24 December 2012

Copenhagen Christmas Tree Transport by Bike

Heidis Christmas Tree_2
Update: 18 Dec 2013
Lulu and I were on the spot when one of her teachers, Heidi, was buying her tree and taking it home. She borrowed one of the many bike trailers at the school to do so.
Heidis Christmas Tree_3
Standing nice and tall in the Copenhagen evening.

Christmas Tree Transport_1
Typical. Write a blog post and then two bikes with christmas trees roll past your window. So here's an update.

Above: Sorte Jernhest cargo bike, complete with tree and kid wearing an elf hat heading home in the evening. Fantastic.

Christmas Tree Transport
This lady rolled past my window pulling her tree on a trailer.

Christmas Tree Bicycle 03
Getting close to Jul here in Copenhagen. Christmas tree sellers are occupying squares all around the city. Many people use their bicycles to get the tree home.

Here's a collection of the shots we have of people moving their trees home by bike.

This lady had just bought a jule tree and the seller was helping her strap it to her bicycle. It took some work and discussion but they finally succeeded. She didn't have far to go, so she walked her bike with the tree attached.
Christmas Tree Bicycle

Christmas Tree Bicycle 02

Christmas Tree Bicycle 04

Here are some more photos from the archives:
Copenhagen Yule
This gent was followed by two kids and his wife on bikes behind him on the cycle track. Heading home with the family tree.

Juletree - Copenhagen Yule
You don't see many bicycle trailers in Copenhagen, but sometimes they do come in handy.

Long John Christmas Tradition in Copenhagen
Here's me and the kids a couple of years ago when we had a Longjohn to get around.

Felix and the Tree
It was a squeeze, but the kids love a squeeze. They had a ball.

Christmas Tree Transport
Smaller trees need no more than a bicycle to transport them.

Christmas Tree Transport

Evergreen - Cycling in Winter in Copenhagen

Copenhagen December 2013 Christmas Tree

Amsterdam Christmas
Amsterdam. 2012.

Christmas Tree by Bike
The New Yorker. 1942.

12 December 2012

The Tailwind

All we want is a tailwind on our cycle tracks.

Advert for a bike shop in Copenhagen.

10 December 2012

The Transition of Copenhagen's Traffic Logic

Logic and Co

This article first appeared in the Danish newspaper Politiken on 27 November 2012. It was written by a colleague of ours and her co-workers at Center for Design, Innovation and Sustainable Transitions

The Transition of Copenhagen’s Traffic Logic
by Anne Katrine Braagaard Harders, Jens Stissing Jensen og Erik Hagelskjær Lauridsen are researchers at the Center for Design, Innovation and Sustainable Transitions, AAU København.

The past weeks' heated debate on cyclists’ behavior in Copenhagen reflects intensified tensions between the urban space’s different mobility logics and demonstrates a need for a transition of Copenhagen’s traffic.

Cycling is, as an urban mobility form, of a different nature to that of the motorized traffic. A typical picture of the Copenhagen cycling traffic could be young men on their racing bikes, merging in and out between elderly women cycling slowly, dads talking with their kids on the large cargo bikes, and girlfriends chatting and cycling side by side through the city. This form of navigation in a assembled traffic flow is possible due to the low pace, and due to the fact that the cyclist is present through his or her bodily senses in a way different to the motorist who sits in a extended living room.

In addition to this, cyclists often aspire to avoid stopping, since accelerations are physically straining. A common example is cyclists rolling ever so slowly past the stop line at a red light, anticipating the light changing. In contrast, the motorized mobility forms are often characterized by high-speed potential combined with a relatively limited opportunity for mutual coordination between the road users.

The realization of the motorized traffic’s speed potential is thus contingent on a reduced need for mutual coordination with other road users. This is, for instance, ensured by the traffic signals that sustain a precise regulation of passage, as well as by segregated lanes.

Controversies and accidents often happen at intersections where the logics of cycling and motorized vehicles collide; for example, when the mixed traffic becomes too confusing for the motorist, or when the cyclist misjudges the options for disregarding the precise regulations for passage. In these cases, the cyclist is the weaker party, which is also manifested in the fact that there are approximately five times as many seriously injured cyclists than motorists in the Copenhagen traffic.

Copenhagen’s mobility challenge is, to a high extent, attached to the prioritizations and relations between the different mobility logics. The logics of cycling and motorized traffic are, however, far from equal.

