Showing posts with label "biking with children". Show all posts
Showing posts with label "biking with children". Show all posts

23 May 2011


Hitch a Ride
You don't see these too often in Copenhagen. Little trailers for hauling your kids on their own bike. The family looked like tourists. Kids will largely ride their bikes or be transported in cargo bikes. Perhaps that's the reason. Although it's a great little idea.

08 May 2011

My Bike Was Stolen

Photo by Diego Franssens - from interview in Belgian magazine Knack.

Saturday morning, 11:30. Came out of the flat with the kids, heading for a toy store to buy a present that Felix would then take to a birthday party. Lulu-Sophia and I would then run some errands and hang out in the backyard.

All of this would happen with my red Bullitt cargo bike. Which, I discovered, wasn't where I parked it.

First thought... "Hmm, I thought I parked it there..."
Second thought... "Maybe I parked it in the other spot..."
Third thought, gradual realisation... "It's been nicked..."

Not a foreign line of thought. Hell, I've had loads of bikes stolen before. But the fourth thought really says all about the role of the bicycle in Copenhagen - and in my life:

"Shit... how I am going to get around today?!"

Standing there with two kids - Felix was on his own bike - with things to do, places to go and stuff to buy and the cargo bike rug was pulled out from beneath me. My uattainable schedule that day flashed before my eyes, followed by the following days.

Rather telling that all the practical uses for my missing bike were the primary thoughts filling my head. Only after a while I said to the kids... "Damn... I really liked that bike."

Cue a couple of minutes of restless, confused lingering on the sidewalk. Logistical solutions presenting themselves. I called the kids' mum to borrow her cargo bike. In conversation with her I realised we could still get Felix to his birthday party on time. So off we walked. Legs are our alternative transport in this neighbourhood.

I still didn't have any way of getting Lulu-Sophia around after that. My Velorbis was loaned out to a friend and it was rigged with a bulldog seat. I called him and he was kind enough to hurry over with the bike so I could transport The Girl, like we've done before:
Lulu and Pippi
There's a lot of bike theft in a mainstream bicycle culture. Such is life. Where cargo bikes are concerned, however, it's not intoxicated fellow citizens needing a bike right then and there who take it. It's more organised. There's big money in cargo bikes. So much so that backyards are infiltrated in the search for them.
Load 1 Me
The funny thing is that whoever nicked it probably doesn't realise that it's the most famous Bullitt in Copenhagen. Not least because I blog about it often. That just make it possible to spot it on the streets.

If you spot it, I'm really looking forward to hearing about it. There are loads of Bullitts on the streets of Copenhagen, but not many red ones. It's also quite unique for a Red Bullitt.

- It's red with a Brooks saddle and handlebars grips.
- The red side panels are quite rare.
- There is a black cover on the cargo box.
- It has a foldable seat in the box.
- On the cross bar there is a seat for the kids.
- Which is on top of a Cycle Chic sticker.

- On the right side there is an FC St. Pauli sticker (as above) and a "Du må gerne køre uden cykelhjelm" sticker.
Load 2 Me 2
On the right side there is a I Bike CPH sticker. Sure, I'm sure all these stickers will get peeled off, but... what makes it rather unique is that the Bullitt logo on the sides - at the bottom - is in a yellowish colour, whereas many Red Bullitts have white lettering. This is quite an important detail in recognising it.

There is also a secret mark underneath the bike that I'll be able to recognise.

Beach Transport
There were no sleeping children in it. Shame, I might have gotten it back if there were.

Football Transport
If anyone here in Copenhagen spots it, or sees it for sale, please let me know. Let's see if - against all my expectations - this social media lark can help me get the bike back. :-) Thanks in advance for any help.

Hvis du bor i KBH/FRB og ser cyklen send gerne en sms til 26259726.

30 March 2011

Classic Copenhagen

Father and child
This is beautiful. Sandra from the Classic Copenhagen blog uploaded this to Flickr today. A father and child holding hands (or fingers) at a red light. On a bicycle, of course.

