Showing posts with label helsinki. Show all posts
Showing posts with label helsinki. Show all posts

19 June 2012

Helsinki's Baana Bicycle Corridor

Helsinki Bicycle Life_Rail to Trail2
Last time I was in Helsinki I took this photo of this century old railway corridor that was used for freight trains. I can heard that it was being converted to a pedestrian and bicycle path and it turns out that it has opened recently.

Photo via by Tor Wennström. Martti Tulenheimo from the European Cyclist’s Federation and designer and bicycle user, Arto Sivonen
Helsinki's new "Low Line" (as opposed to NYC's High Line) opened on June 12, 2012, providing pedestrians and cyclists with a 1.3 km long connector between the Western Harbour area to Kamppi and Töölö Bay. It's called the Baana.

It runs through the city centre, providing a safe bicycle route to many points in the city. There four ramps along the way to get back to surface level, as well as entry points at each end. On average, the Baana is 15 m wide, with 34 m the widest point. There are also facilities along the way like basketball, table tennis and petanque and lights and benches have also been placed there.

So... a nice addition to the city. There was a gorge carving through the centre so why not put it to good use? Cheaper than filling it in I suppose. Not much light in this gorge in such a northern city for outdoor activities 8 months out of the year, but hey. The Finns will figure it out.

It's an impressive project, costing between €4 and €5 million, although calling it a "superhighway" may be a slight exaggeration. It's no cycling tunnel like in San Sebastian, but it ain't all that bad.

Let's hope, however, that it is a one-off. Cyclists in Helsinki in the 1930s had safe, separated, Copenhagen-style cycle tracks and there were daily cyclist counts of 10,000 on some of the main arteries, like we can see on these maps from 1937.

The Baana is cool, but it's time for the city to get back on track with separated, roadside cycle tracks in order to meet the goal of the Charter of Brussels, signed by the city in 2009 at Velo-City in Brussels, of 15% modal share for bicycles by 2020.

Will the Baana help reach that goal? Sure. A bit. But it's all about well-designed, Best Practice infrastructure now, if the city - any city - wishes to make a serious effort to return the bicycle to the urban landscape.

08 November 2010

Helsinki 1937

Helsinki Bicycle Infrastructure Network 1937
When I was in Helsinki to give a talk a couple of months ago I also had a meeting with the City's bicycle planners and urban planners at their offices. They are keen to transform the city into a more bicycle-friendly area.

There is a network of bicycle infrastructure but most of it is hopelessly out of date and not designed particularly well. There is a respectable number of cyclists using it, especially now what with the renaissance of the bicycle. But challenges lay ahead.

I was interested to hear that the city used to have a fine network of bicycle infrastructure back in the day. My colleagues at the City's bicycle office sent me these two maps, both dating from 1937. The map above shows the bicycle infrastructure marked in red. A lot of it mirroring Copenhagen's cycle tracks, like this stretch in 1955. Tracks on either side of the street along the main arteries.
Helsinki Bicycle Counts - 1937
This map shows a bicycle count done in 1937. It's not clear from looking at the map, but the City's bicycle office tells me that the thickest red lines mean 10,000 cyclists a day. Helsinki was a great deal smaller in 1937 than it is now, so those numbers are impressive.

Here's hoping we can get Helsinki back on (the cycle) track. Until then, here's some Helsinki Cycle Chic...

27 October 2010

Helsinki by Bicycle

One of our readers, James, sent us this film he made on a visit to Helsinki. He writes:

"I recently traveled around Europe and took advantage of easy bike rentals to explore different cities and bike cultures. Denmark, Netherlands, Finland, and Sweden to name a few. While I was in Helsinki I shot a video with a couple pocket cameras and I think it helps capture exploring a city. From getting lost, finding amazing sites beyond what can be reached on two feet, finding your way again, and how a single speed and two wheels can help show the best sides of a city."

We agree.

