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        Showing posts with label metro. Show all posts
        Showing posts with label metro. 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. 

        02 July 2014

        The Greatest Urban Experiment Right Now

        Originally published on July 2, 2014.

        Right this minute, right here in Copenhagen, what might be the greatest urban transport experiment in the world is well underway. It wasn't planned but it's working handsomely.

        Above is our simple traffic planning guide for liveable cities. Make cycling, walking and public transport the fastest way from A to B and make driving a pain in the ass and you have basically the most effective way to change the mobility paradigm for the better. It's that simple. All the campaigns for "ride a bike - it's good for you/it's green/it's healthy" are a complete waste of money if you don't follow the guide. This presupposes protected infrastructure for cycling, of course.

        Right now in the City of Copenhagen, a new Metro Ring is under construction. We're not fans of the Metro Ring. A city this size doesn't need a metro - it needs tramways like so many other cities in Europe. We don't advocate shoving citizens underground. We want them on street level on foot, on bicycle and in trams. The Metro expansion is a fantastic waste of money. It is projected that cycling levels will fall by around 3% when it's done. Our colleagues around Europe - especially the Dutch - basically point and laugh when I tell them that we have bus routes with 50,000 passengers a day and the City is building a Metro instead of tramways.

        The Metro is already falsely advertising the travel times. Advertising station to station, but not the first and last mile to and from the station. We did our own travel time survey using real world scenarios and the bike usually beats the Metro in Copenhagen.

        Fine. We don't like the Metro but damn, right now, we love the Metro construction. The City is following the traffic planning guide for liveable cities to the letter. Copenhagen has 17 Metro stations under construction and this is having a massive effect on mobility patterns in the city. Driving is a pain in the ass.

        What has happened?

        Cycling levels have stagnated for years in Copenhagen. Hovering between 35% and 38%. Falling from 37% to 35% after intense helmet promotion.

        Now there are new numbers from the Danish Technical University's Travel Survey.

        Between 2012 and 2013, the modal share for bicycles (people arriving at work or education in the City of Copenhagen) exploded from 36% to 45%.

        Forty-five percent. A leap of 9%. That has never happened anywhere. Ever. Seriously.

        The car's modal share fell from 27% to 23%.

        But wait, there's more. The average trip length in Copenhagen rose 35% from 3.2 km to 4.2 km between 2012 and 2013. That means that the oft-quoted statistic about how Copenhageners cycle 1.2 million km a day need to be upgraded to 2,006,313 km per day.

        Since 1990, by the way, the number of cyclists has risen 70% in Copenhagen. The number of car trips into the city centre has fallen from 350,000 to 260,000.

        The 45% number includes people arriving in Copenhagen from surrounding municipalities (there are 22). Among citizens of the City of Copenhagen itself, a whopping 63% use a bike to get to work or education and only 10% drive a car. Another rise in cycling and a drop in car use.

        Okay, okay. But what does it all MEAN? When the results of the travel survey came out, journalists were scrambling for answers. Two researchers at DTU were "surprised". They were quoted in the Danish press as saying things like, "uh... the City's new bridges and traffic calming on certain streets seem to have worked. Giving cyclists carrots encourage cycling."

        The detail they forgot was that the new cycling bridges aren't finished yet, nor is the traffic calming on Amagerbrogade. The N?rrebrogade stretch is from 2008. Cycling rose on that street by 15% but that was BEFORE 2012. Duh. Bascially, there hasn't been much carrot dangling in this city for a few years. So forget about THAT hastily thunk up theory. Things are happening NOW, in 2013 and 2014, sure, but that has nothing to do with the data from 2012 to 2013. Double Duh.

        What HAS happened is that 17 huge construction sites fell out of the sky all at once. Not something that happens every day. In addition, most of central Copenhagen - between 2012 and 2013 - was under further construction because of the upgrading of district heating pipes under many streets that had to be ripped up.

        Look at the guide at the top again. THAT is what has happened. Driving was rendered incredibly difficult. Copenhageners, being rational homo sapiens, chose other transport forms. Public transport has increased, too, but the bicycle is clearly the chariot of choice. It's no surprise at all why cycling is booming.

        What is happening right now is a fantastic urban experiement. So much data and experience is and will become available.

        Mark my words, however. When the Metro construction is finished in 2018... probably 2019... we will see a sharp drop in cycling levels, back to the standard levels we plateaued with for the past few years. You read it here first.

        Unless, of course, the City of Copenhagen has the cajones to embrace this experiment and use it to finally make The Leap - as described by author Chris Turner - into the future of our city. Expanding and widening the cycle tracks. Reallocating space from falling car traffic to bicycles and public transport. The new BRT route in Copenhagen is a good step. Let's see how much farther we can go. Designing cities instead of engineering them. The citizens have shown us that they will be on our side if we do the right thing.

        Otherwise, this rich petri dish experiment will just rot and be forgotten.

        29 July 2013

        Episode 03 - Intermodality - Top 10 Design Elements in Copenhagen's Bicycle Culture

        Here in Episode 03 of our series produced by über intern Ivan Conte we explore how Intermodality is a key to Copenhagen's success as a bicycle-friendly city.