When cycling, for example, is characterized as ‘the cuckoo of the traffic’, as it was recently in Copenhagen, it is an expression of the motorized traffic’s mobility logic. A logic that is the current, common perception of rational mobility behavior. This perception is sustained through driving school curriculum; through public service information urging careful behavior and respect of cars; through traffic safety teaching at schools and through childrens' books, like ‘Sille & Sofus’, where children are taught to keep their distance from cars and walk on the sidewalks away from the curb for their own safety. The city’s sharply defined segregation of mobility infrastructure which assigns cyclists, pedestrians and motorists their own space, reflects this normal perception, too, since the impact of this segregation is a limitation of the need for mutual situational coordination – and always in favor of the motorized traffic.

The motorized traffic’s status is also reflected in mobility planning. The latest example is the recently approved Havnetunnel (Harbour Tunnel) in Copenhagen. The prioritization of motorized traffic is also obvious in the resource allocation, where only about 10 % of the streets’ construction and maintenance budget is spent on bicycle infrastructure in particular and the accessibility of cyclists in general. This is despite the fact that the bicycle today in the most used and preferred transport option in Copenhagen (measured by the number of trips taken). At the same time, motorized traffic has an estimated area that is six times larger than that of the cyclists, and that doesn't include parking.

The current behavioral debate about cycling in Copenhagen - where cyclist behavior is understood as a signal of selfishness and the means of correcting it are discipline, raised fines, information campaigns and traffic police raids - , is another example of the normal perception of motorized traffic’s status.

The public debate, allocation of resources, laws and rules, planning, the physical infrastructure and even the raising of children all demonstrate the normal perception's systemic character. No single person has the opportunity or power to change this system in it’s whole. Everybody acts based on isolated logics, taking the system for granted. Seen in relation to the existing traffic system it makes good sense that parents teach their kids to walk along the inside of the sidewalk, that the police fight to ensure that the traffic laws are obeyed, and that the politicians prioritize billions of kroner to overcome existing ‘bottlenecks’ in traffic. Unfortunately, the result of these efforts only serves to preserve the existing mobility system and doesn't overcome sustainability problems or the traffic challenges in Copenhagen.

There is a need for local experiments that support the urban development with concrete examples that create change in the city’s complex and conflicted space. One example is the ongoing project with the aim of creating a network of so-called ‘cycling super tracks’. One element in this strategy is a closer integration of commuting on bicycles and the public transport infrastructure. Another experiment is the reorganization of Nørrebrogade, with wider cycle tracks and sidewalks, and a prioritization of bus traffic. More radical experiments include prioritizing the mobility logics of cyclists and pedestrians over the motorized traffic’s logi by, for example, allowing right turn for cyclists at red lights and giving precedence to the cyclists to use the entire roadway - presupposing low speed limits like the Dutch Fietsstraat.

The current debate hampers the discussion of long term solutions of Copenhagen’s mobility challenges in that it overlooks the fact that cyclists and pedestrians move about the premise of motorized traffic’s in the urban space. City and infrastructural development much be designed on the basis of a balance between the urban mobility logics. A continuous development and transition towards mobility patterns which effectively, safely and sustainably ensure the citizens’ access to the urban space’s different functions requires experiments, strategic planning and a public debate - and must dare to question the established prioritization of the urban space’s mobility logics.

Anne Katrine Braagaard Harders, Jens Stissing Jensen og Erik Hagelskjær Lauridsen are researchers at the Center for Design, Innovation and Sustainable Transitions, AAU København.

06 December 2012

The Car Industry Strikes Back - Audi and Lexus

Been a while since we've had a Car Industry Strikes Back article, so why not do The Double?

First up, that most desperate of car brands, Audi. I think they are the car brand we've featured most in this series. They're at it again, this time in Finland.

It ends with the money shot, of course. The car in question flying along a road without any traffic. Free as a bird and at extremely high speeds. Everything preceeding the money shot is shots of poor bastards who don't have an Audi.

Including freezing public transport users at a bus stop (the leggy girl is clearly disenchanted with the guy for not having an Audi) and a man riding a thin-tired bicycle down a frozen road. Regarding the latter.... come on... the Finns know and they're not complete strangers to the bicycle. Any rural Finn worth their salt wouldn't ride THAT kind of bicycle in THAT kind of weather. This is the country that has the city of Oulu, for god's sake. Sure, it's not manipulation on the scale of BBC's War on Britain's Roads, but it's still bending the truth to serve an agenda.

