Showing posts with label snow. Show all posts
Showing posts with label snow. Show all posts

05 March 2013

Win Win Winnipeg

Winnipeg Cycle Track
We were in Winnipeg, Canada late last year, for The Kickstand Sessions. One evening before the Sessions began, we walked from our hotel to a restaurant (saw two other pedestrians!) along Pembina Highway. Our host with the most, Anders Swanson, asked if we wanted to see a cycle track solution by a bus stop.

Sorry, but when I'm in North American cities and someone wants to show me bicycle infrastructure, I've learned not to get too excited. Seen one crappy painted lane too narrow for a bicycle user to overtake another and mostly used for unenforced car parking and you've seen them all. If it's a painted on on the LEFT side of parked cars instead of along the curb, I'll politely decline and blame jetlag - that's not bicycle infrastructure, that's the work of people who shouldn't be working on bicycle infrastructure. If it's sharrows... I'd rather poke myself in the eye with a burned stick.

Winnipeg Cycle Track Winnipeg Cycle Track
I was pleasantly surprised when we happened upon the cycle track in question. A decent width - not Best Practice but better than other stuff I've seen around the world. Running along the curb. And there was the bus stop. Who knew? Right there in Winnipeg, Manitoba was a cycle track that skirted around a bus stop island. I felt like I was at home in Copenhagen.

What is this place? This Winnipeg? What on earth possessed the engineer responsible to be inspired by established best practice instead of the last-century, car-centric "guidelines" for bicycle "infrastructure" written by people who couldn't bicycle plan their way out of a wet paper bag? Is the Louis Riel spirit alive and well in the Manitoban capital?

When you see a lot of crap in cities around the world, something like this warms your heart on a frigid prairie night.

Hey, let's be realistic. Winnipeg is not Montreal or Minneapolis - the two premier bicycle cities in North America. They're starting out on their journey. But while the rest of the continent - not to mention cities in the same region - are still lacing up their booties and ordering feasibility studies about the possibilities of perhaps considering taking their first baby steps by contemplating a single cycle track to nowhere, Winnipeg is toddling onwards.

It's a cycle track with a sensible bus stop solution on a road south of the downtown. Sure. It's not part of a complete network. Nowhere near. Let me tell you though, that this little cycle track bus stop strip is a beacon of light in a world of nonsense.
Winnipeg Cycle Track Winnipeg Cycle Track
The cycle track is new. And it's Winnipeg and they have winter. They call themselves Winterpeg. Winter cycling is "no longer weird in the city" but there is still a learning curve ahead. The cycle track wasn't totally snowploughed, but my god they had tried. Again, better than most cities.

If I can get excited about all of this, it's probably going to get better. Copenhagenize Design Co. recently won a bid - together with our partners - for Winnipeg's Pedestrian & Cycling Strategies. Working with a city that is ahead of game will be a pleasure.

Winnipeg Garbage Can for Cyclists
On the way from one bar to the next one night, along the river, we ceremoniously tilted a garbage bin into a Copenhagenize cyclist-friendly garbage bin. They also have beer in Winnipeg.

The Kickstand Sessions are a master class for planners, engineers, health, transit, architects, etc. in bicycle planning for North American cities based on Dutch and Danish best practice.

At the end of the sessions - after two days of bicycle planning and infrastructure work - we wrap up with communications. How would the participants communicate their vision for the city? They're not in marketing, but they're professionals/citizens/consumers with a vision. Developing a common language is important, especially when you're in a room with people from so many different professions. It's a great way to round off the master classes.

The teams develop each their own slogan and everyone votes for the one they like the best. Then we whip up a quick and dirty poster with their text. Here's what the 40 participants ended up with:

Your bike looks better on the street. Winnipeg. Powered by People.

Indeed. Powered by, among others, these people. The Kickstand Sessions participants. Not everyone was from Winnipeg - some participants came in from Portage la Prairie and even Thompson - but people power they all surely possess.

29 January 2013

Trouble-free Mobility in the Winter in Copenhagen

Poster Prototype 02
Nice and simple. A welcome sight in the morning in Copenhagen.
After a snowfall - most often during - the sidewalks and cycle tracks are cleared of snow, allowing for trouble-free mobility.

