Tag Archives: Copenhagen

Getting Britain on its bike – can Copenhagen show us the way?

Last month I visited Copenhagen, in my capacity as member of the International Scientific Advisory Board of the Danish research project, Bike-ability. Whilst there, as well as talking to lots of people about cycling, I got to ride around the city. Ezra Goldman, who’s involved in the project’s research, asked me to blog on my experiences of and thoughts about cycling in Copenhagen.

Richard Lewis, a principal town and transport planner at the London Borough of Newham, crafted a wonderfully thoughtful response to my blogpost. As part of that post, Richard probed me on whether or not I saw Britain as best following Copenhagen’s example, when it comes to building a cycling culture. Here follows my (perhaps less thoughtful and less crafted, but I hope equally concerned and committed) response. It’s posted here, rather than as a comment, at Ezra’s suggestion, and in the hope that it continues debates as to how – across the globe – we best boost cycling.

Hi Richard
First off, thanks very much for such a thoughtful response to my observations of Copenhagen, and for so considered a set of questions. I ap0logise that it’s taken me so long to respond; in an ideal world, I would have done so immediately!
I will try to respond directly to your three specific questions.
1) Do I like Copenhagen’s cycling infrastructure?
Not really, no. But whether or not I like it seems slightly irrelevant. My main consideration is whether or not it transforms – or has the potential to transform – the city. And here my response is ambivalent. Currently I do not think Copenhagen’s cycling infrastructure is transformatory, and before talking to a range of experienced and knowledgeable people in Copenhagen I doubted the potential for the city’s approach to cycling infrastructure progressively to de-centre and displace the car. But now I am less sure of myself – precisely, I have more optimism that Copenhagen’s approach (the provision of segregated space for cycling, which means people are effectively pedalling down narrow urban corridors – in relative ‘safety’ but also in relative ‘confinement’) contains both the ambition and the capacity to move beyond the model of the corridor, and incrementally to re-colonise ever more urban space for people, and thus de-privatise it from the grip of parked and moving cars.
2) Would, in the UK context, dedicated cycling infrastructure increase cycling?
Yes, I think so. For the last year my colleagues and I have been doing extensive and intensive ethnographic fieldwork in four English cities, and we have talked to many, many people who say (and I believe them!) they would like to cycle, but who are too afraid to cycle under currently dominant cycling conditions. The provision of dedicated, segregated cycling infrastructure is an obvious mechanism for helping such people to cycle. But I would emphasise, it is only one such obvious mechanism. Such provision should be just one of the tools in our kit for getting Britain on its bike. Here I wholeheartedly agree with your suggestion that such provision makes most sense along wider, key arterial routes, and should comprise part of a cycling network which embraces the existing – but hugely civilised (through for example slower speed limits and changing cultural sensibilities and legal responsibilities across different mobility users) – road network.
3) Because of the precarious state of cycling, is dedicated infrastructure the only realistic way of triggering a step-change in cycling in the UK?
My response to this question depends on my capacity to imagine a set of British politicians prepared to bite the bullet, and instigate – and then survive – a broader and sweeping portfolio of progressive changes to Britain’s transport environment. Because if UK government is capable of civilising the car, then no, we do not need a comprehensive dedicated cycling infrastructure (there will always be a case for some, selective, such infrastructure) – Copenhagen has such infrastructure because it was not prepared so to civilise the car, although clearly it has managed to ameliorate some of the car’s worst effects.
However, adopting a (slightly!) more pragmatic perspective, then yes, I think the installation of very high quality segregated cycling infrastructure along key arterial routes within and between British cities, alongside a range of other measures, is perhaps the way most effectively and quickly to reach a tipping point for cycling, which can trigger its elevation to a qualitatively different level (in terms of both practice – say, 20% of all urban journeys across the UK by 2025 – and perception – so that cycling becomes a perfectly acceptable and unremarkable thing for anyone at all to do); i.e. the ‘normalisation’ of cycling. This range of other measures would include the implementation of slower speeds (30 km/hr) across the rest of the road network, and would be aligned with other changes; infrastructural (such as modal filters, as you suggest), legal (such as stricter liability rules), and cultural (such as the adoption of cycling amongst high-profile charismatic individuals, and the consignment – and commensurate stigmatisation – of ‘cyclist-baiting’ to the most reactionary fringes of the gutter press).
In general, I seem increasingly to be moving towards what I’d call a ‘messy vision’ for cycling in the UK. By this I mean that getting Britain moving by bike will require many different interventions, which produce multiple (and potentially unpredictable) synergies, which together ‘spin’ us into a qualitatively new transport culture. Relatedly, I seem also increasingly to be adopting a position marked less by fixed adherence to some model over another (which when it comes to debating ‘the proper place of cycling’ (on or off road; integration or segregation) in the UK might be seen as a hindrance to debate about progressive cycling futures), and more by recognition that a heterogeneous rather than homogeneous ‘cycling system’ might be the inevitable and best outcome of our current and future efforts. But going back to the thrust of your questions, I think increased provision of specific and segregated cycling infrastructure might be key to getting the velorution rolling. The current and massive problem with otherwise wonderful initiatives such as Bikeability (a UK cycle training scheme, not to be confused with the Danish research project of the same name!) is that, given the existing cycling environment, we’re destined to lose the vast majority of those we train. However well we train them, only the hardy minority will stay on their bikes for long. We have strategically to crack, and then mine, the current dominance of car-based urban automobility, and the establishment of cycling corridors – a la Copenhagen and (in a fashion) London – on key, highly visible arterial routes seems one way of doing so.
Finally, I want to alert you to an upcoming event which is designed to explore precisely these kinds of question. ‘Building Cycling Culture/s’ is taking place at The Phoenix Digital Arts Centre in Leicester on Saturday 4th and Sunday 5th June 2011. I’m co-organising it with Rachel Aldred, who leads the ‘Cycling Cultures’ research project at the University of East London, Andy Salkeld of Leicester City Council, and John Coster of ‘Citizens’ Eye’. We’ll be announcing further details soon, but suffice to say that our vision is both to recognise and celebrate the myriad ways in which many people are currently working for cycling, and also to explore and debate what now needs to be done to produce in the UK a broad and inclusive cycling culture.
They’re some thoughts pretty much off the top of my head – but I hope they clarify my views (though as I hope I’ve suggested, my views are always under construction and so in formation ….), and that we have more debate over these and similar matters into the future. All the very best, Dave

