10 April 2017

Connect Bikes and Trains - Increase the Number of Cyclists and Train Passengers

For the past three years, Copenhagenize Design Co., in team with 5 train and bike operators and 4 mobility consulting firms, have been working to develop intermodality between bikes and trains in Europe.


Why this mobility solution makes sense in our cities ?
Because all trips can't be made by bike, this combination is the best solution to compete with cars. Bike-Train-Bike or BiTiBi services combine energy efficient transport modes into one seamless transport service. Indeed, the bicycle is by far the most energy efficient transport for short distances. It allows to increase significantly the catchment areas around train station. The train, especially the low speed train, is the most efficient transport mode for longer distances. 





The Dutch approach: bike parking and OV-fiets
With 26% of all daily trips achieved by bike, cycling is an integral part of daily life for everyone in the Netherlands. The country leads the way when it comes to the bike-train-bike combination. This began in the late 1990’s when Dutch train officials noticed old bikes were being parked and left at destination stations by passengers who used them for semi-regular trips. In response, an investment plan to enlarge and renew all cycling facilities at railway stations was passed in 1999. Safe parkings for almost 500,000 bikes are available at train stations and typically has direct connection to the platforms or the station hall. All these facilities make cycling to train stations an easy and attractive option.

By 2002, railway operator NS had already observed a 20% increase in passengers. Today nearly half of all train passengers take a bike to reach their station.

























Key to the success of the BiTiBi combination in the Netherlands is OV-fiets. This public bike allows train passengers to reach their final destination by bike after disembarking. Launched in 2003, it is now available at 280 out of 410 stations across the country. These bicycles, in a classic Dutch design, are provided by the main railway operator NS. The same “OV-chipkaart” transit card that is used on trains, buses, metro and trams throughout the country is also used for renting an OV-fiets. 

Houten: bike parking under the train station


European development in Belgium, Italy, Spain and the United-Kingdom
Based on the Dutch approach, pilot projects were implemented in the regions of Barcelona, Milan, Liverpool and in Belgium. In all countries, projects successfully substituted trips made by cars with bike-train-bike transport. Due to the opening of bike parkings and/or the availability of bikes at stations, more bicycle users have been registered cycling to the stations, and some of them are new train passengers. Some of these bicycle users shifted from cars to this efficient combination due to the improvement of the services.

Here is an summary of the impacts of these services on mobility in the 4 pilot projects:







Positive results in the four European countries
These past years, following the implementation and the improvement of services, and the creation of an appealing communication, positive results have been witnessed in all countries.

In Belgium, the Blue-bike service is now available in 48 train stations over the country. It means that with a same member card, users can rent the same public bike, at the same price and conditions, each time they arrive in one of these 48 cities. In the pilot cities, we calculated than 22% of Blue-bike combined with train trips have replaced a trip formerly made by car.

Gent St-Pieters - Blue Bike



In northern Italy, the train company Ferrovienord has launched a regional plan and will double the number of secure bike parkings at stations in the coming years. A couple of years ago, Como, a city of Milan area, built a well-designed bike parking for 90 bikes, with direct access on the platform, that should inspire many small and medium sized cities.

BiTiBi_Como&Bollate


In the United-Kingdom, Merseyrail operates the urban railways in the Liverpool area and provides Bike & Go rentals and secured bike shelters. The company developed an attractive communication strategy to make its Bike & Go services visible as soon as train passengers disembark. Moreover, they developed a marketing strategy to facilitate companies to subscribe to the service for their employees and ease daily business trips.



















To finish, in Barcelona area, plenty of promotional efforts have been aimed at companies/ The bike operator organised “Try a Bike & Ride to the Station” events and invited several companies to participate.




Building bike parking: 400% rate of return
Considering the basic expense of installing bike parking facilities and the different benefits they provide - mainly due to health benefit and air pollution reduction -, there is a 400% societal return on investment! In other words, society benefits four times as much as the cost of the bike parking facilities.


If this figure does not convince you to invest in bike parking and bike services, a booklet disseminating all the results is available here and the most important data gathered in the pilot projects are available here. For further information, you can also visit the BiTiBi.eu website.


Here is a poster designed by Copenhagenize Design Co to promote BiTiBi.
BiTiBi_Illustration_Communication

06 April 2017

Copenhagen's Fantastic & Stupid Bicycle Bridge Inderhavnsbro

Copenhagen's Inderhavnsbro - Inner Harbour Bridge - Photo: City of Copenhagen
It's no secret that Copenhagen continues to invest massively in bicycle infrastructure like no other city on the planet. The network is already comprehensive and effective but the City continues to add important links, especially over the harbour and the canals.

One of the more recent additions is the Inner Harbour Bridge - Inderhavnsbroen in Danish - that spans Copenhagen Harbour at a key, strategic and iconic point. It links the city center at the end of the postcard picture perfect Nyhavn with the Christianshavn neighbourhood and the southern neighbourhoods beyond.

It is one of a series of 17 new bridges or underpasses for bicycle traffic that have been added to the City's transport network in the past few years.

The Inner Harbour Bridge was riddled with problems and was extremely delayed, as you can read here. Now, however, it's been open since July 2016.

Let me be clear... I'm thrilled that we have a new, modern link over the harbour to accommodate bicycle traffic and pedestrians. I am over the moon that the number of cyclists crossing daily exceeds all projected numbers. The City estimated that between 3000-7000 cyclists would use the bridge but the latest numbers are 16,000.