Read more about winter maintenance:

- The Snow Slinger - eating snow drifts for breakfast
- Copenhagen runs out of salt - priortizes only cycle tracks.
- Protecting Trees with Salt Guards - and keeping cycle tracks clear
- The Ultimate Bike Lane Snow Clearance Blogpost

22 July 2012

Some Things Never Change

Danish Bicycle History - Some Things Never Change
Some things never change. Not least the nature of our bicycle culture. We still have trouble finding our bicycles in the bike racks.
Is This My Bike?

Danish Bicycle History - Wind
We still ride in stiff headwinds.

Danish Bicycle History - Some Things Never Change
We still ride in snowstorms.
Copenhagen February Traffic - Cycling in Winter in Copenhagen

Danish Bicycle History - Nørrebrogade
We still ride into the bright Nordic sun in the evenings.
Red Flare Sunset

Danish Bicycle History - Aerial
We still carry crazy stuff on our bicycles.

Danish Bicycle History - Taxi
We still have pedicabs.
Cycle Taxi Headwind

Danish Bicycle History - Bicycle Snowplow
And we still ride them in the winter.
Bike Taxi Convoy with Smile - Cycling in Winter in Copenhagen

Danish Bicycle History - Dr. Louises Bridge
We still ride across Queen Louise's Bridge.
Copenhagen Rush Hour_7

Danish Bicycle History - Bicycle Design
Kids still ride unique bikes.

Danish Bicycle History - Swan Song
We still have birds on our bicycles. (although city workers don't carry dead swans under their arms anymore...)
Heron Bicycle

21 February 2012

Bicycle Snowploughs

Bicycle Snowplough 1941
This winter has, so far, been rather uneventful. No arctic deep freeze with snowstorm after snowstorm rolling in like the past two winters and many before that. It's been grey and dull and quite boring, with only The Lakes being frozen over to provide a sense of winter and the opportunity to skate.

Older people - including my dad - will wax lyrical about the three legendary winters back in 1939/40, 40/41 and 41/42. It was in 1941 that the municipality of Frederiksberg - where Copenhagenize Consulting is also based - needed some new ideas about clearing the obscene amounts of snow. Horse-drawn ploughs were in use all over the nation, as well as teams of men with shovels, due to the petrol shortage during those winters.

Frode Nielsen, an engineer at the city's transport department, invented the bicycle snowplough picture above.

It was made from two short john delivery bikes attached together with rods. The plough was made of beech, with a 3 mm steel edge, as well as small skids to keep the blade from catching on uneven surfaces.

You could, of course, operate the snowplough dressed as dapper as you like.

We got sent some films of modern versions. Great stuff!

And this!

Source: Trafik og Veje

04 January 2012

Overcomplicating Winter Cycling - Why It's Bad

Snowstorm Coolicious
One of the main focuses of this blog has always been on how Copenhagen and other cities have succeeded in increasing cycling levels by approaching the subject using mainstream marketing techniques. Tried and tested marketing that has existed since homo sapiens first started selling or trading stuff to each other.

Modern bicycle advocacy, by and large, is flawed. It is firmly inspired by environmentalism which, in turn, is the greatest marketing flop in the history of humankind. Four decades of sub-cultural finger-wagging, guilt trips and preaching have given few results among the general population.

When sub-cultural groups start trying to indoctrinate and convert the public, it rarely ever succeeds. For the better part of a century, people all over the planet rode bicycles because they were quick, easy, convenient and enjoyable. In hilly cities. In hot cities. In snowy cities.

After the bicycle largely disappeared from the urban landscape because urban planning started revolving around the car and the automobile industry began their dreadfully effective marketing after the Second World War, many regions in the world have been left suffering in a bicycle vacuum.

The result is that an entire generation has been given the impression that cycling is something that a few people do for sport or recreation and not much else. People who take their hobby seriously and who invest in all manner of clothes and gear.

Regular citizens are hardly inspired to join such groups.

Now we are in the midst of a veritable bicycle boom all over the world. It's exciting. It's challenging. We were excited by the cycling revival in the 1970's but, as we all know, that faded to black again. It is of utmost importance that we maintain our current momentum and (re)secure the bicycle's place in our cities.

