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        Showing posts with label how not to market cycling. Show all posts
        Showing posts with label how not to market cycling. Show all posts

        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. 

        06 November 2017

        Traffic Safety Orgs Speak for Themselves - Not the Rest of Us

        Classic traffic safety organisation narrative. "Stop cycling".

        By Stephanie Patterson
        With Mikael Colville-Andersen

        In the diverse world of traffic planning, advocacy and various movements for liveable cities, there is an odd group of outliers who broadcast conflicting messages. While “traffic safety” organisations seem like a natural part of the gallery and of the narrative, upon closer inspection they exist in a communication vacuum populated exclusively by like-minded organisations. There is little correlation with those organisations who advocate cycling, pedestrianism or safer streets. The traffic safety crowd are in a world unto themselves, with little or no accountability for the campaigns they develop or the messaging they broadcast. They are often allied with insurance companies who clearly take comfort in working with others who embrace scaring the population at large through constructed fear.

        In many ways, they are a classic subculture, with strong hints of sect-like behaviour. The English sociologist Roy Wallis argues that a sect is characterized by “epistemological authoritarianism”. According to Wallis, “sects lay a claim to possess unique and privileged access to the truth or salvation and “their committed adherents typically regard all those outside the confines of the collectivity as 'in error'”.

        The American sociologists Rodney Stark and William Sims Bainbridge assert that "sects claim to be an authentic, purged, refurbished version of the faith from which they split". They further assert that sects have, in contrast to churches, a high degree of tension with the surrounding society.

        We thought it appropriate to do a little communication meta-analysis of their techniques of the traffic safety subculture.


        “If it is going to make any meaningful contribution to the reduction of danger on the roads, our criminal justice system needs to recalibrate away from the prejudice that motoring is innocuous and cycling dangerous and towards controlling the behaviour of those imposing greatest risk.”

        Martin Porter - QC, personal injury lawyer and Author of the blog ‘The Cycling Lawyer’ made this statement in relation to a recent manslaughter charge that was issued to a cyclist in London who collided with a pedestrian, resulting in her death.

        The final conviction of “wanton and furious” cycling brings up the question of how different road users are treated and perceived. Would someone driving a car receive the same level of punishment? Not likely.

        Along with the legal system, traffic safety organisations are integral players in shaping how we view road users all around the world. The first thing we noticed was how all these organisations seem to ignore one of the key messages required to truly make roads safer.

        Lower the number of motor vehicles on the road, and slow them down. We call it Ignoring the Bull here at Copenhagenize Design Company.

        Anyone who works in traffic planning or advocacy will find the lack of focus on the obvious to be rather bizarre. As it is now, the campaign language and programs promoted by the traffic safety organisations unabashedly victimise the individual (primarily pedestrians and cyclists) rather than speak out about the dangers of motorised vehicles. They also tend to ignore the one most obvious solution to lower road fatalities – a drastic reduction in the number of motorised vehicles on the road.

        Even a nine year old can figure it out that this is the only way to go:

        However, the traffic safety organisations have settled upon strategies that are as uniform as they are blatant in their support of the status quo. As the following images show, these trends are not limited to countries who have high numbers of road fatalities, but in fact the same rhetoric and messages can be seen globally.

        (Left) Road safety Australia, again victimising the individual and making being a pedestrian a dangerous activity. (Centre) Road Safety Campaign in Spain - 1998, a good way to turn people off walking (Right) More Australian victim-blaming without addressing the problem.

        The influence of road safety organisations clearly extends to municipalities, inviting them into their echo chamber, from where they point their fingers at the non-motorist population.

        Signage in Frederiksberg, Copenhagen sends people on a wild detour and instructs them to cross at the designated crossing, putting motorist convenience above that of pedestrians and cyclists. A local response (right) clarified the municipality’s intentions with the added text: “Frederiksberg loves cars more than you”

        Just take a look the recent ETSC Road Safety Performance Index (PIN) Conference held in Brussels in June 2017. The speaker list only represented the views of the car industry and road safety organisations which support it. Talk about an echo chamber.

        Speakers from other disciplines and with different points of view on methods of change, such as experts in user behaviour, strategies about behaviour change, and advocates of increasing alternative transport modes were absent as they always are. A diverse selection of opinions would include people who are not interested in maintaining the car-centric status quo in our cities, so why invite them?

        Whilst the organisations’ messages and actions vary based on their country or region of reference, there are common threads which we can see in a number of the road safety organisations campaigns, including:

        - Consistent use of the car industry’s favourite phrase, traffic accident, rather than fatality or crash. The rise of the hashtag #crashnotaccident hasn't penetrated the walls of their echo chamber.
        - The use of the phrase vulnerable road users without any corresponding reference to dangerous vehicles
        - Programs indirectly or directly implying that walking and cycling are dangerous and freely using classic Culture of Fear techniques to scare cyclists and pedestrians
        - Anti-distraction programs
        - Anti-drink driving
        - Anti-speed programs

        Their baseline is clear. Cars are here to stay - everyone else either get out of the way or bubble wrap yourself. What this communication subculture doesn’t talk about is rather telling. Basically anything that would brand cars as the problem - or reducing the number of cars.

        We don't know how many of you are aware that the United Nations declared the grand Decade of Action on Road Safety in order to tackle traffic deaths. Actually they declared it back in 2011. Have we saved millions of lives together, as they claimed we would? Nah. What has happened since? Lots of expensive campaigns from highly funded NGOs but absolutely no reduction in the number of traffic deaths worldwide.

        We analysed the communication narrative used by a number of traffic safety organisations and present some of them here.