28 September 2010

Helsinki Pause: Slowing Down the City

Slow cities are something that we like here at Copenhagenize. While in Helsinki last weekend, speaking at the Megapolis2025 Festival, there were many events on the day. Including a little spot of slow on the square outside the venue. A girl arranged for a slowing down of the square, together with a group. They all started on the periphery and walked imperceptably across the square. I filmed some of it and the result is viewable above.

It was brilliant to watch. Most passersby hardly noticed them for most of their slow crossing. Only when there were several around the middle of the square did people glance at them and wonder what they were doing.

I love simple artistic activism.

27 September 2010

Helsinki Bike Counter

Helsinki Bike Counter Day
I just had a brilliant trip to Helsinki to give a keynote speech at the Megapolis festival, put on by the Dodo NGO. What a brilliant city and wonderful to see how much will there is in the city to improve conditions for the cycling citizens.
Helsinki Bike Counter Night
Until I wrap my head around the whirlwind trip and all the impressions, here's a couple of shots of a bike counter in the city. By day and by night on the same day.

I met with the city's bicyle planners and urban planners and the bicyce planners, Marek and Niko, told me of bicycle counts in the 1930's that showed 10,000 cyclists a day on some busy streets. Looking forward to seeing those vintage documents.

Bicycle Culture 2.0, indeed, for Helsinki... and everywhere else.

20 September 2010

Copenhagenize in Helsinki

1000 bikes
1000 Bikes - by Teppo on Flickr. Click here or on the photo to read what these bikes are all about.

I'll speaking in Helsinki this Saturday [25 September 2010] at the Megapolis 2025 Festival. The festival's theme this year is Rhythms of the City. How appropriate to have the bicycle involved.

Megapolis is an urban festival organized by the environmental NGO Dodo. Previous speakers have included former mayor of Bogotá Mr Enrique Peñalosa, author and journalist Carl Honoré, President of Finland Mrs Tarja Halonen and social media entrepreneur Mohamed El-Fatatry.

And now some bicycle schmuck from Copenhagen.

Looking forward to visiting Helsinki. It's been 20 years since my last visit. So "that girl" back then has hopefully forgotten all about "that issue". Water under the bridge and all that. :-)

Apart from the talk there will be a bike event, meetings with city officials and journalists and a few visits to saunas, hopefully. The hotel has several! Cool!

Here's a film about Rhythms of the City

12 November 2009

Helsinki Bicycle Calming Measures

Now this is my kind of bicycle calming speed bump. I have three options:
Ride to the left of it.
Ride to the right of it.
Hit it and fly up in the air and say "whee!"

As seen in Helsinki.

09 October 2008

Tuomo - The Helsinki Bullitt

A little bit of cargo bike deliciousness from a Nordic neighbour in Helsinki. Tuomo runs a bike messenger company in the Finnish capital and he is pictured above on his new Bullit cargo bike from Larry vs. Harry.

Hi guys!
I'm a bike messenger who started a tiny cargo bike messenger operation last year here in Helsinki, Finland. Our idea is to demonstrate the functionality and environmental benefits of cargo bikes - not just to make profit. Helsinki is quite bike hostile city, winters are crap and planning for bike lanes etc. is erratic at best - but we try to make a difference.

I´ve been reading your blog for some time now - and really, really like the way you do things over in Copenhagen. I just bought a modern Bullit-type cargo bike from Larry vs. Harry - our other bikes are of Dutch/German Filibus-type.

Check out our website!

Great to hear from Helsinki, Tuomo. Thanks for sending us the photo.

There is a boom in European bike messengers choosing two-wheeled cargo bikes at the moment, especially the Bullitt from Larry vs. Harry. Not only here in Copenhagen, but in Berlin, Paris and other cities.
Bike Messenger
There are already messengers on three wheels in Copenhagen but the two-wheeled movement is growing and Larry vs. Harry is leading the way since their inaugural appearence at the Eurobike Bike Fair a couple of months ago.

Rumour has it that there will be a cargo bike category at the next bike messenger world championships in Berlin. Coooool.

Article from the New York Times on bike messengers on cargo bikes.