Showing posts with label bike ride. Show all posts
Showing posts with label bike ride. Show all posts

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.

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.

01 May 2012

Extreme Sport in L.A.! Not.

Los Angeles, California.

Addendum: Check this ride out from South Bend:,0,2181987.story

If you look closely at the above Citizen Cyclist in Los Angeles it is clear that this person is participating in an athletic event which is an extreme test of her physical and mental limits and it carries with it the potential for death, serious injury and property loss.

I mean, it's bloody obvious, isn't?

Turns out that Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition is hosting a little bike ride today. Which is cosy. And nice. Here's the route:
  • Pomona 2ns St
  • Left on White
  • Left on 1st
  • Right on E st
  • Take a Break ( perhaps 7-11) COFFEE BREAK! COOL!
  • Right on Bonita
  • Right on Yale
  • Take a Break (Rhino Records) RECORD SHOP STOP! COOL!
  • Left on 1st
  • Right on College
  • Right on San Jose
  • Left on San Antonio
  • Right on San Bernardino
  • Left on Gibbs
  • Left on McKinley
  • Right on Palamares
  • Right on 1st
  • Left on Main
Here's a pdf of the route, too.

The ride should be less then 10 miles and we will go at a moderate pace. Please bring lights just in case it gets dark before we get back.  We are meeting at 6pm and riding out at 6:20 and should be about an hour ride or less.

16 km. Group ride. For fun. Stopping at a 7-11 for a Slurpee. Stopping at a record shop. Groovy.

So here's the waiver form you have to sign to take part in this little Citizen Cyclist bike-o-rama:

"I acknowledge that this athletic event is an extreme test of a person's physical and mental limits and carries with it the potential for death, serious injury and property loss. 

The risks include, but are not limited to, those caused by terrain, facilities, temperature, weather, condition of athletes, equipment, vehicular traffic, actions of other people including, but not limited to, participants, volunteers, spectators, coaches, event officials, and event monitors, and/or producers of the event, and lack of hydration. These risks are not only inherent to athletics, but are also present for volunteers. I hereby assume all of the risks of participating &/or volunteering in this event. I realize that liability may arise from negligence or carelessness on the part of the persons or entities being released, from dangerous or defective equipment or property owned, maintained or controlled by them or because of their possible liability without fault. I certify that I am physically fit, have sufficiently trained for participation in the event and have not been advised otherwise by a qualified medical person."

Readers may recall our Go Green, Go Dutch, Go Die! article from awhile back, about a similar event in Chicago.

What a ridiculous message to be sending to people who wish to participate in a cosy bike ride. This is a massive marketing/advocacy FAIL.

Spare me all the comments about "That's just the way our legal system is the US"... Because you know what? If advocacy groups are serious about reestablishing the bicycle on our urban landscapes, they will engage an attorney to reword documents like these.

Look at how many people get off the hook in the US legal system for crimes. So there are loopholes the size of North Dakota. It must be possible to rewrite these documents in a realistic language that presents an all important positive image of urban cycling, separating it from sport/recreation and that still covers all the liability issues that need to be addressed in the American system.

It can't be hard. But why isn't it being done?

And why don't motorists have to sign such waivers when they purchase a car? Or pedestrians when they purchase shoes?

It boggles the mind.

24 April 2012

Launching Copenhagens Bicycle Superhighways

Last week, on April 14, 2012, the first stretch of Copenhagen's new and long-awaited Bicycle Superhighway network opened and Copenhagenize was there for the bike ride.

It was back in 2009 that we first wrote about the plans for these bicycle superhighways. The boys at Trunk films made this cool film that includes the Superhigways project. The project has taken time to develop but now the routes are getting ready for use. In addition, when we first wrote about it, there were plans for 13 routes. That has now been increased to 26. 300 km of dedicated superhighway routes when the project is complete.

