29 April 2013

Copenhagenize Index 2013 - Bicycle-Friendly Cities

We released our Copenhagenize Index 2013 - Bicycle-Friendly Cities today. We did a countdown on Twitter and then published the full list afterwards. Business Insider published the results simultaneously, as well.

The 2013 Index has taken a lot longer than we expected. We ranked 80 cities in 2011 and increased that to 150 this time round. Although this time round we had the help of over 400 individuals on every continent - our eyes and ears on the ground - to assist with the ranking.

While a mammoth task done con amore, it was just as interesting and rewarding as in 2011. While we would have liked to have ranked every single city on the planet, we kept it to a rough population size and included some cities because of their importance in their nation.

Have a look at the Index. Lots of changes in the Top 20 what with the addition of 80 new cities.

We've had a lot of interest in the Index since 2011 and the way we calculate the ranking. We used it in a large report we did - together with our partners Civitas - for the Norwegian Ministry of Transport wherein we explored why Norwegian cities are less bicycle-friendly than their Swedish and Danish counterparts.

All in all, it has been worth the time and effort and we thank the over 400 people who helped us out and I thank the whole Copenhagenize Design Co. team - especially Meredith Glaser in Amsterdam - for making this happen.

22 April 2013

Cargo Bike Nation - The Book

Cargo Bike Nation - The Book - Front Cover
So what do you do when you have several thousand photos of cargo bikes in your archives? Well, it's 2013... you slap them into a Blurb book, of course.

Cargo Bike Nation - The Book Cargo Bike Nation - The Book
We just published Cargo Bike Nation on Blurb if anyone is interested. Here's the introduction from the book:

There are two reasons for producing this book. Firstly, the rise of the cargo bike as a transport solution in cities continues unabated. Secondly, out of the 15,000 or so photos I have taken while documenting bicycle culture in Copenhagen and other cities around the world, easily 3000 are of cargo bikes.

While I'd like nothing more than putting them into old school photo albums and inviting you all over for coffee while we leaf through the photos together, this book is probably a more logical solution.

What you'll find in these pages is photo after photo of cargo bikes, as well as bicycles with cargo.

There are 725 photos on offer. 615 of them are from Copenhagen. Not surprising considering that is where I live and that Copenhagen is easily the cargo bike capital of the world, with 40,000 cargo bikes in action.

There are, however, photos from 33 other cities on every continent that I've taken on my travels as CEO for Copenhagenize Design Co.. A large number are from Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo, where the cargo bike still serves the citizens for deliveries of goods.

In the Copacabana neighbourhood of Rio de Janeiro alone there are 11,000 cargo bike deliveries a day. Where in Copenhagen the cargo bike is primarily used by families, in Rio it is pure logistics.

The number of cargo bikes in cities has dwindled since the mid-20th century, but there are an impressive number to be found. With the growing popularity of the cargo bike we can expect the armada to swell in size. Which is a good thing.

At the end of the book there is a list of the brands featured in this book. I've counted 23 recognizable brands and easily 20 cargo bikes that are undefinable because they are vintage or customised. Add to that the postal service bikes, pedicabs and the no-name Chinese bikes that some shops sell in Copenhagen.

Fourteen of the brands are Danish. Hey, it's a big market in Denmark. It's worth stating, however, that there are a great many other brands out there in the world. I don't have photos of all of them - although I wish I did. In particular, the United States is experiencing fantastic growth in the number of companies producing cargo bikes. It's all good.

It was a maddening process selecting photos for this book. At the end of the day I just wanted to produce the ultimate cargo bike photo book. Nothing sells cargo bikes like a long line of photos showing Citizen Cyclists and others using a cargo bike in their daily lives. As a vital tool for urban living.