It's a massive success. But sometimes you can see the forest for the trees. I'm sorry, but Inderhavnsbro is a stupid, stupid bridge.

It fulfills it's primary function of allowing people to cross a body of water. But it is a cumbersome, beastly thing that is completely and utterly out of place in the delicate urban, historical and architectural context of its location. A fantastic overcomplication of the simple, timeless art of bridges that open and close. Designed by an architect named Cezary Bednarski from an architecture bureau will roots in two countries where cycling is no longer mainstream transport, it has failed miserably in respecting the basic concepts of bicycle urbanism and the established standards for infrastructure and facilities. By the looks of it, Studio Bednarski didn't even bother to understand them.

Inderhavnsbro - Inner Harbour Bridge - Copenhagen

The nickname for the monster is the "kissing bridge" and it is flawed in so many ways. After millenia with perfectly functional designs to cross water like drawbridges and swing bridges, this architect decided to overcomplicate the concept. The bridge meets in the middle, where the two sides "kiss". A nice, giggly idea on a distant architecture office desk but quite stupid in practice. It proved incredibly difficult to make the giggly idea work.

Crossing the bridge by bicycle involves two sharp turns - two chicanes. Chicanes designed by someone who doesn't ride a bicycle. Cyclists are shunted sharply and rudely towards the middle of the bridge and back out to the side again. Perhaps the idea of getting the two sides to "kiss" was too difficult with the length of the bridge or the width required to make the kiising part work. The quirky kissing idea is the primary objective, at the expense of common sense. The primary visual gimmick is that the glass panels change colour as the bridge opens. Oooh. Wow.

For a century, Best Practice standards for details like chicanes have been in place. We know what curvature works best for comfort and for safety. These chicanes pose serious problems and they are clearly visible for anyone to see. You can see from the bicycle tracks in rain that people just cut the corners of them.

Inderhavnsbroen - Inner Harbour Bridge

A more serious concern is the many skidmarks you see on the bridge as you head downwards in either direction. I stop and study them every time I cross. Have a look when you cross. There are always fresh ones. They stop before the glass barriers, but I figured out why, as you can see in the photo, above.

Inderhavnsbroen - Inner Harbour Bridge

People crown the bridge in the middle and then get speed up, but many people fail to realise that the architect wasn't capable of a straight line and they slam on the brakes and hit the glass. I don't know if anyone has gone over the edge into the water, but the physics provide a perfect storm.

Inderhavnsbroen - Inner Harbour Bridge Inderhavnsbroen - Inner Harbour Bridge
Look at the glass barrier in the above photo. The City has realised there is an issue and have slapped up a large, red and white warning sign to try and help people realise that it's a dead-end.

If you need to put warning signs on a design, it is basically a crappy design. Period.

The grade to get up the bridge also ignores Best Practice standards for bicycle infrastructure. In this article you can read how most standards were established in the 1920s and 1930s. The architect probably thought "bike" and a spandexy dude on a race bike popped into his head. I have seen a few people get off and walk up the incline, but most just muscle their way up. The bridge is too steep. It is not designed for a mainstream bicycle city and the architect didn't bothering researching the fact that we have 40,000 cargo bikes filled with kids and goods in Copenhagen.

On all the other bicycle bridges in Copenhagen a simple boom will drop to the sound of a simple ringing bell to stop cyclists and pedestrians when the bridge is opening. Compare that simple design to the huge, groaning barriers that rise like creatures from the black lagoon on the Inderhavnsbro. Comical overcomplication.

Another detail is that there are no ramps on the stairs on the pedestrian side - unusual in Copenhagen - but necessary. That is easily fixed, compared the rest of the nightmare.

Is using municipal funding to experiment with giggly, freestyle designs really a good idea? The bridge was also funded by a philanthropic fund - but does that mean that we don't have to be rational when we get free stuff?

I can easily and rightfully criticize the architect who failed miserably at his task, but lest we forget there was a jury of Copenhageners who actually looked at this and voted "YES!" So there are many fools at this party.

Inderhavnsbroen - Inner Harbour Bridge
There are so many moving parts that breakdowns will be inevitable. It's already happened a number of times. Ships have been stuck on the wrong side because it couldn't open. The little tent, above, appeared suddenly and was in place for more than a week. That's hardly good for mobility. A fancy schmancy bridge in Kiel, Germany, ended up having so many problems that another bridge was built next to it, to be used when the fancy bridge breaks down. Is that where we are heading in Copenhagen?

The bridge is nothing more than "magpie architecture". A shiny object that attracted the favour of the people who selected it. Seduced by bling and fake innovation instead of being guided by timeless rationality and basic design principles. It follows in the sad tradition of Squiggletecture, where bridges and facilities are designed by architects who don't understand the users.

What's more, in an attempt to appease the wealthy sailboat crowd, the City of Copenhagen agreed to let the bridge open 30 times a month - far more than the six times a month that the other main links over the harbour - Knippelsbro and Langebro -open. This bridge will be unreliable as a transport option for people who are just trying to get to work or education once the sailing season starts.

The basic principles of Danish Design - practical, functional and elegant - were sadly forgotten in the choice of this bridge. The shine will wear off and, I fear, we'll be faced with more expensive problems.

Facepalm.