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        Showing posts with label sikker trafik. Show all posts
        Showing posts with label sikker trafik. Show all posts

        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.

        30 January 2017

        Bike Helmets - Something Rotten in the State of Denmark

        I took part in a radio debate last week. Four guests and a journalist. In that forty-five minutes, I experienced a number of things including, but not limited to, the anti-intellectualisation of our society, emotional propaganda, alternative facts, manipulative and selective choice of facts, The Culture of Fear and the negative branding of cycling.

        You might expect I was on American or Australian radio. Nope. I was a 12 minute bike ride from Copenhagenize Design Company’s Copenhagen office - at Denmark’s national broadcaster, DR, on their flagship radio channel P1 Debat.

        The occasion was a debate about bike helmets. The week before, a Danish media personality, Mads Christensen, tossed out a remark on a television programme about how he let his kids decide for themselves, at the age of eight, if they wanted to wear a bike helmet or not. His comments were simply based on rationality about real or percieved dangers in society. Nevertheless, they generated a great deal of debate on social media. A journalist and radio host, Bente Dalsb?k (The Journalist), decided to allocate 45 minutes to the subject.

        Mads Christensen (The Rationalist) was there, of course. Also invited were Klaus Bondam (The Bike Advocate), head of the Danish Cyclists’ Federation; Torben Lund Kudsk (The Motorist), head of the Danish car lobby NGO, FDM; and yours truly.

        I don’t often engage in discussions about bike helmets in Denmark and try to avoid them in other regions. I feel that it distracts from our work at Copenhagenize Design Company in designing infrastructure for cities. Like Chris Boardman - former pro-cyclists and policy advisor at British Cycling has said on BBC.com, "You're as safe riding a bike as you are walking," (a helmet is) "... not in the top 10 things you can do to keep safe."

        I did this TED x talk in 2010 about The Culture of Fear related to bike helmets in order to NOT have to talk about it all the time.

        This article by Howie Chong entitled Why it Makes Sense to Bike Without a Helmet is also well worth a read.

        What has shocked me is that the debate about helmets is at such a primitive level in this country. Even in hard-core helmet promotion regions elsewhere in the world, I can engage in discussions at a much higher level. The hysterical social media reaction to comments like those by Mads Christensen would be balanced by people aware of science and practicing rationality. Not so here in Denmark. The reactions were overwhelmingly hysterical and ignorant. Not to mention completely unworthy of a well-educated nation like Denmark.

        The 45 minute interview started with context, where The Rationalist explained his side of the story. He repeated his statement about rationality and risk assessment. When mountain biking the woods, he and his kids wear helmets. When cycling to the shops in the world’s safest bicycle nation or whatnot, he doesn’t and he allows his kids to make their own call. Sounds like an intelligent approach.

        Like almost everywhere else, kids have a higher risk of head injury in cars and in playgrounds and for adults, cars pose the greatest risk followed by being a pedestrian, being at home, gardening, etc.

        Yes, life remains dangerous, although we live in a safer society than at any other point in the history of homo sapiens. The Culture of Fear, however, is the bogeyman. We can still construct fear of anything - including cycling. And wherever we can scare people, there are products to be sold to them.

        After The Rationalist outlined his point of view in the radio debate, The Journalist started to gather points of view, starting with The Bike Advocate. Klaus Bondam stated his organisation’s standard position. They strongly recommend helmets but are against legislation to make them mandatory. I pointed out that The Bike Advocate is the head of the only national bicycle NGO in Europe that actively promotes helmets.

        It was then my turn to present my point of view. How science should be respected, how manipulating selective facts is fundamentally wrong. I did what I could with the short answering time allocated to me by The Journalist but I could see early on in the interview that it was rigged in favour of The Culture of Fear. Which made it a loooong 45 minutes.

        All the strategy for one-sided debate was present. The Journalist threw out a statistic about how 60% of head injuries could be avoided with a helmet. No, not 60% of ALL head injuries - she only meant bike crashes. The Bike Advocate threw out another select statistic. With the looks on their faces when they did so, you really sensed that they felt they were nailing the debate.