The 17.5 km Albertslund Route is the first one to launch. The route runs through a number of municipalities, including Copenhagen, Frederiksberg, Albertslund and Rødovre.

They are being called Bicycle Superhighways, but it's worth noting that the routes follow existing, separated bicycle infrastructure. There will be some improvements on certain sections and various facilities will be added.

It has proved to be a logistical challenge getting so many municipalities to work together. Copenhagen is comprised of 550,000 people but the greater metro area is comprised of many different municipalities. Planning routes through them has taken longer than expected, but now the project is finally underway. I shudder at the thought of how many meetings were required and how many litres of crappy, municipal coffee were consumed. But I respect that sacrifice for the cause.

Bikes Allowed Copenhagen Train With Bicycles
Me and the kids headed out to Albertslund on the local train, using the large bicycle compartments on board. A lot of other people had the same idea.It was a bit crowded, but we all helped make the bicycles fit.

Everyone gathered at the meeting point next to Albertslund Station and after the usual speeches by the usual type of politicians everyone started rolling towards Copenhagen.
Cykelsupersti Inauguration-001 Cykelsupersti Inauguration-006
This area of Greater Copenhagen is a product of the late 60s and early 70s. Back then planning for bicycles was integrated into the design of the areas. As a result, cycle tracks avoid main streets and there are many overpasses over the cycle infrastructure for cars, allowing safe routes to everywhere in the area.

The superhighways follow these existing routes.
Cykelsupersti Inauguration-009
Like this route through a housing development. Lovely, wide streets for bicycles.
Cykelsupersti Inauguration-004 Cykelsupersti Inauguration-010
Pumps have been placed at intervals along the route, although there are also bike shops in the neighbourhoods along the way.
Cykelsupersti Inauguration-014 Cykelsupersti Inauguration-013
We stopped at Damhus Lake for the official opening. The entire route was marked with an orange stripe along the side of the cycle tracks and the last bit was painted in front of a media scrum.
Cykelsupersti Inauguration-012 Cykelsupersti Inauguration-011
Cycle track (at left) and tunnel under a motorway (at right).

There are some interesting projects related to the new routes being planned. Sensors under the cycle tracks that can register if there is a group of cyclists riding together. If so, the lights at the intersections will turn green in order to let them continue freely towards the city.
Cykelsupersti Inauguration-015 Cykelsupersti Inauguration Cykelsupersti Inauguration-007
Railings and footrests - first implemented in Copenhagen - are in place at intersections (at left). The Bicycle Office's cargo bikes were in action carrying juice and oranges for the participants (centre), but many people had their own refreshments - like the all-important beer (at right).
Cykelsupersti Inauguration-008 Cykelsupersti Inauguration-006
Signage has been updated to reflect the new routes. The Albertslund route is called C99. The C stands for the Danish name for the superhighways - Cykelsuperstier.

It all looks lovely and rosy but there have been challenges. The Danish Road Directorate, like many planners/engineers around the world, were tough to dance with in the preparations. It was a nightmare to get them to grant permission to add the new signage markings to the road signs (above left). The idea of painting an orange strip along the entire route was also a bone of contention. They refused to budge and, as a result, the orange stripe is painted with regular water-based paint that will be gone in a few weeks. (top right)

So much for the Road Directorate assisting in new projects with an open-minded, progressive attitude. They are stuck in their antiquated mindset and stand in the way of innovation and progress. Traffic is merely a rubik's cube that has to be solved and not much more.

If we are to further expand our bicycle culture and infrastructure we need visionaries on board, not pencil pushers.

Cykelsupersti Inauguration-018 Cykelsupersti Inauguration-003
The bike ride ended at Copenhagen's City Hall, in the gardens. The traditional City Hall Crepes (Rådhuspandekager) were served. Although when we arrived at the head of the pelaton, there were a large group of cyclists already there. A group that had sped off ahead instead of riding with the rest of us. They were all over 55 - and resembed typical members of the Danish Cyclists Federation - and they had consumed most of the crepes 45 minutes before everyone else arrived.

