28 February 2014

Car Industry Strikes Back - Nissan Denmark

If you've been following our Car Industry Strikes Back series over the past few years, you'll have seen car companies ridiculing other transport forms or lathering themselves up in a greenwashing frenzy.

It's usually a roll-your-eyes, comical experience. Nissan Denmark, however, have outdone themselves. They're banging the drums for their new Qashqai model here in Denmark. It started last year on September 4, 2013 when Nissan hosted a "café" in the centre of Copenhagen, letting people take the Qashqai for a test drive. In the middle of the day. In the City of Cyclists and near our many pedestrian streets and a main metro station.

Kieran Toms, who is interning with Copenhagenize Design Co. at the moment, reported from the front lines. He popped into the "café" with a friend. Kieran, being a modern young man from the UK, doesn't have a driving licence, but his friend took Nissan up on the offer of a test drive. The Nissanite who accompained him extoled the virtues of the car and especially the acceleration. Unfortuntely, they were paralysed in traffic - while hundreds and hundreds of bicycle users rolled part, oblivious to the wonders of last century mobility. Acceleration consisted of crawling ten metres at a time down the streets. Involuntary humour from Nissan.

Now Nissan are ramping up their campaign for their car. The film, above, starts with the classic car industry shot of a car alone on a road - like THAT ever happens in a city. The text fades in declaring the Qashqui to be The Ultimate Urban Experience. Which, in reality in Copenhagen, is staring out the window at the rear end of some other car whilst citizens ride bicycles or walk past you.

Then they declare they're "Unlocking Copenhagen" for a weekend in March and they've enlisted a minor Danish celebrity Mads Christensen (self-proclaimed biggest braggart in Denmark). He tells us that he'll be the keymaster for unlocking the city, driving around in a Qashqai and challenging the city. Something about all your questions will be answered as they "zig-zag" around the city in March. Totally vague.

The film features clips of Copenhagen, including loads of people riding their bicycles, unaffected by Nissan's marketing prowess.

Yeah. Whatever.

Remember to wave or ring your bell at Nissan and the Braggart when you see them stuck in traffic on the weekend of March 6-8, 2014. Compared to the other examples of Car Industry Strikes Back, this one is hilarious and rather lame.

27 February 2014

Copenhagenize Reviews the Agenda for the Next Mayor of Paris

Paris Bike Culture - Cycling Sociably

The current mayor of Paris – Bertrand Delanoë – is a living liveable city legend. While at the reins of the city for two terms, he has transformed the French capital in so many positive ways.

You have to love a mayor quoted as saying, "The fact is that cars no longer have a place in the big cities of our time".

30 km/h zones, traffic calming and... the Vélib' bike sharing system are all part of his modern legacy.

The number of bicycle users in Paris has increased since the launch of Vélib'. Delanoë, however, is stepping down after the next election. Today we're going to have a critical look at what the frontrunner for the mayoral post in the city, Anne Hildago, is proposing if elected.

She is already in charge of urban planning since Delanoë was elected to his second term. She knows the ropes, so to speak.

In her agenda, Anne Hidalgo has proposed the following:
  • to extend the Vélib' network to the whole metropolitan area.
  • to reduce the car speed limit to 30 km/h, excepted on the main boulevard.
  • to double the number of bicycle users in 10 years.
  • to double the number of bike lanes by creating a north-south lane, a lane on the Champs Elysées, a lane to reach the woods (Bois de Boulogne and Bois de Vincennes) and the cities located around Paris, a lane the circumnavigates the city, a lane along the railways, and one along the river.
  • to set up more Vélib' stations and bike parking at museum, train stations and schools.
  • to set up more signs and wayfinding for bicycle users.
  • to redesign the main squares for pedestrians and bicycle users.
  • to launch an e-Vélib' (public electric bike).
All in all, her cycling agenda sticks to the further development of the existing bike share system and the creation of new bicycle infrastructure. Compared to other world cities, the bicycle debate is already way ahead of the curve in Paris.

We like what we read but for a city that has done so much in so little time, what about pushing it just that little bit farther? The world needs leadership. A lot of it sounds like Hildago is focusing on commuting and, perhaps, recreational cycling. What about developing a bicycle culture right there in the neighbourhoods, making space and facilities for cargo bikes, creating safe routes to school, developing bicycle streets as WELL as building bicycle superhighways? Go Paris! We want you to go one step further!

Actually, there are several important and interesting points in this agenda. We obviously approve the development of more bike infrastructure. More bike lanes, especially along the iconic Champs Elysées, can become an interesting and important symbol. (It sure beats THIS vision from the past on that street)

We wonder, however, what KIND of infrastructure will be built? Will they be wide and well separated from the cars? Or will the bicycle users be forced to keep on sharing the lane with the buses? It's interesting to create bike lanes which go through Paris but bicycle users are more interested in reaching the office, the bakery, the school safely every day safely than knowing that Paris can be crossed from East to West. To create the right conditions for cycling, users must know that they can bike everywhere in the city safely and quickly.

