Showing posts with label copenhagen. Show all posts
Showing posts with label copenhagen. Show all posts

22 March 2014

Copenhagen Free Bike Rental

14 Mars 2014

I'm Kieran, one of the 4 co-founders of Copenhagen Free Bike Rental. I've also been interning here at Copenhagenize Design Company for the past few months. At Copenhagen Free Bike Rental, our goal is to ‘salvage abandoned and broken bicycles and offer them to visitors so they can explore Copenhagen the way it should be done: on two wheels’.

It is partly an attempt to fill the gap left by the closure of the Copenhagen City Bike system, and its unsatisfactory 'GoBike' replacement and partly a response to the fact that in Copenhagen there are more bikes than people – and thus many unused bikes.

There were 4 of us involved involved in founding the project, and we are all students on the very exciting 4 Cities course. This means we've been travelling around Europe experiencing how cities work (or don't). And we've got a very good flavour of cycling conditions: not because we're particularly mad about cycling itself, but because we like to explore these new cities we keep landing in and a bike is the best way to do it.

Brussels, the first stop on our course, is really not so good, but Vienna is (slowly, and not without mistakes) getting there. So we were very excited about coming to Copenhagen. We felt like it was the next step of what seemed to be a progression towards some sort of cycling utopia. Which was justified in many ways, because Copenhagen is of course a fantastic city to cycle round. The one problem was that in Vienna, when we had visitors, they could register for a citybike for €1 and pay nothing else, and have a whole network of bikes across the city. But in Copenhagen, there's nothing like that any more.

So we found that at the beginning of our academic year, every time someone had a visitor the same question would be asked - 'does anyone have a spare bike?' and the same people, usually Copenhageners, would have a spare one. But often it would come with a caveat that it was broken. Amongst our little group we would have sessions to fix the bikes so they could be borrowed. We saw Copenhagen Free Bike Rental as a way to formalise this network a little, and open it up to more people.

The way it works is very simple: you fill in the form on our website, and we'll get back to you if we've got a bike available (sadly we always end up with more requests than we have bikes.) You come to where our bikes are parked, near the City Hall, every day at 6pm, and we give you a bike. You can have it for between 1 and 3 days, and then you bring it back at the same time, same place. Simple. There is absolutely no obligation to donate, but often people do, and this money helps us pay for new parts (the ones we can't find in the street) and locks.

We were delighted that our little scheme has been extremely successful. People love us. They are a bit surprised often as to why we're doing it, and sometimes a little sceptical about whether it is actually free, but once they find out a little more they are very happy. We're providing a little public service. Access to the city is a right, we believe, not a bonus. Copenhagen isn't the cheapest city, but it's got a lot to offer, both in terms of amusement, and also as a shining example of how all cities could be if they focussed more on people than on cars. And obviously, by bike, you can see more of it. We think that's important.

We ourselves are all students, and we started off telling students about this, via a few posts on some student Facebook groups. That's literally all the promotion we've done. So at first, we mainly got students who wanted bikes for visitors, like us. But now, through the myriad miracles of modern communication, word has spread and we get a bit more of a range of people, often tourists visiting and wanting to get around for a few days.

One of the best aspects of Copenhagen Free Bike Rental is how it works on trust. Trusting strangers is very important in society, especially in a cities, where we pass hundreds if not thousands each day. People who are more trusting are happier. We've rented out bikes over 200 times since October, and every single time they have been returned to us. Aside from everything else, we feel this in itself is some sort of small but not insignificant human triumph.

One of the questions we always get asked is where we get the bikes: the answer is a combination of donations and of assembling scraps. To start with the latter: one of the first things you notice about Copenhagen is the discarded half-carcasses of long-forgotten bikes. Usually it's just a frame here or a lonesome wheel there, which on their own aren't going to do much except get eventually rusty then swept away. This is the case in cities all over the world but in Copenhagen, where there are more bikes than people, the number of abandoned bikes is extremely high, and the city collects and destroys as many as 15,000 per year. So we collect these scraps, take them to our workshop and put them together into actually functioning bikes (We never take bikes unless they are clearly long-abandoned, unlocked and thoroughly incomplete). We fix them up ourselves, and we also run a number of workshops where people can come and learn a bit about basic bike maintenance, so they don't end up throwing their bike away if it gets a minor fault!

