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        04 October 2019

        Bikes Beat Metro in Copenhagen


        Originally published on April 4, 2014

        Like anyone interested in city life, we like to keep our eyes on the street life of our city. Currently however, the City of Copenhagen is planning to take some away from the street, by forcing people underground, with the 'M3 Cityringen' expansion of the Metro. Instead of investing in the reestablishment of our tram network - so rudely removed by the ironically-named mayor Urban Hansen in the 1970s - Copenhagen seems keen to get people off the street.

        This doesn’t come cheap: €3 billion gets you an additional 17 stations added to the existing Metro network. Some of the cost can be explained by the fact that It is not easy to build a Metro in Copenhagen, a city that is on the whole scarcely above sea level, and with a dense urban fabric too.  It's due for completion in 2018, but that's later than the initial estimate and with the date still some way off who knows whether it will actually be ready by then - just ask the planners in Amsterdam, where a new metro line has been under construction since 2002 and is still not finished, although it was supposed to have been operating for several years by now. As well as that, Amsterdam's costs more than doubled from initial estimates.

        But this article is not only about the Metro extension in Copenhagen; it deals with the question of which kinds of transportation are needed to support cities in becoming more liveable. We realise that we won't be stopping the Metro, but we are keen to highlight - even years before it's finished - that it ain't "all that".

        The projections for the Metro also have an alarming statistic buried in the paperwork. Cycling levels in Copenhagen are expected to drop by an estimated 2.8%. That is a lot of cyclists we'll be losing. 

        We know what people want. We want to move fast, safe and cheap from A to B. Also, the transportation system has to be sustainable, namely environmentally friendly, at a reasonable cost to society and it should not exclude anyone.

        We decided to just test it ourselves. We were curious how the different transport modes score compared to each other and especially how the bike performs against trains, buses and the new Metro.

        What we did was simple. For some days we tracked all our journeys from our homes to the Copenhagenize office (and vice versa) or other routes with the GPS-based App Endomondo. A great app - also because it includes Cycling - Transport as an option. Not surprisingly, it's a Danish app. Sometimes we came by public transport, most often by bike.

        Since the new metro is not operating yet, we had to be a bit creative when comparing it to the bike. We built scenarios to challenge the totally unrealistic times which are published on the project website of the Metro extension. If false advertising is a thing, the Metro are guilty of it. "7 minutes from N?rrebro Runddel to Enghave Plads!", they declare, without anyone bothering to check if it's true. Until now.

        To be clear about that point: It is probably very realistic that the time you will need to spend on the metro carriage itself between the future stations N?rrebro Runddel and Enghave Plads is seven minutes. The unrealistic part about that is that nobody lives or works in those stations.

        To have a realistic Home to Work scenario with which we could compare travel times with the bicycle, we took addresses in potential residential areas in a range of less than one kilometre to a future Metro station and tracked the time it takes to walk from the address to the future station. We then added the two minutes that it takes to get down to the train and wait for it. (We actually timed this at a number of stations and worked out an average. We like details.)

        And then comes the time you actually spend in the train, followed by the fact that it will take another minute (again, on average based on our timings) to get off the Metro and reach the street level again. Lastly we added the walking time from the station to an address in a potential working area, again in a range of less than one kilometre to the Metro station. As you can imagine, a trip incorporating the journey from N?rrebro Runddel and Enghave Plads doesn't take seven minutes any more.


        Here you can see the results of our Bike vs. Metro study.  
        TIME bike vs. future metro - copie copie
        TIME bike vs. future metro - 2nd map - copie copieFor the bike trips we assumed that we were travelling at an average speed of 16kph, which is the average pace people cycle in Copenhagen. Very relaxed, without having to sweat, and doable for all cyclists. We also added two minutes to unlock, park and lock the bike. The results are impressive: in three out of five scenarios the bike is faster door to door than the Cityringen line will ever be.