And what's all about an e-Vélib'? Do we really want more scooters in a densely-populated city? Cohabitation with regular bikes can be complicated? In the Netherlands, Denmark and Switzerland - from where we've seen data - accidents including e-bikes have increased. The Dutch authorities are creating a new fast cycle tracks just for e-bikes. Does Paris have enough space to create lanes for bikes AND e-bikes? We doubt it.
Robert Doisneau Traffic

Continuing to develop the bike share system to the whole metropolitan area is interesting. Regarding the size of the area, focusing on combining bike and train stations would seem, to us, to be a better idea.

We can conclude that if Paris really wants to move closer to the paradigm shift, this agenda is fine but it's also rather mild. Where is the creativity of Hildago and of Paris? Where is the world-class infrastructure the Parisians deserve in an increasingly livable city? Does Paris want to become a truly bicycle-friendly city?

Hildago's heart is in the right place, but she needs to take the bicycle more seriously as transport. It's already used by thousands of Parisian families and  employees. We think a more visionary policy is required.

Copenhagen Cycle Chic Goes To Paris

25 February 2014

Cargo Bike Parking Design - The Copenhagenize Bar by Cyclehoop

The Copenhagenize Bar - by Cyclehoop
In early 2013, Copenhagenize Design Company developed a design for on-street cargo bike parking that creates space and accessibility for citizens that use cargo bikes on a daily basis. Who else would we team up with for the further development of the product but the brilliant British firm Cyclehoop?

After this otherwise great prototype for on-street cargo bike parking was removed due to political decisions in Copenhagen, I started thinking about how to design a solution that would improve parking conditions.

After almost three years of working with the EU project Cyclelogistics, cargo bikes have become a main focus of the company. I have two cargo bikes myself and parking is a primary challenge.

When you use a cargo bike everyday, you want to have it handy. In many cities, like Copenhagen or Frederiksberg, you find yourself pushing it into the back courtyard because of a lack of secure parking on the street. Cargo bikes are objets de désir for thieves and, unlike regular bicycles, the theft of them is often organised. Most Danish brands are good quality and keep a fair chunk of their market price when sold used. People who do park their cargo bikes out in front of the buildings are forced to lock them to signs, drainpipes and other bits and pieces of urbanness. They often take up a lot of space - easily the space of two regular bikes. So our idea was to design an elegant, functional parking solution for cargo bikes. Prioritising cargo bike parking and giving people extra security.

The Copenhagenize Bar - by Cyclehoop
In situ visualisation

Surprisingly, cargo bike parking solutions have not been a priority, despite the fact that in Greater Copenhagen there are 40,000 of them. The aforementioned pink car was a step in the right direction and at a shopping centre, Fields, south of the city, dedicated cargo bike parking is in place. But that ain't much. Certainly not with the growth of cargo bikes in cities all over Europe and beyond.

The challenge I gave myself included these keywords:
Functional. Elegant. Unique. Secure. Sense of security. Flexible. Modular.

The rack should look good on the street or outside shops/buildings. It should be a deterrent for thieves and offer the user both security and sense of security when parking on street. I wanted a unique design - most cargo bike solutions involve merely placing a metal railing next to them to which you can lock your bike. Making it flexible meant that it a majority of cargo bike brands should be able to use it. There are over 15 brands in Denmark alone, let alone some foreign ones on the market like Bakfiets and Johnny Loco, so it was important to make sure that as many of them as possible could use it.

The primary user was thought to be residents in densely-populated neighbourhoods who could use the Copenhagenize Bar on the street outside where they live, instead of having to muscle the bike into the backyard. Modular was important because the urban landscape is never uniform.

After doing the intial drawings and design myself I proposed the idea to Anthony at Cyclehoop and we entered into this partnership. The visualisations and the details that evolved are a great collaborative effort.

The Copenhagenize Bar - by Cyclehoop
You simply roll the cargo bike into the space and lower the bar between the seat and the cargo bay.

The Copenhagenize Bar - by Cyclehoop
You lock the bar into place with a lock (at left) and you can supplement it with a lock through the bar itself. Many people who park their bikes on street carry two heavy-duty locks. As all bikes in Copenhagen have a wheel lock, this is also invariably locked, as well.

Copenhagenize Design Company hit the streets last year and measured every single cargo bike brand on the market. The height of the bar was the most important detail. It had to be placed so that a thief couldn't just take off the back wheel and push it forward under the bar. The majority of cargo bikes have a step-through frame but a couple of them have a crossbar. The Sorte Jernhest (Black Iron Horse) and Bellabike. The design fits all models up to the height of the crossbars on these two brands.

The Copenhagenize Bar - by Cyclehoop 

The Copenhagenize Bar - by Cyclehoop
Another in situ visualisation. Providing parking for five citizens in the space of two car parking spots. Note: The Copenhagenize Bar will be lower than shown here.

The Copenhagenize Bar - by Cyclehoop
The design can be fastened into the asphalt or, if need be, a base plate can be fixed to the ground.