        FIA Foundation
        (Left) Series of graphics by FIA. None of them call for a reduction in the number of cars that kill. (Bottom center) FIA's helmet campaign. (Bottom right) Children with their shiny new FIA helmets. 
        (Top center and right) Images from the #staybright campaign insisting that pedestrians and cyclists dress up like clowns

        Meet The FIA Foundation (slogan: For the Automobile and Society). They are the advocacy arm of the Federation Internationale de L’Automobile, who run the Formula 1 races. Their foundation is an international body funded by industry but also supported by heavyweight NGOs, UNICEF, UN Environment, the World Resources Institute and Save the Children. An organisation with this level of funding and recognition behind it should be leading the way in traffic safety, including sending the most effective messages and implementing the best programs to reduce fatalities. But they don't. Their primary focus is on glossy graphics telling everyone to bubble wrap themselves.
        Unfortunately there are a number of unsaid things which we believe are key in combating the issue of road fatalities, including:

        - Proposing any attitude change to the existing transport norms.
        - In car centric cities – saying that we need to change our urban design to de-prioritise motor vehicles and make active transport a viable transport option, not just a recreational activity.
        - Warning people about the inherent danger of driving a motor vehicle. Focusing on the fact that cars and cities don't work well together and that your risk of dying and/or killing others is remarkably high. Instead of scaring people away from bikes and walking, focus on inciting fear of driving
        - In all seriousness, promoting and mandating motorist helmets, as the Australian government has recommended.
        - Programs which restrict car usage or make driving more difficult.
        - Campaigns for alternative transport options as the norm
        - Campaigning for investment in alternative transport infrastructure

        It's a tough sell. These organisations like FIA are clearly not interested in behavioiur change, but rather a continued acceptance of the car-centric status quo.


        Global Health Observatory statistics from 2013 showed over 200,000 traffic fatalities occurred in both India and China. Between 30,000-50,000 fatalities occurred in Brazil, Indonesia, Nigeria and USA. Some of the countries with the highest rates of fatalities based on population size were Thailand, Iran, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and United Republic of Tanzania – all with fatalities between 15,000 and 25,000. We have taken a more in depth look at a few organisations across; INDIA - one of the countries with highest number of road fatalities, USA - the worst performing developed nation in terms of number of fatalities, and finally DENMARK - a country with low number of fatalities and generally good alternative transport options.

        India. The country with the highest number of traffic fatalities of any nation annually.

        With a fast growing economy, India has the opportunity to make wise infrastructure investments that improve its cities for its people. Lack of rules, crazy fast driving and cars being seen as indicators of social improvement, are all reasons why the road safety organisations are suggesting modifications to the existing infrastructure rather than addressing a change in attitudes to motor vehicles in India overall.

        Due to the lack of diversity within the road safety authorities we see the same rhetoric over and over again. This recent #ipledge campaign wastefully uses highly influential cricket legend Sachin Tendulkar to spin the same old narrative. Pledging doesn't save lives.

        #ipledge campaign by Aster saferoads based in India

        Arrive Safe
        This is an NGO who claim to be‘working with road safety to promote sustainable transportation India’ but it does not mention bikes at all in any of its activities and proposals to increase road safety. In its Road Safety Manual it provides instruction to road users including basic rules, how to drive safely and so on across 190 pages of the 200 page manual. The final 10 pages briefly mention the benefits of choosing another transport mode and how to look out for pedestrians, bike and rickshaw riders. Same old, same old.


        A particularly gruesome example of the City of Phoenix spreading fear and victimising bike riders in one of their road safety campaigns.

        Of all the developed countries in the world, the US is by far the worst performing in terms of road fatalities and injuries. Estimates from the National Safety Council recorded road deaths for 2016 at over 40,000, making it the deadliest year in nearly a decade. A study by Juha Luoma and Michael Sivak found several contributing factors to the US’ high road numbers of road fatalities. These included generally high speeds driven, low seat belt usage rates, high drunk driving rates, however the biggest reason:

        Americans drive a lot and far and don’t look to be slowing down anytime soon.

        We also know that vulnerable road users are increasingly making up the numbers of the death tolls. Car users’ share of road deaths in America fell from 42% in 2006 to 36% in 2015, while fatalities outside of cars (people on bikes, pedestrians and motorcyclists) rose from a quarter of the total to a third. So what are the road safety organisations doing to address this issue? All this shows is that cars are getting safer for those inside of them - but not at all for those outside. Mandatory external air bags on cars would be wise.

        Department of Transport DOT
        To be fair, the nationally run road safety authority has as of 2015 implemented the Safer People, Safer Streets: Pedestrian and Bicycle Safety Initiative and the Mayor's Challenge which encourage cities to improve streets for all people across seven different criteria. However, the same organisation stumbles by victimising policies such as helmet-first bike riding initiatives, ignoring reducing car usage and the danger of being behind a wheel - even if you are a safe driver.

        AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety
        Motoring organisations love traffic safety organisations for maintaining the status quo and placing focus on the dangers of transporting yourself in anything other than a motor vehicle. The AAA, like others around the world, focuses solely on either increased investment in road infrastructure or improved driver conditions. Research papers such as Safety Benefits of Highway Infrastructure Investments might have been a bit more valuable if it also took into account modes of transport other than cars and didn't spout off old-fashioned engineering "solutions".

        The American Driver and Traffic Safety Education Association aims to be a leader in traffic safety education strategies. Alas - none of their strategies include choosing another transport mode when possible. Please start by educating people with some basic facts - fewer cars on the road, fewer deaths and injuries.

        We’re not saying stop educational programs about safe driving - just give people a rounded education which presents all the facts.


        FINLAND - The Finnish Road Safety Council

        In Finland, this fear campaign from the Finnish Road "Safety" Council hit the streets in 2019. The poster reads: "Having ice cream without a cone is like riding a bike without a helmet". They have other goofy slogans like "Snapchatting without a filter is like..." You get it. They probably clapped their hands and giggled at how clever they thought they were when deciding upon this campaign. 

        But like all the rest, they do nothing to work towards drastically reducing the number of cars in Helsinki or other Finnish cities. They stick to victim blaming without any science harmed.

        DENMARK - The Danish Road Safety Council

        So while we have looked at two countries with particularly abominable road fatality levels, we can also be critical of road safety programs in countries with better track records. Denmark's road safety organisation R?det for Sikker Trafik (Road "Safety" Council) recently released this video as part of there “use two seconds more” campaign- a fairly violent way to scare cyclists off their bikes. At the same time they continue to promote the wearing of a helmets in Denmark - compounding the message that bike riding is dangerous. Just another example of road safety organisations using the Culture of Fear in favour of the car. Classic.

        This organisation uses the same tactics as others in their private club. They have little scientific understanding of bike helmets and, instead, copy/paste info they recieve from like-minded colleagues in Sweden and pass it off as their own. They claim to be against mandatory helmet laws but this recent document would suggest that they are gearing up for helmet laws. Aligning themselves with the likes of an American, Jake Olivier, in order to continue their branding of cycling as dangerous. Broadcasting with all the arrogance they can muster that a "meta-analysis" is conclusive proof only reveals they know little about the science.

