-2000.
- This fall means that the total mortality (within the same age and gender) has risen by 4.8%.
- Roughly 60,000 people die each year in Denmark and the actual reduction in cycling equals 2880 deaths.
- This is in relation to the fact that only 30 cyclists died in traffic in 2011.

If a bicycle helmet law causes a fall in cycling levels, as it is expected to do, it will be cause a great deal of damage in the health of the Danish people.

Best regards
Lars Bo Andersen

Brilliant. Thanks, Lars. 

If you're wondering which individual was behind this proposal (and it's always an individual) it's Andreas Steenberg, from the political party Radikale. In email exchanges with him it is clear that he hasn't bothered looking at the science, the risks and the negative effect on public health. He is just as uninformed as Pia Olsen Dyhr from the Socialist People's Party who was bikeslapped here on the blog a couple of years ago.

05 July 2012

Toyota's New Prius Solution

New Prius Helps Environment By Killing Its Owner
Toyota remains at the forefront of green technology with the launch of it's new Prius Solution.

The most environmentally-friendly car in history. Call now. Operators are standing by. Se habla espanol.

Crown Princess Cargo

Something one might expect to see at Cycle Chic, but here is the Crown Princess of Tasmania... uh... Denmark on her Nihola cargo bike riding across the palace square outside Amalienborg, where the royal types live.

The tabloid's headline reads, "Mary on a bike ride. The Princess takes a day off".

Actually, it's the family's cargo bike. The Crown Prince often drops off his kids at kindergarten in it.

One can question whether or not everyday is a day off for a royal. Someone produced this website that tracks the work schedule of Mary's husband, Crown Prince Frederik. Arbejder kronprinsen idag? / Is the Crown Prince working today?

But hey, at least Mary is living the dream and a bicycle is under her Aussie ass while she is doing it. Nice.

04 July 2012

Helmet Law Proposed in Denmark

Barcelona Felix et Lulu Bikes
And so the nightmare that summarises the Culture of Fear reaches the shores of Denmark. Two political parties announced yesterday that they will push for a bicycle helmet law for under 16s.

A proposal was defeated in the Danish Parliament back in 2009, when rationality was still something politicians possessed, apparently. Danish readers can check out Cykelhjelm.org for a crash course in knowledge.

The Radical Left and the Socialist Peoples' Party are behind the proposal. The traffic "safety" spokesman for The Radical Left - Jan Johansen - said to Danish Broadcasting:

"We are of the opinion that we must make our children as safe as possible when they are in the traffic".

What the Radical Left and the Socialist Peoples' Party AREN'T doing is making our streets safe.

They are NOT proposing to follow in the footsteps of over 80 European cities and creating 30 km/h zones in densely populated areas or proposing traffic calming measures in our cities.

They are NOT proposing motoring helmets, despite evidence that they would be a good idea.

They are not listening to warnings regarding bike helmet promotion or laws. Nor are they worried about the warnings from Sweden regarding children and reduced cycling.

They are NOT telling us how they will keep children safe on playgrounds or in cars - where the risk of head injury is higher.

They are NOT proposing restrictions or penalities on parents who transport their children inside of cars, what with the higher levels of microparticles than on the bike lanes that run parallel.

Etc. Etc.

The Radical Left are about as informed about helmets as the Socialist Peoples' Party are. We posted about the gaffes made by Pia Olsen Dyhr a couple of years ago. Little has changed in their lack of respect for science or just basic facts.

Here's what happened in Sweden when helmets started being promoted and then legislated. It's the same thing that happened in so many regions that have been subject to the same anti-cycling wave. We wrote about this graph here a few years ago and there is more on this graph in Swedish here.

The sad fact is that Copenhagen is the only city in the western world where cycling levels are falling. We're now at 35%, according to the City of Copenhagen. Before bike helmet promotion started in January 2008 we were at 37%. We predicted this back in January 2009.

Our only bicycle advocacy group, the Danish Cyclists' Federation (DCF) are now busy telling the press that they are against the law. This has been their position for some time, but that hasn't stopped them from projecting their personal fear of cycling onto the population at large through intense helmet promotion, together with their rich and equally uninformed uncle, Rodet for Sikker Panik (Danish Road "Safety" Council).

It's tragi-comic to see how they now have to employ all the arguments that the rest of Europe uses to fight against helmet promotion and legislation. But it's an organisation without any scientific staff - unlike the cyclist federations in so many other countries.

They have made their bed and now they must lie in it. They Culture of Fear regarding cycling in Denmark is their work, along with the Road "Safety" Council, so this development is, indirectly, their fault. Without their pornographic obsession with helmets, we wouldn't be here today.

I wonder where this will lead. Can the European Cyclists Federation help? As they have done in so many other countries that have defeated helmet laws?

Cross your fingers.