        In one scenario there is a tie between Metro and bike and in only one instance is the Metro slightly faster. The longer you have to walk to and from the station (last mile) the higher are the chances that the bike will be faster. From our data we see that 700m can be seen as a threshold: if you take the metro to work and have to walk more than 700m (about 10 minutes) on the way from door to door, you almost certainly would have been faster by bike.

        We're asking why the City of Copenhagen and the Danish government put so much money into something which does not bring a significant advantage to the people in the city? We're not saying that a Metro never makes sense. There are cities where the Metro is an indispensable element in the transportation system, carrying millions of people a day, like in London, Paris or New York. But does it make sense in cities like Copenhagen or Amsterdam, where you can reach almost everything in the centre within 20 minutes on a bike?

        Of course, we understand that not everybody is able to ride a bike. And we definitely want a transport system which does not exclude anybody.

        So, where is your tram, Copenhagen?

        Imagine what a fantastic tram network we could have for €3 billion. Look at France, where new tram systems are popping up like mushrooms. Also, there would be plenty of money left to further improve the cycling infrastructure within the city. What we get now is a new line with 17 stations which runs in a circle and only connects to other lines at two points. It doesn't seem like the main effect of this project will be to make Copenhagen more liveable. The City of Copenhagen is clearly afraid of reducing car traffic. Despite the goodness in the city, they still are intent on maintaining the car-centric status quo.

        Back to the competition: What about our commuting trips we tracked? Also in those cases the bicycle is highly competitive as you can see in the graphics below.  
        TIME bike vs.bus - Map 1
        TIME bike vs.bus - Map 2 - copie copie
        On trips less than ten kilometres the bike is usually the fastest option. The longer the trips are, for example from Frederiksberg to the Airport at Kastrup or from Glostrup to the new Copenhagenize office on Papir?en (Paper Island on the Harbour), the better public transport scores. That makes sense and it is also in line with the fact that cycling drops significantly for trips longer than eight kilometres.

        But we also have to mention that we set the average speed for cyclists even on the longer commuter trips to 16kph. It can be assumed however, that commuters who cycle everyday between 10 and 15 kilometres to work are faster than that. The bicycle superhighway network for greater Copenhagen for instance is designed for an average speed of 20kph. And then, the bicycle is even very competitive up to distances around 15 kilometres.

        So, what’s the message of our short study about getting from A to B in Copenhagen? First: there's no obvious need to invest billions in mega projects if the effect is as small as in Copenhagen’s current Metro extension project. Secondly: Invest the money instead in cycling infrastructure.

        Our little experiment has shown again that the bicycle is the best mean of transport to get from A to B in a city. And thirdly: Invest in public transport solutions which cover a larger geographical area at a lower cost. Like trams or light rail.

        And lastly, you might wonder why we did not include the car in our comparison. Well, because a car wouldn't make sense at all for daily trips in a city and because only 14% of Copenhageners transport themselves by car each day. 



        14 November 2016

        Massive Passenger Increase After Bikes Allowed Free on Trains

        Bikes Allowed
        So what exactly happens when you're a major train operator and you suddenly make it free for passengers to take bikes on your trains? We know that some rail operators in various parts of the world would have you believe that chaos would ensue and that they would lose passengers. Numbers from Greater Copenhagen and Danish State Railways (DSB), however, seem to indicate that the opposite is true.

        The S-train network that serves Greater Copenhagen is arguably the most integral part of the public transport mix in the region. Buses, Metro and regional trains are vital parts of the network, but the red S-trains stretching out into Europe's third-largest urban sprawl are in many ways the backbone.

        The S-train network - with 2 Metro lines at bottom right.

        Bicycles were allowed on the trains for a fee, which was never prohibitive. Until 2010, that is. In that year, DSB announced that bicycles would be made free on all their trains. They announced it with pride and in style and launched a comprehensive awareness campaign with creative solutions.