        This is also an organisation who advocates cutting down roadside trees for "safety" instead of vehemently advocating for lower speed limits. Indeed, they have no mention of the European trend of establishing 30 km/h as a baseline speed in cities on their site. They are, like all the others, totally disconnected from the current trends.

        (Left) ("Keep an eye on the side roads" painted on cycle tracks, without any corresponding messaging for motorists on those side roads who are obliged by law to stop. (Center) 2017 campaign urging people to "use two extra seconds" at the intersection so they don’t get killed - instead of campaigning for existing infrastructure designs to keep cyclists safe. (Right) A 2017 helmet promotion campaign aimed at college students, together with an insurance company. Classic tactics.

        Three other campaigns in Denmark aimed at dressing pedestrians and cyclists up as clowns with reflective clothing instead of limiting the destruction caused by motorists. 

        Campaigns for reflective clothing are also increasing in The Culture of Fear, despite a limited amount of science on the subject. No corresponding campaigns are in place for cars, even though black cars are more likely to be involved in accidents.

        All the negative campaigns blaming cyclists and pedestrians for not equipping themselves with body armour and christmas tree lights would be more credible if the same effort was placed on motorists and cars. Traffic safety organisations can improve the message they are sending out to their citizens if they even the playing field and state in no uncertain terms how dangerous cars are in cities and how dangerous they are, generally. The culture of fear needs to be flipped on its head.

        The Hiearchy of Hazard Control as applied to urban cycling. Bubble wrap solutions are the last resort.

        While of course speed, drug and alcohol consumption, distracted driving, and badly designed roads can worsen the impacts, let’s not dance around the basic facts if cities and nations truly want to achieve Vision Zero. Providing an even distribution of alternative infrastructure options for people is clearly a key factor in making this change, but it also needs to go hand in hand with honest road safety initiatives that don’t misinform, misrepresent, or scare.

        In short, as it is now, if these traffic safety organisations are only speaking to themselves, backslapping each other at closed conferences, and arrogantly exaggerating the effect of their tired, last century campaign strategies - as well as being so completely disconnected from the rest of us working to improve city life around the world - do we have to listen to them or give them any credibility?

        Probably not. We can wonder, however, why they continue to recieve funding to broadcast flawed messages without any positive results and zero accountability.

        Fluorescent in Traffic
        Remember your reflective clothing in traffic.

        31 March 2015

        Car Industry Strikes Back - Volvo Paints a Grim Picture

        The latest piece in our ongoing Car Industry Strikes Back series writes itself. This time it's Volvo doing its best to draw your attention to the fact that motorists kill obscene amounts of people - including themselves - by placing the responsibility on cyclists and pedestrians. It's a smoke screen and this time it's sprayed on. It is Ignoring the Bull in Society's China Shop taken to the next level.

        Volvo Life Paint. Seriously. Life paint.

        But hey... it's not for the 35,000+ people killed by or in cars in the EU alone by Volvo and their Big Auto homies (around the same in the US and 1.2 million worldwide - not to mention the tenfold more killed by pollution from cars and trucks or the hundreds and hundreds of thousands more injured...).

        And no, it's not rational ideas like helmets for motorists or making motorists responsible by forcing them to have external airbags.

        It's spray on paint.

        No, not for cars, even though black cars are most likely to be involved in collisions. No, it's not rational stuff like reflective paint on cars or health warning legislation on all automobiles.

        It's for you on foot or on a bicycle because you are an irritation to motorists. You are a squishy bug ruining their paint job. You are a threat to their mobility dominance. You must be ridiculed with calls for reflective vests/clothing and a variety of ways to hate on pedestrians.

        Now you have the gift of Big Auto paint to spray on your irritating person.


        I don't think we realise how slippery a slope it is we are on as a society when morons like this produce crap like this and actually get taken seriously.

        Fortunately, we have a better idea for Volvo. Make Life Shine.

        25 April 2014

        Do Copenhagen Police Make it Up As They Go Along?

        You know you live in a a car-centric city when it's not allowed for bicycle users to turn right on red. Despite the fact that it's legal in many European cities in France, Belgium and be tested in many others, like Basel. Despite the fact that it is one of the most obvious things to implement to encourage cycling and keep bicycle users safe.

        A French friend new to Copenhagen had seen that a few Copenhageners turned right on red - only a small number, of course, as we've figured out - but one day in April he was stopped by Torben. Torben is a civil servant - a policeman - and that day he was out trying to meet the quotas necessary to please his boss.

        Bicycle users are the low-hanging fruit for such situations. Going after motorists is time-consuming and tiring. Just stand at the usual spots and hand out fines for minor infractions - many of which that don't have a place in the law books in a modern city.

        So Torben was just doing his job, as dictated by his superiors. It isn't known whether Torben was one of the many police officers who have publicly criticized the fact that they are forced to hand out traffic tickets to meet quotas.

        Torben, however, seems to have some issues with understanding the basic rules about cycling. Fine, turning right on red isn't allowed at the intersection in question - Store Kongensgade/Gothersgade - so stopping my friend Romain is fair enough. A newcomer to Copenhagen - from a city where right turns on red for bicycle users is allowed at a number of intersections - could be forgiven for not knowing that Copenhagen hasn't yet removed this archaeic law. You'd think some respect and flexibility for foreigners navigating the city would be in its place, especially since Romain rolled calmly around the corner without bothering any pedestrians or other traffic users.

        Torben informed Romain that his bicycle is required to have two brakes. The coaster brake on its own wasn't enough. Again, how are visitors supposed to know that Denmark has many obscure laws like this? Flexibility for visitors, please. You'll still make your quotas if you put your mind to it, Torben.

        Then it all got a bit strange. Torben informed our visitor that his bicycle was also required to have magnetic lights and fenders. That it was illegal to ride it in Copenhagen. Magnetic lights are well-known in Denmark, but how on earth should a Frenchman have heard of them? And fenders? It's a no-brainer that fenders make sense for city cycling, sure, but you know what? It is not required by any law that a bicycle be equipped with magnetic lights (it was also broad daylight) or fenders.

        The fine ($200) only covered the right turn on red but it left Romain very confused.

