Copenhagen 1937

I’m now spending my last days in Copenhagen before returning to the not so bicycle friendly city of Oslo. So it suits with this old travel video from 1937 (“Copenhagen – a FitzPatrick Traveltalk”). Look at the traffic – the bicycles, the tram, the walking people and the few cars. It seems like they all float together, though with a helping hand from the constable. An obvious change in the city image today is the absence of a tram, increase in amount of cars and the bicycle lanes and traffic lights, but the amount of bicyclists is still large. They’re everywhere, and you can still see people cycling with furniture in Copenhagen…

Enjoy this wonderful image of the Danish capital.

Copenhagen’s new Bike Sharing System!

OPENbike

Copenhagen is about to get a new Bike Sharing system (finally), and of course the ambitions where high for the new system that will brand the world’s leading bicycle city. Therefore they set out an international competition to get the most modern and intelligent system. And it looks like they’ve got it. Yesterday the winners were announced, and here are the two first prices. I must admit OPENbike looks most appealing in my eyes, but as long as they’re more comfortable than the existing ones, we should be happy…. Read more of this post

Climate Bottom Meeting

The climate meeting COP15 in Copenhagen has started today, and the city is full of people concerned with climate issues on all scales. The conference arena in Bella Centre is packed with delegates from all over the world, (and as the news said today, there was not enough space for the huge interest), a boat from Greenpeace arrived a couple of days ago, and thousands of activists, researches and other interested people from all over the world are gathering throughout the city to, in many different ways, take part of the 1,5 week long conference.

What is to be said and decided in these Climate Change meetings is uncertain and vague for me. They’ll probably not solve one single climate problem in Bella Centre (and anyhow it seems inaccessible in many ways to most people), but one already apparent result is the grand attention towards climate issues in all kinds of fora. Wherever you walk in Copenhagen you’ll either hear, see or feel there is something going on, and there are many ways to approach and participate the climate debate these days…

One opportunity is to go to Christiania, where they every single day have a “Climate Bottom Meeting” which will serve as an alternative view on the climate issue, and how we all can change the world. You’ll find the whole program on this page, but I will highlight two days which seems interesting for city planners and/or bicycle enthusiasts :)

Sunday 13th – Ecological Construction and Urban Renewal from Below Focus on sustainable building/architecture and urban change.

Monday 14th – Sustainable Energy – The Ecological Footprint Focus on new forms of energy, and how to get to the CO2-neutral society. I will definitely try to attend the part of this meeting concerning bicycles…

Transport
Moderator: Jane Kruse, Danish People’s Center.

14.20-14.40 Christoffer Lux and Anders Rosenqvist Energy-Bike and its successful story Also demonstration of the bike by children from Christiania
15.00-15.15 Per Jørgensen Møller, Engeneer & President of the Danish Committee for Electric Cars The cars of the future
15.20-15.50 Esben Larsen & Chresten Træholt, lecturer at the Danish Technical University and students from DTU Electric cars, what then?
15.55-16.15 Holger Jørgensen, Bicyclelogical Institute The modern Transport-structure with coupling to climate care and bicycle traffic
16.20-16.30 Lars Engstrøm and Annie Lerche, Christiania Bikes The fairytale of the Christiania bikes
Jane Kruse outlines and introduces the hall to:
16.35-16.50 Lars Barfoed (Conservative Party), transport minister ‘Future Transport System  in Denmark’ Mike Legarth (CP), spokeman for Christiania

Retrospective cycling

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Høst & Søns Forlag 1954 - Copenhagen, City of Youth

I just bought this picture book of Copenhagen from 1954 at the book store Paludan in Fiolstræde. It starts with announcing Copenhagen as the “City of Youth”, and continues showing lots of beautiful b&w photos of the city and it’s people. A surprisingly nice book, and on page 58 I found this sweet description:

Cyklen er i Danmark det almindeligste befordringsmiddel. På den tilbagelægger man strækningen mellem hjem og arbejdsplads! Om morgenen og efter fyraften er hovedstadens gader et kimende kor af cykelklokker, og henrivende virker synet af de mange unge kvinder med blæst i håret, som med bare ben i skoene træder pedalerne.

The bicycle, Denmark’s most common means of transport, links home to work. In the morning and when work is done the streets of the capital are a jangling chorus of bicycle bells. With the wind in their hair, and playfully filling their skirts, the girls make an attractive sight as they peddle along with bare legs.

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Stylish bicyclists crossing Dronning Louises bridge in the early 50's.

A short note on history to go with this retrospective post:

This was probably just before the bicycle, for a couple of decades, got run over by the car in the city streets. During The Second World War the bicycle had a peak as major transport mean for people and goods, but between the mid 50’s and 70’s the bicycling declined drastically simultaneously with the increase in motorists. The “bicycling society” would need a new (oil) crisis and a significant environmental movement to get back on track…  (kilde: wikipedia)

…it wouldn’t be too easy to “trick” the rest of us.

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

Welcome to VELOslo

Welcome to my blog on bicycles and urban planning.

This is my first serious attempt to start a blog, and I will do my best to keep it up to date on news concerning bicycles and the city.

The city that needs the great improvement is my hometown, Oslo. For those who don’t know it, this is Oslo.
The cities I will study are European ones that have made some kind of effort concerning bicycle transport, and especially the worlds bicycle capital, Copenhagen.

In the meantime, consider your bicycle. It’s green, healthy and trendy!