A reader in Helsinki, Alexander, was kind enough to send us the head's up about this commercial, as well as to translate the titles:
"Talvi tulee taas" = Winter is coming again
"Älä taistele vastaan" = "Don't fight against [it]"
"Suomi. quattron koti" = "Finland. [the] quattro's home"

He also checked Shazam and found that the song used is "Prettiest World" by Daniel Nordgren. Prettiest world indeed. A world where walking is difficult, riding a bicycle is difficult, public transport is difficult and the only way to get around is in an Audi Quattro.

Desperate times for Audi. They're striking back.

Next up is Lexus. We've all heard that those pesky youngsters are driving less all around the western world. The demotorization of society is well under way. We know WHY they're not bothering to get driving licences. Damned social media. They can be sociable online instead of having to drive to the mall to hang out and suck on 40 gallon Cokes.

The car industry knows this all too well, too. So Lexus went for it. They want this to be a December to remember.

This December, remember: you can stay in and "Share" something or you can get out there with your friends and actually share something. This is the pursuit of perfection. 

Buy the Lexus and you'll get a leggy girl begging to be with you. You'll experience traffic-free streets in major urban centres. You won't have to "share" those streets with ANYONE.

Lexus is striking back. And, like so many of these commercials, it seems desperate.

The always brilliant Sarah Goodyear over at The Atlantic Cities wrote about this ad as well. Be sure to check it out.

More Car Industry Strikes Back articles from the series.
Know of any others? Let us know.

05 December 2012

Cargo Bike Specific Parking

Fields cargo bike parking
An American-style shopping centre on the outskirts of Copenhagen - Fields - has now created specific bicycle parking for cargo bikes. With 40,000 cargo bikes in Copenhagen, it really is a no brainer. Architect Lasse Schelde, head of the Bicycle Innovation Lab and environmental NGO Miljøpunkt Amager was responsible for this little pocket of visionaryness. I know that's not a word. Well, maybe it is now.

Great to see cargo bikes prioritised, not least because so many people use them. And a sensible solution, too, with railings to lock your bike to.

Copenhagenize Consulting is working on similar projects with our Cyclelogistics EU project.

The Copenhagenize Index Still Needs You!

Wow! A huge thank you to the 156 people in 67 cities all over the globe who are now registered to help us with the 2012 Copenhagenize Index of Bicycle Friendly Cities! To those 156 people: Please stay tuned for next steps.

For everyone else: a plea. We really, really want to include some major global cities like Mumbai, La Paz, Shanghai, Istanbul, Rome, St. Petersburg, Seoul, and Bangkok. Do you know someone in these cities? Even if they haven't hopped on a bike in years, maybe they'd like to help out. Who knows what it could lead to! Hopefully not a massive bike modal share increase. God no!

Here are the cities we still need help with the Index. For some of them we have one or two recruits. Please check the list and forward this post to anyone you know in these cities. Ideally, we require three people in each city.

Argentina: Rosario
Australia: Adelaide, Brisbane, Melbourne, Perth
Austria: Vienna
Belgium: Brussels
Bolivia: La Paz
Brazil: Belo Horizonte, Brasília, Curitiba, Fortaleza, Manaus, Porto Alegre, Recife, Vitoria
Canada: Calgary, Edmonton, Quebec, Winnipeg
Chile: Santiago, Valparaiso
China: Beijing, Guangzhou, Hangzhou, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Tianjin
Colombia: Cali, Cartagena, Medellin
Costa Rica: San José
Croatia: Zagreb
Cuba: Havana
Czech Republic: Prague
Ecuador: Quito
Finland: Helsinki
France: Bourdeaux, Lyon, Marseille, Nantes, Nice, Paris, Toulouse
Germany: Cologne, Hamburg, Munich
Great Britain: Belfast, Birmingham, Leeds, Liverpool, London, Manchester
Greece: Thessaloniki
Hungary: Budapest
India: Bangalore, Chennai, Delhi, Mumbai
Indonesia: Jakarta
Ireland: Dublin
Italy: Naples, Rome
Japan: Fukuoka, Hiroshima, Kobe, Kyoto, Nagoya, Osaka, Sapporo, Tokyo
Malaysia: Kuala Lumpur
Mexico: Guadalajara, Mexico City, Puebla
Netherlands: Rotterdam, The Hague, Utrecht
New Zealand: Auckland
Norway: Oslo
Peru: Lima
Philippines: Manila

Portugal: Lisbon Romania: Bucharest Russia: Moscow, Nizhny Novgorod, Novosibirsk, St. Petersburg, Yekaterinburg S. Korea: Busan, Incheon, Seoul
Singapore South Africa: Cape Town, Durban, Johannesburg

Spain: Barcelona, Bilbao, Las Palmas, Madrid, Málaga, Murcia-Orihuela, Seville, Valencia-Sagunto, Zaragoza

Sweden: Gothenburg, MalmoStockholm
Switzerland: Zurich
Taiwan: Kaohsiung City, New Taipei City
Thailand: Bangkok
Turkey: Ankara, Istanbul, Izmir Uruguay: Montevideo USA: Austin TX, Boston MA, Denver CO, Dallas TX, Houston TX, Philly PA, Phoenix AZ, San Antonio TX, San Diego CA, San Jose CA, Seattle WA, Washington DC
Venezuela: Valencia

Please sign up here!