Not all of Copenhagen's unused bikes are on the streets of course, and we actually get a very large number of our bikes from very kind people who have donated them: a lot of students leave Copenhagen without selling their bike and so instead have very kindly have given them to us. We're very DIY and small-scale (we often don't have enough bikes for the demand, sadly), and of course in no way a replacement for a city-wide bikeshare system, but in both providing bikes for free, and getting people to think more about their relationship with bicycles, the city and waste, we think we're doing a little bit of good for Copenhagen.

We've had interest in our scheme and questions from people from all around the world, and we'd encourage people in other cities to try something similar. Even in cities with fewer abandoned bikes, there will always be people with spares - so give it a go. Feel free to give us an email at if you have any questions, and likewise if there is anyone in Copenhagen with an old bike that they don’t need any more, whatever the condition, you are also very welcome to donate it to us.

Copenhagenize Design Company is grateful to Kieran for all his brilliant work and passion during his internship and we are really proud of the amazing project of free bike rental which he set up during his stay in Copenhagen. Quite often, students may not stay long but the ideas they contribute with are fresh and fantastic.

03 March 2014

Copenhagenize Design Co. Moves Office by Cargo Bike

Last week, Copenhagenize Design Company moved from our old office in Frederiksberg, down to the harbour area of Copenhagen. Our new home is Papirøen, or 'Paper Island,' an artificial island just across the water from The Royal Danish Playhouse and Nyhavn. It was first used by the army as somewhere to put their weaponry, and then from 1958 the island was for many decades used for the storage of huge rolls of paper imported from Sweden, ready for use by Danish newspapers. Hence the name. (Interestingly almost the whole of Christianshavn was for a long time entirely used by the military, until the 'Copenhagenization' of the Danish military by the British in 1807 meant that suddenly the navy didn't need so much space. So you could say we are re-Copenhagenizing Christianshavn)

Until the long awaited completion of the Inderhavnsbroen cycle and pedestrian bridge, this side of the harbour is a little isolated from the rest of the city, despite its central location.  This has meant that in recent years, the site has become what the Copenhagen Post called 'an industrial no-man’s-land,' home to the city's harbour cruise company, but not much else.

However, things are starting to change. Last year, the old industrial warehouses were converted into a set of offices housing our new neighbours, including Calvin Klein, Tommy Hilfiger, COBE Architects and Purpose Makers (the company of Ole, of 'Cycling Without Age' fame) . It is also temporarily home to the Experimentarium, a science and technology centre and one of Copenhagen's biggest attractions, which will be on the island for 2 years whilst its permanent home in Hellerup is modernised. This gives the space around our new offices a healthy mix of creative workers and exuberant school kids.

We were all very excited about moving. But we had to get there first. How to do so was a no-brainer. As our work on the Cycle Logistics project has shown, the cargo bike is a versatile tool for goods transportation: 51% of deliveries currently made by motorized transport could be made by bike. Aside from anything else, cargo bike was the most logical and convenient way for us to move. 

Copenhagenize Moves Office from Copenhagenize on Vimeo.

We put together this short film of the trip - what was interesting to note along the way was that although we were in a convoy of three heavily-laden cargo bikes, nobody en route batted an eyelid. Cargo Bikes are normal on Copenhagen's streets:  25% of families with two or more children have one.

Apart from having to balance holding a camera with keeping my eyes on the road, it was otherwise a sedate, unremarkable glide through Copenhagen, just like every day. Loading up the cargo bikes took just a few minutes, and the trip itself was an easy ride of just a little over 6km. It was a lovely sunny day too, which helped, but even aside from that little stroke of luck, there's no way hiring a van, negotiating it through the city-centre traffic, and having to return it at the end of the day would have been as simple, easy and enjoyable as moving office via cargo bike.

Below are some photos of our new place and the island itself – we're looking forward to the summer and spending some quality time out in the sun overlooking the water.