The Copenhagenize Bar - by Cyclehoop
In situ visualisation by night, placed on existing car parking area.

The Next Generation
The Copenhagenize Bar - by Cyclehoop
Cyclehooop and Copenhagenize Design Company are currently developing the next generation. This will feature a subscription service from the municipality or, perhaps, a supermarket chain. A user can order a chip card - like most bike share systems around the world - and when locking the bike, simply lock the internal mechanism by waving the card in front of the panel. This will eliminate the need for having your own lock.

See more photos on the Copenhagenize Design Co. website.

24 February 2014

Peak Travel and Outdated Projections

I had the pleasure of speaking at the Eco.ch conference in Basel last Friday. The theme was "Nature & Mobility - Increasing Mobility with Reduced Traffic". I gave a version of my Bicycle Urbanism by Design talk.

One of the other speakers was particularly great to listen to. Adam Millard-Ball from the University of Santa Cruz spoke about Peak Traffic and the future of traffic demand.

Future patterns of travel demand have enormous implications for energy supply and the environment. How far will we travel in the future, and by what modes? Has travel in the industrialized world ceased to grow – "peak travel"? Are developing countries likely to follow the high-travel, high-emissions path of the United States, or will their travel patterns look more like Europe or Japan?

He highlighted how engineers and traffic modellers insist on using the same old same old techniques for predicting future travel demand patterns. Despite the fact that they are hopelessly wrong almost every time.

The slide, at top, really says it all. He uses two examples. One is projections from the Department for Transport in the UK (at left) and from Washington State. It's a very intuitive slide. Actual traffic growth on both graphs is in black. The wild coloured lines shooting for the stars are the projections. Millard-Ball said that this is a tendency around the world.

Reality is quite different from the computer models still employed by transport departments. Models that produce projections that influence politicians and impact the lives of millions. Models that are wrong and hopelessly out of date.

As I describe in this TED talk about Bicycle Culture by Design, traffic engineering is an outdated science in its current form. Although that current form is largely unchanged for decades, so it's not really current at all. It's prehistoric. Take the 85th Percentile folly that still controls speed limits in cities. It's standard stuff at universities. Bizarre.

Traffic engineering has too much influence on the lives of our citizens. Nobody has bothered to dig just a little deeper and realise that it's quite hopeless and that we need innovation and new thinking to reverse the damage it has caused.

14 February 2014

Malmö Opens Fantastic Bike&Ride Parking at Central Station

13 Février 2014Copenhagenize Design Company was pleased to have been invited across the Øresund to the grand opening of the City of Malmö's brand new Bike&Ride parking facility at the central station. On a sunny morning, the ceremonial ribbon - strung between two cargo bikes - was cut. Malmö is Sweden's leading bicycle city - so much so that it features in the Top 20 on The Copenhagenize Index of Bicycle Friendly Cities. It is a premier bicycle city with around 30% of the population using bicycles each day to go to work or education.

This brand-new Bike&Ride facility will host more than 1,500 bikes and there are even - be still our hearts - dedicated spaces for cargo bikes. There are loads of details; two air pumps, a bike shop, lockers, numerous screens showing train departure and arrival times, restrooms, a lounge if you have to wait for the train. There is even a single shower for the odd "cyclist" who might fancy a spandex ride. Generally, the facility is geared towards the Citizen Cyclist population of the country's third largest city.


Parking is free at Bike&Ride and there is 24/7 access. It is patrolled by station guards throughout the day. 

There is, however, a separate section for those who want some extra protection. A secure parking area for 700 bicycles based on a subscription service. It costs 80 kroner a month and you get a chip card. Although if you have a transit card, you can combine it with that.

There are numbers painted on the floor to help users remember where they parked so they don't have to wander around looking for a black bicycle in a sea of black bicycles. All of it with a fresh orange colour and cool, Nordic graphic design.

One great detail is the height of the bars in the cargo bike area. Too low for regular bikes to be leaned against them.

Our über intern Dennis, who studies at the University of Utrecht, was impressed with the second tier bike racks. Excellent ease of use, he says. There is a low bar on them to lock your bike to and they require little effort to lift up and put into place.


Access to the secure parking area is, of course, wide enough for cargo bikes, too.

One of the waiting areas, with water fountain.

The Bike&Ride is located under the bus station and connects directly with the train platforms. It's partially underground but it is lovely and bright because of excellent lighting and windows and glass doors. 

All the signs, pictograms and colours (orange and green) used make the facility attractive and user-friendly. We mustn't forget to highlight how important it is to use architecture and design to make sure facilities fit the users. 


In comparison, the Bike&Ride parking located at Hyllie Station on the outskirts of Malmö that opened in 2010 seems less appealing even if it has the same facilities. 

The upper level of bike parking is hardly used because you have to use a set of stairs with a ramp and the connection to the platforms is not at all direct. In the daily routine of a commuter, anything that makes it more inconvenient, however detailed, will not encourage them to consider changing their mode of transport. A2Bism is what we've always called it and Hyllie Station lacks that.