        DSB made the decision based simply on a business case model. They figured that more passengers - both commuters and users travelling in their free time - would take the train with their bikes if it were free. Six years later... how's THAT working out for them?

        Copenhagen S-train Passenger Numbers
        'Rather well' would be an understatement. The number of passengers taking a bike on board rose from 2.1 million to 9 million. A total, whoppping passenger increase of 20%. And it continues to rise.

        The loss of income from ditching the bicycle ticket has been paid off several times over with the increased passenger numbers. It is estimated that almost 10% of passengers now take a bike with them.

        Indeed, when asked in a survey, 91% of passengers were positive about the possibility to take bikes on the trains. 27% of the cyclists on board responded that they wouldn't have travelled by train if they couldn't take their bike with them. 8% even said that they travel more by train now that it is free.

        In May 2009, before it was free, 188,000 bikes were taken on the S-Train network. A year later, after it was free, 630,000 bikes were taken on board. And that continued to rise.

        Copenhagen S-train capacity for bikes

        In order to meet the demand, DSB redesign the compartments on all their trains and created so-called Flex Zones with fold up seats and bike racks beneath each seat. They adjusted the seating on all trains, as seen in the graphic, above, and now every train has a capacity for 60 bicycles.

        B+
        The redesign also included a comprehensive reworking of pictograms and the implementation of a one-way system to ease conflicts when bikes are rolled on or off the train. The spacious bicycle compartments are located in the middle of the train set, since DSB research showed that the seating in the middle of the train was less popular with passengers.


        Parking Capacity at Danish train stations
        Providing more bicycle parking at stations, especially the main stations in the Capital Region, remains a challenge. Nationally, bike parking at train stations is at a high capacity and on this point, Denmark lags behind cities in the Netherlands. Although Dutch national rail operator NS prefers having customers travel without their bikes and therefore parking at stations is more of an issue for them.

        Nevertheless, Copenhagenize Design Co. has proposed 7550 bike parking spots behind Copenhagen Central Station with this design.

        These bike pumps are pretty much standard at #Copenhagen train stations now
        Continuing with their work to encourage bicycles on trains, DSB has toyed with the idea of putting bicycle pumps on board trains, but so far they have gone with bicycle foot pumps integrated with advertising facilities outside their stations.

        A pragmatic approach coupled with a cool, business decision has paid off for DSB. The bicycle should and must be integrated at every step of peoples daily lives if a city is to be truly bicycle-friendly.

        04 November 2016

        Meteoric Rise in Bicycle Traffic in Copenhagen

        Bikes vs Cars Entering Copenhagen City Centre
        The news out of Copenhagen this week is good. Apart from an arsenal of over 20 permanent sensors dedicated to counting bicycle traffic, the City of Copenhagen also performs comprehensive bi-annual counts and the latest numbers, from September, are exceptional.

        For the first time since the City starting counting traffic entering the city centre, there are more bikes than cars. Indeed, since last year, 35,080 more bikes were counted, bringing the total up to 265,700, as you can see on the graph, above.

        It is a clear indication that continuous municipal policy and investment in Best Practice infrastructure pays off. The City has gone above and beyond over the past ten years. Investing 1 billion DKK (€134 million) extra in infrastructure, facilities and, not least, bicycle bridges to prioritise cycling as transport.

        City of Copenhagen Permanent Bicycle Counting Locations
        The City counts traffic in two places. Crossing the municipal border (into the orange from any direction on the map at left) and then entering the city centre itself  - illustrated at on the map at right. The numbers exclude the many bicycle trips across Copenhagen that don't cross one of the two lines and it doesn't include trips in Frederiksberg - that municipal "island" surrounded by Copenhagen. Nevertheless, it's how the City has counted twice a year since 1970. The importance of reliable data cannot be understated. It is paramount that every city records in detail, in order to convince sceptics, plan for the future expansion of the network and basically just know what the hell is going on.