03 March 2013

Dublin is Planning for the Future

Dublin Cycle Track_1
We've got a thing for Dublin at Copenhagenize Design Co.. Not least because we're involved - together with local partners - in three bicycle infrastructure projects in the city. Now we're loving them just a little bit more.

Dublin has been doing traffic counts of people crossing the Cordon Canal towards the city's centre since the 1980s. The counts are done between 07:00 and 10:00 am and the Dublin Transportation Office has been collecting the data since 1997, releasing results on a yearly basis.

The whole starting point of this analysis was to predict the evolution of modal share and to then compare it to the expected population growth. Thus, I wanted to correlate the population numbers evolution with the growth or reduction of three different types of transportation: walking, cycling and by car.  First of all, this is the expected population growth for 2020 in Dublin.

Dublin's expected population growth 2002 - 2020.

In the upper left-hand corner we can see that the expected population in 2020 is almost 180,000 inhabitants, whereas the population for 2002 was close to 100,000. Thus, two particularly important dates are withdrawn from these data: 2002 and 2020.

If curiosity killed the cat, then data drove the analyst happy. In other words, I needed more facts and had questions that needed answers. For instance, how will the modal share evolve considering the population is expected to grow as much as 80,000 in 18 years? Is increasing the number of roads towards cities' centres a future-oriented solution?

Dublin is extremely proficient in collecting data that helped with the answers. Perhaps, in some other cities in the world, if the population is expected to grow, more car infrastructure will be priortised. In this case, however, the city opted for the implementation of a great bicycle share programme - one of the most successful in the world - and a countless number of other pro-cycling policies.

But let's keep calm and geek on.

Considering those two important dates – 2002 and 2020 - I've assembled the numbers for walking, cycling and cars entering the city centre based on the existing data. Then, I created a trend line (also known as linear regression) to help understand where are the numbers going after 2012 (the last public data).

Dublin's modal share (sources 1 & 2) and trend lines.

The thick solid lines represent existing data and the dashed ones represent the trending lines. As you can see, the number of cars entering the city centre has been decreasing in the past few years. Thus, the dashed lined represents the future trend – increasingly lower throughout the years. However, the same is happening for pedestrians which could be read as a warning for future policies.

Cycling however, has been booming: according to the Report on trends in mode share of people crossing the Canal Cordon 2006-2011 the number of cyclists entering Dublin City increased 42% between 2006 and 2011. This report goes on to present this number as a result of the implementation of several cycling policies and the success of the city's own bike share scheme, Dublinbike. Indeed, a successful and worthy case study.

Generally, one of the most common actions taken to tackle population growth in city centres is a hopelessly old-fashioned one. Building more roads for cars, increasing the number of parking spaces and enhancing pro-car policies. The new city has no money for that, or the space or the time. Dublin is showing everyone how to be a future-oriented city by doing it as you read this – and even long before this article was written.

And then we have current Copenhagen case. The City of Copenhagen is also expecting a rapid population growth. 100,000 extra inhabitants by 2025. How has Copenhagen been planning to deal with this population growth? Cancelling a proposed congestion charge - despite hard evidence from many cities that it would work - and planning a monstrous and expensive new tunnel for motorised vehicles that will increase the number of cars entering the city centre. Furthermore, they continue to ignore the 6-8 lane expressway - Hans Christian Andersen's Boulevard - that slices through the city centre and the current Lord Mayor, Frank Jensen, is putting back in car parking spots after many years of removing them. And so on.

It's more than two steps back, considering this is the city of cyclists. But like we've said before... welcome to the New Copenhagen.

Which is why looking at a modern, visionary city like Dublin is refreshing and optimistic. Not to mention inspirational.

I've not yet had the chance to visit the city of Dublin but I love it already. As a data geek but also as a bicycle user and an urbanite.

12 December 2012

The Tailwind

All we want is a tailwind on our cycle tracks.

Advert for a bike shop in Copenhagen.

30 November 2012

TED x - Bicycle Culture by Design - in Zurich

I gave this TEDx talk in Zurich back in October. It was released online today. Bicycle Culture by Design - the abridged version.

If anyone is interested, here's my script. Some deviations, but mostly the same as the talk. Hopefully, watching the TEDx talk is better than reading the words, but hey.