Cargo mover
And then she posted this one. Cargo Mover. As she writes on her Flickr page, "And no one raises an eyebrow. That's Copenhagen for you."

Indeed, the only people noticing it would be checking to see how the guy tied it onto the bike - for future reference - rather than thinking "wow! how wild!"

08 March 2011

Supporting Libya on a Bicycle

Supporting Libya
We were heading home from the National Museum on our Bullitt, me and the kids, and we happened upon a demonstration on the City Hall Square against Ghaddafi. We were handed pre-revolution Libyan flags. Felix watches the news with us every night so he was in the loop about the demonstration and we discussed what was going on. Lulu-Sophia just liked the colours on the flag.

We hung around for a bit with the couple of hundred demonstrators and listened to a former Danish foreign minister speak before heading home.
Supporting Libya and Libyans

Short John for Short Kids

Cool Kids Short John
Spotted this outside a supermarket. What a cool little short john for kids. Front racks are all the rage in Denmark - everybody is slapping them on their bicycles. Perfect on a kids bike.

10 December 2010

Playing in the Street - Smacking The Culture of Fear on the Nose

What a brilliant - and simple - idea. Playing out. Children playing in the streets. As children did, including yours truly, before the Culture of Fear (and its army of profiteers) clenched its fist around our societies. is the website. This is the film about it.

Transforming the streetspace into playspace.

"When we limit our children to organised activities and formal playspaces we reduce their opportunities for play. Particuarly the kind of free play that develops really important life skills, their physical well-being and their sense of belonging."


The faint of heart and safety nannies alike should refrain from watching this. It features not only rational dialogue and sensible parents but also children playing happily in all manner of 'extremely dangerous' situations. I spotted dozens of children inhaling chalk dust, a great deal of 'irresponsibly unprotected' skateboarding, scootering and bicycle riding, at least one spine-threatening backflip and numerous tubs of water in which the entire population of the street could drown.

I need a lie down.

Roald Als. Cartoonist at Politiken newspaper. "Now you're free to play"

21 July 2010

Beach Sleep Bicycles

Beach Parking 2
After a lovely day at the beach in the 30 degree weather, it was time to head home. The Mother of My Children had all the gear in her two-wheeler Christiania Bike and I had the kids on the Bullitt.

Beach Transport
It was a long, lovely day and both of the kids faded quickly once onto the bike, lulled to sleep by the gorgeous movements of the bicycle.

Usually Felix stays awake and can hold Lulu up with his arm around her, but this time he snoozed. Lulu ended up in a rather funny - and uncomfortable - position. We stopped and I rearranged them.

Beach Transport Rearranged
I used the inflatable kickboard as a pillow and Lulu was happy to lean up against it. Felix could then use a pile of towels as a pillow.

Beach Transport Lulu
Lulu couldn't get back to sleep (good thing, otherwise she'll be up all evening... :-) ) and this shot is one that warms my heart. Cycling home through Copenhagen in the evening light, staring down at my girl - her staring up at me. The beauty of the togetherness that the bicycle gives us all.

03 July 2010

Flea Market Cargo Bikes

Flea Market Felixs Shop
Time for the annual kids flea market in our neighbourhood. Once again, cargo bikes feature prominently in transporting Felix's Stuff To Sell to the square, as well as in using the bikes as part of the stand. Felix ran the show, with some help from us, and decided how the stand should look. He loves it and makes some good money selling his toys.

Here are some shots from the 2009 flea market and here are some from 2008.
Flea Market Bullit
Getting there is half the fun.
Flea Market Bullitt and Christiania Bike
It helps that the Mother of My Children has her own two-wheeler cargo bike - from Christiania Bikes - to assist with the logistics.
Flea Market Bullitt Loaded
On the road heading to the square.
Flea Market Bike Rack
There were, as always, many cargo bikes present. As racks for displaying the goods for sale.
Flea Market Arrival
But also transporting to and fro.