Let's hurry up and get back to the new facility at Malmö Central. That's the main focus here. The City has proved how serious it is about improving conditions for cycling in an already exemplary cycling city. Their new Bike&Ride should embarrass the City of Copenhagen and they should be incredibly proud of it.
Another 200 parking spaces are located outside, under a XIX century style roof. These spots are closer to the train station but, above all, they are important for the image of cycling. The City wanted to make sure that some bicycles remained outside the station. You don't want to remove them all. It's still important for everyone passing by to remember that Malmö is a bicycle city.

Malmö has a vibrant bicycle culture and, in April, the City will recieve the results of a massive survey dealing with transport habits and we will know how the modal share of cyclists has changed over the last few years. Gathering data is something the Danes and the Swedes take very seriously.
DSC_0059The bike shop called Bicycle Clinic.

The ticket machines located conveniently at the bicycle parking.

While we're dishing out love for Malmö here on Valentine's Day, we should also recall their brilliant behaviour change campaign - No Ridiculous Car Trips.

Heja Malmö! 

Here's what the parking around Malmö Central looked like until recently:
Malmö Central Station Malmö Train Station Parking
The Bicycle Island

The E-bike Sceptic

Updated 22.09.2017

I often voice my scepticism about the hype surrounding e-bikes in the many interviews I give, but I realised I'd never written an article about it. So here goes.

There has been an enormous amount of hype surrounding e-bikes.
Rule #1: Whenever there is a thick cloud of hype, there is most often another side to the issue that is being neglected. Which is what I've been exploring. When that thick cloud of hype is generated by profit-based industry, your grain of salt just got bigger.

E-bikes serve a purpose. Absolutely. They are a great niche addition to the existing armada of bicycles that have served citizens for 125 years. They have the potential of increasing the mobility radius of cycling citizens - especially the elderly. All good.

Safety and Speed
The first point that should be of interest to anyone working in urban mobility, active transportation or whatever they call it where you're from is the safety aspect. The average speed of Citizen Cycling in Copenhagen and Amsterdam is about 16/kmh. Putting vehicles zipping along at 25 km/h into that equation would not seem to be wise.

If you've been to Amsterdam or, to a lesser extent, Copenhagen, you will know the scourge of the scooters. Fast-moving vehicles that cause injury and death to the riders and others in their path. Adding more scooters to the cycle tracks and bike lanes is hardly beneficial to the development of better traffic safety. Especially when these New Scooters appear suddenly and silently, whereas at least the Old Scooters make in infernal noise.

So, e-bikes to increase mobility radii for people "cycling" from farther distances are generally a good thing. But in densely-populated urban centres with bicycle traffic and pedestrians? Nah. Unwise. Nobody wants more scooters. Unless they use the car lanes. Fortunately, I don't see many e-bikes in Copenhagen and there aren't many in Amsterdam. I only see a few here every week. You can spot them easily. They're the ones braking hard and abrupt at intersections.

The City of Groningen has even taken the step to create e-bike lanes parallel to existing bike lanes, in order to separate these two different forms of transport.

A propos Groningen, when I was working there late last year, a city planner I was speaking to outed himself as an e-bike sceptic. He was concerned about the speed factor - casting faster-moving vehicles into an existing flow. He mentioned that 11% of cyclist fatalities were caused by the fact that the cyclist was on an e-bike. Going too fast, losing control, motorists surprised by a speed faster than the average cyclist. He was also concerned about the lack of interest in such matters.

Indeed, they are discussing whether e-bikes should have mandatory helmet laws, like motorbikes. In this segment, in Dutch, the issue is discussed in detail.
They highlight that 20% of e-bike crashes send the cyclist into intensive care. Only 6% of crashes on normal bikes end up in intensive. It is worth noting that car crashes keep the driver and/or passengers in the hospital longer than any bike crash.

In this article, we can read that "In 206, 629 people died in road accidents in the Netherlands, according to Statistics Netherlands, of whom 189 were cyclists and 28 were on e-bikes. Since 2014 at least 79 people have been killed in road accidents while using an e-bike, of whom 87% were over the age of 60."

Interestingly, a headline here in Denmark today was much the same. A study by the Road Directorate found out that 10% of cyclist fatalities were on e-bikes. Going too fast, losing control, etc. Most were elderly citizens, which is similar to the Dutch experience. Today, there are calls for e-bike courses to teach people how to use them.

A Swiss national study about e-bike safety says, "The most important findings: according to official statistics, e-bike accidents are more serious than bicycle accidents, and serious single-vehicle accidents are more frequent than serious collisions"

The point here is that there is clearly a bit of an issue. One that isn't mentioned in the Hype Cloud. The solution is a call for training courses for e-bikes. How long will that take? How many people will die or get seriously injured until it happens?

Another interesting point was raised by a Dutch colleague who uses an e-bike on occasion. Dutch drivers are used to cyclists, of course, but they're also used to their speed. Motorists stop when turning, check over their shoulder and then decide to continue with the turn if they can see that the oncoming bicycle is far enough away. My colleague has had to brake hard because the motorist had more than enough time to turn if the cyclist was heading towards them at an average speed, but it is hard to see that the e-bike is doing double the speed.