Can the Copenhagen model be applied to the UK?

I got this great comment from a transportation planner in London in response to Dave Horton’s post earlier about his experiences riding in Copenhagen and I decided to publish it. If you have something you would like published on this site, just send it my way or ask to become a contributor. The aim of this site is to get a wide variety of perspectives, not just mine!

From Richard Lewis, a principal town and transport planner at the London Borough of Newham:

Very interesting post, David. I am struggling a little with the contrast between what you say here (in which you essentially like Copenhagen’s cycling culture even if it’s not for you) and what you infer in your five part article regarding the fear of cycling, published on Copenhagenize.com.

My questions are, (aside from your dislike of being ‘constrained’) do you on balance actually like Copenhagen type infrastructure or not, and if you do, then can you see it happening, albeit to a limited extent, in the UK–on condition of design excellence and other conditions as you see fit? From your professional perspective, can you see dedicated infrastructure (as opposed, for example, to networks of streets with ‘filtered permeability’ as in London) having a significant effect on levels of cycling? Do you think we have reached a stage where the fear of cycling in society, and indeed public and media ‘aggression’ towards cyclists as an ‘out group’ is now so embedded that only dedicated infrastructure can produce the ‘next wave’ and the ‘normalisation’ of cycling?

For my part, I was one of those people who was ‘anti-segregation’ for the reasons you’ve outlined until I visited Copenhagen, and now I’m unsure. I thought the approach taken in the Netherlands was somewhat ‘gold plated’ and therefore unlikely to be achieved in the UK. Copenhagen appears to demonstrate a highly achievable example: the design of infrastructure is simple and continuous, and features the repeated application of simple design principles. I particularly like the treatment at many junctions (share the right-turn lane with motors), which minimises conflict without adding extra signal phases. And I can see the system being implemented on selected major routes into and around Central London and outer London town centres, subject to some design improvements for pedestrians.