06 May 2010

Copenhagenize Quiz Winner(s)!

Disclaimer: The photo does not depict the winners of the quiz. :-)

Thanks to everyone who took part in the Copenhagenize Quiz yesterday. A thrilling battle for a messenger bag from

The correct answers are as follows:
Which year did Sweden begin bike helmet promotion?

Which year did Sweden pass a helmet law for under 15's?

To be honest, I've discovered I'm crap at hosting quizzes. The first question is good enough, but the second one is a bit unclear. They passed the law in 2004 and it went into effect in 2005.

Should have been clearer. Sorry. I'll be flexible in choosing the winners. And here they are:

Kim - 1988/2005 (even though he changed his mind later in the comments... :-) )
Crispy Kale: 1988/2004 (benefit of the doubt due to my badly-formulated quiz question)
@brumcyclist: 1988/2005

What you three lucky readers need to do is send me an email at copenhagenize [at] gmail [dot] com with WINNER! in the subject field and your full names and addresses. I'll get a messenger bag shipped off to you quicksmart.

For more reading on child helmet laws and their destructive nature, here's a good page to click on to.

22 April 2010

I Fought The Law and the Law Run

My Bike is Dirty
I finally returned home late last night on yet another spooky flight from Prague with only 6 passengers, with departure from an empty apocalyptic airport in the Czech Capital, just like the airport in Brussels. Strange days.

I ended up getting one of the first flights out of Barcelona. Destination Brussels and on to Prague, where I was scheduled to speak at the first National Bicycle Conference in the Ministry of Transport, together with Jan Gehl who unfortunately couldn't make the trip from Copenhagen due to the ash-ish.

Wonderful to be home although my time in Barcelona was amazing. I was speaking at the 3rd Catalan Bicycle Congress in the city of Lleida before the ash attack forced me to take cover in a four star hotel across from the cathedral in Barcelona. Thank Odin for well-stocked mini-bars and a few thousand cafés/restaurants withing walking/cycling distance.

Barcelona stunned me. The city has gone from bicycle-non existent to bicycle metropolis in only 5 short years. It even makes Paris pale in comparison. Bicycles are everywhere, not least the Bicing bike share bicycles, on which I explored the city with friends. Txell from Barcelona Cycle Chic loaned me her card.

I'll get back to Barcelona - because I have to and you have to hear about it - in coming posts.

In the meantime, an amusing anecdote from this morning. Woke up tired but thrilled to see the kids. Presents were handed out accordingly and breakfast consumed. We hopped onto the Bullitt and headed for drop off duties at school/daycare.

There is often a police officer at the roundabout on the corner where the school is located. I've never really figured out why and have assumed that they keep an eye on the crossing guards or the cars stopping to drop off kids.
Two Kids Two Sleds Two Skates
We were a bit early and the crossing guards weren't out yet. We rolled gently around the roundabout, with Lulu-Sophia in the box and Felix straddling the crossbar, like in the above photo, which is how we prefer to ride. There is a seat attached to the crossbar, visible in the top photo, for Felix to sit on if he's tired after football practice or something.

The female police officer spotted us halfway round and I could see ants crawling into her police issue pants. We approached her and she waved us over. The first words out of her mouth had a nasal, hysterical quality.

"That is an incredibly dangerous way to ride!"

"No, it is not. (Gud er det ej, in Danish)", replied the Danish Bicycle Ambassador.

"Yes it is..."

"No. It isn't."
I replied, getting irritated.

So far, there were no legal implications involved. It was only this individual's perception of safety and rationality that differed from mine. Which really shouldn't even be part of a conversation. Keep your personal fears to yourself. Afraid of flying? Fine. Don't fly. But don't tell me that I shouldn't. And don't bloody well stand there selling your fear within earshot of my children.

Anyway, this agitated policewoman was glacing frantically around the Bullitt, looking for something to scold me about.