        Romain emailed me to ask about these bizarre claims by Torben and I explained it to him. I also explained that he join the Cykelrazzia Facebook group in order to coordinate with almost 2000 other bicycle users in Copenhagen about the placement of the police's quota traps each day.

        Can somebody tell our dear civil servant Torben the facts? And make sure his colleagues are in the same loop?

        It's no secret that the Copenhagen Police are among the most bicycle unfriendly in Europe, but when it gets this silly, it doesn't help anyone.

        29 January 2014

        Trying to Take the Bicycle Seriously. Ish.

        The Human League concert today at Danish Parliament

        Today saw the final conference of the three year Bikeability research project in Denmark. Or Slutkonference, in Danish, which would make you wonder if you had the right room if you didn't speak Danish. But I digress. On the second sentence... which might explain alot.

        Bascially, bicycle planning in the Kingdom of Denmark coasted to an internal hub brake stop today. 230 of the nation's planners, advocates - and others in pursuit of a free lunch - gathered at the Danish parliament (all the Borgen fans just started paying attention...) to hear the results of the research project.

        Conference title: Take the Bicycle Seriously - The future of bicycle planning. Boom. Sounds good. Promising. Inspiring.

        That's why I went along. I have a sincere personal and professional desire and hope to be inspired and learn about new research findings. I even went on my birthday, so eager for inspiration am I.

        Bike Ride Science
        Back in 2010, I went for a bike ride to launch this project, with the likes of former Science Minister Helge Sander, Brian Holm and others. Today was the culmination of the project.

        Basically, 16.5 million kroner ($3 million USD) was pumped into the project from government funding and the list of partners is long. University of Copenhagen, Danish Technical University, University of Southern Denmark, Aalborg University, Danish Cancer Society, Danish Cyclists' Federation, Delft University of Technology and I-CE (Interface for Cycling Expertise, Netherlands)

        My hopes were high.

        Which meant there was a long way to fall.

        The conference was interesting. It's also interesting listen to old Human League records, even though you've heard them before many times. There was, however, nothing new under the cycling sun today.

        Here's the one minute version of the conference:

        - New research confirmed older research.
        - Cycling is good for the public health. (repeat 43 times)
        - The Netherlands are way ahead of Denmark on national cycling levels.
        - Density in cities is good for walking and cycling.
        - Cycling levels are increasing in larger cities, falling in the provinces.
        - People just want to get from A to B fast.
        - Infrastructure increases cycling and therefore public health.
        - Accidents happen in intersections.

        The lunch was great, though. The coffee less so.

        16.5 million kroner for a Human League record.

        At lunch I asked ten random colleagues the same question: "So, what do you think? Anything new?" To which they all replied, "no, not really." But the meatballs were delicious.

        I remember remarking three years ago when I heard that cycling was heading into an over-complicated, over-academicised project that for 16.5 million kroner we could just build some infrastructure and launch positive campaigns to encourage cycling and that branded car-culture as being old-fashioned and unwanted in our cities. That a project like this was seemingly a waste of time and money. It might not be a waste - reconfirming existing research is always nice - but the fact that the target was completely off is a concern.

        During the conference all the things that we know about cycling were repeated ad nauseum. What was completely and utterly ignored was the elephant in the societal room. The automobile. For THAT kind of money, you'd think they would have tackled the present and immediate problem - reducing car traffic in our cities. Making driving more difficult. More expensive. Taking away space from cars and handing it to bicycle users and public transport.

        Instead of wasting 16.5 million kroner, everyone could have stared at this poster until their eyes crossed, then went out and actually did it:

        Copenhagenize Traffic Planning Guide

        The poster took me an hour. The idea for it popped up in my head in an instant back in 2008. It is free.

        Give the 16.5 million to a team of young marketing students and urban planning students - or a third grade class - and you would see results. In less than three years. Without having to heard that same old record over and over again.

        I don't like being disappointed. It's frustrating and unpleasant. But the chain fell off this project and the bike shops are closed. We should expect more from one of the great cycling nations of the world.

        20 January 2014

        The Ridiculous Sky Cycle by Norman Foster

        Retro Design for Covered Cycle Tracks in Holland
        Elevated cycle track network - Netherlands 1950s.

        Read more about how London is becoming the Village Idiot of Urban Innovation with other ideas like this one.

        There's been a bit of chatter of late about a (not very) new idea for bicycle "infrastructure" in London. None other than architect Norman Robert Foster, Lord Foster of Thames Bank, OM Kt, has dusted off a student's idea and launched it upon an unsuspecting world.

        Rendering of the Sky Cycle

        Now of course this isn't a good idea. This is classic Magpie Architecture. Attempting to attract people to big shiny things that dazzle but that have little functional value in the development of a city. Then again, Foster is a master of building big shiny things.

        Ideas like these are city killers. Removing great numbers of citizens who could be cycling down city streets past shops and cafés on their way to work or school and placing them on a shelf, far away from everything else. All this in a city that is so far behind in reestablishing cycling as transport that it's embarrassing. With most of the population already whining about bicycles on streets, sticking them up in the air, out of the way, is hardly going to help returning bicycles to the urban fabric of the city.

        With urban planning, now more than ever before, heading back to the future - back to when cities were life-sized places with rational and practical solutions for moving people around - ideas like these stand out like a sore thumb.

        As Canadian author Chris Turner said on Twitter:

        "You say that as if Foster and the starchitect league have ever attempted to understand how streets work in general."


        Foster grew up on this street south of Manchester, back in an age when Manchester had around 20% modal share for bicycles. Instead of realising that modern urban planning is seeking to return our cities to their pre-car state, he insists on dishing up city-killing, Bladerunner fantasies. You would hope that Foster would seek back to his roots and embrace the kind of city he grew up in.

        The first things that popped into my head upon hearing of this idea:

        The Price
        £220 million pounds for the first 6 km stretch from Stratford to Liverpool Street? Seriously? For that price any urban planning firm could propose a world-beating transport plan for London, the city could pay to implement it and there would still be change leftover for schools, social programmes or whatever else. What an obscene amount of money to spend on Magpie Architecture.

        Bicycle Anthropology
        I've read that the estimated average speed would be 24 km/h up there in the Sky. The average speed for Citizen Cyclists in Copenhagen and Amsterdam is 15 km/h. That's the speed that a few hundred thousand people sub-consciously settle upon whilst cycling through a city. There are those who go faster, sure, but understanding basic bicycle anthopology should be at the forefront of our thinking.