However, on the other hand, I also agree with the ‘Bikeability’ cycle training approach, which trains cyclists to ride in vehicular fashion, sharing the carriageway with motors, and to overcome their fear of motors (a fear that is highly embedded in our society). I’m unsure of the long-term benefits of this: certainly riders become more confident and it’s been shown that they ride in a wider variety of contexts (progressing from all off-road to riding on quieter streets, for example). But should they find themselves being intimidated or in a close shave once too often, might that confidence ebb again, especially if there is an intervening break in cycling?

My suggestion, which I would like you to consider, is that good infrastructure for cycling in the UK is a mix of all things: where cyclists ride the streets and roads with motors, then motor traffic speeds should be reduced, enabling fearless sharing; where direct arterial road routes provide the shortest link to key destinations (and the alternative routes are indirect, perceived as unsafe at night, or difficult to follow), then Copenhagen-style infrastructure should be provided where there is sufficient width and measures should be taken to increase the relative convenience of cycling compared with other modes, by introducing networks of ‘modal filters’ (road closures with gaps for cyclists) to maintain direct access for cyclists and reduce route options for drivers.

The key thing in any event, it seems to me, is good design of public spaces. I don’t think we should consider ‘cycling’ or indeed ‘walking’, ‘using public transport’ or ‘driving’ in isolation–movement is not an end in itself. I like the Copenhagen philosophy that actually ‘quality of life’ is what should drive policy development and decisions. It’s a holy grail, of course, since the problem we have in the UK is a cultural ‘silo’ mentality of ‘functionality of space’ and humans as the ‘units’ that ‘require mobility’. When the functions of planners, transport planners, designers, and so on are properly linked, by an enterprising political leader perhaps, as in Copenhagen, then perhaps you might agree real progress towards a cycling society can be achieved in Britain.

What is the role of bike paths?

There is a lot of discussion about segregated cycle paths, with most on the one hand suggesting they are a critical and necessary element of creating bike friendly cities but then a few more radical John Forrester anti-bike lane advocates who suggest that we should all ride together with car traffic. I’d like to suggest that bike lanes are an important component of what makes a bikeable city, but may not always be the most critical factor. Bike lanes may also increase cycling in cities that are starting to see the cracks in a car-based life style (e.g., Europe), but may have minimal if any impact on cities where people are just getting their first car (e.g., India). Finally, if you create compact cities with severe restrictions on car usage and easy integration with a strong transit system, you may still be able to get good cycling rates even without any lanes (e.g., Japan).

See this video of the history of Dutch bike lanes, which is similar to Denmark (thanks to worldstreets for the tip).

First, while there is a lot of evidence to suggest that places with high cycling rates (mainly Holland, Germany, and Denmark) also have a lot of segregated bikeways, I haven’t read any reports yet that prove demonstrably that this correlation is causative. I found the video above interesting but found it to be lacking in serious discussion about why bike lanes were built at different times or the effect they had on ridership during different eras.

An alternative reading of the history of the bike lane could be that the initial cycle tracks were designed for cyclist comfort (let’s say roughly 1890-1950).  There already where a ton of cyclist on the road (somewhere around 70-80% mode share in many Dutch cities around the 1930s, 50% in Copenhagen), so this was mainly just for their benefit not to attract more riders.

When the car entered the scene around the middle of the 20th century, there was a push by modern planners to clear the roads to make way for them to increase the flow of traffic. At this point, most European cities had their cycling rates drop by 50% or more- including cities in Holland and Denmark- despite having bicycle lanes. In Copenhagen at this point, some lanes were even reduced.

Around the mid to late 1970s, after the oil crisis, the more progressive European cities began advocating to get lanes and infrastructure back and most experienced increased rates of cycling, particularly in cities where they also employed a cocktail of other pro-cycling measures (not just bike paths) combined with restrictions on car ownership and use. It wasn’t really until the 1990s, I would argue, that bike lane construction really started being advocated as a way to increase bike ridership. Rates in Dutch and Danish cities have since gone back up but only to half or less of their original rates from the early part of the 20th century (about 40-50% modal split in Amsterdam and 25-40% in Copenhagen, depending which data and who you ask).