"And... and... he isn't allowed to ride like that!", she exclaimed, pointing to Felix.

"Of course he is. This bicycle is fitted to accomodate passengers", said I, pointing at the bicycle seat attached to the crossbar.

"He has to be strapped in!"

"No, he doesn't. He's big enough and besides, you can't strap someone onto a bike seat."

At this point I could see she was out fishing, far from dry land.

"How old is he?", she asked accusingly, trying suddenly and unsuccessfully to appear authoritative.

"I'm eight", replied Felix.

"Oh... um... oh... well... um... then he's just barely over the edge...", she stuttered, meaning over the legal age for having to be 'secured' to a bicycle as a passenger, making it sound like we were THIS CLOSE to being guilty.

She looked at Felix and said, "so you'll be riding your own bike next year", now trying to be cheerful.

"I already ride my bike", said the boy indignantly - you don't diss an eight year old Copenhagen kid by suggesting he hasn't learned to ride - and I added, "What are you talking about? This is Denmark. He's been riding on the bike lanes since he was three and a half!"

"Oh... um... well... then you get a high five..." she mumbled to Felix as she fidgited about, trying to get away. She forgot, however, to put up her hand for the high five and Felix didn't raise his. He just looked at her like she was strange. Which she was. She looked like she was about to say something else but then just turned on her heels and walked away, trying desperately to look busy and important.

Little Lulu-Sophia, in the cargo box, asked with that charming questioning tone that two year olds have, "Wha wa dat?"

"It was a casting call for Police Academy 4", I replied, even though the cinematic reference was lost on both of them. And off to school we went.

What a collossal waste of time and energy, even though it only lasted two minutes. I'm quite sick and tired of such fear-mongering based on personal emotions rather than anything else. When it comes from a police officer, who should be balanced and rational, the irritation is magnified. Perhaps because they spend their days in cars they have been rendered useless in the cause of promoting cycling positively.

When I got home I checked up on the traffic laws just to be sure. The Departmental Order of Bicycle Fittings and Equipment, which is a horrible translation of Bekendtgørelse af cyklers indretning og udstyr m.v. 1). Just to see if I was, indeed, a criminal in need of a fine and firm spanking.

Chapter 1 - Fitting
§ 1. A bicycle and trailer or sidecar must be fitted and kept in such a condition so that it can be used without danger or inconvenience. CHECK

§ 2. A bicycle must not be fitted to accommodate more than three persons. Although there can be room for one or two children under eight years - according to § 10 CHECK

Point 2. A bicycle must have a maximum of four wheels. Trailers must have a maximum of two wheels. CHECK

Point 3. The wheels must be equipped with tyres or other elasctic wheel coverings with similar qualities. UH... CHECK

Chapter 2 - Weight and Dimensions
§ 3. A bicycle must not - in either loaded or unloaded condition - have a width wider than 1 m CHECK

Point 2. On two-wheeled bicycles the handlebars must not exceed 70 cm in width. CHECK

Chapter 6 - Carrying of Passengers
§ 10. A bicycle must not carry more persons that it is intended for. Children under eight years may be brought on the bike when specially fitted seating is included. CHECK

Point 2. Specially fitted seating for children must be fitted according to the child's height and weight and the spokes must be covered. CHECK - BUT NOT REALLY APPLICABLE

Point 3. Children carried on a bicycle must be responsibly secured. CHECK - BUT NOT REALLY APPLICABLE , AS HE IS OVER 8

Point 4. Carrying child passengers must not restrict the cyclist from having complete control over the bicycle or from being able to signal. CHECK

Point 5. The cyclist must be at least 15 years old. CHECK - BY 27 YEARS

The Danish traffic laws for bicycles are at once ridiculously detailed in the rules about technical specs like reflectors, lights and size. Interestingly, there are rules about length and width of bicycles but none dicatating height - so bring on your Tall Bikes!