        The Journalist didn’t bothering questioning the statistic or the context of it in order to provide the listeners with a bigger picture. The Bike Advocate looked all pleased with himself at being able to quote a researcher name and the year of the study. While science is under fire in Trump’s America, there is another category that is equally detrimental to any debate. The One Study Argument. Just cast one study that produced one statistic into the debate and wham. You are portrayed as an expert. People who don’t know more about the subject have no response. Pity those poor fools. Let them bask in the glory of your One Study Argument greatness.

         That is not how science works, however. The bigger picture is more important.

        Why is the debate at such a primitive level here in one of the world’s great cycling nations? The answer is simple. Lack of information - or rather a strictly controlled and manipulated information flow. In the Danish context, we must examine the tightly controlled information flow. Like you, wherever you are whilst reading this, we have a road safety NGO in Denmark. They call themselves The Danish Road Safety Council - R?det for Sikker Trafik (The Safety Nannies).

        Via Yehuda Moon - http://yehudamoon.com/

        This NGO is the puppet master controlling the flow of information about bike helmets. They have mastered the art. By doing so, they also contribute to the anti-intellectualisation of Danish society. They select one or two studies that adhere to their strict ideology and present it like the word of god to the masses. If individuals question it, the stats are merely repeated. The “60%” stat that The Journalist found and presented in the studio is their current one commandment carved in a stone tablet. It originates with the Norwegian Transport Economic Institute (T?I) and dates from 2004. It is perfect for them. It is a Scandinavian source from a fancy-sounding institute. Ironically, T?I has published other helmet-related studies since then and few would fit Sikker Trafik’s ideology. Better to ignore them and stick to the stat that works.

        You don’t need to explain WHY climate change is a hoax. You just have to repeat it ad naseum. Much the same communication strategy as The Safety Nannies employ and hand off to lazy journalists and pundits. It is a sad, flawed strategy that only fans the flames of anti-intellectualisation in any society but if you look at it, it is a brilliant strategy from a communication point of view.

        The Safety Nannies started their bike helmet promotion in the early 1990s in Denmark. Since then, cycling levels have continued to fall, which is what we have seen in many regions around the world. Danes are cycling more than 30% less today than in 1990. (If we got that 30% back, we could save over 1500 lives a year because of the health benefits of cycling, according to Professor Lars Bo Andersen of University of Southern Denmark, the most published academic about the health benefits of cycling)

        The positive aspects of having a cycling population are rarely presented in the current debate in Denmark. They are not sensationalist enough for journalists, apparently. In the middle of the interview The Journalist held up a printed out photo that she harvested from Facebook of a woman with a head injury. It was like a image version of the One Study Argument. “See?! Look at THAT...” End of debate. Showing photos of tens of thousands of people lying in hospital beds suffering from lifestyle illnesses like diabetes, heart disease, etc, due to inactivity is considerably less glamorous and have no place in sensationalist journalism.

        Another old chestnut was presented in the studio. 17,000 people visit a hospital each year as a result of a bike crash. I tried to put that number into context. The average in Denmark is 20,000, so I had calculated based on that number.

        If 18% of the population of Denmark ride a bicycle to and from work or education each day, that is 1,008,000 trips a week, Monday to Friday. Multiply that by 300 work days a year and you get 302,400,000 trips by bike. We’re not even including the trips to the supermarket, cafe, cinema, etc.

        If 20,000 trips end in a crash and a hospital visit, that means you have, in Denmark, a 0.0066138% chance of crashing and going to the hospital. The vast majority of those injuries are minor and the person in question is back on a bike in, at the most, a couple of days. Motorists, by the way, end up in hospitals much longer when they get injured in their preferred mode of transport.

        According to the City of Copenhagen who endeavour to battle this Bicycle Misinformation War whenever they can, I have to cycle to work for 2800 YEARS before I get injured.

        So where was The Bike Advocate during this onslaught of manipulation and alternative facts? Was he deftly and professionally countering all the arguments about cycling being dangerous? You would hope so. He was, however, all over the map, sending conflicting messages about cycling.