I'm an optimist.
But I want to put the next 15 minutes into perspective and I need your help.
I'd like everyone to clap at the same tempo as me. Not loud, just softly. Like this.
Thank you. For every time we clapped our hands someone, somewhere in the world was injured in a car accident. 96 beats per minute.

50 million people a year are injured in car accidents. 1.2 million are killed by cars. In both the EU and the US 35.000 people are killed every year by cars. Do you know what that is? That's a 9/11 – collapsing World Trade Center towers every single month. And every month for the last 60 years - at least.

I can't possibly be alone in thinking that this is insane. There is no war on this terror. We have accepted a status quo in our socities that is quite unacceptable.

I wanted to find out why we had reached this point and, more importantly, what we could do to make things better and to think differetly.

Let's look at the streets themselves. What are streets? For 7000 years since cities first were formed streets had a very singular definition. People gathered in them, transported themselves, sold their goods, children played in them. Streets were an extension of our homes and our living rooms. They were public domain. Probably the most democratic spaces in the history of homo sapiens.

Now many people seem have a perception that streets are the sole and exclusive domain of automobiles. I discovered that two things happened to cause this massive paradigm shift in our perception of streets.

Firstly, in the rapid urbanisation of the late 1800s and early 1900s engineers were the urban heroes of the day, tackling all the urban challenges thrown at them and doing it well.

However, when the automobile appeared, people started dying and nobody had a solution to the accelerating traffic safety problem. Almost in desperation, engineers were handed the job, in collaboration with the automobile industry who saw an opportunity. Almost overnight, streets become regarded as public utilities, like water supply, electricity or sewers. Puzzles to be solved with mathematical equations.

Secondly, the automobile industry had a problem. They had products to sell but people hated them. They employed effective tactics like marketing and ridicule to change peoples perception. The automobile industry started campaigns against what they called jaywalking. In the American slang back then, a jay was a mocking term for a country bumpkin, who didn't know the ways of the big city.

People were ridiculed for trying to cross the street in the middle of the block – a 7000 year old habit. Boy scouts were enlisted to hand out flyers chastising these people. People who were against cars were labelled as old-fashioned and standing in the way of progress. This was all effective. Nobody likes to be called old fashioned or ridiculed.

Pedestrians were herded into these crosswalk things. Children were shephereded into newly invented things called playgrounds and finally, these irritating obstacles were removed. The stage was set for a paradigm shift. Probably the greatest paradigm shift in the history of our cities.

And here we are. Welcome to the tail-end of 100 years of traffic engineering where science was applied to social planning and human streets – for the first time in 7000 years. No one has figured out how to make traffic flow better or ease congestion. Not to mention stop alot of people from getting killed and injured.

Streets now carve up cities like angry rivers slicing through sand. What's more is that traffic engineering is largely unchanged since about 1935. Sure, there is more technology for gathering data and analysing it, but the mindset hasn't evolved.

Imagine if education, health care, parenting, architecture, design... you name it... was stuck in 1935? What a world. And yet we continue to fund it in its current form.

We're living in cities controlled by bizarre, often outdated mathematical models and equations, impact assessments, cost-benefit analyses. Even lovely cities like Copenhagen or Zurich.

It sometimes feels like we're all characters in The Matrix.

Cities around the world can't even put in a separated cycle track, widen a sidewalk, implement traffic calming measures or lower speed limits – because it doesn't fit into some computer-generated mathematical model down in the engineering department.

Is there a way out of The Matrix? Urbanization is on the rise again, now more than ever. We need new solutions in a hurry.

Should we really be engineering something as organic and human as urban streets? It's the people in a city who define it. Shouldn't we be studying their behaviour, their patterns and movements, desires and needs, in order to understand how to develop our cities? It worked for 7000 years. There's a pretty good chance it'll work again. There are two things we need.

One is something we all share. Basic human observation. In 1958, the French philosopher Gaston Bachelard described the idea of Desire Lines. For example, this is a street corner in Copenhagen. On the busiest bicycle street in the world. The city discovered that several hundred cyclists were riding over the sidewalk to get to a parallel street. Instead of handing out tickets all day long, they observed. Accepting that there was probably a very good reason for this.