Generally, any fine you recieve on a number of points are completely open to interpretation by the officer. Which makes it easy to go to court if you think the fine was wrongfully issued.

Hans from Larry vs Harry has a friend who was had a fine overturned in court. He rode a long john with his daughter sitting on an upturned milk crate. She was secured by a rope. The officer was of the hysterical variety and a fine was issued along with a lecture. The judge, however, was more rational and the fine was overturned.

This entire episode was perhaps a notch more irritating as I have just returned from that most amazing cycle city Barcelona, where citizens ride freely and creatively through the streets, unhindered by obsessive and unecessary Nordic lawmaking.
Barcelona Doubling

15 March 2010

The Joy of Bicycles in Mexico City

Reforma Sunday Angel
After my recent visit to México City I am left with a myriad of impressions from all the different events. I'll get to blogging about them but sitting here wondering where to start there is one thing that keeps elbowing itself to the forefront of my mind.

Joy. The joy of cycling.

Each Sunday, the massive Reforma boulevard in the heart of the city is closed off to cars until 14:00. The citizens of the city take to Reforma to... go for a bike ride.

I've been on bike rides in many cities over the past couple of years but for some reason the experience in Mexico City last week was simplified and yet poignant. When riding in the very inspiring Critical Mass in Budapest you are actutely aware that there is a purpose overshadowing the simple art of going for a bike ride. There is politics and societal change on a big ol' soapbox. Which is great, sure, but in Mexico City it was just... a bike ride.

Thousands of people enjoying the simple joy of cycling. Not out to prove anything, not intent on being seen and keen to show off their 'gear' or what have you. Just families, friends, couples riding up and down the boulevard.

I can't actually remember experiencing this sensation before on my copenhagenize travels. Perhaps the bike ride in La Rochelle, France comes close, but it is still far off the mark.

Reforma Sunday Smile
This smile from one of four young friends on funky bicycles says it all. Summed up right there.

Reforma Sunday Family Reforma Sunday Crowd_1
Reforma Sunday Father Daughte Reforma Sunday Family Crowd
The number of families, large and small, was amazing. So many kids, too. Reforma has a the smoothest, newest asphalt surface so it was wonderful to ride on.

The idea stems from Bogotá, where these closed off streets have been happening for a few years. It's a brilliant idea and a great step on the way to reestablishing the bicycle on the urban landscape. I have heard, however, that the police in Bogotá are now confiscating bicycles from people who don't wear a helmet. [No reports of car confiscations for automotive traffic violations]. So thanks, Bogotá, for the previous inspiration. Hope you enjoyed your stay in the urban cycling spotlight. Shame you have to go.

Reforma Sunday Piggyback Reforma Sunday Father and Daughter 2
Here's my friend Peter handing out a flyer for the Dreams on Wheels exhibition to a father and daughter. And, on the right, a dad on a Kickbike giving his daughter a push.

The street is closed to traffic but there are a couple of massive roundabouts where we had to stop for cross traffic. I'm guessing we had a stretch of about 4 km to ride on, not including the traffic calmed old town up near Zocalo. Eight lanes of take-it-easy and enjoy-the-ride goodness in the splendid Mexican sun. Far from any destructive and virtually pornographic obsession with safety.

Reforma Sunday Pink Trike Reforma Sunday Trike
I loved seeing the great numbers of kids on trikes or bikes with training wheels out with their mums and dads.
Reforma Sunday Chopper Heaven
Bicycle-wise, there was the wildest collection of bikes to be seen. Old cruisers, chunky mountain bikes, Chinese workhorse bikes, you name it. And, like above, an astonishing number of retro-chopper bikes, like right out of my childhood. Unbelievable.

Reforma Sunday I Bike CPH
And the ever-present I Bike CPH t-shirt.
Reforma Sunday Dog
And dogs in baskets.
Reforma Sunday Standing Room
And the occasional new bike from Mexico City's recently launched Ecobici bike share programme.