In October 2015, the head architect of the City of Copenhagen, Tina Saaby, stated that she had tried an e-bike for three months... and hated every moment. Motorised vehicles go against all the knowledge we have about how to create liveable cities. She referred to Jan Gehl's body of work about the necessity of slowing a city down to a human speed.

"It's Green!"
Anything that needs to be hooked up to power plants should not be labelled as green. Let alone the whole lithium question.

The e-bike industry are quick to slap the GREEN label on their products but, as always, a grain of salt is required.

Another point that is invisible in the Hype Cloud is the Chinese experience. They have had large numbers of e-bikes and e-scooters for over a decade. As you can read in this article in the Wall Street Journal called "E-Yikes! Electric Bikes Terrorize the Streets of China". The article doesn't mention is that almost every month, another Chinese city bans e-bikes. Simply because of the alarming rise in accidents and deaths. We don't often fancy looking to China for inspiration, but in many cases we should.

In this article, in Danish, Beijing is now desperately trying to get its citizens back onto bicycles, instead of in cars - and on e-bikes and e-scooters. They have learned their lesson, apparently.

Classification and Branding

I've noticed that there is a bit of a confusion about how to classify e-bikes. The word "pedelec" is used to denote a bicycle with an electic assist motor. You have to keep pedalling in order to get some juice. The motor cuts out at 25 km/h. Let's face it, "pedelec" is not a word that will catch on in the general population. To the pleasure of the e-bike industry, who have been lobbying to get any bike with a motor classified as a "bicycle", even e-scooters. At least over the past couple of years I've noticed that "e-scooter" is used more often, in order to differeniate. Nevertheless, we all need to figure out some clear terminology for the general population.

Marketing and Messaging
When you have powerful industry looking to make some cash behind any product line, you have cause to be sceptical. Unlike the bicycle industry, the e-bike industry is pushing hard to make their products mainstream. In an article on BikeBiz we can read that Hannes Neupert, founder and president of ExtraEnergy, an electric vehicle lobbying organisation based in Germany, has declared that:

“Electrification will kill the mechanical bicycle within a few years like it has killed many other mechanical products. Bicycles…will remain as historical items hanging on the wall.”

He isn't the first. Many e-bike websites feature similar claims. It's odd to see that there are clear battle lines drawn.

I first noticed e-bikes on my radar back in 2010. A rumour that pro racer Fabian Cancellara used an e-bike in a pro race went viral on the internet. The rumour led to a frenzied flock of journalists around the world trying to find out if it was true. I remember saying here at the office when the story hit that "within a week, a company name will emerge". Sure enough, journalists that were fed the rumour found out that a motor existed but it was a couple of milimetres too thick to fit into Cancellara's frame. He was then free from suspicion. The Austrian company that produced the motor was all over the press, however.

I have no idea if the Austrian company was behind it all. It's probably unlikely. I remain convinced, however, that it was one of the most brilliant guerilla marketing campaigns I've ever seen, regardless of who started it.

Since then, I've been wary of the massive industry - like any other massive industry - and their tactics.

"Motorists are hopping out of their cars and onto e-bikes!"
No, they're not. This is one of the standard lines I hear from e-bike proponents. Unfortuately, it is purely anecdotal. There is no data to support this claim. Like most standard lines repeated ad nauseum, you can trace them back to the source, which is the e-bike industry. As this humourous YouTube video suggests, the e-bike industry is desperate in their attempts to brand e-bikes as "sexy" to able-bodied young adults. With limited success.

Many people have an anecdote to tell me. About him or her who now use an e-bike. Of course there are good stories to tell. I  know some myself. My main problem with anecdotes is that they are often presented as The Big Picture. Just because one person's dad or grandmother hopped onto an e-bike doesn't mean that everyone is. But the neo-religious Hype Cloud fogs up the lens sometimes. Another grain of salt, please.

The fact remains that there is only one way to get motorists to change their behaviour. And here it is.

Sales are Booming!
This is the primary rallying cry heard by e-bike proponents and the industry. "Look at the sales numbers!" All sorts of stats are thrown around like confetti at a wedding. 1 million e-bikes sold in the Netherlands. 28% of bike sales are e-bikes in the Netherlands, they say. It is 6% in Denmark and rising. And so on.

When working in Bergen, Norway last year, I spoke with a guy working at a bike shop. He knew about my scepticism regarding the e-bike hype. He said they sold many of them but, he added with a wry smile, we never see them again.

They leave the shop, but never come back. "They're just standing unused in a garage somewhere", he added. Interesting. I started asking other bike shops around Europe and every time the answer was the same. Quick profit on the sale, but many of them are unused and therefore require no maintenance.

So when someone bangs on about sales, ask them how many e-bikes are actually on the urban landscape. Again, there is no data about this. If there was, it wouldn't serve the hype very well.