        Bicycles belong at street level. Bicycle users are just pedestrians on wheels, not to be confused with motorised traffic. Creating safe, separated infrastructure on our streets is the way forward. Back to the future. Bicycles are the most effective and powerful tool we have for re-building our liveable cities.

        The Sky Cycle seems to focus on the 1%. The spandexian demographic. It will never get built, of that we can be certain, but if play Foster's fantasy game, there would be a few bicycle users using it. But nowhere near the numbers that have been predicted.

        The Sky Cycle idea also disregards another basic fact in city transport. Decades of experience in Denmark and the Netherlands has determined that the majority of bicycle users will cycle up to seven kilometres. The number of bicycle users drops dramatically in the 8-15 km zone. Indeed, under 10% of bicycle commuters entering the City of Copenhagen are coming from the 8-15 km zone. The Bicycle Superhighway project in Copenhagen, aimed at upgrading existing infrastructure in this zone in order to encourage more to cycle from this zone is a great idea, but they are only expecting an increase of about 10,000 cyclists when it's completed. A great number, to be sure, but unlike the Sky Cycle project that boasts of the 5.8 million Londoners living within 10 minutes of the Sky Cycle, they are realistic about numbers of potential bicycle users and their behaviour.

        Oh, and in doing so they will spend between £45 million and £96 million. Not for a 6 km stretch, but for 28 routes through 20 municipalities of a total of 500 km in length that will span the entire network spanning the entire Greater Copenhagen region.

        The Sky Cycle will be the greatest transport flop in history, simply because it fails to understand the importance of bicycle traffic in urban planning. Also because it's a stupid idea, but hey.

        New Wine in Old Bottles
        It's not a new idea. Look at the drawing at the very top. Stuff like this has been around for awhile. Has it ever been built? No. Rationality ended up winning the day. The California Cycleway in Pasadena, built in 1900, was a similar idea, one that provided an A to B route from Pasadena to Los Angeles, but even it only lasted a couple of years and ended up being sold for lumber.

        The City of Calgary has had a pedestrian walkway system in their downtown core since 1970 called Plus 15. Another city-killing idea that strangles street life. I can recommend watching waydowntown, the urban planning mockumentary by Gary Burns, which is unflattering towards the Plus 15, to say the least.

        Just Do What Other Cities are Doing
        Funny how the rising stars of bicycle urbanism like Paris, New York, Chicago, Bordeaux, Barcelona, Dublin, Seville, etc etc, haven't bothered with lofty starchitect visions. They just rolled up their sleeves, dusted off their rationality and started tackling their urban problems with infrastructure and traffic calming measures.

        While Foster and too many others are obsessed with commuting instead of bicycle culture, others cities are on the fast track to going back to the future. Using far less money and getting far better results much quicker.

        Absolutely everything we need to reestablish the bicycle as transport and to modernise our cities into more liveable urban spaces has already been invented a century ago.

        De 28 ruter p? samlet set ca 500 km. rutenet, er vurderet til at koste mellem 413 mio. kr og 875 mio. kr - See more at: http://www.cykelsuperstier.dk/content/faq#sthash.yrYcuNX1.dpuf
        De 28 ruter p? samlet set ca 500 km. rutenet, er vurderet til at koste mellem 413 mio. kr og 875 mio. kr - See more at: http://www.cykelsuperstier.dk/content/faq#sthash.yrYcuNX1.dpuf
        Unlike so many others dazzled by the fact that this idea has been pushed forward by Norman Robert Foster, Lord Foster of Thames Bank, OM Kt, I refuse to be blinded. It's a ridiculous idea that shits all over the efforts of so many of my colleagues around the world who know better.

        Remember, this, Norm... you're only as good as your latest idea.

        14 October 2013

        Promoting Cycling Positively - Now with Proof

        Copenhagen Crowd
        One thing we've being going on about here at Copenhagenize for six years is the importance of promoting cycling positively to the great untapped well of potential cyclists. The 99%, if you will.
        Two years ago, Copenhagenize informed you about a research project that was funded by the national bicycle fund entitled Effective Bicycle Promotion - Development of methodology to determine the effect on messages regarding marketing of bicycle traffic. We had teamed up with Thomas Krag Mobility Advice to investigate how promoting cycling with positive imagery was more beneficial than using images involving fear or perceived fear. 

        Two years on, the results of the study are in. Have a read. And now, more than ever before, endeavour to sell urban cycling to the 99% with positive messaging.

        Bicycle Marketing Messages: What Matters. 
        The report, collated by Sidsel Birk Hjuler and Thomas Krag, reveals some of the most important ingredients for the creation of successful cycling marketing campaigns. 

        Whilst the choice to ride a bicycle is primarily influenced by our knowledge of the physical space around us (distance, infrastructure, weather), we are heavily influenced by our emotional responses to media and marketing. Our research allowed us to unpack some of the ways in which consumers responded to cycle-focused marketing, and revealed a number of important results. For example, we discovered that an image of a cyclist wearing a helmet had a negative marketing effect on cycling, yet has a stronger positive marketing effect on cars than a typical car advertisement. Furthermore, when safety messages were included in the marketing campaigns, they were considerably more effective when the advert focused on the cyclist as an individual, as opposed to discussing the overall risk of cycling. Take a closer look at what we found: 

        Background and methodology

        Many campaigns for behaviour changes, including increased cycling, have been introduced, and later evaluated (Prochaska et al, 2008; P. Hyllenius et al, 2009; Merseyside LTP Support Unit, 2010). We have wondered however, to what extent such campaigns should include messages related to bicycle safety, and whether these messages may have an adverse effect on cycling (see for example, Utility Cycling, 2013). 

        Whilst it may seem logical to carry out a variety of campaigns with a range of messages, and evaluating the effectiveness of campaigns afterwards, this method would be too time-consuming, and too-costly to implement. Other issues such as media publicity around a serious cycling accident, or an intensive car marketing campaign may attract public attention and influence the campaign’s outcome in an unpredictable way. 