        The Safety Nannies broadcast the number of 20,000 cyclists visiting hospitals to anyone who will listen. They are not content with that, however. They invented “m?rketal” - or “dark numbers” as a way of further constructing fear about cycling. Cyclists also get hurt but DON’T visit the hospital and those dark numbers are an unknown. Yes. Cyclists who ARE OKAY and who have bandaids in their home after a minor mishap are now being used in the massive branding of cycling as an undesirable transport form.

        The Bike Advocate presented the listeners with this concept of dark numbers. Instead of defending cycling from the onslaught, he helped polish the rifles and load the ammo. A little later, he threw in a mix of neutral and positive angles to confuse anyone who was listening. There was no clear agenda from Denmark’s national cycling NGO. They refuse to acknowledge what most other cycling NGOs in Europe know - that merely promoting helmets is detrimental to cycling levels.

        Personally, I am sceptical when shopkeepers promote helmets. The Cyclists’ Federation has a bike shop. Several people in the industry cancelled their memberships back in the day when they opened a shop. The criticism was that an NGO for cycling should not promote one product over the other and remain neutral.

        In another twist, we still have emails in our archives from late 2007 and early 2008 when The Safety Nannies started their hardcore, emotional propaganda about bike helmets. What tipped it for them was that they convinced the Cyclists’ Federation to get on board. Colleagues from our industry informed me that the latter were promised influence and access to future funding if they joined the helmet brigade. They continue to deny this to this day.

        In Denmark, everything started with The Safety Nannies and their manipulated alternative facts are largely unchallenged by a society slowly dumbing down. Trump didn’t invent Trumpism, he just excels at it. Trump is merely a product of societal development. The same techniques are present everywhere. Interestingly, like Trump, The Safety Nannies in Denmark do not like being contradicted. They have actually spent time emailing journalists in Denmark and abroad about… me. Engaging in attempted character assassination with journalists and editors. Trying to discredit me. It is amusing. It only helps getting science printed and distributed. It also shows that their case is weak. You don’t go to all that effort if you are confident in what you are saying.

        Current helmet wearing rates in Copenhagen are at 11%.

        As we have come to expect, the debate also featured comments about “doctors and nurses say that...” Yet another technique in the debate. Who can doubt a medical professional?! They fail to realise that while those doctors and nurses excel at fixing people, they receive information about prevention from the same sources as everyone else. The one-way communication street from The Safety Nannies sends the same manipulated facts to doctors and nurses, too. Trust the medical professionals to make you better. Doubt the sources of their prevention advice. And notice that it is the trauma staff who get the best press. The doctors caring for those with lifestyle illnesses never get the same spotlight.

        The debate wandered into cyclist behaviour and the others agreed readily that “something has happened… cyclists are behaving more badly than ever before”. This is as amusing as it is wrong. Cyclist behaviour is largely unchanged for at least 120 years. There are countless articles, letters to the editor and editorials about cyclist behaviour over the past century. Not least this satirical piece by Denmark’s most loved satirist, Storm P..

        Perhaps it is time to realise that cyclist behaviour can only be changed if we stop forcing them to adhere to traffic rules and traffic culture designed to serve the automobile. We sending badminton players to play with ice hockey rules. It has never worked so it is time to think differently.

        We have shown time and again with our Desire Line Analyses that behaviour among our cycling citizens is fine. Only 5% of cyclists smash through the traffic rulebook. Which is on a par with pedestrians and motorists.

        A recent poll in Denmark outlined how ignorance of a topic can have dangerous consequences. This is a society where The Safety Nannies have a monopoly on the information about cycling. Danes were polled about whether they want a helmet law. A majority said yes. You don’t get that result in many places anymore due to the balance of information in the debate. Except in Denmark. The Safety Nannies and The Bike Advocate have been pushing helmets hard. Now they are under fire for not supporting a bike helmet law. They have shot themselves in the foot.

        It was a tough room. Countering emotional propaganda with an arsenal of science and rationality is difficult. I was in the line of fire as the others did what they could to continue this branding of cycling in Denmark as dangerous, using all the techniques we know from around the world. I tried to highlight facts like the Australian government’s study about motoring helmets, but to no avail. I just hope some listeners got the point.