Health Benefits
The health benefits of cycling are well-documented. I've been wondering how they will be reduced with the advent of e-bikes. People will be pedalling less. They won't be getting their pulse up as much, which is incredibly important in maintaining a healthy lifestyle. It's great if the elderly use e-bikes to extend their active mobility, absolutely. There are benefits there. In the Netherlands, the average age of an e-bike rider is over 60. Lots of elderly people will benefit. I just wonder about the big picture. Few others seem to be doing it.

At this point, because I've learned the nature of how many people read blog articles, I'm going to repeat this for clarity:

E-bikes serve a purpose. Absolutely. They are a great niche addition to the existing armada of bicycles that have served citizens for 125 years. They have the potential of increasing the mobility radius of cycling citizens - especially the elderly. All good.

All I've done is questioned the Hype Cloud. Looking at important issues like safety. Mostly because too many people are dazzled by the e-bike industry rhetoric and I want to explore both sides of the coin.

I hope that when I'm elderly, I'll be fit and able enough to ride a bicycle. Having an e-option, however, is good. We'll see how it works out when I get there.

I remain convinced that the bicycle as we know it can continue to have a transformational effect on our socities and our cities, just as it has done for 125 years.

Remember, people rode bicycles sans motors in all of our cities for decades and decades. On bicycles heavier and clumsier than modern models. Their offspring can do the same today if infrastructure is put into place to keep them safe.

I believe in the bicycle. From a rational and historical perspective. The e-bike is a nice addition but despite what the e-bike industry tells you, it ain't the new sliced bread.

Those of us working towards creating more liveable cities should be well-versed in both sides of the coin and act based on that instead of blindly allowing the Hype Cloud to envelop us.

13 February 2014

Desire Lines - Dybbølsbro

Cover DybbolsbroMikael, on behalf of Copenhagenize Design Co., is a teacher in the Bicycle Urbanism Studio led by urban liveability expert Bianca Hermansen at the Danish Institute for Study Abroad (DIS). Since 1959, DIS has given American students the chance to study in Denmark. Our Bicycle Urbanism Studio features American architecture students.
Mikael led a portion of the course involving a massive Desire Lines analysis of two intersections at either end of the Dybbøls Bridge in the Vesterbro neighbourhood, where the coming elevated cycle track - "Bicycle Snake – Cykelslangen" - will be connected. Here's a map of the area in question.
Working with the students - Anna Darling, David Mitchell, Jeannette Mundy, Elaine Stokes, Michelle Woods, Michelle Zucker, Ben Zünkeler - was brilliant and inspiring. Here is a summary of their studies.
You can download here the full report of the Dybbølsbro's Desire Lines analysis

Meant as a companion document to “Desire: The Bicycle Choreography of anUrban Intersection” the following study chronicle the usage of two intersections straddling the Dybbølsbro S-Tog station over the course of a 13 hour period. In order to determine how daily cyclists would react to the implementation of the proposed “Cycle Snake,” cyclist patterns were documented. Through the analysis of types of movement and frequented Desire Lines, a data based indication of the usage of the new infrastructure and a verifiable hypothesis of potential points of conflict can be developed.

As Jane Jacobs noted “There is no logic that can be superimposed on the city; people make it, and it is to them […], that we must fit our plans.” We must be aware that despite best intentions, building without reference to the patterns of people can result in conflicts and failures that could have been foreseen and prevented. Through careful consideration of the data design solutions have been developed that strive to enhance the “cycle snake” proposal while remaining conscious of the realities of human behavior.

The observations are meant to reveal, inform, and inspire.

Bicycle Infrastructure Implementation Through Observation
Our focus is to determine how many people, currently, use the stairs to get to their final destination and if a solution can be presented that will better accommodate the needs of cyclists than the new “snake” infrastructure.

Our goal is also to use fact-based information to make decisions in our designs. The new layout should accommodate not only those who correctly follow the rules of the road but also those who feel the need to break the rules in order to get where they need to go more quickly. Both provide important evidence of human behavior.

4.756 - This number represents the total amount of people who use the staircase on a daily basis. We can assume that at least this number of people will use the new “snake” infrastructure when it is installed.

92% - Ninety-two percent of cyclists coming up the staircase head in the direction of Dybbølsbro station. This means the majority of people who use the stairs are doing so to get somewhere other than the mall.

37% - Looking closely at the mall intersection, we noticed that thirty-seven percent of all travelers heading southeast used the stairs to get to their future destination. This figure takes into consideration those going against the flow of traffic, those cycling in pedestrian crossings and those who abode by the rules.

Fisketorvet intersection: 7.059 Cyclists (from 7am to 8pm)
Fisketorvet - Desire Lines - Total

During the morning rush hour, Fisketorvet is the destination for very few cyclists. Instead, the intersection is used primarily by commuters going up or down the stairs descending from the northeast corner of the intersection. As a result, the northeast corner frequently backs up with bikers. Additionally, the low level of car traffic at this hour gives the cyclists more freedom to bend the rules as they move through the intersection.
Midday routes demonstrate a significant increase of cyclists entering or exiting the mall. During the mall’s opening hours, there was a relatively steady increase of pedestrians, cyclists, and cars alike entering the round-about.