        Selected Bicycle Traffic Counts in Copenhagen
        Here is a selection of bicycle counting points around the city centre. Bryggebroen and Inderhavnsbroen are bicycle bridges (with pedestrian facilities, too) so there is no car count. On all the rest you compare the numbers of bikes and motor vehicles. Except for the main roads leading into and through the city, bicycles are dominant at most of the locations.

        Bicycle Traffic Growth in Copenhagen
        It's no secret that cycling for transport is down in Denmark on a whole. Widespread prosperity (the financial crisis didn't really register here) and the fact that buying a car is cheaper now than during the oil crises in the 1970s means that people are buying them, despite the (rather irrelevant) 180% tax on cars. They are, however, buying then outside the larger cities and often buying a second car for the family. Car ownership in Copenhagen is still low at 25%. Even though a resident's parking permit can be bought for a ridiculous €100 a year, it is clear that Copenhageners prefer bikes and public transport. Especially the former, as you can see on that spectacular blue line, above, shooting through the top of the chart.

        Copenhagen Bicycle Stats
        Citizens with an address in the City of Copenhagen choose, in overwhelming numbers, the bicycle to get around. 56% in total. 20% choose public transport - buses, trains or metro. Only 14% choose to drive a car to work or education each day.

        Copenhagen Bicycle Stats

        When you look at how people arrive at work or education in the City of Copenhagen - from the 22 surrounding municipalities and the City of Frederiksberg - the numbers are still impressive. 41% arrive on a bike. 27% arrive via public transport. 26% arrive in a car.

        There are still challenges. The City has a policy that bicycle traffic and public transport usage must never fall below 30% and car traffic must never rise ABOVE 30%. Investment is sorely needed to improve public transport and make it more competitive against car traffic.

        It is also very relevant to mention that the city is still rather difficult to drive around, what with the construction of 17 new metro stations. We have written about The Greatest Urban Experiment Right Now and the City still has to prepare for the future. The modal share for bikes has slipped already. We need to ensure that we maintain the rising numbers.

        24 October 2016

        Copenhagenize Slopes - Iconic Architectural Topography, Housing, and Public Space

        Copenhagenize Slopes 011
        Copenhagenize Slopes 1,2,3. Reversing the Arrogance of Space on Hans Christian Andersen Boulevard in Copenhagen and re-demoractizing the space with 507 apartments of 50 m2, an urban park at street level, public space on 500 m of green roofs and bicycle parking for every resident and guest.

        For all the talk of Copenhagen being “all that” in so many urban ways, challenges and problems persist in the Danish capital. Here at Copenhagenize Design Co. we channel our impatience with lack of political will in our own city into design and ideas. Lack of bicycle parking around Copenhagen Central Station led to this solution. A dreadfully planned street in the ?sterbro neighbourhood led to this redesign.

        Now we decided to tackle the biggest, smelliest elephant in the Copenhagen room. One that that has been demonstratively ignored by generations of politicians in this city. Denmark’s most famous writer, Hans Christian Andersen, would surely turn over in his grave if he knew that the nation’s most car-congested street was named after him.

        Hans Christian Andersen Boulevard. Clockwise from bottom left: As it looks now; 1960s, 1905, 1970s

        60,000 cars rumbling down the canyon-like swatch of asphalt that carves the city centre in two ain’t no fairytale, sunshine. Cities with attitude need grand boulevards, it would seem. What they do with them, however, in an excellent indicator of how a city is geared towards the future of mobility. On this front, Copenhagen lags behind so many other European cities by allowing H.C. Andersens Boulevard and ?boulevarden exist in their current form.

        For at least a couple of decades there has been talk of putting the 60,000 cars into a tunnel underneath the existing road. Not a strange idea, considering that so many other European cities have been doing that for ages. When H.C. Andersen Boulevard crosses The Lakes, it changes name to ?boulevarden. Recently, a proposed project to dig up the stream that used to run along the surface before car-centric urban planning buried the stream into a pipe beneath the cars gained purchase in the imaginations of the citizens of the city.