        You should be able to have your bicycle with you from the moment you leave your home until you get back - all day and night long - without a hitch.

        Intermodality, when done right, is Supermodality.

        - EPISODE 08 - CARGO BIKES

        14 January 2013

        Bicycle Systems

        We appreciate every kilometre of cycle track the City of Copenhagen builds. We even like their construction signs indicating that the next 120 commutes are going to include not-so-convenient detours until that cycle track is put into place.

        So please, don't take it as ungrateful when we say, "you're doing it wrong." These days, phrases like bicycle planning, active transportation master plans, the bicycle network, and complete streets could fill one of those word clouds more quickly than a Dane washing down a sliver of herring with a shot of snaps. Fortunately, bicycle strategies abound in progressive urban planning. Unfortunately, few actually address the planning of bicycle infrastructure as a system, in the same way they would a new metro or bus system.

        We've blogged about the new Copenhagen Metro City Ring before. No opinion on it today. I simply want to point out (the obvious) that the metro is being implemented as a system. When it's finished in 2018, there will be no missing stations, no stations that lack stairs, an elevator or an escalator to depart the station, no stop will be unnamed.

        The same is true of bus systems, highways, airports. The signage, the connections, the efficiency of their infrastructure is vital to the success of those systems.

        When it comes to bicycles, even the most elementary definition of infrastructure, "the basic physical and organizational structures and facilities needed for the operation of a system" has been disregarded.

        The missed opportunities for increasing the number of citizen cyclists because considerations of signage, facilities, and efficiency have been ignored, are unreal. We'll take a closer look at the numbers in another post but for now just wanted to leave you with this food for thought: bicycle infrastructure is like any other transportation system, design it like you mean it.

        19 September 2012

        The State of Copenhagen Congestion - Part 5 - The 2013 Budget

        Driving Cars Kills Your Street Cred
        The State of Copenhagen Congestion - Part 5
        The 2013 Budget
        by Lars Barfred
        (with Mikael Colville-Andersen)

        Last week we wrote about a candle in the dark for Copenhagen traffic priorities. The light, however, was blown out in a local storm, it seems.

        Friday last week the politicians at Copenhagen City Hall - led by a Social Democrat majority - declared they had finally reached an agreement on the annual budget. They announced there would be more green mobility to the amount of $15 million USD for improving bicycle mobility, bike racks, etc. That’s the same amount as has been the average for the last five years or so. An amount equal to 1/41th of what the city and the government funnel into investments in better mobility for cars, as we wrote about in a previous piece in this series few weeks back. Basically, nothing new under the sun.

        Well, as it turns out, the reality is much different. In 2013 there will literally be no new bicycle infrastructure projects set into motion. Only projects which are under construction - or can´t be cancelled without penalities by the end of the year - will be finished in 2013, according to the press secretary of the Lord Mayor's office.

        If you look through the appendixes to the budget, as we have done, it turns out that the City decided to postpone $14.5 million USD of the 2013 budget to 2014 and even later. Along with $10 million USD worth of projects budgeted in 2010, 2011 and 2012.

        Every year, the government decides on a ceiling for public investments and services, which the municipalities must operate beneath. The reason Copenhagen is stretched so thin and restricted in its financial maneuveurability is that the City has commitments from previous years for new expressways for cars, new car parking and mini-Metro investments.

        Non-bicycle infrastructure investments are so massive that, for 2013, there is less than $500,000 USD for new bicycle infrastructure. All the while the City is building a 40% capacity upgrade to the largest in-road to Copenhagen, the North Harbour Tunnel. This road will lead to, among other places, the Nordhavn development. Which was a perfect candidate for a modern, progressive, car-light development on a par with Vauban. Or indeed city areas all over the world.

        Once again, the car lobby strikes back and the politicians bend over backwards to accommodate it.

        The mini-Metro, which is the most expensive investment in public transit in the history of Copenhagen, is designed to run in the inner-city on distances which are today travelled by bicycle for more than 80% of trips. Guess who will be travelling in this underground worm when its finished. Cycling rates will fall. You heard it here first.

        Although many bus passengers will be forced to use the mini-Metro instead because once it starts operating, many bus routes will be closed in order to increase car capacity on inner city roads.

        They will be desperately needing that capacity, with the North Harbour Tunnel infusing more and more cars into The New Copenhagen.

        26 April 2011

        Dig This

        Archeology and Bicycles
        I end up riding behind these two chaps on my way to the Copenhagenize Consulting offices in the mornings. The new Metro line is underway and the first phase - like in any many cities with a long history - involves archeologists and historians from the Copenhagen Museum.

        You can't stick spade into the ground without hitting history so archeologists are on the front lines when excavation begins.

        The two chaps in the photos ride through town with their gear, heading for the dig, on two of the Copenhagen Museum's fleet of short john bikes.

        Old Bomb Shelter under City Hall Square
        Spotted this the other day. A WW2 bomb shelter under City Hall Square. Not exactly old, of course, but still interesting to see it dug up. The text reads; "Abuse (of the facility) will be punished according to the law."