        I didn’t get to industrial design, unfortunately. People have been led to believe that a bike helmet can withstand a meteor strike. They have never been informed that a helmet is designed to protect the head in non-life threatening, solo accidents under 20 km/h. Or that helmets are tested in simulations that resemble a pedestrian falling - which makes them perfect for… pedestrians and people in their home.

        "A walking helmet is a good helmet"

        Nor did I get to say that most serious head injuries are not a result of a lateral impact, but rather a rotational impact. Something bike helmets cannot deal with.


        More people drown in Denmark each year than die in bicycle crashes. There is a missed financial opportunity there. Let’s pass laws making life vests mandatory within 2 metres of water. 35,000 Europeans die each year in cars. Think of the money to be made if we imported these from Australia (it is a real product).

        It was a depressing debate session in that radio studio. Daily Mail tactics from The Journalist. Vague, conflicting and confusing messaging from The Bike Advocate. The Rationalist had his say, which helped, but at the end of the day, the sheeple will lean towards the strong-flowing current of misinformation from The Safety Nannies.

        You may recall that The Motorist was in the room, too. He didn’t say much. He didn’t need to. Would you? You have a national radio program completely trashing your main competitor. Car sales are at a four year high in Denmark. Just stand there and let them do it.

        I cycled back to the office and continued to work on our projects with cities who want to copenhagenize themselves. We’ll keep on keeping on. Designing their networks and infrastructure. Exporting the Copenhagen model. It is a good, transferable model. It is working to transform cities around the world. Embrace it. Everything else coming out of Denmark regarding negative branding, helmet promotion and The Culture of Fear… ignore it.

        Go talk to the Dutch. Start with this article about Dutch Rationality Saving Childrens’ Lives.

        In Denmark, we're heading down this road:

        14 October 2015

        Bike Helmet Wearing Rates in Copenhagen in 2015

        Copenhagen Bike Helmet Usage 2015
        We like data at Copenhagenize Design Company. It's a major part of our work, not least in our Desire Line Analyses of cyclist behaviour that we have done in Copenhagen and Amsterdam, and planning to do on a global scale. We film an intersection for 10-12 hours and spending a couple hundred hours analysing the behaviour, doing counts of everything we can and producing solutions for modernising intersections to priortise cycling and pedestrians.

        In association with the current Desire Line Analysis we are working on, on S?torvet intersection in Copenhagen, we have added some data sets. Including performing a bike helmet count.

        The reason is simple. There is no reliable data. The numbers we have seen are from the Danish Road Safety Council - R?det for Sikker Trafik - and we are sceptical about them.

        They claim that the helmet wearing rate is 26%.

        Their random counts during rush hour and some telephone surveys do not, however, provide reliable data. Especially considering that this car-centric NGO is desperate to brand cycling as dangerous and they do everything they can to prove that their helmet campaigns have been successful. When you work with an idealogy, you often skim over reliable data in order to get the result you want.

        What we did was simple. We looked at our 10 hours of footage from the intersection - the busiest in Denmark for cyclists. We studied all the cyclists on one specific Desire Line, heading into the city centre, between 8 AM and 6 PM on May 6, 2015. The best way to determine a number is to see what the regular citizens are doing. They, and they alone, are the main indicator of safety and perception of safety.

        10,734 cyclists in all, throughout the day. That is good, solid number to base some data on. Not just the morning commuters, but all the different types of people using the bicycle infrastructure throughout a typical day in Copenhagen.

        As you can see, the data provides us with a very different number than the Danish Road Safety Council's exaggerated number.

        11% of cyclists were wearing helmets. Safe to say that the vast majority feel safe and they have rejected the emotional propaganda from the Danish Road Safety Council. Using instead, their own rationality.

        Copenhagen Bike Helmet Usage 2015

        Because we found it interesting, we divided the helmet wearing rate up into hours between 8AM and 6PM. Just to see if there were variations.

        Ideally, a city has suceeded in keeping cyclists safe when helmet rates are low. Infrastructure is the key. A rejection of ideological campaigns is also important.