A temporary cycle track was put in and, later, it was made permanent. The sub-conscious desire lines of the citizen cyclists were respected.

This is the view from my hotel room in Halifax, Canada earlier this year. Fresh snow on the Commons, the public park in the heart of the city. The green lines are the original pathways, perfect for 19th century promenading. But the red lines are where the people actually walked and biked in the morning rush hour. Perfectly carved desire lines through the snow. A modern city watches... and redesigns accordingly.

We love desire lines at my company. We filmed an intersection in Copenhagen for 12 hours one random day in April. Mapping the desire lines of every single one of the 16,558 cyclists who passed by. And that's not even a busy intersection for bicycles in Copenhagen. I can tell you that no mathematical model can replace 12 hours of intense human observation when you're searching for new, modern, urban solutions.

In my work developing bicycle infrastructure and culture in cities around the world I am constantly amazed at how few planners and engineers have actually tried to ride a bicycle in their city – or even spent any serious time as a pedestrian. It's all maps, data, traffic flow. Come on... Designing bicycle infrastructure without having tried to ride a bike is simply not possible.

Here's the second key to modernising our cities. Something we all know well.


We all have a relationship with design. We're all designers. And a designer thinks differently. They place themselves in the mind of the user of the product. That human being at the other end of the design process. They think about functionality, useability and user-friendliness. They work with concepts like the Four Types of Pleasure. Physio, Socio, Pyscho and Ideo-pleasure. Designing a city for pedestrians or cyclists – or any aspect of a liveable city – should be like designing for any other product on the market.

It should be like designing a chair. When you all came in here you sat down. It was esay and intuitive. Imagine if riding a bicycle or walking in a city was that easy and intuitive.

Design is also a powerful tool if applied correctly.

It can be seductive, too. Making us forget price and perfomance. 80% of us don't actually need that smartphone in our pockets. But my goodness we saved up and hurried down to buy it. Seduced by design.

Safe, well-designed bicycle infrastructure seduces people to use it. Make the bicycle the quickest and easiest way from A to B and people will ride. They did for decades – every city in the world was a bicycle city back in the day.

Good design also improves human behaviour. I hear the same thing all over the world. Those damn cyclists. Breaking the law, running red lights, riding on sidewalks. Shaking the very foundations of our society with their behaviour. Well, I have one, simple response to that. Those cyclists haven't been given adequate infrastructure – or worse... none at all. Not to mention the fact that they are forced to abide by car-centric laws.

But in the morning rush hour in Copenhagen when a few hundred thousand people ride a bicycle to work, it's different. A hundred or so cyclists at each traffic light cycle.... wait for the light to change. Because they're on well-designed infrastructure. Citizens don't want to break laws but they will react positively or negatively to urban design.

They will also micro-design for us, if given the chance. With their desire lines and other ways of expressing their needs.

The foundations of the good cities of the future must be built on human observation – anthropology and sociology – and design.

As well as listening carefully to the thoughts and observations of the leading minds in the field.

Like Lulu.Sophia. She's five but I've been recording her urban observations for a year and a half. It started when we were riding to the hardware store. We stopped at a red light. (improv the bit about Lulu-Sophia)

Lulu-Sophia has a brother. Felix. He's ten. I thought it would be interesting to get his third grade class to redesign the roundabout outside their school. A badly engineered roundabout. Without too much input from me, they went to work. Apart from wanting glass roofs over the cycle tracks so they wouldn't get wet... most of their ideas were great. And rational. Based on experience and human needs.

When you think like rational, logical children, you free your mind.

The idea of glass roofs was funny. But in cities in the Netherlands they are installing rain sensors on the bicycle traffic lights. When it rains, cyclists get priority at intersections.

In Copenhagen on the main arteries leading to the city a Green Wave is in place. Ride 20 km/h and you hit green lights all the way to work. On bicycles.

What would the streets of a city be like if a team of five year olds, third graders and young design students be like? They would be beautiful. They would be safe.. And you know what... they would work.

I'll tell you what's old fashioned and standing in the way of progress. Engineering cities instead of designing them.

But you know what? This is not all about bicycle infrastructure, pedestrian facilities, traffic calming, urban design.

