Europe Trip 2013

The stories below are from a reporting trip taken by Jonathan Maus in May and June of 2013. Jonathan spent a week in Copenhagen and then joined a Bikes Belong/Green Lane Project-funded study tour through several cities in the Netherlands including Amsterdam, Utrecht, Rotterdam and others.

Special thanks to Pro Photo Supply in Portland for their support with camera equipment. Check out the BikePortland Photo Gallery for images from the trip.

‘Cycling without age’ in Copenhagen

Avatar by on May 31st, 2013 at 10:05 am

Cycling Without Age ride with Ole -2

Ole Kassow, the founder of ‘Cycling without age,’ helps 95 year-old Else Hansen into a rickshaw.
(Photos © 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.[Read more…]

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

Avatar by on May 30th, 2013 at 5:33 pm

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.
[Read more…]

A few small things that make a big difference in Copenhagen

Avatar by on May 30th, 2013 at 5:44 am

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):
[Read more…]

From cycle track to green route to super highway

Avatar by on May 30th, 2013 at 4:57 am

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).[Read more…]

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

Avatar by on May 29th, 2013 at 3:37 pm

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)

[Read more…]

People on Bikes: Copenhagen

Avatar by on May 28th, 2013 at 5:54 pm

Welcome to special edition of People on Bikes from Copenhagen. Please join me in thanking Pro Photo Supply for their support of BikePortland. They’re a great local business and I would be a mess without their help.

As you can imagine, in a city where 36% of the trips are made by bicycle, it wasn’t hard for me to find a good spot to photograph people on bikes. In fact, I went right to one of the places with the highest amount of bike traffic in all of Europe: Queen Louises Bridge. The bridge connects the Nørrebro district with the city center and during the evening rush hour, there are massive platoons of people riding bicycles form in both directions. [Read more…]

A look at two of Copenhagen’s vibrant side streets

Avatar by on May 28th, 2013 at 3:00 pm

Blagardsgade, Norrebro

Life is very good on Blågårdsgade, a carfree street in the heart of Nørrebro in Copenhagen.
(Photos © J. Maus/BikePortland)

[Read more…]

Dispatch from Copenhagen

Avatar by on May 27th, 2013 at 5:57 pm

Rainy day in Copenhagen

Bikes are everywhere on the streets of Copenhagen.
(Photos © J. Maus/BikePortland)

I just wrapped up my first full day exploring Copenhagen (remember, it’s nine hours ahead of Portland over here). From a bicycling perspective it’s simply remarkable.

They have a 36% bicycle mode share and in some parts of the central city it’s over 50%. What caught my eye at first was the sheer numbers. The packs of riders are larger than I’ve ever seen. I’m staying just a block off of Nørrebrogade (“North Bridge”) which is one of the busiest bike streets in the world. On some days they can see 38,000 bicycle trips over Queen Louise’s Bridge which feeds into it from the southeast. (Nørrebrogade deserves it’s own post. Stay tuned tomorrow.)[Read more…]

Face-to-face with Portland’s dream, seven years later

Avatar by on May 24th, 2013 at 4:37 pm

Portland on the left, Copenhagen on the right.
(Images © J. Maus/BikePortland and the City of Copenhagen)

Tomorrow at this time I’ll be on a plane flying to Copenhagen. Today I punched “Copenhagen” into a search of all my Front Page stories and the earliest instance I found was over seven years ago. It was a post I published on April 5th, 2006 titled, Copenhagen video shows Portland’s dream. [Read more…]

Headed to Europe to learn about great bike cities

Avatar by on May 7th, 2013 at 3:44 pm

I hope to see this magnificent, suspended
bicycle path in Eindhoven (as seen in this month’s
National Geographic!).

Finally. After years of covering bike projects and policies, I’m going to Europe to observe, research, and document the world’s leading bicycle-friendly cities. At the end of this month I leave for a two-week trip that will include time in Copenhagen, Utrecht, Amsterdam, and more.

This trip came about thanks to an invite from the City of Portland to join a delegation put together by PBOT (with the blessing of Mayor Charlie Hales). Myself and three others in the delegation will represent Portland as part of a study tour put together by the Green Lane Project. As I’ve covered here in the past, the Green Lane Project is an effort funded by the national advocacy group Bikes Belong to hasten the development of protected bikeways in America. Portland is one of six cities chosen for the initiative.[Read more…]