        Last week I addressed the 28 Transport Ministers of the European Union, telling them why they should take cycling seriously as transport. 40 minutes of positive messaging of cycling in Luxembourg. I also, however, mentioned that many safety organisations - and I used the Danish Road Safety Council as a prime example - often choose statistics that support their goal - and leave out an ocean of stats and studies that don't.

        Data. Always data. Data forever.

        23 April 2015

        Felix and the Danish Cyclist Test

        Achievement Unlocked
        My son Felix on the course of today's cyclist test for 6th graders in Denmark, in Frederiksberg, Copenhagen.

        Today was a fun day in my son Felix' young life. Together with the other 6th grade students at La Cour Vej School, he took part in the Danish "cyklistpr?ve" - or Cyclist Test.

        The test has been around since 1947. It's not mandatory but many schools choose to do it. When kids are in the 1st grade they get a week of initial cyclist "how-to" regarding rules of the road, etc. Then, in 6th grade, they rock the test like today. In my opinion, the test is great but it's also rather symbolic. Most of these kids have been cycling in the city since they were little. Felix has rocked the cycle tracks since he was three and a half. Parents teach them the rules and, most important, give them the practice they need. By the time they get to the 6th grade, the majority have a great deal of on-asphalt experience on their bicycles. Our school chooses to make passing the test a pre-requisite for going on outings by bike when they get older.

        Today's test almost didn't happen. The police are involved, as a rule, but because of the Copenhagen shootings earlier this year, they say they don't have the resources. They put a lot of resources into investigating and rounding up other potential terrorists, sure. But they have also spent a pile of money on positioning policemen armed with heavy weapons around the city. A symbolic gesture to "make us feel safe". An expensive, symbolic gesture that had little effect on Copenhageners. Right THERE, they could have saved some money and still helped do the cyclist test.

        Normally, the police are on hand for the test. They check the bikes to make sure they are legal and spend the morning with the students. Today it was different

        Some schools, however, took matters into their own hands. The principal of La Cour Vej School, where both my kids attend, said today that they chose to find the resources in THEIR budget to do the test anyway, because it is very important for the kids and for traffic safety that they take the test. So, at 7:40 this morning, me and five other parents showed up and were handed clipboards with the grading sheets. We each chose one of six posts to stand at and off we went. I had a sunny bench at the roundabout outside the school when the kids were on the home stretch.

        There are four 6th grade classes at the school and each class took it in turn. They are sent off alone in 2-3 minute intervals on a 4.4 km ride through our neighbourhood. They each wear an orange vest with a number on both sides so that we can recognise them and mark them accordingly. Here's the route:

        The route has a bit of everything. All forms of bicycle infrastructure, all levels of volume. Busy streets, quiet residential streets and lots of turns. Earlier this week the kids had a theory test and they all walked the route with their teacher.

        The kids start off with 300 points and each mistake subtracts from that. Here's the list.

        Didn't shoulder check before a turn: -30 points
        Didn't shoulder check before a stop: -30
        Didn't shoulder check before positioning themselves in the right spot on the cycle track: -30

        Forgot to signal a turn: -30
        Didn't signal a turn in good time: -30
        Forgot to signal a stop: -30
        Didn't signal a stop in good time: -30

        Giving Way (Depending on situation)
        Did not give way: -30
        Forgot to give way to others in same direction: -30
        Forgot to give way to others in opposite direction: -30
        Forgot to yield to pedestrians: -30

        Wrong placement before a turn: -30
        (ie: On left side of cycle track but turning right. Wrong placement when turning left in a box turn)
        Didn't use the cycle track: -30
        Rode on the sidewalk: -30
        Rode in the pedestrian crossing: -30

        Traffic Lights/Signage
        Ran a red light: Disqualified
        Rode through a yellow light: -30
        Didn't see a traffic sign: -10

        Rode too fast: -10
        (Silly rule and hard to gauge. Bikes have to follow the posted speed limit)
        Rode too insecurely: -10
        Rode with other students during test: -10
        (Kind of like cheating. The test is also about orientation in the city)
        Walked the bike: -10
        Didn't pass the monitoring post: -75
        Other mistakes: -30

        Here was my monitoring post:

        I had to watch them enter the roundabout and exit it again. Checking them for shoulder checks, giving way, signalling.