This will only be achieved if we focus on marketing urban cycling as a normal activity for regular citizens. If we concentrate on the masses who could be cycling, would like to be cycling, might take up urban cycling. When sub-cultures are the most vocal advocates we see that most of the advocacy stems from their own passion for their hobby/lifestyle. It seems that the goal is to get more people to join their ranks and become 'one of them', as opposed to selling urban cycling as it was meant to be from the beginning of Bicycle Culture 1.0 in the late 19th century - individual mobility for Citizen Cyclists.

So. It's that time of year again. All manner of 'how to cycle in the winter' guides are slapped up all over the internet. Year after year the sub-cultures put on their professor hats and look down their nose at the general population while they attempt to 'teach' people how to be just like them. You know... real cyclists.

I have stumbled upon a blogpost with an infographic like this one and a couple of months ago this article featured in a magazine that used to be focused on Citizen Cyclists but that has gone all sub-cultural. (they even name brand names in their 'guide', reflecting the fact that they are dependent on sponsors and advertising and not subscriptions)

While I blogged about this strange phenomenon way back in 2008 after blogging about yet another sub-cultural winter clothing guide on this website, I got curious.

Let's assume a regular citizen wanted to ride a bike in the winter. What if they stumbled upon one of the links with the infographic or guide I just mentioned?

What would this citizen - who, like the majority of the population, doesn't want to be a member of a club or sub-culture - think about what they read?

Dressing in layers? Sure. But you know what? People who live in winter climates know that already, for god's sake. They do it when they walk around the city, taking the bus or train or whatever. So they can probably figure it out when on a bicycle. And, after one day doing so, if they discover they got cold, they'll put extra clothes on the next day.

I own no cycling 'gear' whatsoever. I have, however, a winter wardrobe as I live in a country with a winter climate and I ski, etc.

What would it cost me - Joe Bicycle User - if I followed the 'advice' on these websites? Using the infographic on that website as a guide, I did some quick googling to find out some prices. I didn't spend an enormous amount of time on it, I must admit. So some of the items may be cheaper - or they might be more expensive because I didn't discover 'the coolest brands'.

As you can see, if I don't calculate my bike, I would be easily €870 ($1100) out of pocket in order to be 'just like them'. Sure, maybe there are many people who wish to take their hobby seriously and acquire all that gear, but let's face it. Most people don't. They're just pondering riding their bike in the winter because they've gotten hooked riding it all year.

But it's this kind of sub-cultural crap that the curious, potential winter bicycle users end up with after a google search. Google "winter cycling clothes" yourself and see what comes up. The results are dominated by 'cyclists' keen on recruiting, with little advice aimed at regular citizens. Not a good sign if we are trying to get people to rediscover the simplicity and convenience of urban cycling that people have enjoyed for over a century.

Imagine if the 'avid bowlers' controlled the advocacy for bowling - a fine hobby that provides the bowler with some important exercise and social interaction - like cycling. What would people who just fancied some bowling be led to think?

Here's what it looks like to be a 'passionate bowler' oozing Bowl Love for your hobby. Cheaper than cycling, but still, at €449 ($574), it's no picnic getting started. Funny how that bowling ball, the Storm Virtual Gravity Nano Pearl, resembles some of the names you see on cycling gear. And dude! You're not a 'real' bowler unless you have those handwipes!

Danish Winter
Winter is nothing new. Citizen Cyclists have been struggling through it since the beginning of bicycle culture. In many places, they still do.
Winter Traffic Copenhagen Quartet
Here are some bicycle users in Copenhagen last winter. It was about -10 C and around -25 with the windchill.

Copenhagen February Traffic 3
Anybody who cycles in the winter deserves respect. Anybody who tries to tell the general population that you need anything more than your regular winter clothes to do it... does not.
Copenarctic 02
To be fair, once in a while you'll see some 'specialised' clothes on bicycles in snowstorms in Copenhagen. Like this bicycle user, above. Did she buy that outfit, complete with goggles, in order to cycle in the snow? No. That ski suit was in her winter wardrobe already. The goggles, too, as she enjoys skiing in the winter. They were already in her closet and came in handy.
Winter Traffic Copenhagen Blue
Like this winter jacket.
Snowstorm Boiler Suit
And this boiler suit.