The book is divided up into these chapters:
- The Cargo Bike & I - photos from my own life with cargo bikes.
- La Famiglia - how families use cargo bikes.
- You've Got Mail - postal service by bicycle.
- Municipal Services - city maintenence on wheels.
- Heavy Petting - pet transport on cargo bikes
- Musical Ride - musical instruments transported on bikes.
- Pedicab Nation - the rise of the pedicab in cities.
- Sharing is Caring - it's not just rugrat transport... cargo bikes are for friends and loved ones.
- The Buy Cycle - selling goods and services from cargo bikes.
- Trailer Park - let's not forget the trailer.
- The Classic Short John - photos of the ShortJohn/delivery bike/butcher's bike.
- Hors catégorie - Bikes that fall just outside the cargo bike category but that are cool.
- Early Learning - kids on mini-cargo bikes.
- Flea Markets - cargo bikes used in connection with flea markets.
- Aging Gracefully - bikes and trikes for the elderly.
- You've Got to Move It - moving your stuff around the city by cargo bike.
- Svajerløb - The Danish Cargo Bike Championships 2009-2012.
- Chameleons - people moving stuff on regular bikes in cargo bike spirit.
- Favourite street shots - some of my favourite shots from 6 years of photographing the subject.

The book is available at Blurb. Self-publishing is pricier than normal, but with 725 photos .... that's 8 cents a photo. Or something. :-)

Here's a slow motion sneak preview:

21 April 2013

Using Street Space for Bike Parking

I ventured into the city centre of Copenhagen for a night out yesterday and was thrilled to behold the new cycle track down Gothersgade. It's a one-way street for cars and bikes - until now. This stretch was a missing link for bicycle traffic. Bicycle users had to do a rather irritating detour to get to key destinations.

Now a cycle track runs straight down the street towards the harbour while the street is still a one-way street for cars. Mary blogged about it a short while back - you can see what the street looked like before - and now the construction is almost complete.

On some stretches The Arrogance of Space has been addressed by adding cycle tracks in both directions, like above. Narrowing the space for cars to create safer conditions.
Gothersgade 03
But what started as an article about bicycle infrastructure on a one-way street is now going to morph into an article about the deconstruction of The Arrogance of Space by using bicycle parking. Along stretches of the street, bike racks have been placed on built-up medians between the street and the cycle track.

I suppose it creates a buffer between the bicycle users on the cycle track and the roadway, sure, but it really is nothing more than using existing urban space for more rational and practical purposes. Good old fashioned space management.
Traffic Calming with Bike Parking
Here's an earlier example of placing bike racks on traffic calming infrastructure. This is in Guldbergsgade in Nørrebro.

Bike Parking in Copenhagen
I went exploring through our archives looking for other examples of reclaiming street space for bicycle parking. This is near my flat. A photo I took in 2008. Roughly two car parking spots reclaimed for bicycle parking on Nordre Fasanvej. Notice also the built out half-circle with a newly-planted tree. More space taken back for creating a more pleasant urban environment. Who can hate trees?

Overflow parking at Central Station back in 2009 used street space while the space outside the station was being renovated.

Parking Zone in Action
Back in 2009, the City of Copenhagen's Bicycle Office experimented with Parking Zones at four spots in the city. Reclaiming street space for rackless bike parking. Here's an article about these parking zones.

On this narrow street in the heart of the city - Adelgade - bike racks take up the space of two car parking spots.

Space Management Contemplating Parking

Bikes Here Former Car Parking Spaces
In my neighbourhood, the City of Frederiksberg, there are some good examples of reclaiming street space for use by bicycle users.

Top left: another example of taking back a bit of space from car parking and planting a tree. In addition, these little islands feature a couple of bike racks.
Top right: it's an older tree, but the municipality slapped in a bike rack and took back a bit more space.
Bottom left: This isn't bike parking, it's just a passageway for bicycles crossing the street, providing them with space to get to the cycle track.
Bottom right: Car parking spot removed to create six bike parking spots in a shopping district.

Hej Cyclist Here is Your Bicycle_1
Here is Your Bicycle. The City of Copenhagen used street space for temporary parking near Nørreport Station. You can read about this Hi, Cyclist! Here is your bicycle! campaign here.

Urban Graphics
Urban Graphics on a closed off street - for cars - in the Amager neighbourhood with many bike racks for the residents.

ElmegadeThis street, Elmegade, has been completely traffic calmed and is a slow, cosy street with loads of cafés and shops. It's a one-way street for cars and the city placed bike lanes in the opposite direction, creatively curving them around reclaimed street space used for bike parking and tables outside cafés. It's a lovely street to ride down.

Along Nørrebrogade, when the huge retrofitting project started, the cycle track was reclaimed for bike parking, as well as space for shops to display their goods. Not to worry... a car lane was reclaimed to create space for the cycle track. This was a temporary solution until the permanent infrastructure was built.