Ah. The simple joy of going for a bike ride.

15 February 2010

Daycare Bicycles

Daycare Bicycles
The vast majority of parents to children at our daycare drop off/pick up their kids on bicycles. Last Friday the children dressed up in costumes to celebrate Fastelavn, the millenia-old Nordic pagan version of the carnival celebrating the approaching spring.

The parents were invited to hang out and have a cup of coffee and a fastelavn pastry, which is why there is congestion in the bicycle parking out front. Normally, the drop off / pick up times are scattered all over the morning / afternoon depending on each family's routine so it was cool to see the armada of bicycles all at once. This is just one angle. I was in a hurry. The bicycles continue around the corner and into the beyond.

It's different at schools where the bell rings daily at 08:00 so there is an intense flow of bicycles approaching my son's school in the 10-15 minutes up to the bell. Get there early to get a good bike parking spot.

19 January 2010

The Lakes, Ice and Reclaimed Spaces

The Lakes en hiver
'The Lakes' in Copenhagen are frozen and Copenhageners are enjoying the ice in great numbers. The last time the ice was thick enough that the City allowed people onto it was in 1996 - bloody global warming - so at all times of the day there are people out on the ice. Especially on the weekends there are wonderful crowds of people skating, walking, cycling, sledding out on the suddenly liberated real estate.

Or just people taking a shortcut from one side to the other.

The Lakes used to be a river valley outside of the citys walls. In 1523 it was decided to exploit them and dam them to create an outer line of defence in case of attack by land. They gradually morphed into their current form through the centuries and are now an integral part of city life with pathways along all the banks.

The thing that hits me when The Lakes are frozen over is how much real estate is suddenly available to the citizens. I have no idea how many square metres we're talking about, but you really get the sense that the city has suddenly grown. Standing on the ice in the middle of one of the lakes you experience views that are otherwise unaccessible.

The inner and outer harbour and the beaches surrounding the city are far more accessible to the citizens, be it swimming, sailing, canal boats or private motor boats or sailboats. The Lakes, on the other hand, are more of an aesthetic feature. You rarely use the water. On one lake there are pedal boats for rent, but that's about it.
Bicycle Ice and Texting
So it's understandable that Copenhageners are loving the chance to use the ice. Even if it's just for sending text messages while cycling.

Run Fun3 Run Fun2
Or running along and then sliding. Just for the pure fun of it.

Given the strong identity of The Lakes on the urban landscape of the city, it is amazing to think that they were very well close to being paved over, at least in part. In 1958, City Plan West was proposed. It basically involved building a motorway - The Lake Ring or Søringen - along the stretch, narrowing The Lakes by 30 metres.

Furthermore, the massive motorway would have featured a hub in the Vesterbro neighbourhood. In fact, the plan called for levelling much of Vesterbro - a working class neighbourhood - and replacing it with a blade runnerish modern neighbourhood with skyscrapers, inspired by London City.

The police station on Halmtorvet is actually the first building to be erected according to the plan. That's how far the City Plan West actually got. Which is kind of scary, really. Actually, the plan was finally killed off for good in 1973 and thank Odin for that.
Bike Icle Bike Ice
The Lakes, while an attractive pearl around the neck of the inner city, still dont' really live up to their potential. There is still too much traffic along the one side, with too many large trucks taking a short cut through the city.

Late last year a Danish architecture firm, Christensen & Co. launched a bold proposal to give the area along The Lakes more life.

It involves burying the busy roads and building underground parking in order to liberate the sunny side of The Lakes and create parkland and pathways, among other things.

They have a blog about the project, in Danish but with loads of illustrations.

Until all of these brilliant, visionary ideas are realised, I'm going skating:
Two Kids Two Sleds Two Skates
Two kids [Felix loves standing up, straddling the crossbar], two sleds [one on the back rack, one in the cargo box with Lulu-Sophia on it], two skates for my feet and one Wifealiciousness on her own bike.