Morning Rush Hour, 8:45-9:00

During the peak of morning rush hour outside the Fisketorvet, a significantly higher percentage of cyclists bent or broke the rules compared to a standard Copenhagen intersection. In “The Bicycle Choreography of an Urban Intersection,” it was found that on an average day at a standard intersection, 93% of cyclists conformed to traffic laws, while 6% could be qualified as Monumentalists and 1% could be qualified as Recklists. The large increase of Monumentalists at this intersection can be accounted for by the number of people taking a left turn as if they were a car and cutting across traffic rather than doing the standard “Copenhagen left.” This data makes it clear that the high flow of commuters are in need of a more direct route crossing this intersection coming to and from the future Snake structure.

Midday, 12:00-12:15
During the middle of the day at the Fisketorvet Mall intersection, a standard distribution of Momentumists and Recklists can be observed as in accordance with the data gathered in “The Bicycle Choreography of an Urban Intersection”. When comparing the data collected from this intersection at midday with the data from the morning and afternoon, which showed higher percentages of rule bending, the conformists behavior can be attributed to higher volumes of vehicular traffic and less bicycle traffic. With more vehicles on the road as compared to the other observed times, bicyclists need to be more cautious. There are also not as many bikers on the road, so a pack mentality is not often created.

Evening Rush Hour, 6:00 - 6:15
During the peak of evening rush hour outside the Fisketorvet, a significantly higher percentage of cyclist bent or broke the rules compared to a standard Copenhagen intersection. The large increase of Recklists at this intersection can be accounted for by the number of people exiting the staircase and entering traffic. Cyclists behavior is largely dependent on the pedestrians moving through the plaza where the future construction of the snake is to take place. This data makes it clear that the high number of recklists commuters need proper infrastructure to navigate the plaza and eliminate this type of behavior.

Ingerslevsgade Intersection

Morning Rush Hour
Ingerslevsgade - morning rush h

Morning Rush Hour, 8:45-9:00
The Ingersevgade operates as a fairly standard Copenhagen intersection: two intersecting roads with traffic lights on all corners. Still, this intersection has approximately twice as many momentumists and reckists as the streets studied in “The Bicycle Choreography of an Urban Intersection.” The breakdown of types of deviations reveals that flexible interpretations of light signals and use of the pedestrian crossing accounts for these increases. After considering the time of day and unique site features, it is reasonable to assume that cyclists hurrying to work are less willing to wait at red land yellow lights. Additionally, the majority of cyclists using the pedestrian crossing were moving between the S-Tog corner and the neighborhood corner (Southeast and Northwest).

Midday, 12:00-12:15
During the middle of the day, the Dybbølsbro intersection functioned as a standard Copenhagen intersection as reported in “The Bicycle Choreography of an Urban Intersection”. It was found that on an average day at a standard intersection, 93% of cyclists conformed to traffic laws, while 6% could be qualified as Monumentalists and 1% could be qualified as Recklists. The data at this intersection matches and supports this data. The Dybbølsbro intersection is a fairly typical intersection, with the exception of a good amount of bicycle traffic coming into and from the intersection through an adjoining neighborhood road. The high percentage of bikers using pedestrian crossings to cross the street were mainly people using this street.

Evening Rush Hour, 6:00 – 6:15
During the peak of evening rush hour outside the Fisketorvet, a significantly higher percentage of cyclist bent or broke the rules compared to a standard Copenhagen intersection. The large increase of Monumentalists at this intersection can be accounted for by the number of people entering the pedestrian crossings and creating conflict with pedestrians moving through the intersection. The high percentage of cyclists on the sidewalk can be attributed to an overflow accumulation of cyclists on street corners while waiting for the green light. 

This is likely the reason for cyclists running yellow and red lights to avoid waiting amongst large crowds. This data makes it clear that the high flow of commuters are in need of a more direct route crossing at this intersection coming to and from the future Snake structure.

Copenhagenize Fixes

Fisketorvet Intersection
In a few months, instead of carrying their bikes up the stairs, the bicycle users will use the elevated cycle track designed specifically for them. But what about the connection between this much-needed infrastructure and the cycle tracks on the road? The bicycle users will arrive on a roundabout designed for the cars, and so the creation of this new infrastructure calls for a rearrangement. We can assume that in the future, bicycle users coming from the bridge and heading to the “Snake” will cut across the roundabout in front of Fisketorvet shopping mall. Indeed, currently we notice that only 23% (lines D and R vs lines C and S) of the bicycle users heading to the stairs cycle all the way around the roundabout. The other ones use the pedestrian crosswalk. That's why we suggest creating an official blue bike lane reaching the ‘Snake’ and to add two yield lines for the cars. This solution is the one that causes the least amount of changes to the current layout.