        So after spending four hours on a street corner waiting for over eighty 12 and 13 year olds to pass, how did it go? I was impressed. They rocked it. The vast majority rode like a boss, with confidence despite the nervosity of performing a test and trying to get everything right. Like I said, most of these kids have been cycling in the city for years so it wasn't really a stretch for them. Merely a fun refresher course.

        Some were less confident on the bike, but none were perilous in their cycling. One poor kid got totally lost on the route and ended up in the N?rrebro neighbourhood. He wasn't in school on the day the kids walked the route and even though he had a map he still got a longer bike ride than he expected. Some kids bunched up a bit, even though they weren't supposed to. The 2-3 minute interval was generally good at spreading them out so they were on their own, finding their way on the urban landscape.

        I haven't seen the final results but when us six parents met up afterwards we had a chat. There were few dramas out there. Another day in a bicycle-friendly city. I can't see how any of the kids would fail the test, apart from the kid who got lost. I hope he gets another shot at it.

        Normally, when the police are involved, if a kid fails they send a letter to the parents informing them that their kid needs some more practice.

        Regarding my kid, Felix, I had informed him beforehand that as MY son, I would tease him until the end of time if he failed. He didn't and I knew he wouldn't.

        You can, however, see how the Culture of Fear has influenced things even here in Denmark. In the emails leading up to the day it was stated that helmets had to be worn. I informed the teacher responsible that Felix doesn't wear a helmet and a longer discussion ensued. It's clear that the Danish Road Safety Council have influenced a lot of people with their wacko ideology. I was informed that the school's traffic policy requires helmets. I looked it up - it doesn't. They merely "urge" students to wear them. I was told he could borrow a helmet. I asked if they were washed and disinfected. They weren't.

        Then I was told it wasn't up to the school but that I would have to talk to the Danish Road Safety Council or the police. I responded that the Road Safety Council is just an NGO and has no power and the police merely refer to the Danish traffic law which doesn't require helmets. At the end of the day I was told I could sign a form exempting Felix from wearing a helmet. Fine. Except there is no form and Felix just did as he pleased.

        This is not America, but sometimes you wonder if it is. The battle for rationality and respect for science continues.

        The main takeaway for me today was seeing eighty kids riding like bosses. Owning it. Rocking the old cycling test and having fun doing it. Cheering their fellow students when they left the start area. Cheering when they got back. It was awesome. Felix is totally pre-teen at the moment but he was clearly proud to complete the test. And I'm a proud dad.

        The Lulu
        Next up is The Lulu. She's in 1st grade but she already owns it. She'll be awesome, too, by the time the test comes around in five years.

        05 April 2014

        Copenhagen - Is Cycling Up or Down or What?

        SnowFall RushHour - Cycling in Winter in Copenhagen
        It's all so confusing. Numbers indicating rise and falls in cycling levels. Although perhaps not as much as we think.

        Firstly, back in 2009 I made a bet with anyone who would take it. Cycling levels in Copenhagen had been stagnant for many years. In 2008, a whole new kind of stupid showed up in Denmark. The Danish Road Safety Council (R?det for Sikker Trafik - or Rodet for Sikker Panik if you like) decided to expand their ideological campaigns by promoting bicycle helmets. They convinced the Danish Cyclists Federation (DCF) to join the parade. To this day, the DCF remain one of the few national cycling organisations in all of Europe who support promotion of bicycle helmets.

        Anyway, hardcore emotional propaganda hit the streets of Denmark in January 2008. As usual with such organisations, there was little science involved. An unsuspecting population were subjected to a one-sided view on helmets and not offered any balanced, scientific perspective. The Culture of Fear is powerful when applied correctly. Now, 17% of Copenhageners wear helmets on average. They are usually the ones involuntarily performing Risk Compensation studies. Keep a careful eye when cycling out there with them.