        ?boulevarden - clockwise from left: proposal for restoring the river, the river as it used to be, the current traffic each day on the road.

        Great stuff. We don’t, however, have faith that City Hall is going to act on this. The discussion pops up every few years and then fades away. This city is, quite simply, afraid of reducing car traffic.

        Copenhagenize Slopes 004

        So here is our baseline. We need housing in Copenhagen, preferably affordable housing. We need it badly. We need more green roofs for biodiversity and more public space. We have a huge swath of urban space used primarily by what Italian traffic planners called parasites. People who don’t even live in the City of Copenhagen or Frederiksberg and who certainly don’t pay taxes here. We have such high pollution on this stretch that the European Union has subpoenaed the Danish government, wanting to take them to court over their inaction on reducing pollution on this road. The current, right-wing Danish government actually wanted to move the air quality measuring station farther away from the road in order to get better results - even though we all know that a reduction in car traffic can drastically reduce pollution - as proven here.

        So, basically, if nobody is willing to bury the road, then let’s simply reallocate the space to more intelligent use. Let’s re-democratize it. I cycle along the boulevard every day. There are wide, safe cycle tracks to accommodate the over 25,000 daily bicycle users on the stretch, but it is bizarre to ride alongside 6-8 lanes of cars. It is Arrogance of Space ftw. For years I have envisioned a different solution and I have finally had the time to develop it. Together with Kan Chen 陈侃 from Copenhagenize Design Company.

        Copenhagenize Slopes 003

        Welcome to Copenhagen Slopes.

        Three iconic buildings providing 507 apartments of 50 m2, three sections of green space below the structures, over 500 m of public space on the green roofs and slapping some seriously topography in the heart of the Danish capital.

        Copenhagenize Slopes 011
        Aerial view from the south-west.

        This stretch of HC Andersen's Boulevard is rather lifeless and uninspiring from an urban planning and architectural point of view. Drab and uninviting. The Slopes will add life and dynamics and remove four car lanes - improving air quality and contributing to improving the public space.

        Copenhagenize Slopes 010
        View from the south, with City Hall in the foreground.

        We ran the idea past an unsuspecting Copenhagen Mayor Morten Kabell, from the Technical & Environmental Dept..

        “It’s a wild and creative idea! The small apartments are cool - we need them. We have to find out how to get rid of the many cars that currently use H.C. Andersen’s Boulevard. Tramways across the whole city would provide a necessary alternative for motorists - and it would be brilliant to get rid of the car lanes, like you suggest. The idea of getting up high and combining it with green areas is cool. I like that.”


        Copenhagenize Slopes 006 Copenhagenize Slopes 005
        Pedestrian and bike parking access at all six entry points to the three buildings. Ample bike parking - for cargo bikes, too.

        This being Copenhagen, with a car ownership rate of only 22% - and this being 2016 - the building won't have any car parking spots - much like the Bicycle House in Malm?, Sweden. It will, however, have ample bike parking and access for all residents and guests - including cargo bikes. This is a city with 40,000 cargo bike, so that is a no-brainer.

        Copenhagenize Slopes 007
        The roofs of the three buildings are designated as public space. Challenging stairs to get the thighs burning - inspired by this Dutch bridge. With terraces/viewing platforms at peak locations on each building. We thought that a restaurant or two could be housed on the top floor, with outdoor seating.

        Copenhagenize Slopes 008
        Balconies are a must. Duh.

        Copenhagenize Slopes 009
        View from the north-west, with the city centre in the background.

        Let's do this.


        ----
        Previous projects in the same vein from Copenhagenize Design Company:

        10 June 2016

        Fools and roads. Arrogance of Space in Moscow

        Arrogance of Space Moscow 001

        Fools & Roads - The Arrogance of Space in Moscow
        By James Thoem / Copenhagenize Design Co.