Ingerslevsgade Intersection

The Desire Lines analysis shows that most bicycle users cross the intersection normally, or use the crosswalks. The main aspect that does not meet the cyclists' needs is the new bike lanes on the sidewalk designed to reach Dybbølsgade. It is actually a good idea to make this small section of bike route 'official', since it is a well-known short-cut through Vesterbro. But the design of the lanes does not follow the natural trajectories of the cyclists. This infrastructure was brand-new when the study was made and we noticed that all the bicycle users took the lane in the wrong way. A few months later, less bicycle users made this ‘mistake’ but still a massive number of them cycle on the sidewalk without following the lane. Instead they take, as one might expect, the shortest way to reach their destination. Here again, our proposal is the one that causes the least amount of rearrangement. Opening the street in the middle instead of on the edges - where the bicycle users must snake around fences - would have been the best solution. 

11 February 2014

Transforming Copenhagen - Købmagergade in 1973 & 2014

Købmagergade at Kronprinsensgade 1973Købmagergade at KronprinsensgadeKøbmagergade at Kronprinsensgade 2014
Købmagergade by Kronprinsensgade - looking north

Addendum: Below is the above shot from 1907, in a coloured version. Same angle. Lots of life on the street. No-one choking on car exhaust or diving to safety from vehicles. From the FB group Gamle København.

My heart leapt a little when I discovered a series of photographs taken by a Copenhagener, Finn Lustrup, back in 1973. This series is of Købmagergade - one of the two main pedestrian streets in the heart of the Danish capital.

Finn Lustrup, born in Copenhagen in 1951, has a fantastic archive of photo material from the streets of Copenhagen throughout a long period of time. I asked him some questions about why he ended up with his brilliant archive.

"My interest for photography started in 1965, when I recieved a photo album as a confirmation gift. I borrowed cameras until I bought my own in 1972 and my photography really took off. I was there when the #5 tram line was removed and it was then I really started taking photos. When the tramway network was removed, I focused on buses, but not just the vehicle. It had to be in a street scene because I wanted to record the typical street of the time, since I was equally interested in urban development.

Between 1972 and 1990 I must have taken a couple thousand photos all over Copenhagen and the surrounding area, and often in places where some sort of urban development was underway. Preferably before, during and after. I believe I have filled a gap in the urban development of the city because when the trams disappeared, everyone who was photographing them did, too. So I was rather alone with my camera at that time. I moved to Veksø in 1984 and took far fewer photos of Copenhagen. I have, however, followed the development of Veksø from a small, unknown town to a larger urban area and, with a co-author, I've published a book about the development of Veksø. I still photograph regularly".

Much has been written about the main pedestrian street - Strøget - which turned 50 last year. The idea of pedestrianising that street is nothing new. It has been around since - at least - 1913. After the planners at the City of Copenhagen took the visionary step of pedestrianising the main thoroughfare through the city centre, the idea started to snowball. Købmagergade, running north-south from the busiest train station in the nation - Nørreport - took longer to be transformed, as the photos from 1973 will attest. We haven't seen any decent photo documentation of this street's transformation, so we got right on it, thanks to Finn's photo archive.

We sent one of Copenhagenize Design Company's über interns - Dennis Steinsiek from Germany, studying at the University of Utrecht - out to take photos from the same locations as Finn was standing in in 1973. Dennis waited a couple of days because of dismal February weather and then couldn't wait any longer for sun. So the photos are from a Wednesday at about noon. The street is packed from facade to facade on Saturday afternoons, but in these photos there are fewer people at that time of day, in that dull weather. It lets us see more of the street and the transformation, which is why we didn't head out on a Saturday.

All in all, a wonderful look at how a major thoroughfare has morphed into a truly liveable pedestrian street.

Købmagergade by Klarboderne 1973
Købmagergade by Klarboderne 2014
Købmagergade by Klarboderne
Købmagergade by Klarboderne - looking south

Købmagergade looking north by Kronprinsensgade 1973Købmagergade looking north by Kronprinsensgade 2014
Købmagergade by Kronprinsensgade - looking north
You simply can't imagine buses and cars on this street anymore.

Købmagergade towards Rundetårn 1973Købmagergade towards RundetårnKøbmagergade towards Rundetårn 2014
Købmagergade towards Rundetårn - the Round Tower. Looking north.

Kultorvet looking south 1973 Købmagergade at Rosenborggade 1973Kultorvet looking south Købmagergade at RosenborggadeKultorvet looking south 2014 Købmagergade at Rosenborggade 2014
Column at left: Kultorvet looking south.
Column at right: Kultorvet looking north.

Addendum: Here's another version of the shot above, at right. From 1904:

From the FB group Gamle København 

Købmagergade looking north 1973 Købmagergade by Silkegade and Illum 1973Købmagergade looking north Købmagergade by Silkegade and IllumKøbmagergade looking north 2014 Købmagergade by Silkegade and Illum 2014
Column at left: Kultorvet looking north.
Column at right: Købmagergade by Silkegade & Illum Department store.

Thanks to Finn Lustrup for his dedication to recording the streets of Copenhagen and for letting us use his photographs as great inspiration.