        To conduct our research project, an alternative survey technique was used in order to analyze the respondents’ opinions. Respondents were presented with pictures without text, in order for us to report opinions using VAS scales (Visual Analogue Scales) with different statements given at end points, as suggested in the literature (for example, Wewers et al., 1990). Opinion scores and average opinion scores all fell in the interval 0 to 1 (0% to 100%), with 0 corresponding to the left VAS-scale end point and 1 corresponding to the right end point. In all cases, opinions related to the four modes of transportation - bicycle, car, bus and train - were included.

        These six pictures as well as a neutral (blank) picture were used in the survey.

        For our study there were 6 pictures used, all representing typic messages, as well as a blank picture (Neutral) included for reference purposes. The six pictures (Leisure, No helmet, Helmet, Accident, BMW, and Traffic Jam) are shown in the image above. Each of the respondents saw only one of the pictures, which appeared on the top and bottom of every page of the survey. These images were not explicitly explained, but were simply integrated into the layout of the page. A total of 3,500 responses, 500 per picture, were received and analyzed. Respondents were residents of Danish urban areas, and the survey was delivered by Epinion (Denmark). 


        Unsurprisingly, we found that the pictures had an influence on the average opinion scores, and that the picture-induced differences were statistically significant (P-value of the null hypothesis was typically less than .02 for the highest and the lowest average opinion scores). 


        "Fingerprint" (distribution) of opinion scores on experiences for bicycles, cars and buses and average opinion scores versus picture for the same transportation modes. The fingerprint shows the share of respondents who have indicated a specific opinion score. A top at the right hand side of the fingerprint reflects that many respondents agree to the statement on the right end point of the VAS scale.
        A central opinion when it comes to marketing is that the (expected) experience of the various modes of transport. End points on the VAS scales were ‘I do not like traveling by...’ and ‘I enjoy traveling by...’. The experience opinions, thus, are related to enjoyment. Bicycles and cars proved to be surprisingly similar in this context, with many high opinion scores, with cycling having the highest average opinion score of all transportation modes. 
        For cycling, the picture of the BMW (quite surprisingly) and the leisure picture (less surprisingly), gave the highest average opinion scores. The BMW-picture also had a positive impact on car experience, while - for all other modes than the bicycle - both the accident picture and the picture of a cyclist wearing a helmet gave the highest average opinion scores. This indicates that typical safety messages (e.g. ‘always remember to use a helmet’; ‘Cycling is dangerous’) have an adverse effect on bicycle marketing.

        Notably, the average opinion score for travelling by car was higher after seeing the helmet picture than after seeing the BMW picture. 

        Risk Perception 

        "Fingerprint” (distribution) of opinion scores and average opinion scores versus pictures for general risk and experienced self-risk for cyclists.
        Although the general risk of cycling (‘Cyclists have no risk’/‘Cyclists have a high risk’) has a high average opinion score, the respondents’ experienced self-risk (‘When travelling by bicycle I am not getting hurt’/‘travelling by bicycle I am very afraid of getting hurt’) has a lower average opinion score and a totally different distribution (‘fingerprint’) of the scores. 
        As far as the general risk of cycling is concerned, the accident picture increases the average opinion score the most, while the BMW and the leisure picture lowers the score.
        The pictures’ influence on the self-risk is about the same, except that most pictures here give a lower score than the neutral picture.
        If one’s goal is to address safety issues while still wishing to promote cycling, these results indicate a good reason for focusing on the cyclist as an individual and leaving out general references to the risks of cycling.
        “Fingerprint” (distribution) of opinion scores and average opinion scores versus pictures for the image of bicycle and car.
        Respondents were also asked about their opinion on the appearance of users of the various modes (whether the users looked good or not), as well as whether a given mode strengthened or hurt their own image. These questions are difficult, as many Danes find image to have no relevance, and several opinion scores fell in the middle of the VAS-scales. Nevertheless, the overall outcome was clear: Cyclists are found to look better than users of other modes, and the bicycle is also the mode which strengthens the respondents’ own image the most.
        In contrast to what was found for experience, the helmet picture was found to be favorable to the average opinion score of appearance as well as the image of cyclists, compared to the no-helmet picture. The same tendency was found for car users. The BMW picture, on the other hand, reduced the average opinion score for cyclists’ appearance and increased it for car users’ appearance.
        Values and bicycle helmets
        Some final questions in the survey – with no possibility to go back and correct responses to previous questions – were asked on the values - health, comfort, well-being, freedom, control, rapidity/speed and quality of life - of the picture shown. The accident picture received very low average opinion scores, while the helmet picture attracted higher opinion scores than the no helmet picture on all values. This reflects a high public acceptance of bicycle helmets in Denmark. Wearing a helmet is voluntary, but wearing rates around 25% have been reported (R?det for Sikker Trafik, 2011). (Ed: Copenhagenize Design Company's own research, however, indicates that the number is 17%, based on an all-day observation of 16,631 cyclists, and not just a count in the rush hour)
        When indirectly asked however, other tendencies are revealed. In the appearance and image opinions mentioned above, the net effect is close to zero, as opinions on car users are shifted roughly the same from helmet/no helmet pictures as the opinions on cyclists.
        The opinions on experience show a clear negative net-effect on cycling from the helmet versus the no helmet picture. So even though respondents declare themselves very positive towards helmets, a picture of a cyclist wearing a helmet makes them express themselves more in favor of other modes.
        In spite of an apparently - and recent - high public acceptance of bicycle helmets in Denmark (due to shock-horror emotional propaganda), picturing helmets has an adverse effect on bicycle marketing. The same is true for a picture of a bicycle accident. From a bicycle marketing perspective (encouraging more people to use bicycles) such messages should be avoided. If safety issues need to be addressed, focus on the cycling individual is preferable for general statements on the risk of cycling.
        Want to read more? 
        More information on the project and our results can be found on www.thomaskrag.com.
        Picture credits
        Leisure: iStockphoto, file #9116292, order no 20044837. No helmet and Helmet: Copenhagenize Consulting. Accident: ZNS – Hannelore Kohl Stiftung, Germany. BMW: BMW, Denmark. Traffic jam: Sidsel Birk Hjuler.
        P. Hyllenius et al. (2009). MaxSumo – Guidance on how to plan, monitor and evaluate mobility Projects. URL: http://www.epomm.eu/docs/1057/MaxSumo_english.pdf (accessed on 23.06.2013)
        Merseyside LTP Support Unit. Merseyside Cycle and Short Trip Evidence Study. Final report. 2010. URL: http://www.letstravelwise.org/files/570773362_Annexe%2008%20-%20Cycle%20&%20Short%20Trips%20Study.pdf (accessed on 23.06.2013)
        Prochaska, James, et al. (2008). The Transtheoretical Model and Stages of Change in Health Behavior and Health Education – Theory, Research and Practice. Edited by Karen Glanz, Barbara K. Rimer and K. Viswanath. Jossey-Bass.
        R?det for Sikker Trafik, 2011. Markant stigning i brugen af cykelhjelme. Website. URL: http://www.sikkertrafik.dk/Aktuelt/Presse/Pressemeddelelser/Markant-stigning-i-brug-af-cykelhjelme.aspx (accessed on 23.06.2013)
        Utility Cycling (Wikipedia). 2013. URL: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Utility_cycling (accessed on 23.06.2013).
        Wewers ME, Lowe NK. A critical review of visual analogue scales in the measurement of clinical phenomena. Res Nurs Health 1990; 13(4):227-236.
        The Authors
        Sidsel Birk Hjuler is Master of Arts in Urban Culture and Aesthetics. Besides this project she has worked for Copenhagenize Consulting, for BirkPlusPabst and is currently working for the Municipality of Elsinore, Denmark.
        Thomas Krag is Master of Science, is previous managing director of Dansk Cyklist Forbund and currently director of Thomas Krag Mobility Advice.