        In this article from 2009 - Cycling is booming - just not in Denmark - I predicted that the rash of bicycle helmet promotion would not cause cycling levels to increase - despite the massive political will at the time. As I wrote:

        Here's my bet. Because of the intense bicycle helmet propanganda in 2008:
        - the percentage of cyclists in Copenhagen - 37% - will not rise. It will either fall or remain unchanged.

        Few colleagues believed it. What happened?

        Copenhagen cycling levels fell from 37% to 35% by 2010. That's a lot of people who hopped off the bicycle. The people who made that happen have blood on their hands.

        In order to explain the drop, the usual suspects will tell you that it was because there were two hard winters in Copenhagen. So we looked at all the different factors involved, including the weather, and compared it all with Amsterdam. Amsterdam, and the rest of the Netherlands, suffered EXACTLY the same hard winters in the same period. Amount of snow, temperatures, you name it.

        Cycling levels didn't fall in Amsterdam. They remained steady. Fewer people drove because of the winters, but cycling wasn't affected.

        The emotional propaganda onslaught faded away and, as one would expect, cycling levels started to recover. We're now at 36% modal share of people arriving at work of education in the city and have lingered there for a few years.

        The news today in Copenhagen is of a massive increase in cycling in Copenhagen. Numbers from travel survey data from Danish Technical University show the following:

        - The average trip length for Copenhageners increase by a whopping 1 km since 2012.
        - Copenhageners ride 2,006,313 km a day, compared to 1.3 million in 2012.
        - Car trips are down 12%.
        - Public transport also increased its modal share from 28% to 32% since 2007.

        One of the newspapers in Denmark that is arguably the most anti-cycling - Politiken - try to wrap their pretty heads around why there has been an increase in this article, in Danish. They ask all manner of academics who offer up their opinions.

        The journalists claim that the City of Copenhagen's focus on infrastructure is a reason for it. They mention, among other things, the bicycle bridges over the harbour but fail to notice that they aren't even finished being built yet. So that doesn't work. There have been infrastructure improvements on certain streets, sure, but nothing on a large enough scale to boost cycling levels this much.

        It's all very simple if you want it to be.

        Copenhagenize Traffic Planning Guide

        Right here, in all its simplicity.

        Copenhagen is one massive building site. 17 new Metro stations are under construction all at once. Last year, work was finally completed on the huge network of pipes providing central heating to most of the city centre, which only contributed to the chaotic construction in the city. In the above article, the DCF - to my delight - recognised this as the reason for the current increase.

        If you want to encourage cycling and public transport, make driving a pain in the ass. It is the only way forward and the only way we know to get motorists to change their behaviour.

        Trip lengths by bicycle are up in Copenhagen - and car trips are down - simply because it's a pain to drive in the city because of all the construction at the moment. That's it and that's that.

        If the City wants to maintain these cycling levels, keep the current chaos, albeit in a nicer form, when the Metro construction is finished.

        The new numbers are nice today, but if everything just reverts to the car-centric status quo when construction is finished (and remember that the Metro expansion is already projected to reduce cycling levels by 3%), the honeymoon will be over and it will be abrupt and shocking when it happens.
        Mark my words.

        It's all so easy if you want it to be.
        Don't promote helmets.
        Make driving difficult, complicated, expensive.

        The homo sapiens of a city will always figure out the fastest A to B. We call it A2Bism. We are all like rivers, finding the easiest route. Make that the bicycle or public transport and you are halfway there.

        21 October 2013

        Blaming Victims and Dictating Clothing

        Friday Night Crowd
        If you have been reading this blog for a while, you'll know all too well about what we call "Ignoring the Bull". How in this car-centric society, non-motorised victim blaming is the norm. The status quo.

        You may also know the media tendency - mostly in non-cycling countries - to report about cyclists killed or injured in collisions with motorised traffic. "Hit by a truck/fast moving vehicle.... wasn't wearing a helmet." Written by journalists who are hopelessly uninformed (and perhaps uninterested) about a helmet's limited industrial design capability in collisions with vehicles. They never seem to write "Man fell from 3rd floor. Wasn't wearing a helmet." You get the point.

