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Nørrebrogade in Copenhagen: Proof of concept that low-car streets work

Wednesday, June 12th, 2013
Norrebrogade scenes-4
Nørrebrogade is a street in Copenhagen where biking, walking, and transit have priority over cars. And the result is extraordinary.
(Photos © J. Maus/BikePortland)

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‘Flex parking’ gives space to bikes and cars

Saturday, June 1st, 2013
Flex parking in Copenhagen-7
Reserved parking for bikes in the street — but
only for part of the day.
(Photos © J. Maus/BikePortland)

This post is part of ongoing coverage from Europe. Read more stories from my trip here.

You might have a perception that everyone bikes in Copenhagen, or that the City has carte blanche to put cycle tracks and bike parking wherever they please. It turns out that’s not exactly true.

Copenhagen has some of the same problems we do: Such as finding space for bikes when cars need space too. As the number of people who bike goes up, so does competition for road space. And there are still many people in Copenhagen (a growing number actually) who prefer to drive. A few days ago I met Niels Hoe, a consultant who formerly managed the City of Copenhagen’s bicycle parking program. Hoe shared an interesting concept called “flex parking”. (more…)

‘Cycling without age’ in Copenhagen

Friday, May 31st, 2013
Cycling Without Age ride with Ole -2
Ole Kassow, the founder of ‘Cycling without age,’ helps
95 year-old Else Hansen into the rickshaw.
(Photo © J. Maus/BikePortland)

Can you imagine spending your entire life cycling the streets of a beautiful city every day alongside your friends and neighbors; then when you reach old age you become too weak to ride, move into a care home and never see those streets again? Ole Kassow can. Ole is a 46 year-old resident of the Østerbro district of Copenhagen. He’s a citizen activist in his spare time and he owns a successful business consulting firm called Purpose Makers that helps companies find meaning in their work and instill a sense of purpose in their employees. He volunteered at a home for the elderly when he was a student. He would spend his days helping them eat and lifting them out of bed.

Now he makes time each week to take elderly people out of their rooms and back onto the cycle tracks through his “Cycling without age” program. I joined Ole for a ride this morning and it was a fitting way to end my time in Copenhagen. (more…)

Kids are the true indicator species of a bike-friendly city

Thursday, May 30th, 2013
Copenhagen Day 5-11
Kids are a common sight on Copenhagen’s cycle tracks.
(Photos © J. Maus/BikePortland)

There’s a popular idea in bike advocacy and planning circles that women are “the indicator species” of a bike-friendly city. In the case of Copenhagen, which went well beyond “bike-friendly” years ago and where more women ride than men, the new indicator is kids.

Young children ride bikes in Copenhagen in great numbers. And they do it by themselves through the city’s busiest intersections amid massive groups of riders. Before I came here, I expected to see lots of families biking together; but I wasn’t prepared to see so many kids riding their own bikes.

That’s just not something that you see very often in Portland. I know a few people who bike with their kids from North Portland to Emerson School in Old Town every morning (hi Amy and Hau!); but the only other time I see it is during Sunday Parkways. That carfree event is the closest we come in Portland to mimicking what it’s like to ride in everyday cycle track traffic here in Copenhagen. You know the feeling: There’s a huge mob of other people cycling around you and suddenly you no longer feel like a tiny any next to a massive machine that can crush you. Instead you feel relaxed, safe, powerful and confident. It’s that type of environment that allows kids to ride on their own.
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A few small things that make a big difference in Copenhagen

Thursday, May 30th, 2013
Copenhagen Day 4-48-60
Riding in Copenhagen is so nice it’s even romantic.
(Photo © J. Maus/BikePortland)

One thing I’ve learned on this trip is that it’s possible to vastly improve the cycling experience without spending millions on big and fancy projects. As I go through my photos and notes from each day, I’ve started a list of all the little things Copenhagen does to make cycling comfortable and easy.

I think several of these ideas could be adopted and/or expanded on in Portland.

As we build more cycle tracks and protected bike lanes, we will have to figure out a way to sweep them. Copenhagen uses mini-sweepers to keep the cycle tracks clear of debris (they also have mini snow plows):
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From cycle track to green route to super highway

Thursday, May 30th, 2013
Copenhagen Day 3-29-30
We have highways for driving, why not have
highways for biking?
(Photos © J. Maus/BikePortland)

I’ve seen lots of cycle tracks in city centers; but yesterday I was curious what would happen if I just kept on riding all the way out to the suburbs. Just how far do Copenhagen’s famous cycle tracks go? After getting a bit lost (not the cycle track’s fault), I ended up riding a great loop that introduced me to two of Copenhagen’s other bikeway types: a “Green Cycle Route” and a “Cycle Super Highway”.

I left my little studio in Nørrebro, hopped on Nørrebrogade and headed west. While the cycle track varied in width and style from time to time, it remained pretty much in-tact for about 5 miles. Just outside Nørrebro however, I did notice my first tricky right-hook intersection. Turns out the City has noticed it too and they placed a pavement marking on the ground to warn folks about it (by the way, I’ve also noticed a similar warning on the side of trucks). (more…)

Here’s an idea: Force us to share one lane while driving on a two-way street

Wednesday, May 29th, 2013
Cars share middle lane-2-3
A bike lane on both sides but just one regular lane in the center — even with two-way traffic permitted.
(Photos © J. Maus/BikePortland)

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A look at two of Copenhagen’s vibrant side streets

Tuesday, May 28th, 2013
Blagardsgade, Norrebro
Life is very good on Blågårdsgade, a carfree street in the heart of Nørrebro in Copenhagen.
(Photos © J. Maus/BikePortland)

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‘City of Bicycles’ book will examine Copenhagen bike culture

Monday, October 4th, 2010
Cover

A new book coming from Copenhagen titled, City of Bicycles will take an in-depth look at that famous bike city’s culture. I’m really looking forward to this because most of what I know about Copenhagen is more of the infrastructure, policy and planning side of things.

‘City of Bicycles’ is due for release on October 28th and is published by Nyt Nordisk Forlag, Copenhagen, Denmark.

Here’s the press release from the publisher:

City of Bicycles by Cecilia Vanman, photography by Robin Maddock

In Copenhagen everybody cycles. His Royal Highness Frederik, the Danish crown prince, can be spotted regularly riding his children around in a cargo bicycle, and it is completely normal to see politicians parking their bicycles outside the Parliament building, or a famous actor riding around town with shopping bags balancing on the handlebars. (more…)

A major dose of inspiration from Copenhagen

Monday, July 26th, 2010

A new Streetfilm (watch it below) taken during the recent Velo-City Global conference in Copenhagen is like a refuge in a storm.

Here in Portland (and across the country), we still struggle with resentment over bike lanes, a local media that’s happy to stir it up, people wanting to ban bikes completely because they’re simply in the way, people on bikes who can’t be bothered to slow down for other bike traffic, and public transit employees whose actions and words make our streets less safe for people on bikes.
(more…)

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