        16 January 2013

        Danish Congestion Commission Flops

        Cycle Chic irony. Bike lights shaped like cars. #cyclechic #bike #copenhagen

        "The Danish Congestion Commission is regarded, apparently, as a "good solution" as a plaster on the wound for the dropped congestion charge ring that would have reduced automobile traffic by 30%. A congestion ring that "nobody" allegedly wanted - except of course for a majority of Copenhageners who live with the pollution in a city that looks more and more like a parking lot with randomly scattered homes. We would have preferred that it looked more like a park with densely-populated neighbourhoods."

        Thus writes the newly-formed, Danish bicycle advocacy association Cykelrepublikken - The Bicycle Republic - on their website in a sharp criticism of the Congestion Commission. We've critised the Commission previously here on Copenhagenize but now their work is done and the documents handed in.

        Cue the anti-climax. The reports are disappointing and not a little shocking in their complete uselessness. Here is the translation of Cykelrepublikken's article about the failed Congestion Commission.

        The Congestion Commission's ambitions were diminished greatly. From a goal of reducing car traffic by 30% to just hoping to reduce future growth in car traffic. The ruling party Social Democrats are banking heavily on car traffic at the expense of cycling and with investments of around 30 billion kroner in a new harbour tunnel and 50 billion kroner in an extension of the mini-metro so that motorists won't be inconvenienced by pesky busses and cyclists at ground level.

        The goal of the Commission in brief:

        "The Commission will present, in Janaury 2013, a catalogue of ideas with advantages and disadvantages of the different proposals regarding reduction of congestion, noise and air pollution in the capital region and an overall strategy in August, 2013."

        Today - January 16th, 2013 - is the day that the Congestion Commission will finalise their idea catalogue that will form the basis of their overall strategy after summer. CykelRepublikken has learned that cycling has been completely and utterly ignored, despite the fact that it's the most used transport form in Copenhagen. Out of the seven work groups in the Commission, none have focused on cycling or walking as transport forms. They have focused on:

        - National road pricing
        - Public transport - including how to get cyclists to instead use the much more expensive public transport.
        - Improved conditions for motorists, including a proposal for removing the cycle tracks on Bredgade and Store Kongensgade (two main streets in the city centre) in order to make room for more car lanes. The cyclists are expected to be moved to other streets like Borgergade.
        - General traffic - although here cycling was at least regarded as a transport form.

        In the analysis phase there wasn't a single analysis of how cycling is affected by car congestion. Nothing about accessibility, how much the distance a cyclist is willing to cycle is reduced, insecurity, the reduction in children cycling to school in Copenhagen or any health consequences at all. They have merely stated that they didn't look into it too much.

        The Danish Cyclists' Federation (DCF) participated in the Congestion Commission. Their work was of an unusually bad quality. They just put their name on the paperwork and used it as an alibi. DCF's grand idea is giving cyclists a tax break, which is unlikely to shift a single motorist over to a bicycle. The Transport Ministry has even documented that even if public transport was free, only 5% of motorists would switch their car for bus/train/mini-metro. Motorists choose their car because its easiest for them. If they are to get out of their cars, then driving has to become more inconvennient and the alternatives faster and more convenient and appealing. It's not finance that plays a role.

        The conclusions from the Congestion Commission are that there should be two things for cycling. One is not cancelling the national bicycle fund - Cykelpujlen. This fund is for municipalities to apply for 50% funding of projects like bridges over motorways when new motorways like Nordhavnsvej block for cyclists using Lyngbyvej.

        The second is that there is continued development of Bicycle Superhighways - Cykelsuperstier. There is, however, no vision that these should be of a such a higher quality than the existing cycle tracks in the area that cyclists would be able to see a difference. In other words, 90% advertising and 10% improvement of some existing cycle tracks.

        All of this means that there is nothing different on the horizon. Cycling will continue to fall nationally and in Copenhagen, as investments in cycling will continue to be only 1.5% of the Danish transport investments.

        The rest of the Commission's conclusions are business as usual. On the national traffic political scene there is no limiting car traffic at all but rather methods for making driving easier for motorists. There are a few points of light like looking at making motorists pay a larger share of financing for parking. Recommendations that will, most likely, be rejected by the government. In the same as the last government swept the recommendations of various commissions under carpet with "that's interesting, but it's not our politics."

        There are many transport researchers and NGOs in the Congestion Commission and it will be interesting to hear how ineffective they have been, like the DCF. Only interested in public transport or just steamrolled by the Transport Ministry, the head of the Commission Leo Larsen (from massive infrastructure company Sund & B?lt that thrives on car traffic), the Danish AA (FDM), Danish Industry, Danish Chamber of Commerce, the rabid business association Copenhagen City Center, unions like LO and the government's political reps.

        Cycling is the only transport form that for a broad segment of the population can deliver speed that rivals cars in cities, zero pollution, no traffic deaths, a minimum of space on the urban landscape and it also improves public health. It is also one of the most inexpensive transport forms to expand and maintain for both society and the individual.