        23 February 2011

        Temporarily Permanent

        Temporary Bike Lanes
        If you have to make temporary bicycle lanes, it's ever so nice that they're done properly. The construction of the new Copenhagen Metro City Ring is well underway around town, not least in my neighbourhood. The area around the existing Frederiksberg Metro Station is a chaos of construction and the city has moved the bicycle lanes and pedestrian traffic as a result. It's only a stretch of a couple of hundred metres or so but it's an important link.

        The lanes are paved nicely and there are many bicycle pictograms to hammer home the fact that its for bicycles. It's not often that I ride on bi-directional bike lanes in Copenhagen and it feels a bit odd when I do, after being used to having protected cycle tracks on each side of the street. The only real bi-directional stretch is the Green Path that cuts across the city - which this section is a part of. I do, however, appreciate that this stretch is so well-made and not a clumsy, temporary solution. On the other hand it is necessary to make it properly, as there are easily over 5000 cyclists a day riding past this spot. That is probably a  low number given the fact the shopping centre on the left attracts many customers each day.
        Public Transit, Copenhagen
        Frederiksberg Metro station looks like this from above today. Another platform/station will be added to accomodate the City Ring.

        Public Music
        On the square by the station last weekend there was a pleasant surprise. There are speakers on Solbjerg Square, embedded beneath the ground. There is often music playing on the weekends. I've heard some cool jazz before. At the moment the many speakers are all part of an orchestra playing classical music. Each speaker is an instrument and it feels like you're in a concert hall. You can walk or ride your bike around the square and feel like you're moving through the orchestra pit. Brilliant.

        01 November 2010

        Not so Fine Metro Fine

        Prices for public transport in Copenhagen are generally regarded as being extremely high. Generally as well as compared to other European cities. It's a subject that is often debated but there is rarely any action.

        This post, however, is not about the fares but rather about the inflexibility of Metro conductors. Earlier this year I was in Mexico City and, upon arriving home, I dutifully purchased a Metro ticket from the machine at Copenhagen Airport.

        I had hardly slept for almost 22 hours and was just looking forward to get home to the kids. A conductor came on board - they do spot checks here - and I sleepily presented him with my ticket.

        He asked which station I was getting off at and I replied. He told me that my ticket was only two zones and not the required three. I apologised and explained that I must have pressed the wrong field on the touch screen at the airport after a long flight.

        He didn't seem to care much and stated that he would have to give me a ticket for travelling without a ticket. This surprised me and I argued that I did have a ticket - I merely bought the wrong one by mistake. He didn't seem to see the difference.

        I'm sitting there in a suit so while I probably looked tired I certainly don't think I looked like a rabblerousing fare-dodger. I suggested that I was more than happy to hop off the train at the next stop to buy a new ticket but he was not having it. I was polite.

        He proceeded to write out his ticket. To my amazement. I have just recieved a letter from the Metro company - I've forgotten to pay the fine so they sent a reminder - and after having forgotten about the episode I was reminded about it.

        I don't see how it is fair that a train/metro company hands out tickets for 600 kroner [€80 / $112] to a passenger who merely bought a ticket with the wrong zones and who offered politely to hop right off the train to fix the problem.

        It's not exactly good marketing or customer service either. If a passenger is caught without a ticket - sure... give them a fine. If a person is rude and abusive when made aware that they have a ticket with the wrong zones - sure... give them a fine. There should, however, be a margin for human error.

        And don't even get me started on the fact that all the local trains in Copenhagen now allow bicycles for FREE, but the Copenhagen Metro doesn't. I've heard from several people who have thought that the free bicycle transport extended to the Metro. Nor is there any visible campaign informing customers that Metro passengers with bicycles must buy a ticket. Even on their website you have to dig quite deep to get a clear answer. I wonder how many tickets have been handed out by Metro conductors because of this lack of communication (and willingness to promote bicycle traffic)? Maybe there is good money to be made?

        Copenhagen Metro's website.

        Just had a tweet from Rob who wrote:
        "Harsh! Had similar things happen but pleaded innocent 'your system is so complicated' stupid English guy & it seems to work!"

        Great idea! :-)

        Has anyone else had unfortunate experiences with getting fined on the Copenhagen Metro? Add them to the comments.

        28 September 2009

        The Perfect Bike Lane

        Now here's a ride I've not tried in Copenhagen. Thanks to a fellow Copenhagener for the link. As he writes: "8 km, 30-40 metres underground, no wind, no hills, no cars..."

        Methinks it's the maintenance tunnel for the Copenhagen Metro...
        ... on the below ground section.

        04 January 2009

        Metro Bicycle Parking

        Bike Parking at Metro Station
        All the underground stations on the new Copenhagen Metro have bike parking rooms. I never use them myself but the few times I've peeked inside...
        Bike Parking Metro
        ... there is always loads of room. There is a bar on each wall, but bikes are just leanding on their kickstands. The Metro is brilliant but it doesn't go many places outside of cycle range - the red local trains transport you farther out into the suburbs - so there isn't that much use for the parking rooms I suppose.

        The Metro was voted as the World's Best a couple of years ago and is quite cool. The URL is nice, too. www.m.dk.