        After an unreal week of ribbon cuttings, bike parades and Russian saunas in our client city of Almetyevsk, Tatarstan, the Copenhagenize Design Co. team retreated to Moscow to see what Europe’s second largest city has to offer. Sure enough, there was no shortage of awesome sights, fantastic parties and delicious food.

        But what hit us right away was the sheer scale of the city. Stalinist era administrative and residential building blocks taking cues from Viennese facades and neoclassical styles were blown out of proportion. Any one of Stalin’s gigantic ‘Seven Sisters’ skyscrapers always seemed to loom on the horizon. Most oppressive of all, however, were the roads. The roads! We’re talking about a network of roads 8 to 14 lanes wide stretching through the entire city. Uptown, downtown, suburbs and all. And of course, traffic never ceased to fill the city (Check out Taras Grescoe’s Straphanger for a more thorough account of Moscow transport). If you need any further proof of induced demand, visit Moscow.

        While sitting for drinks on the O2 rooftop bar at the Ritz Carlton hotel, we couldn’t help but gawk at the size of the roads. Tverskaya lay below us in all it’s arrogance. Mockingly starting back up at us. And it wasn’t long before we started talking, as we do, about the arrogance of space. The outdated transport engineering concepts of last century live on in Moscow.

        Back in our Copenhagen office, we turned to our Arrogance of Space methodology. Here it’s quite obvious that the city has been handed over to the automobile. An ocean of red (no pun intended) is wildly apparent. Pedestrians wishing to cross the street must walk to the nearest dingy pedestrian tunnel before continuing on their way. If stairs aren’t easy for you, good luck. There are even a few cars parked on the sidewalk, because hey, why would you park on the road? The road is for driving (facepalm).

        Arrogance of Space Moscow 002
        Removing the underlying photo gives an even better idea of the blatant arrogance of the city's pornographic obsession with the automobile.

        Arrogance of Space Moscow 003
        Then look at the space the cars are actually occupying. Plenty of opportunity.

        Arrogance of Space Moscow 005
        And, finally, in the interest of equal representation here, we show the individuals using the space. A shocking amount of space used by so few individuals. Where is the rationality here?

        Arrogance of Space Moscow 004

        There’s a old Russian proverb we learned during our stay: "There are only two problems in Russia: fools and roads". In the case of the modern Moscow, it’s quite obvious that it’s the fools who are planning the roads. Ignoring the Bull in society's china shop. It’s time to change the question, stop asking how many cars we can squeeze down the road, but how many people.

        Graphics by Mark Werner/Copenhagenize Design Co.

        Дураки и дороги. Дорожное обжорство в Москве


        Arrogance of Space Moscow 001

        После фантастической недели перерезания ленточек, велопарадов и русской бани в Альметьевске команда Copenhagenize Design Co. вернулась в Москву посмотреть, что может предложить второй по величине город Европы. Будьте уверены, мы не испытывали недостатка в удивительных достопримечательностях, замечательных вечеринках и изысканных блюдах.

        Но что нас поразило сразу, это масштаб города. Пропорции административных зданий и жилых домов сталинской эпохи невероятно раздуты. «Сталинские высотки» возвышаются над горизонтом повсюду. Но самое гнетущее — это дороги. Дороги! Сеть дорог, имеющих по 8—14 полос, покрывает весь город. В центре, в жилых районах, в пригороде — везде. И, конечно же, по этим полосам 24 часа в сутки ездят транспортные средства (загляните в книгу «Пассажир» Тараса Греско, чтобы лучше узнать про московский транспорт). Если вам нужны какие-нибудь ещё доказательства, что индуцированный спрос — не вымысел, просто съездите в Москву.


        Сидя в баре O2 на крыше отеля Ритц Карлтон, мы не переставали поражаться размерам дорог. Тверская лежала под нами во всей своей заносчивости. Словно бы с издёвкой глядя на нас. Всоре мы уже говорили на одну из наших «любимых тем»: пространственные излишества (на самом деле это даже не излишества, а настоящее дорожное обжорство). Москва живет устаревшими транспортными концепциями прошлого века.