        It simply doesn't make sense that the Commission isn't looking at how to maximize cycling and only then look at the other transport forms on a minimal basis when necessary.

        Cykelrepublikken challenges every Danish transport researcher to a debate about our claim - that the goal of the Congestion Commission will never be reached through the Commission's work. The idea catalogue contains nothing that will significantly reduce congestion, noise and air pollution in the Capital Region for the government.

        Cykelrepublikken has shared all the Congestion Commission's documents in a Dropbox folder so the individual can get their own overview - if what we are saying seems to bizarre to be true.

        The documents can be found right here.

        Welcome to The New Copenhagen.

        26 November 2012

        Beyond Rob Ford - More Hurdles for Toronto

        It's difficult to ignore the massive, dark shadow cast by Mayor Rob Ford in Toronto and his continuous anti-bicycle movement. You get the feteling that if you manage to peer beyond his mammoth prescence, you'll see the frustrated urban Torontonians, at the mercy of the surburban vote, fighting (in vain) for a more bicycle-friendly future for the city. You sense - and hope - they are looking towards the Toronto of the future - a combination of the musical montage in the middle of Monkey Warfare and the bicycle culture/traffic in so many other cities.

        They're there and they are envisioning a sensible modern future. However, it seems that there are other dark shadows to be dealt with in the city. The focus on bicycles as transport is not the same as in cities around the world. There is a strange and rather misplaced focus on pedestrianism that is further stunting the growth of bicycles as transport.

        An ongoing discussion with a friend of mine led to this blogpost. Here are some indications that Toronto's push for a more liveable city is demonstratively ignoring the bicycle. Don't underestimate the fact that this is a serious problem for the city and for the growth of cycling.

        From what I understand it's a bit tricky to pinpoint the big picture, largely because so many of the decisions are made behind closed doors. The rhetoric is generally positive - increasing pedestrian facilities is regarded as the key to creating a more liveable city.

        Nevertheless, bicycles appear to be a point of irritation and cars are, by and large, still sacred in the city.

        If we go back to 2007, we can see how this movement is defined. This City of Toronto document (pdf) may be one of the first example where this issue is stated in black and white.

        Item 2(f)
        Narrow roadways and widen sidewalks at all feasible locations. Not a bad policy, of course. The car, however, is still king and the space for this policy is inevitably taken from bicycles.

        This mantra has been cited over and over, not least at the The International Walk21 Conference: Putting Pedestrians First, which was hosted by Toronto in October 2007.

        Several newspaper articles like this one in The Star rave about the Bloor Street revitalisation project.

        The article fails to note that Bloor is one of the busier cycling routes in Toronto. It's of particular importance for bicycle users crossing the Don Valley, because the viaduct bridge is further east on this street. In addition, there is a subway running beneath Bloor. Bicycles were excluded from the revitalisation plans - only some lame, token sharrows in one section after much battling from the community. Even Bixi stations were not allowed to be installed in this area because the BIA didn't want bicycles cluttering the street. The BIA actually wrote letter to the ward's councillor, opposing Bixi stations around here.

        Here's more chatter about how wonderful pedestrian spaces on the streets are in this Star article. Again, bicycles are left out in the cold, despite the fact that Yonge is hardly a safe bicycle street, despite the fact that there are so many important destinations for city dwellers. There are many bicycles in the area - but inadequate parking facilities for them.

        A Canadian magazine called Spacing is also contributing to the shadow. This article about "humanizing" traffic counts doesn't even mention bicycles. Amusingly, they have "Understanding the Urban Landscape" as their tagline on their website.

        Spacing goes on (and on) about how wide sidewalks are the best (and only?) way to go.

        It appears that the City is even manipulating traffic counts in order to sell the case for pedestrianism - and fibbing about bicycle numbers in the process.

        Here are some blog posts from the Mez Dispenser blog on the subject. They took matters into their own hands:
        - Simplified Fabrication
        - Tally-ho - Exposing the City’s Mindless Math
        - Proving our point…..again. (John St volunteer traffic count #2.)

        The City of Toronto responded with this pdf.

        In the John St Environmental Assessment report - in Section 1 (page 20) , it states the objective of the study but it doesn't mention cycling. Despite the fact that this is an important corridor that brings bicycle users south from the U of Toronto (Beverley St. bike lane), down to Front Street.

        In this document about Front Street at Union Station, pedestrianizing the space for this project was translated into "prioritizing pedestrians", but maintaining car traffic and only providing those goofy, token sharrows for bicycles.

        In the final report - in section 1.2 on page 3 - it states clearly the pedestrian priority for the project (pdf)

        The development of Union Station as a pedestrian facility is broadly set out in policy directions outlined in the City of Toronto’s Official Plan and Toronto Pedestrian Charter. Specifically, the policy directions note that:
        - Union Station will be refurbished and its passenger handling capacity expanded;
        - A program of street improvements will be developed to enhance the pedestrian environment with measures undertaken to make it safer to walk and cycle in the downtown area; and, 

        - An urban environment and infrastructure will be created that encourages and supports walking throughout the City through policies and practices that ensure safe, direct, comfortable, attractive and convenient pedestrian connections.

        More generally, the Official Plan takes a comprehensive approach that links land use and transportation planning policies to create an effective strategy for accommodating the City’s future trip growth in a way that reduces auto‐dependency. This approach has been increasingly reflected in the City’s guidelines, programs and practices that promote walking as a mode that
        encourages both health and transportation benefits.

        And so on. And so on. Imagine that... failing to identify bicycles as part of the solution for the area around a train station

        Toronto's "uniqueness" over the past few years due to its Mayor is well-defined and well-documented. The current political leadership is a running joke.

        It is important to highlight that the City's singular focus on pedestrian traffic is also unique. I can't think of another city similar to Toronto in size that completely and utterly ignores the potential of bicycle traffic. For improving public health, for reducing congestion, for.... christ... do I even have to write this? And it is not just the Mayor, but also city hall, journalists and random hipster/urbanist magazines.

        Pedestrians are always - or should be - at the top of the traffic hierarchy. Duh. But it's astounding that the anti-cycling sentiment in such a large city in the western world here in 2012 runs so deep.

        This is not a good kind of "unique". I fear that even if Toronto discards its Mayor, the battle to modernise itself is light years behind that of other, more visionary cities.