Quite possibly, it is not until people have become sufficiently tired of cars and traffic and they start looking for alternatives that bicycle infrastructure can truly have an impact. There are several stories I have heard and seen of bicycle paths being constructed in Delhi and Pune in India and Cape Town in South Africa where there are probably twice as many bicyclists as in Denmark or Holland but the bike paths are not being used or being misused. This is a question worth exploring. Are they not designed properly? Do motorists, law enforcement agents and cyclists just need time to learn about them?

My hypothesis would be that these places are more comparable to where Holland and Denmark were in the 1950s and 60s, with their first intoxicating taste of cars. Here, most people are “captive users” biking because they have no choice. The second they get money, they buy a scooter or car. Even if you build bike lanes in this context, you will likely still see declines in cycling rates. However, it may lay the groundwork for subsequent increases when they come down from their “car high” in a generation or so.

Finally, cities in Japan have pulled off cycling rates that most would dream of without hardly any bicycle paths of any sort. Tokyo has rates of 20% and Osaka has rates of 25%. Compare this to US cities that typically have 1% or less aside from a few places like Portland, Oregon that get 8% share on the nicest day in July. Japan’s secret is probably its huge density, a solid train system with good bike parking and making car driving almost impossibly difficult and expensive in the city. Therefore, people live far from their jobs but ride their bike to the nearest train station which they take into work. No bike lanes. At least, not yet. Cyclists do cause conflict with pedestrians on sidewalks, so there has been some discussion about putting them in but it’s unclear where it is all heading.

Bike lanes are an important element of a mix of strategies, but we should not become overly convinced of their silver bullet power. Building a cycling city takes a lot of time and patience and requires a large variety of supportive bicycle infrastructure and policy combined with restrictive policies toward cars and integrative strategies with transit. Furthermore, different strategies are required for cities with different relationships with car ownership.

More research should be done trying to demonstrate that bike lanes are a cause of ridership (rather than as an effect of it). More research is also needed to show to what extent it is possible to transplant infrastructure designed for northern European cities which have a very particular socio-cultural, historical and urban context. Where does it work? Where does it fail and why? We also need to better understand and advocate on reducing car usage if we want to improve cycling rates. We can’t get there just with pro-bike advocacy alone.

Don’t get me wrong. I love riding on Copenhagen bike paths and now I have been spoiled into not being able to ride on the road together with cars. But I also want an explanation as to why there are also examples (even in Denmark!) of segregated bike paths not being used. Anyone have a good explanation?

Urban Delivery Bike Service Concept

I worked on a competition proposal together with Adaptive Path and De FietsFabriek to develop an innovative new bicycling service for the city of Copenhagen for the Global Living Labs Service Innovation in Cities conference. It was rather challenging to put something together for the city that already has it all. I think this is one of the reasons why Copenhagen keeps a top position amongst biking cities: constantly innovating and working to improve itself.

Our concept was an urban bicycle delivery service. Delivery vehicles contribute significantly to urban traffic and are often driving at only half capacity. The key concept was to build a set of standardized boxes of different sizes and types that could stack together onto the bike. These containers could be rented or owned by local companies who could have their own branded logos on them. We would then build a standardized bike that could carry these stackable boxes. Finally, there would be a real time routing system that would make it easier for customers to get dynamic pick-ups and drops offs. This would be simpler for the delivery company in part because the load and distance of the service area would be smaller (more comparable to a bike delivery service).

The event organizers liked the concept but didn’t select it as the winner in the end. Unfortunately, Copenhagen wasn’t so into it. Why? Well, because Copenhagen being its typical tiny and perfect self doesn’t think it has a delivery truck issue (they claim, although that’s not entirely true if you see this image).

Copenhagen also has very little traffic in general. Their rush hour is probably less than one hour in the morning and evening. My conclusion at the end of the conference was that we were probably pitching to the wrong audience. We should be talking to a bigger city with bigger problems (eg, New York) and possibly even a big shipping company (eg, DHL) instead of the city government.