        По возвращении в копенгагенский офис мы обратились к нашей методике выявления пространственных излишеств. Совершенно очевидно что Москва отдана на откуп автомобилям. На дорогах бесконтрольно раскинулся океан красного (я тут не подразумевал никаких двусмысленностей). Пешеходы, чтобы пересечь улицу, должны дойти до ближайшего обшарпанного подземного перехода. Если подъем по лестницам даётся вам нелегко, то вы держитесь. Несколько машин припарковано даже на тротуаре. Ну конечно, с чего бы люди стали парковаться на дороге? Ведь дорога — чтобы по ней ехать (рукалицо).

        Arrogance of Space Moscow 002

        Если убрать подложку, картина практически порнографической одержимости города автомобилями станет более явной.

        Arrogance of Space Moscow 003

        Теперь посмотрите на пространство, которое на самом деле занимают автомобили. Просто море потенциальных возможностей.

        Arrogance of Space Moscow 005

        И, наконец, чтобы иллюстрация была справедливой, оставим только людей, занимающих это пространство. Потрясающе огромное пространство используется таким небольшим количеством людей. Где здравый смысл?

        Arrogance of Space Moscow 004

        Есть одна старая русская поговорка, которую мы тут узнали: «В России только две беды: дураки и дороги». Применительно к современной Москве совершенно очевидно, что это те дураки, которые планируют дороги. Не замечая, что выступают в роли слона в в посудной лавке, которой является город. Пришло время изменить парадигму, перестать руководствоваться тем, сколько автомобилей мы можем пропустить по дороге, и начать говорить о людях.

        Иллюстрации: Марк Вернер (Mark Werner), Copenhagenize Design Co.

        30 December 2014

        The Arrogance of Space - Cape Town

        Arrogance of Space Cape Town00
        Another chapter in our ongoing series about The Arrogance of Space. This photo was taken by a friend flying to Cape Town. We are not familiar with the specifics of the location - probably near the airport - but that doesn't stop us from slapping our Arrogance of Space filter onto the photo. It's a badass intersection - the kind that makes old school traffic engineers feel all warm and fuzzy. It's a monster of extreme arrogance.

        Let's face it... if you have space for vendors to stroll down the car lanes (top centre), your lanes are arrogantly wide.

        Arrogance of Space Cape Town01
        Firstly, here is how the space is allocated. An ocean of car-centric red. Thin pedestrian crossings with fading paint. No bicycle infrastructure is present.
        Arrogance of Space Cape Town02
        Take away the photo and it looks like this. Making the red all the more shocking.
        Arrogance of Space Cape Town03
        There were a few pedestrians and vendors present when the photo was taken. A couple of mini-vans transporting people, but generally - like most places - just individuals in one car.
        Arrogance of Space Cape Town04
        The sea of red is still expansive, despite marking off the actual space occupied by cars.
        Arrogance of Space Cape Town05b
        The great thing about this photo is that the cars do the work for us. On the photo at left, the whiteish areas rarely see any car tire action. In the photo at right, we just did a simple "colour replace", removing the darkened trajectories of the cars with a more noticeable colour. At right you can see clearly that it is a classic, textbook example of The Arrogance of Space.

        22 April 2014

        The New Question for 21st Century Cities

        The New Question for Cities
        It's all so simple if we want it to be. For almost a century we have been asking the same question in our cities.

        "How many cars can we move down a street?"

        It's time to change the question.

        If you ask "How many PEOPLE can we move down a street?", the answer becomes much more modern and visionary. And simple. Oh, and cheaper.

        Let alone the fact that the model at the top can move 10 times more people down a street than the model at the bottom.

