Detroit Bike City

This is such a nice mini-documentary made about riding bikes in Detroit.

“There’s not many things better than riding a bike in life”

Kobra on bicycle culture

The Swedish television show Kobra has made this nice program on the rise of global bicycle culture. The interviewed people are a photographer of Rouleur, Camille McMillan, the blogger and “the danish bicycle ambassador”, Mikael Coolville-Andersen, Talking Heads front man, artist and bicycle enthusiast, David Byrne, and the Danish architecture firm Gehl Arhchitects which got the task of making Mexico City cyclist-friendly. Some of the talking is in Swedish, but most of the stories are actually in English, so you non-scandinavians can still enjoy parts of it, and I recommend you do.

Click here to see the show. (The show is available until June 15th 2010.)

"...but when they get on their bikes they become fluid...poetry" - Camille McMillan

Books

Yesterday I went to the Chris Carlsson meeting in Copenhagen, and it turned out to be a good one. All (three) speakers were engaged in the climate issue, and questioned the importance of COP15. Especially Chris Carlsson had some interesting views concerning peoples power. How do we turn the capitalism around, and could we all live in a “Burning Man”-society ?

Well, I won’t be discussing these issues deeply now this early in the morning, but I’d like to mention that I ended up buying two of Carlssons books. The new “Nowtopia” and “Critical Mass: Bicycling’s Defiant Celebration”.

I’ll probably comment on some of the bicycle related issues in these books later on, but for now you can check out the links or go get them in a bookstore.

I’ve earlier on gotten some arguments against critical mass as an effective instrument, but I’d still like to give the idea a chance. (Carlssons book might help me on the way.)

Any suggestions on different approaches towards getting to a bicycle-friendly society are absolutely very welcome…

Critical Mass!

Why don’t you jump on your bicycle to work, school or the grocery store when the weather is perfectly fine? Why is it only “sporty parents” that bike to work? And why do motorists get annoyed when you actually take your bike for a roll one day? How do one get the general population to notice bicycling as an actual and effectiv mean of transport in the city? How can bicyclists reclaim more space in the city traffic? Where do we start? And perhaps most importantly, who can make the changes?

Critical Mass - Bike Lift (Hungary)

Critical Mass - Bike Lift (Hungary)

My Italian friend, Nicola, told me about these bicycle-events going on in different cities in Italy every month, and after a short research it seems like this is a world wide movement/phenomenon… Critical Mass is an event where bicyclists “take over” the streets in the city, by making a more or less unorganized ride around the city, and for that short moment take a part of the road away from the cars. Or as the wiki-page states: “…these events should be viewed as “celebrations” and spontaneous gatherings, and not as protests or organized demonstrations. This stance allows Critical Mass to argue a legal position that its events can occur without advance notification of local police.

And last month, probably the worlds largest Critical Mass ride was held in Hungary, where about 20 000 bicyclists reclaimed the streets of Budapest. This huge event only occurs two times a year, but other cities around the world arrange smaller monthly events to promote bicycling, and there is a great amount of blogs talking about it.  There is an obvious reason why Copenhagen is not on the Critical Mass-list, since it seems to be a critical mass of bicyclists all over the city every single day. But why isn’t Oslo mentioned??

So what’s actually going on in Oslo?

Biking in Oslo. - Somethings happening, but apparently just a handful knows about it...

Biking in Oslo. - Something's happening, but apparently just a handful knows about it...

I read that Syklistenes Landsforening tries to organize some bicycle rides/events in Oslo each month, but little have I found about this on the Internet, and who noticed the bicyclists in the streets? I would like to see more documentation, if there is any…? (There have also been held campaigns to promote “bicycling to work” etc., but what about making these kinds of campaigns attractive to more than one type of people?) As of yet, I’m not completely updated on this, so I would like to hear from you if you see or know of any bicycle related events in the region.

I like the image of Norwegians as an eco-friendly people, and I definitely want to see more people (including myself) biking in the streets… (And don’t you even mention the worn out argument of “too many hills”, because it’s not! …it’s too many cars!) It’s clearly that the horrible organized infrastructure is a main problem, but the decision makers just don’t get it, do they…

I’m ready to roll, are you?

When will it happen in Oslo?

When will it happen in Oslo? ex: Prinsensgate. (Logo from Critical Mass Italy, sligthly adjusted.)

BFF

The bicycle is everywhere in Copenhagen, and now even on the screen. Tomorrow the American Bicycle Film Festival enters the city, and focuses on the different uses of bicycles, and the people on them…

It all happens at Empire Bio, where they’ll show 17 short films about bicycles and the people that use them…

(Copied from the website)
BFF COPENHAGEN
SEPTEMBER 30
TICKETS AVAILABLE ONLINE.

Screenings at Empire Bio – 22:00 Guldbergsgade 29, Copenhagen

ONSDAG SEPTEMBER 30
19:30 | RECEPTION AT WOODWOOD – Krystalgade 7, Copenhagen
22:00 | PROGRAM 1 – BFF BIKE SHORTS – BUY TICKETS
23:30 | AFTERPARTY in the Lounge of Empire Bio

At Empire Bio there will be vallet parking your bike and a ‘BIKE AS ART’ show and with a BICYCLE DJ!!
Tickets for the filmscreening are 50 DKK and the first beer at the afterparty is FREE!!

Carrot or stick?

rules are rules
The great bicycle-discussion in Oslo at the moment is about how to handle the (few) bicyclists that exist. Should they be punished with a 900kr fine for biking on red, or should they be rewarded for biking instead of driving?

This is clearly a result of the lacking culture for using bicycling as a mean of transport in the city. The common Norwegian thought of bicycling is that it’s something you do for your own entertainment and fitness. Neither bicyclists, drivers or pedestrians are adjusted to handle bicycles as a natural part of the urban transport. (Not to forget that many of the bicyclists that dare to bike in the car traffic are either fearless or extreme sport-enthusiasts.)

And here we have one of the main differences between Oslos and Copenhagens bicycle culture. Where Oslo lacks both clear rules/common thoughts of how to bike in the city as well as respectable bicycle space in the streets, Copenhagen has rules and regulations that goes along with the highly developed bicycle transport network.

No wonder people get frustrated. How do one react to something there’s no room for?

Links to Norwegian news/discussions:

http://www.dagsavisen.no/innenriks/article429808.ece
http://www.dagsavisen.no/meninger/article440264.ece?status=showall#response
http://www.dagsavisen.no/meninger/article440817.ece