An earlier Adaptive Path blog post on the concept

A photo from the event with Willem Boijens from Adaptive Path presenting feedback from a workshop on our concept. That’s me in the foreground!

Here’s our official entry

Any tips for how to push this further or feedback on the concept welcome!

Copenhagen

I was in Copenhagen last week, for a meeting of the Danish research project, Bike-ability. Ezra, who works on the project, kindly sorted a bike for me to ride around Copenhagen the next day, so I could get a cyclist’s view of the city.

And what a beautiful day I had! Cold, sure – very cold (especially my feet, despite packing my best cold weather socks – woolie boolies), but blue sky and sunshine bathing the Danish capital in glorious light. I don’t usually ride this style of ‘sensible’ bike, but straightaway I liked how suited it felt to the ‘difficult’ conditions. It felt solid and chunky moving over the ice, and the step-through frame gave me confidence that, should I slip, I’d be able quickly to dismount.

A big difference between the UK and Copenhagen is the treatment of cycling infrastructure. In the UK, cycle routes are very rarely cleared of snow and ice. This means that, in conditions such as those we’ve been having recently, people who ordinarily cycle either stop cycling and find some other way of making their journeys, or they are pushed into using the main roads. It’s a different story in Copenhagen. Some of the back streets weren’t clear, but all of the main arterial cycle routes I rode were.

Apparently there were far fewer people cycling than would usually be the case, even in early December. But again, from an English perspective, huge numbers of people were riding bikes. I stopped often, to watch them flowing through junctions; a beautiful sight, graceful in its silence and wintery light.

People cycling in Copenhagen rarely use their bells! I’d be fascinated to know how this particular mass cycling (non-)behaviour has come about. Mixed with the cold and the drab colours (all the leaves are now gone), the silence gave the cycling procession a funereal quality, which I rather liked (though it also produced a melancholy which made me want to find a warm and cosy cafe and sip hot coffee whilst reading Kierkegaard, whereas my mission was to stay out in the cold and see as much of the city by bike as possible …)

But yes, the numbers of people cycling … very many. I knew it already, but participating in it is another thing – Copenhagen has developed a ‘mass cycling culture’. Cycling is ‘mainstream’ here. I’ve no doubt that the kinds of people you see cycling will vary according to the part of the city and the time of day and week. Where and when I was riding I seemed mainly to be surrounded by younger people, more women than men; many students, I assumed. I stayed behind and followed some, not as a stalker but as a sociologist! Others I overtook, many more overtook me.

It was partly because I was new in the city and unclear on where I was going, and it was partly due to riding an unfamiliar bike, but along the main arterial routes into and out of the central city I felt very much as though I was pedalling a treadmill (yes, I know that’s mixing a metaphor!). Once I was on one of these cycle lanes which aim flat and straight, it felt hard to get off again. The snow had narrowed them, and people overtake, coming past really quite close, which increased my sense of being ‘hemmed in’.

There are important and intersecting tensions here, between ‘freedom’ and ‘confinement’, and between ‘the mass’ and ‘the elite’. It is crucially important how we negotiate these tensions across the world, as we move towards producing cycling as a very major means of urban mobility.

Speaking personally, I don’t like feeling part of a mass, feeling so regulated and restricted in my cycling movements. I don’t like feeling that I’m ‘merely’ playing my part in the rhythmic, quotidian reproduction of urban space in the name of the continuation of a neo-liberal capitalist economy. Rather, I like to explore and to conquer the city through cycling, to be an urban rebel. (Sure, most people might think me a jerk, but when I’m drinking freedom on my bike I really don’t care …)

But my elitist orientation to cycling in the city is antagonistic to (my ambitions for) cycling as a humdrum, mundane, ordinary practice – one which we need huge numbers of people to embrace in order to move towards a planet on which human habitation is viable over the long-term.

So I am in conflict both with my self and with Copenhagen. Which, luckily for me, is an OK place to be. Though of course, I am slightly worried that through my academic work I am arguing for the kinds of place (cities with high modal shares for cycling, such as Copenhagen) in which I personally wouldn’t want routinely to cycle. (Down with Kierkegaard, up with Nietzsche?)