If you do not see a photo above, please use this link in your browser.

04 December 2012

The Bicycle Option for Longer Distances

Cycle tracks on both side of every motorway leading to #Copenhagen. #bike
Motorway 16, north of Copenhagen. Cycle tracks on either side.

The discussion continues unabated, around the world, about whether the bicycle can perform as a transport mode at distances above 5 km and thus present itself as alternative for motorized vehicles.

First, let's consider this quote:
”In the late 19th century, large numbers of women were already using bicycles to get to work, women office workers and shop assistants wending their way each weekday morning from the suburbs to the town. They found the bicycle a convenient form of transport for distances up to, say, ten miles”.
Plucked from John Woodeforde's book ”The Story of the Bicycle”, 1970

So the bicycle as an effective performer at longer distances is nothing new. Nevertheless, we're relearning the bicycle story.

A published peer-reviewed conference paper (full version here - on google docs), based on my Masters’ degree thesis in Environmental Engineering (specializing in Urban Planning), included an assessment on the environmental, economic and time aspects regarding bicycle use on longer distances – in this case it was 15 km. To sum it up in a few words: yes, the bicycle is an option, even for longer distances. The one condition is having (at least) quality public transport of an average level.

The study was done in Lisbon, Portugal.

For this part of the work, the following methodology was used: over a total of 33 days, data was collected regarding bicycle trips. Data such as time spent, costs, maximum speed, average speed, temperature, etc, was collected along the chosen routes.

Despite the difficulties throughout the whole year of the thesis, I was fortunate to be the one creating, collecting and treating my own data -- this is a cyclist and data geek's nirvana. Nevertheless, here’s a small small preview of the data file:

In this particular case, a river had to be crossed (from Lisbon to Almada) so the options to cross it were by train or ferry. The first and last sections of the the commute were by bicycle. After this fieldwork, a car trip was simulated in order to compare with the bicycle (and public transportation) use.

Thus, the routes studied were the following:

Route: bicycle (green) + boat (red)
Route: bicycle (green) + train (blue)

And then a car trip was simulated:

Route: car commute simulation
The total trip of every route was about the same: 15 km. This made the comparison between the bicycle (with the public transportation) and the car possible. Among other conclusions, it was possible to verify that:
  • Depending on the hour of commuting, the bicycle (used with the public transportation) was faster than the car;
  • The bicycle combined with the train pollutes eight times less than the car. Combined with the ferry, pollutes six times less;
  • Using the bicycle and the train would result in a cost saving four times greater than the car. With the ferry, the cost benefit was seven times greater than with the car;
  • An average worker in Greater Lisbon works three days per month just to pay for his car.
In other words, good public transportation is essential to the success of the bicycle for longer trips. By saying ‘good’ it means that it’s a public transportation that is suitable for the bicycle and is reliable and easy to use.

There's no need to be the most hardcore cyclist to travel longer distances. If the transportation system can work as whole, and regards the bicycle users as a solid market, then it is possible to commute on longer distances by bicycle. According to this study, it won't cost you more -- whether is time or money -- and you'll pollute a whole lot less. 

Stockholm's Congestion Charge Success

Our good friend Ole pointed us to this brilliant TED x talk about the success of the congestion ring in Stockholm.

If you can handle staring at a bow tie for 15 minutes (I struggled) this is a must see.

"Jonas Eliasson studies how small charges on crowded bridges effect traffic, what makes a person opt to bike to work and how far people choose to live from public transportation. The Director of the Centre for Transport Studies at Sweden’s Royal Institute of Technology (KTH), Eliasson helped design, plan and evaluate Stockholm’s congestion tax, which was piloted in 2006 and made permanent in 2007. Eliasson is frequently brought on by other cities that are considering similar fees for rush hour use of crowded roads.

Eliasson has modeled and appraised several major infrastructure investments in Sweden, and chairs the committee for transport modeling of the country’s National Transport Investment Plan."