Copenhagen 2 Bikes
What started as a fun experiment for me and my friends is now our standard way of parking when we're out on the town. If there is a car parking spot available outside the bar or café we take it back. I did this little experiment called the Bike Magnet a while back and I can assure you that it continues to work every single time. Technically, according to the City's bylaws you're not permitted to do this, but people power is a lovely thing.

Cargo Bike Parking Inside a Car
Another innovative project from the City of Copenhagen was this pink car that conquering one and a half parking spots and provided four secure parking spots for cargo bikes. Here's the article about this project.

Reserved Parking
Here's an unorthodox use of bicycles to block curb space. It looks like someone is reserving the space for use by a moving truck or the temporary placement of a container. The orange posts and plastic ribbons are often insufficient in keeping motorists at bay in their search for parking. So why not take some bikes and lay them down as a deterrent..

Toronto Infrastructure_3 Long Beach Bike Parking
There are, of course, examples in other cities. At left is Kensington Market, in Toronto. At right is shopping district in Long Beach, California.

Odense, Denmark Bicycles Odense, Denmark Bicycles
All of this is nothing new. Here are examples of reserving urban space for bicycle parking "corrals" from the 1940s.

Now, however, the battle to reclaim space from cars is more necessary than ever before. Perhaps these Copenhagen examples can serve as inspiration.

19 April 2013

The Copenhagenize Bicycle Planning Guide

Best Practice Explained 002
In the interest of expediting the journey towards bicycle-friendly cities and eliminating misconceptions, Copenhagenize Design Co. has produced The Copenhagenize Bicycle Planning Guide. Based on Danish Best Practice developed over the past century, since the first separated bike lane was implemented in Copenhagen in 1915.

The beauty of the bicycle infrastructure network in Copenhagen is the uniform design of the infrastructure. There are, by and large, four types of infrastructure - all represented in this graphic. Based on the speed limit for cars, you select the appropriate style of infrastructure and off you go.

One of these designs fits every street in the country and, indeed, every street in every city in the world.

If you fancy sending your local planner/engineer a gift that keeps on giving, this graphic is also available as a poster.

14 April 2013

Into the Country

A Trip North of Copenhagen
Late last year I transported myself a bit farther than normal on my bicycle. The occasion was a weekend in the woods with the families in Felix's class. The destination was about 21 km north of Copenhagen. Somewhere near Værløse. Which is "Middle of nowhere" (MoN) to this city boy. Normally, I don't bother going farther than IKEA. But I'll ride my bicycle there every time.

I'm not a cyclist. I don't demonstratively ride my bicycle everywhere. Like almost every Copenhagener I don't know how many kilometres I ride each year. I'm just a guy who uses a bicycle because it's practical.

With Felix and Lulu in tow, we had three options for getting there.
1. Take the train and then a bus.
2. Take the bikes on the train and ride the last 5 km.
3. Take the bikes.

It was number two if the weather was crap. I asked Felix if he thought he could ride 21 km and he was up for trying. Turns out the weather was fine so off we went. If you want to see the route, we tracked it on the Endomondo app.

All the motorways - and roads for that matter - leading to Copenhagen have cycle tracks on both sides, as you see in the photo above. So getting there by bicycle was no problem.

A Trip North of Copenhagen A Trip North of Copenhagen
We loaded up the Bullitt with all the gear required of a weekend trip with a single dad and two kids - duvets, pillows, etc. and off we went.
A Trip North of Copenhagen
Felix was on his Chopper and raring to go.
A Trip North of Copenhagen
Along most of the route parallel to the #16 Motorway, the asphalt was so fresh you could almost smell it. What a splendid ride on that surface. Lovely, wide cycle tracks on both sides of the motorway.
A Trip North of Copenhagen
Along many sections, the cycle track is bi-directional - never, ever in the city - but because of the desire lines of the people along these routes, it makes logistical sense. The volume of cyclist traffic out here is, of course, nowhere near the levels in the centre of Copenhagen and there are few intersections, so it makes rational sense.
A Trip North of Copenhagen
We passed Skovbrynet Station on the bridge. Low traffic volume for cars and so there are painted lanes along the road below. Although a separated cycle track in the foreground up to the entrance to the station. These painted lines are getting quite rare. Many municipalities upgrade to separated cycle tracks because they know they encourage more people to ride.
A Trip North of Copenhagen
Off the motorway we came.
A Trip North of Copenhagen
We took a shortcut through the woods - Hareskoven. Lovely in the autumn light.