I have two highlights from my day spent pedalling around Copenhagen. The first is that I spent a day pedalling around Copenhagen (which maybe makes it a longlight ..). The second is getting to visit Christiania, a place to which I’ve long wanted to go.

Christiania is of course the home of Christiania bikes. I love cycling and I love all those who work in creative ways towards alternative, progressive, socially and ecologically liberated futures. So this is my kind of place!

I’m also a sociologist, and although I recognise that I’m not always – or even often! – very good at it, I do like to think critically. I am very fond of Denmark and the Netherlands, I love cycling in both countries, and I love how useful and stimulating they are to thinking about cycling and cycling futures. Heaven help us if we didn’t have their shining examples.

But I’m sometimes puzzled how the Dutch and the Danish seem resistant to opening up their cycling practices to critical scrutiny. Amongst many of the Dutch and the Danes whom I’ve had the great privilege of meeting, cycling is somehow something which people simply and unproblematically just do.

The purpose of sociology is to crack open and scrutinize such taken-for-granted, common-sensical perspectives, not to reveal them as false but in order to understand better the complex processes through which they are constructed, maintained and,  yes, routinised.

So what I most love about Christiania and its bikes is how as a concrete place it provides evidence, both ‘actually’ (materially, in the form of a factory) and symbolically (culturally, in the form of the production and reproduction of particular ethics, aesthetics, sensibilities) of how a cycling culture gets built.

Using our bikes to go sledding

It snowed all week so we decided to go sledding this weekend. The bike lanes were a bit sloppy and certainly didn’t look like they had been “plowed before the roads” as the municipality advertises but were nonetheless bikeable if you don’t mind  getting a bit muddy and risking sliding on ice and snow.

We didn’t have a sled so we called up our friend who had a lovely old fashioned one he let us borrow. It was a bit tricky to figure out how to rig it up but Ayako was quite industrious.

When we got there, we realized we weren’t the only ones who had decided to bring our bikes to the sledding hill.

In particular, there were a lot of cargo bicycles which are much more suitable for carrying kids and sleds through the snow and muck. Much like a modern day sleigh.

We even saw this red FietsFabriek bike from Holland. Eventually, we’ll have to get us one of these when we find the need for a bike SUV. For now, we’ll just gerry rig it again next time.

Can we copy the Copenhagen model?

There’s a rather interesting debate going on on a Madrid bicycling blog about how replicable the Copenhagen segregated bike lane model is in other places. I’m reposting my comments to the feed since they are fairly generally relevant around this hot button issue:

Studies suggest that bicycle lanes may be more important to attract new, inexperienced cyclists who primarily fear for their safety. Experienced bicyclists seem to be more concerned about speed (eg, signal timing) than safety.

As cycling rates in Copenhagen have increased in recent years, safety has increased but the perception of safety has decreased. This is probably due to the fact that increased numbers of cyclists are a primary reason for a reduction in accidents due to increased visibility of cyclists. However, the perception of safety has gone down because cyclists in Copenhagen are more afraid of other cyclists on the bike lanes, not other cars (which are largely ‘tamed’).

Cyclists in the global south (India, Brazil, Cuba, etc.) are typically what are called “captive” cyclists who bike because they cannot afford other options. Cycling is tied to status and wealth. As these societies develop, you see people transitioning to higher status transportation options, especially motor scooters.

Bicycle lanes that have been developed in places like India and South Africa have largely failed, perhaps due to the informality of traffic rules and regulations leading to heavy encroachment of lanes from motor vehicles (see previous posts on this blog).

I think we need a different model for these cities than what might work in the global north. The Copenhagen model works in Copenhagen, but I don’t think we can just “copy/paste” it across the world and expect the same results.

The blog is in Spanish but if you aren’t already using Google Translate and Google’s Advances Search functionalities, you are probably missing out on most of what is happening on the internet outside of your own country since Google searches filter away hits that are not in your language and outside of your country in order to increase speed and “relevance”.