        What we're seeing lately is how the everpresent Culture of Fear is encroaching on our lives in a new(ish) way. The safety nannies and their lackies are now desperately trying to dictate what you, the citizen, wears. They are trying to make fashion choices for you in the name of their holy, car-centric "safety".

        Even here in Denmark.

        Last night a young woman was killed in central Copenhagen. Run down by a taxi. By all accounts, she was crossing against the light. A young life snuffed out.

        What we noticed in the articles about it was that it was really her own damn fault.

        "The woman was dressed in black and it was therefore difficult for the taxi, which had the green light, to see her. The taxi driver was questioned and released. He is charged with manslaughter. According to the preliminary investigation, the driver was driving at 60 km/h when he hit the woman."

        Firstly, if you live in one of over 120 European cities, you'll be stunned that there are 60 km/h zones in the heart of a densely populated European capital like Copenhagen. The 30 km/h zone movement is over 25 years young and has had an amazing effect on traffic safety in our cities. Just not in Denmark. Because the Danish police enjoy a veto regarding an issue they know nothing about. Namely traffic safety. There is a political majority in favour of 30 km/h zones in Copenhagen, but the police just shrug and say no. They are not even obliged to say WHY they're saying no. Even though they have admitted to being completely ignorant on the subject of traffic safety.

        The death of the young woman comes a day after one of the police departments in Denmark - Vestegns Politi - tweeted: "Do you and your child light up in the dark? Reflectors = 70% fewer accidents for pedestrians." Seriously.

        The Culture of Fear is a nasty bitch. Destructive to our societies. It is, however, rather easy to trace where messages come from. In this case, it's the darling of the automobiile industry, The Danish Road Safety Council - R?det for Sikker Trafik. They're campaigning like it's 1952 and nobody seems to be able to stop them. That 70% figure? One study. From Norway. Hardly empirical evidence. (Their pornographic obsession with bicycle helmets also quotes only one study that fits their ideology, not the body of science available to the rational souls among us.) They've also been pushing their Fear Pornography for years here in Denmark, despite their complete lack of respect for A. liveable cities and B. science.

        Basically, if you feel the need to advertise reflective clothing for pedestrians and cyclists, you are advertising your complete ineptitude about building safe and liveable cities. You are shouting to the world that you believe cars are king and everyone else is at their mercy.

        That the Danish police allow a 60 km/h zone in the heart of the city is as old-fashioned as it is disgusting. There is massive evidence that 30 km/h zones save lives and reduce injury. We've even published a study highlighting the facts. There is good reason that over 120 cities in Europe have implemented them. The Danish Road Safety Council is silent on the subject. It messes with their car centric heads, apparently. In fact, this blog is the only voice for 30 km/h zones in Copenhagen - and other Danish cities - in the wilderness. Oh, and this Facebook group.

        If there was a 30 km/h zone on that street last night, that girl would have had a spectacular chance of surviving. Whoever has been standing in the way of 30 km/h zones has her blood - and the blood of many others, like this 10 year old girl - on their hands.

        Ignoring the Bull. And getting away with it. Both the Danish Road Safety Council and the Danish police. At the expense of human life and suffering. Without any legal implication whatsoever. Is this democracy? No. A young woman is dead, even though she could have survived.

        If there was some sort of safety nanny balance in the messaging, it might (okay not really) make it a bit better. We know, for example, that black cars are more likely to be involved in accidents. Because you can't see them at night - or even during the day. Are the Danish Police or The Danish Road Safety Council tweeting about putting reflective tape on cars to increase visibility? Nah. That would be rational and intelligent. Are they campaigning for motorist helmets based on Australian government studies? Nah. Don't mess with cars.

        We've proposed health warning for cars, in line with those on cigarette packs. We've exposed car-centric nonsense from the Copenhagen Police here and from the Danish Road Safety Council here and here and here, as well as a philospher's call for having them shut down.

        I trust the police to take care of police business. Do what they're trained to do and what they're knowledgeable about. Traffic safety is not one of those things. Get off my streets.

        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.