A Trip North of Copenhagen
This neck of the woods is mountain bike heaven. Or so I've read.

A Trip North of Copenhagen
On the other side of the woods we were back on cycle tracks. A bit narrow here, but this was an exception. It was a road cutting through the woods. Not exactly a bicycle user expressway.
A Trip North of Copenhagen
Through small towns we were on separated cycle tracks once again.
A Trip North of Copenhagen
As we ventured out into the country the cycle tracks started to separate from the roads with a verge, as per Danish best practice. When the car speed limits rise, you get cyclists farther away from the road.

One thing I tire of hearing is "Denmark is so flat". No, it isn't. The Netherlands is. And so is Copenhagen in the city centre. Once you're out of the city centre, however, you meet hills.

A few were nasty with a fully-laden Bullitt and Felix struggled on some of them, but we made it up every one. When you live in Copenhagen, you forget that much of the rest of the country is hilly, even though we sing the praises of our hills and valleys in the national anthem.

But hey. Hills end. Wind doesn't. Give me hills over wind any day. Luckily, the weekend was largely windless so we avoided that evil combination.
A Trip North of Copenhagen
This is an example of a fine, separated cycle track through the countryside.
A Trip North of Copenhagen
After a lovely weekend with friends, we headed home to Copenhagen.

Interestingly, in this article, you've basically seen three of the four types of bicycle infrastructure in Denmark that makes up the Best Practice. There are only four. That's what makes good design.

- Separated cycle tracks. The standard when speed limits for cars are above 30 km/h - unless car traffic volume is deemed low then above 40 km/h. Separated from the street with a curb.

- Bi-directional cycle tracks. Not used in cities because of safety issues. We threw these out of the Best Practice for cities a couple of decades ago. They serve a great function on routes with few intersections, like along the motorways or bike paths that run through parks, etc.

- Cycle tracks separated by a verge - completely away from the road, but running parallel. This is the standard when speed limits for cars are 60-70 km/h or higher.

The one you didn't see is what you get on residential streets with a 20-30 km/h speed limit. Then there is no bicycle infrastructure. Bicycles share the street with other vehicles at that speed.

Bicycle Carousel

Just when you thought you've seen it all, this pops into your inbox. It is from the lovely blog Bisikleta iha Dili, run by J.P.. A bicycle carousel for children. Fantastic. Especially as I'm in the midst of editing a book featuring 725 of my photos of cargo bikes entitled Cargo Bike Nation.

Dili is the capital of East Timor - or Timor Leste - the former Portuguese colony nestled between Australia and Indonesia. J.P. is running a cool little blog showing the bicycle's role in daily life.

08 April 2013

Ageless Cycling

Et varmt hjerte
My friend Ole had an idea last year. The elderly who are in care homes need to get out a bit more. They grew up on bicycles. Why not take them for a ride? He borrowed a Christiania pedicab and volunteered to take the residents of a care home for a ride through the city. Talking with them, hearing their stories, showing them their town from the cycle track.

The idea is good. So good that the care home invested in a fleet of the pedicabs from Christiania Bikes. Now Ole took it to the next level and he started a group called Cykling uden alder - or Cycling Without Age. Last weekend they arranged a fantastic bike ride through the city with the fleet of pedicabs and a group of supporters.


As Ole puts it:

"Cycling Without Age is about quality of life.

It's about showing that the city is at it's loveliest when seen from the cycle track.
It's about the fact that cyclists are happier.
It's about the fact that cyclists are healthier, live longer and are less ill.

We want to promote that more people use their bicycle each day. There are already many that ride here in Copenhagen, but we can be many more. Especially children and the elderly.

Everyone who met up here today (at the bike ride) are living examples that we can make a difference.

Will you do me a favour and tell at least one person about this day and this bike ride and get that person to cycle more?
If you do that, you'll be a part of creating a better city and a better and happier Denmark."

What can you possibly add to that but some photos?

Ole's mum was on the ride, too.

Ole's mor
Ole's mum again.

And here's Ole himself, in action.

Having inspiring friends is a gift. Ole is also on the board of Cykelrepublikken.

All the photos are by Sandra from the always brilliant Classic Copenhagen blog.