Like we wrote about how Critical Mass does little for winning hearts and minds and providing Joe/Jane Public with a societal mirror to inspire them to ride bicycles, cycling hobbyists doing the selling is not good marketing if we're to capitalise on this bicycle boom and get more citizens to take to the wheel.

Ironically, this link to an article about a woman who is cycling to the South Pole ticked into our inbox whilst writing this article. Besides her lack of cycling gear - she's just wearing winter clothes - the little infobox on the site (above) provides readers with some simple and practical information about cycling in the snow. That's all it really takes.

Spread the word.

For more inspiration, see the Cycling in Snowstorms set and the Cycling in Winter set - both on Flickr.

In addition, this film will show you how to do it.

08 December 2011

Greenland Bicycle Culture

Greenland Bicycle Culture
A friend of ours, Theis, is in Greenland at the moment on a film shoot. He took this photo of a citizen in Nanortalik on his Christiania cargo bike. It was only a balmy -10 C at the time but getting around the town is easy peasy on human-powered wheels.

Greenland is an area we haven't covered much here on Copenhagenize. We've noticed that many Danish online bike shops are keen to point out that they send to Greenland. Being a part of the Danish Kingdom, it's no surprise that bicycles play a role in Greenland. Seeing an iconic Christiania Bike 'up there' is just extra cool.

So we were wondering here at the office. Could this be the world's most northerly cargo bike? The coordinates for Nanotalik are 60°08′31″N - 45°14′36″W. It probably isn't, as Nanotalik (meaning 'Place of the Polar Bears' in Kalaallisut) is on the southern tip of Greenland, which means cargo bikes in Uppsala, Sweden, just north of Stockholm are farther north. Not to mention other Swedish, Icelandic and Norwegian towns.

We started looking around for photos from other Greenlandic towns. We found some kids riding regular bikes in Qasigiannguit, a third of the way up the west coast of Greenland - scroll down on this website to see them.

So farther north we went. Almost as far as you can go. On medieval maps Ultima Thule was used to describe any distant place located beyond the "borders of the known world". Thule became the name of a town in Northern Greenland which later became a US Air Force base in 1953. The indigenous population were relocated - without being asked if it was okay with them of course - by the Danish government acting on American wishes - because they were too close to Thule Air Base. Nevermind the fact that they were there first, long before airplanes, Ballistic Missile Early Warning Systems or (not so) secret CIA planes carrying illegally detained prisoners were invented, but hey.

The town they were forced to call home was called Thule, too, but it has since be renamed Qaanaaq. It's 107 km from the air base. The point is.... it's damn far north. A search for photos of bicycles produced this shot from the Qaanaaq tourist site:

The caption on the site, in Danish, "Boys on bikes on the beach".

And this shot from the hardware store in the town shows that bikes are on sale:

But we're still looking for the world's most northerly cargo bike. If there is one in Qaanaaq or at the air base - 76°31′52″N 068°42′11″W - then I'm sure we have a winner.

10 March 2011

Bike Seat Rain Covers

People for Bicycles, Malmö
Luca from Flickr took this shot of bicycle seat covers in Malmö, Sweden. They are free covers provided, in this case, by the City of Malmö. The messaging is simple. It reads:

Those of you who cycle contribute to a better environment in the city. We thank you for that!"

How great is that? We see the same positive messaging here in Copenhagen, like with the Hi, Cyclist! communications template as seen around the city, not least on the cyclist railing and footrests.

If anyone is interested in getting bike seat rain covers produced for campaigns by municipalities, organisations or companies, Copenhagenize Consulting can help you out. Check out our website.

Here is a collection of other bike seat rain covers spotted on the streets of Copenhagen. Classic example of how to advertise in a mainstream bicycle culture.
Advertising in a Bike Culture Always Dry Ass Uni Danish Details Sit on My Blur And Tell Me That you Love Me Big Arse Organic Hearts and Tattoos Bike Seat Covers For Sale Sikker Skolevej Bicycle Seat Cover Pink Seat Covers Rain Cover