This is about erecting monuments. Monuments that we the people design and erect. To liveable cities. Monuments to the past, present and the all important future. Monuments that make cities better. Saving lives instead of destryong them or wiping them out.

We are the architects. We are the designers. These are our cities.

I'll leave you with this quote.

Cities are erected on spiritual columns. Like giant mirrors they reflect the hearts of their residents. If those hearts darken and lose faith, cities will lose their glamour.

A 900 year old quote. More true today than ever before. Let's make our cities and hearts shine. Let's take this paradigm and shift it. Back where it belongs. Back to the future. Let's allow these monuments to rise all over the world.

15 August 2011

Copenhagenize's Top Five Bicycle Monuments

When we at Copenhagenize were discussing the title of the photo exhibition Monumental Motion we got onto the subject of actual bicycle monuments or sculptures. Permanent artistic works celebrating the bicycle and/or Citizen Cyclists. At many festivals - Burning Man comes to mind - temporary bicycle-related sculptures are constructed. Then there are monuments, large and small, dedicated to cyclesport racers. That's all well and good and brilliant, but we were thinking about permanent works - monuments, if you like - that were commissioned and paid for and that serve as a permanent symbol and celebration of the bicycle.

We figured we dish up our Top Five Bicycle Monuments. Let us know yours. Add a comment or use the Twitter hashtag #bikemonument.

#1 - Aseaströmmen

Location: Stora Torget (Main Square) in Västerås, Sweden.
Artist: Bengt-Göran Broström (1947-2004)
Date: 1989
Aseaströmmen has long been a favourite of ours. It commemorates the thousands of cycling workers who went to and from work at the city's large factory - ASEA. The company, ASEA (General Swedish Electrical Company) was the main employer in the city for more than a century. The name of the statue combines the name of the company with the word 'strömmen' - translated as 'the current' or 'flow'. This current filled the streets of the city each time the shifts changed at the factory.

Even today, Västerås still has a modal share of around 30%.

We love the bold, brash size of the piece, the combination of modern lines (on the bicycles) and traditional figures (the cyclists), the positioning on Västerås' main square and the celebration - not of the massive corporation that defined the place - but rather the working classes who worked there for generations and who cycled rain or shine, snow or sleet.

#2 Fountain 't Zand

Location: 't Zand Square, Bruges, Belgium.
Artists: Stefaan Depuydt and Livia Canestraro (couple)
Date: 1985-86

Art is always a question of taste, but we love the style of this statue - okay, fountain - with it's rough but rounded forms. Again, the bicycles are reduced to simple forms, like in Aseaströmmen, but that's probably because the bicycle is so damn tricky to sculpt/draw.

Although the four cyclists (plus kid in the basket, at left) form one side of a larger sculpture, dedicating one fourth of the piece to the bicycle and the people who use it slides this work into second place.

Hommage to the bike Bruges ('t Zand fountain)
Interesting, whilst googling for more images and info, it seems that most tourists take photos of the cyclists, as opposed to the other three sides.

#3 Vejrpigerne / The Weather Girl(s)
Surveying Her Kingdom
Location: Richshuset, corner of Vesterbrogade & Hans Christian Andersen's Boulevard, Copenhagen, Denmark.
Artist: Einar Utzon-Frank (1888-1955)
Date: 1936

High above Copenhagen's City Hall Square - and its busiest thoroughfare - is a golden cycling girl. She is one of two gold-plated statues who acted as a weather vane from 1936 to 1995. If the weather forecast was for rain, the woman with the umbrella and dog would rotate out onto the corner of the tower. If the cycling girl rotated out into the position on the corner, all the passersby on foot, bicycle or vehicles at the city's busiest intersection could see that fair weather was forecast. The sculpture and rotating construction weighs more than a tonne and it broke in 1996. The cost for repairing it is high so for now both weather girls look out over the city.

We love the choice of the cultural icon that is the Cycling Girl for the fairweather barometer. It's not surprising given the fact that Denmark has more songs, poems and literary works dedicated to the bicycle than any other nation and the 1920's and 1930's were two epic artistic decades regarding the bicycle. It is more than appropriate that a golden cycling girl stands proud above Copenhagen's main square.