        When I travel with my Bicycle Urbanism by Design keynote, I often step on the toes of traffic engineers all around the world. Not all of them, however. I am always approached by engineers who are grateful that someone is questioning the unchanged nature of traffic engineering and the unmerited emphasis placed on it. I find it brilliant that individual traffic engineers in six different nations have all said the same thing to me: "We're problem solvers. But we're only ever asked to solve the same problem."

        This graphic is inspired by the wonderful conversations I've had around the world about my keynote. How many people we can move down the street is the New Question for liveability and transport in The Life-Sized City.

        With urbanisation on the rapid rise, we need to think big. Think modern. We need to travel Back to the Future for the solutions that will serve our growing populations best. Cycle tracks. Trams. Wider sidewalks. It's all right there for the taking if we dare to take it.

        05 March 2014

        Where Do You Want to Go?

        Copenhagenize Traffic Planning Guide II
        Things are changing, no doubt about it. All over the world. Like in every paradigm shift there are cities that move fast, cities that try to play catch up and cities that are still tying their shoelaces in the starting blocks.

        One of the primary challenges that remains is the perception of who infrastructure is for. I meet many politicians and planners around the world who clearly think that they are expected to provide safe infrastructure for the few people riding bicycles in their city right now. They fail to understand that they should be building infrastructure for all the citizens who COULD be riding a bicycle if they felt safe on a complete network of infrastructure.

        The Zeros to Heroes cities that are way ahead of the curve - for example Barcelona, Seville, Dublin, Bordeaux, Paris, Buenos Aires - have just rolled up their sleeves and built infrastructure. Infrastructure that actually reflects where the citizens want to go in a city. Which is basically the same as where everyone else wants to go.

        In many other cities, bits and pieces of infrastructure are put in where it won't bother the motorised traffic too much. Often such bits and pieces are launched with much fanfare. "See! We are thinking about bicycles!" Even though the bits and pieces are symbolic gestures that do little to reestablish the bicycle as transport on the urban landscape. Here in 2014, after seven or eight years since the bicycle returned to the public consciousness, there are only 370 km of protected bicycle infrastructure in all of the United States, compared to 1000 km in Greater Copenhagen alone.

        What I often see around the world is attempts by cities to put cyclists where they want them to ride, based on false assumptions that this is want cyclists also want. "Ooh, those cyclists must really want to ride on quiet roads, away from traffic.... yeah... that's what they want." Then follows symbolic routes following all the vague principles of detours.

        Citizen Cyclists are sent out of the way of basically everywhere that city-dwellers want to go. Shops, businesses, restaurants, cafés, cinemas, workplaces. The existing, historical Desire Lines of a city - aka roads - remain the domain of automobiles.

        While Copenhagen may be "all that" these days, mistakes have been made. Lessons have been learned. Back in the 1980s when citizens were returning to the bicycle thanks to the reestablishment of cycle tracks, the City learned a valuable lesson. Cyclists were following the busy streets to get to and from the city centre. Normal behaviour for homo sapiens.

        The City decided that this couldn't possibly be what they wanted. They assume cycling citizens wanted quiet routes, even if it meant they would have to go a bit out of they way. They constructed a pilot project route roughly parallel to N?rrebrogade - along Guldbergsgade - that they were sure would please the cycling citizens.

        It was a flop. A2Bism will dictate that people want to travel along the most direct Desire Line, regardless of transport form. To the City of Copenhagen's credit, they respected this simple anthropological desire and started building cycle tracks along the pre-existing Desire Routes - the main arteries leading the city centre.

        The rest is history.

        If you live in a car-dominated city you might be pleased with symbolic municipal gestures like "bicycle boulevards" or whatever they call them, or bits of narrow "bike lanes". You are, however, being handed the short end of the stick. Bicycle urbanism may be a phrase I coined but the principles have existed since cities first were formed. Best Practice is right there, for the taking. With a bit of balance you might be able to rest your weary bones on a two-legged chair. Definately better than no chair. But four-legged chairs are on the market. Demand them.

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