27 September 2012

Desire Lines of 16536 Bicycle Users

The Bicycle Choregraphy of a Copenhagen Intersection
Here's the cover graphic of Copenhagenize Consulting's upcoming anthropological project tracking the Desire Lines of all the bicycle users in one Copenhagen intersection over 12 hours one day in April. We blogged about it earlier.

Here's a .pdf of a larger version, if you fancy that. Opens in a new window.

We filmed the intersection for 12 hours and anthropologist Agnete Suhr crunched the behavioural patterns over two months. Counting bicycle users and cars, tracking desire lines and observing the general behaviour of the bicycle users.

While it was a ballet of human-powered movement, it was also a spectacular display of mediocrity. There were only a handful of "rogue cyclists chipping away at society's foundations with their reckless behaviour" out of 16,536 Citizen Cyclists.

As we always say, well-designed infrastructure breeds good behaviour.

While data maps are great for tracking... data... observing 16,536 bicycle users gives you a whole different perspective and debunks a lot of perception about urban cyclists.

This intersection with it's 16,000 + cyclists is not one of the busy intersections in Copenhagen. We chose it because it is an east/west and north/south point, because it is a transport intersection without any shops or reasons to stop and, well, because we could film it out of the office window.

The purple line in the middle is the bike messenger who pretended he was a car and use the car lane. "The" meaning one guy out of 16,538 people on bicycles. There were a couple of other half-hearted attempts to be a Volvo, but only one who lived the automotive dream. Although he popped back onto the cycle track after the turn. There's one in every crowd. Sheesh.

The full results of the project will be released soon.


Erik Sandblom said...

If the speed limit gets lowered to 30 km/h, I bet more cyclists will pretend to be Volvos :-p

Well done. Glad to see someone systematically mapping cyclist behaviour.

Marco te Brömmelstroet said...

Did you also map the other users of the intersection to see how is the main user and how interactions are organised? Would be mighty interesting (even more then this work)!

ubringliten said...

The rogue cyclist you have there is very common in the streets of San Francisco. We don't have the infrastructure so we have to ride like we are driving.

Miles Bader said...

I don't get the mocking tone about the "rogue bicyclist" ... was he actually acting dangerously?

I know that if I was riding along in a bike lane, but the road happened to be completely open and free of cars, I'd happily pop into the road to take a turn...

It's all about context; bicycles are much more flexible than cars, and can be ridden any number of ways.

Frits B said...

@Miles Bader: Whether a rogue cyclist is acting dangerously or not is not the question. If a car driver takes the cycle path/track (or the pavement for that matter) instead of the lane, his behavior may also be not dangerous but that doesn't make it acceptable. Separation of traffic exists for a reason.

zmau said...

Well, "rogue" epithet is obviously ironical. And I agree.

Real question is not "was it dangerous?", it is "did he get onto someone's way?" It's a common mistake when observing traffic situations, most people think it's okay to get into someone's way if that someone is not heavy enough to make that situation dangerous.

Miles Bader said...

Why is using the road when there's no traffic "unacceptable"?

I don't usually walk in the road, but I consider it perfectly fine to walk across not-at-an-intersection (i.e., jaywalk) when there's no traffic.

Copenhagen's system of separated bike paths is great, but don't turn it into some religion.

The term "rogue" was used mockingly (as is pretty obvious from the rest of what he wrote). While I like copenhagenize, the author has a habit of mocking those he disproves of, and makes it pretty clear here he disproves of this guy's behavior.

I'm simply wondering why.

Tallycyclist said...

The problem here is that while pedestrians and cyclists are very flexible, cars are not. Yet they are very much a part of (and dominate) the transportation fabric. The cycle track network is very beneficial for bicycle commuting by the masses. It may not be the absolute best system for EVERY single type of cyclists, but it's a system meant to accommodate the averaged majority.

That's why there's separation on certain roads to begin with. While that "rogue cyclist" probably didn't cause a near-accident, such behavior is contradictory to the type of system set up there. How good any road system will be, however well or poorly-designed, depends on how well it is respected by the users. If 1, 5 or 15% of cyclists decide they no longer want to use the cycle track, that's going to cause some problems and conflicts under the current configuration.

William said...

Is the project near enough to completion, that we can get an approximate date for publication?