I was up there next to her a couple of years back and she is huge. Easily 3.5 metres tall. But I was still moved by her beauty, form and graceful posture.

#4 The Girl on a Bicycle
Girl on a bike Botanical Gardens in Singapore. The joy of cycling.
Location: Singapore Botanical Gardens
Artist: Sydney Harpley (1927-1992)
Date: 1987

One of three bronzes that were a gift to the Botanical Gardens in Singapore by Singapore's former Ambassador to France, Spain and Portugal, Mr David Marshall. Marshall commissioned the British artist Sydney Harpley to create the bronzes that symbolise youth and joie de vivre. They are are dedicated to the children of Singapore. The others are Girl on a Hammock and Girl on a Swing.

The simple, carefree form of the girl on her bicycle riding down a spiral hedge appeals to us. This is what the bicycle is all about.

#5 'Cyclisk' Bike Obelisk
The Bicycle Obelisk
Location: South A Street at Santa Rosa Avenue in Santa Rosa, California, USA.
Artists: Ilana Spector and Mark Grieve
Date: 2010

The 'Cyclisk' Bike Obelisk in Santa Rosa is primarily billed as a monument to recycling, community spirit (the bicycles and parts came from citizens and bike co-ops) and protecting the environment. Although looking at the google map link it would seem the obelisk is surrounded by car dealerships.

Even more ironically, car maker Nissan  co-funded the Cyclisk, together with the city of Santa Rosa. Our readers are familiar with our Car Industry Strikes Back series but we're going to leave that one alone. One can't help imagine, however, that some viewers of this impressive obelisk are convinced that that is where bicycles belong.

Nevertheless, this modern work from 2010 is impressive. It weighs around 4500 kg, stands over 19 metres tall and is constructed using 340 bicycle frames.

Close up 2
In their proposal the artists wrote: "Made of recycled bicycle gears, rims, frames and hoops, [Cyclisk] will be a series of intersecting rhythms – a visual metaphor for the human experience – technology and the humanities – history and the future – individual and collective. Evoking a ‘world of possibilities,’ it will be a work communicating to all walks of life – all ages, relevant for years to come...."

Beautifully said.

Interestingly, but perhaps not surprisingly, the artists also construct the Bike Arch at the Burning Man festival in the Black Rock Desert. Here is more info from Santa Rosa city's website

That completes Copenhagenize's Top Five Bicycle Monuments. Let us know what you think in the comments. We had knowledge beforehand of four of the monuments - Girl on a Bicycle was the exception - so let us know if you know of any others that we may be interested in hearing about.

Add a comment or use the Twitter hashtag #bikemonument.

There were some that we looked at and so here come some honourable mentions:

Honourable Mentions

Umbrella-head statue Bicycle and umbrella in Den Haag, Netherlands.

Statue of Bernhardt Jensen, former mayor of Denmark's second-largest city, Aarhus. Artist: Jan Balling and the title is ”Time, The City and The Man”. The mayor loved his bicycle and when he came into office in 1958 he did away with the official mayoral car.

Bike Statue
Celebrating that rite of passage - learning to ride a bicycle. (With an helmet that is completely the wrong size and hardly respresentative of 125 years of the bicycle, but hey, we'll let that slide). In Traverse City, Michigan, USA. Details unknown.

Bicycle Boy
A small statue outside a restaurant in Copenhagen. Artist unknown.

Statue of Edward Elgar Jemma Pearson's statue of Sir Edward Elgar from 2005 in Hereford, UK.

modern statue Athens Greece
Athens, Greece. Kind of a bicycle, I suppose. Details unknown.

Bike-a-Saurus Geocaching in Chisago City
At left: Bike-a-saurus Rex in Lincoln, Nebraska. One of many bicycle artworks one summer in the city, now removed, but faithfully recorded on this website.
At right: Statue of Swedish writer Vilhelm Moberg in Chisago City, Minnesota, USA.

day 2549: biking 20 miles along the elroy-sparta state trail! VIII. A boy, a bike, and his dog
At left: Sparta, Wisconsin, USA welcomes you.
At right: A boy, a bike and his dog. Location unknown.