Which was rather regrettable for those of us with children - we'd been hyping up the crepes with chocolate and cream the whole way into town.
Cykelsupersti Inauguration-016 Cykelsupersti Inauguration-019
My Lulu got chilly after about 15 km so we just wrapped her up in a blanket on the bike. She soon forgot all about the chill when we got to City Hall and enjoyed playing around in a velomobile.

All in all it was a cosy event to celebrate the first bicycle superhighway. The Bicycle Office and Cykelsupersti Secretariat did a great job organising it.

Here's looking forward the next 25 routes!

More information in English on the Cykelsupersti website.

11 April 2012

Multi-faith Bicycles in Antwerp

Antwerp Bicycle Ride to Mosques
What IS it about Antwerp? Like I've been blogging about, it's quite a suprising city on so many levels. Here's another example.

While many "bicycle enthusiasts" get all neo-sanctimonious about bicycles, let's see how "religious enthusiasts" use the bicycle. Oh, wait... they use it just like any other Citizen Cyclist. 

The Muslim community in the Borgerhout neighourhood of Antwerp arranged a bike ride. Participants paid €2 to take part and the proceeds went to a school project in Kebdana, a village in Northern Morocco. They also hoped to promote better bicycle facilities and parking, as well as bringing all the different people in the community together.

The Fietsersbond donated two bikes to Kebdana and two others to teach new arrivals from Morocco how to cycle.

Antwerp Bicycle Ride to Mosques
My friend Stef, from the Belgian NGO took these shots a few weeks back.
Antwerp Bicycle Ride to Mosques

Antwerp Bicycle Ride to Mosques
The ride went past six different mosques and it was promoted by the imams - top photo. Each mosque got a banner that reads: "Borgerhout Cycles! And this mosque is in on it, too".

Antwerp Bicycle Ride to Mosques Antwerp Bicycle Ride to Mosques Antwerp Bicycle Ride to Mosques
A festive day by all accounts. A repeat next year is on the cards.

Heres a film about ride from the website
Antwerp Bicycle Ride to Mosques
Of course, a bicycle repair cargo bike was on hand, too.

Okay. Cool, right? Wait til you see what goes on in another neighbourhood in Antwerp.
Antwerp Religious Transport_7
Copenhagenize Consulting were talking to an architect in Israel last year. He lives in a town with a lot of Hasidics and was wondering how to get them onto bicycles. They lacked role models, basically. I figured that getting photos of like-minded Hasidics in other countries would help. In the neighbourhoods in Montreal with a lot of Hasidics, I've heard that many of them ride bicycles but I've never caught a photo of it.

I've more than made up for it. Last Saturday I rode through this Antwerp neighbourhood and it was a buzz with bicycles. I love the above shot - two citizens from different backgrounds have a chat on their bicycles.

Antwerp Religious Transport_6
Everywhere I looked, there were Hasidics moving about their 'hood on bicycles.
Antwerp Religious Transport Antwerp Religious Transport_4
Antwerp Religious Transport_1 Antwerp Religious Transport_2

Go Antwerp! Fantastic.

The Hasidic community in Brooklyn have made themselves famous by their opposition to bike lanes through their neighbourhood. But I'm curious if any New York readers could tell us if they ride bicycles?

So while were on the 'Bicycles Bring the World Together After Religion Screwed It Up' topic, let's get some of the others into the post:
priest on a bike Monks cycling in Luang Prabang
Catholic priest in the Netherlands, via Daniel Rink on Flickr. Buddhist monks in Laos, via Exodus Travels on Flickr.
Nuns on bicycle... NYC-Nun
Nuns on bicycles in Poland, via Klearchos Kapoutsis on Flickr and a nun in New York City, via Warzerjaff on Flickr.

Oh, and here's a humanist, for good measure:
The Rugger Bike - By Gant