“Be a Copenhagener on a Bike” pilot project

Here’s a new pilot project from the ever experimental city of Copenhagen called “Be a Copenhagener on Bike” (ppt in Danish):

Locals take tourists on a ride and show them their city-  as they experience it. All bike guides are volunteers. The usual  sights are not on the program, it is rather the guide’s own  favorite areas in town, odd angles, fun, or whatever the  guide feels like. There are pilot project in the coming  week, and the idea is that the concept will launch in the spring of 2011.

Guides will post info about themselves and the tours they offer on an online social media platform where people can read about them and their tours as well as see comments from previous tourists.

Thorbjørn Ovedal, who seems to be the brains behind the concept, writes about his findings from interviews with tourists in Berlin engaging in a similar concept called Berlin on Bike:

Participants expressed a feeling of joy connected to the use of the bicycle as a means of transport in connection with sightseeing. This experience of joy was often presented as an opposite to the experience one for example might have while riding a sightseeing bus. Sightseeing by bus was often described as a filtered experience, in the sense that the surroundings where experienced through the filter of the windows of the bus. Contrasting the bus experience the bicycle tour was described in accordance with the experience of freedom, and that of having access to and experiencing places people doing more conventional forms of sightseeing wouldn’t have access to. This gave the tourists an experience of being involved in the urban spaces they moved through thus giving them a sense of being immersed in to the experience.

Maybe this will help people see why Copenhagen is truly a great biking city. The problem is that the downtown core is where most tourists spend their time, but given the very old urban form of the inner city, it is not well-suited to bicycling and there is minimal bicycling infrastructure.

City planners I have spoken with here have expressed an active dis-interest in catering to tourists in their bicycle planning efforts, stating clearly that they plan for Copenhageners, not tourists. This, unfortunately, can leave visitors scratching their heads saying ‘where are all the bikes?

The most common tourist path is to walk:

outside Tivoli on Vesterbrogade (4 lane road) [picture is actually from the other side but it's similar]

Credit: Henrik Sendelbach

crossing HC Andersen Boulevard (4 lane road), through Rådhuspladsen (City Hall Square),

walk down Strøget (pedestrian outdoor mall)

to Kongens Nytorv (traffic cirlce)

to Nyhavn (outdoor pedestrian street with cafes).

You could do that whole walk without hardly seeing any bicycles! Hopefully, this will help people get a better perception of what makes Copenhagen a city of cyclists, not just Jan Gehl pedestrian streetscapes.

Copenhagen city archeologists ride customized cargo bikes

So, obviously, the mail gets delivered by bicycle in Copenhagen. But now there’s a custom bicycle for a lesser known urban profession: archeologists. The entire city is getting dug up to put in a new metro system which means that urban archeologists are scurrying around town making sure each cultural artifact uncovered is carefully taken care of.

The Copenhagen City Museum has provided them with their own custom cargo bikes to carry all their tools, lunchbox, etc.  They say it saves them the hassle of parking and a lot of time, especially with the green waves that time lights on major streets so  you sail through town at 20 km/h during rush hour.

2 months riding (instead of driving)

After exactly 2 months, my bike has become my best friend in Copenhagen, and I’ve completely forgotten my car, parked in Spain.

Despite of the cold and the wind (sometimes it’s really hard to ride), I was so happy this morning looking at the lovely autumn from the bike-level while crossing the town to get the university.

This is the beginning of the route:

my daily way to the lab, early in the morning...

This other one is taken a little bit further, crossing the only one “hill” (actually it’s a bridge) I have to climb:

The Bridge

You never reach this perspective from a car.

About the time I spend to get there, I’ve reduced it from 25 minutes to only 15 as I’m becoming an expert rider and I’ve found the fastest path (the green bike lane you can see in the pictures). My legs are getting used to the exercise, and I don’t have to think too much about “how to ride through the town” anymore.

In addition, I don’t feel lazy to go to the downtown to have a drink on weekends as I used to. There’s no need to wait for public transportation, I don’t have to spend a long time looking for a place where to leave my vehicle, and I’m not afraid about loosing my driving license for driving with 2 beers.

I’ll tell you what’s up with the snow, ice, and the freezing cold in December. Hopefully I wont change my mind.