31 May 2010

Bicycle Culture Theme Park

Get yer driving gloves ready, Ferrari World opens this October in Abu Dhabi. A massive theme park dedicated to the Italian carmaker. Featuring, among other things, the world's fastest roller coaster, Formula Rossa. Safety goggles are a must - 'it's that fast' they say.

Funny... Batavus World doesn't have quite the same ring to it, does it? :-)

But hey, we could just cover Amsterdam and Copenhagen in massive, climate-controlled domes and open two theme parks called Bicycle Culture World! It'll be a fietsfest! Cykeltastic! We'll hire Holger to supervise the covering of the streets.

I wouldn't mind. You'd have to park on the outskirts of the city and ride bicycles all around. Maybe we could put the parking lot on the Bicycle Island off the coast of the city.

It would one big Tommorrowland.

Maybe in Yesterdayland kids can try those old-fashioned car thingys and giggle about how 'totally weird' it must have been to have these things in city centres.

Pushin It
Ooh! Ooh! Be sure to try the Wind in Your Hair roller coaster, powered by a combination of wind turbines and human-powered stationary bikes. You sit in a cargo bike box and whee!
Christmas Tree Batteries

Then buy your kids balloon animals made out of bicycle tubes. The little ones can enjoy a spin on the Squeaky Chain ferris wheel.

Fruitbike Copenhagen Crepes City Hall Square
All the food and drinks would be served off of bicycles.

All the hotels would have beds made out of big ol' cargo bikes:
Bike Bed

Come on, people... let's brainstorm. What other attractions could Bicycle Culture World offer?

11 November 2009

Copenhagen Cycle Town 1910

Here's a little silent archive film from Copenhagen called 'Cycle Town'. There's no date given but I'm guessing that we're around about 1910-ish, based on the style of the clothes and cars.

Love the little boy on his bicycle tipping his hat and the girls smiling and giggling.

This film from British Pathé has an embed code but it doesn't work on my computer. Can anyone else see it play directly on this page or does it open in a new window and send you to Pathé?

07 July 2008

Jazzy Democracy

Wheeled Democracy
Bikes in front of Denmark's Parliament building, Christiansborg.
A number of Danish politicians bike to work. Why shouldn't they? And why shouldn't their bikes be bright purple, silver and red?

Room For Everyone
Maybe there's something special to bikes that allows salmon shirts, sunny shoes, pink tops and black pedestrians to get along in perfect peace.

Or maybe it's just Copenhagen's yearly jazz festival that makes everyone share the streets in spite of different paces...
Jazz Festival Buzz
Keeping Clean
Excuse Me

30 April 2008

Cargo Coolness

Cargo bikes are not only practical when it comes to transporting stuff - it's also a cool way to hang out together while strolling through the city.

This cargo bike delivers 'Kunstkalenderen' - a weekly agenda for Copenhagen's art scene. The lads were quite pleased by being photographed.

These two youngsters would laugh nervously every time a car got too close.. The 'K 44' on the bike stands for Kapelvej (a road) no. 44, where a municipal culture centre is located.
K 44

This has to be the longest dreadlock ever seen on three wheels... Unless anyone has a better shot?

29 April 2008


Always exposed to the public eye, always on the move. As we've noticed earlier here and here, bikes are an efficient means of communication. Private messages intertwine with commercial outcries as manifold as the cyclists themselves.

"To be read with the other end" - a tongue-in-cheek ad for intellectual newspaper Information

"Shut up while I'm smoking" - who said cyclists necessarily care for their health?

Ungdomshuset is a former squat/music venue in Copenhagen

"Sit down and you'll get to look like someone under 28" - an ad for TDC - telephone and internet giant

"I love you" - someone took the time and effort to strap this little paper heart to his or hers beloved's bike

"Resaddle - vote 'Ø'" - an ad for Enhedslisten, Denmark's far left wing party

"Would you mind us being here?" - the title of a benevolent concert against surveillance in public space - and also an ironic wordplay that goes very well for the crammed bike parking situation in Copenhagen...

Bastard Bike
Business cargo bike for the film company Bastard Film. The model is a so-called 'Short John' with the characteristic green Danish milk box on the rack in front.