CategoryCopenhagen

Divvy isn’t a real bike

Riding on Divvy in the snow.

Divvy, for the first time in its short, seven-month existence, shut down today at 12 PM on account of the weather and keeping members and workers – who move bikes, shovel snow, and drive vans around town – safe.

Every news media in town reported on the shutdown. Chicagoist, ABC 7, NBC 5, FOX 32, Chicago Tribune, Sun-Times – you name it they had it.

But nothing has been published, except parts of this story from DNAinfo Chicago, that discusses how bicycling – whether on Divvy or your own bike – is very difficult in Chicago winters because of the poor coordination between the Streets & Sanitation and Transportation departments’ snow removal efforts, and the slow pace at which CDOT gets around to removing snow from the protected bike lanes. (I was quoted, alongside someone I recommended the author get in touch with, and we have differing views on the matter.)

In winter the protected bike lanes are the only bikeable kind of bike lane as conventional bike lanes become snow storage areas because plows can’t reach further right when there are parked cars (to avoid knocking off car mirrors).

This problem is not unique to Chicago and other cities have solved it. The cold isn’t why people in Chicago stop biking: it’s that snow and ice make it even more difficult in a region with little, separated (meaning safe and desirable) cycling infrastructure. There are climes with similar and worse winters where a large portion of people who bike in the summer keep biking in the winter. Places like Boulder, Minneapolis, Montréal, and Copenhagen.

A well-plowed, separated bike lane in a Copenhagen winter. Stranded? Put your bike on the back of a taxi (their buses don’t allow bikes).

I think it’s good that news media have recognized Divvy’s position as a transit system in the area, which they do by holding it to the same, weird standard they do Chicago Transit Authority and Metra, and posting about it frequently. When the CTA or Divvy has some marginal or perceived issue with its finances or service, an article gets written. But when it comes to bicycle infrastructure they give the city a pass where it doesn’t deserve one.

The media cares about Divvy, but it doesn’t care about bicycling. It might be the 11,000 Divvy members (more than Active Transportation Alliance or The Chainlink), however, that gets the city to kick up its bike lane snow removal efforts up a notch and I anxiously await that day.

Updating street life on Milwaukee Avenue

Photo of the new on-street bike parking corral at Revolution Brewing (2323 N Milwaukee Avenue) in Logan Square, less than 10 hours after being installed. 

First, Revolution Brewing now has 20 (or more) new bike parking spaces in what used to hold about two cars. Kudos to that awesome restaurant and brewery for working through the arduous process with the Chicago Department of Transportation and Alderman Moreno (who likely helped with the transfer of the metered car parking spaces). CDOT’s Scott Kubly admitted to having a bad process for businesses who want to install their own bike parking.

Wicker Park-Bucktown SSA had issues after the first round of bike racks we* installed in 2011. We donated the bike racks to the city for them to install at mutually agreeable locations at which they marked the spot for the contractor. We wanted to repeat the process in 2012 and bought the racks but they couldn’t be installed because CDOT, accepting the racks as donations in 2011 said that that wasn’t the right process and couldn’t do it again. So they had to figure out a new process. The racks were manufactured and delivered in 2012 to CDOT but weren’t installed until April 2013. Before the fix came in April 2013, we were going to have to go through the most basic process of buying a permit for each one (for $50) and then pay to have them installed ourselves.

The fix was great for the SSA, and I’m glad CDOT was able to make it happen: they got IDOT to amend the existing bike parking contract to allow the contractor to install non-city-paid-for bike racks. (This was the issue for the 2011 racks.)

Second, I’m proposing that private automobile traffic be banned on Milwaukee Avenue from Paulina Avenue to Damen Avenue. It would be better for the residents, and the businesses, and would encourage more cycling in the neighborhood, as well as surrounding neighborhoods having residents who would bike on Milwaukee Avenue if it was safer (there’s a big dooring and general crash issue). I reference the single, car-free block on Nørrebrogade in Nørrebro, Copenhagen, Denmark. One single block (plus bikeway and pedestrian-way improvements on the other blocks) and car traffic goes down but bus and bike traffic go up.

What Milwaukee Avenue looks like every afternoon. 

What Milwaukee Avenue could look like every afternoon. 

* I volunteer on the transportation committee, since about May 2011.

Reverse traffic planning

Nothing revolutionary, just a clever design. It’s a t-shirt worn by Bicycle Innovation Lab co-founder Lasse Schelde in Copenhagen. I met Lasse at the Svagerløb Danish Cargo Bike Championships on August 18, 2012 (see all photos). The graphic is an upside-down pyramid. From the top it moves to the bottom with decreasing area as follows:

  • Walking
  • Cycling
  • Utility Bicycles
  • Public Transport
  • Taxi/Transport
  • Car Sharing
  • Own Car
  • Airplane

There are many ways to interpret this graphic, but I see it as one of decreasing efficiency in moving people (disregarding nuances of population and distance).

A photo of me cycling in the team relay race on the world’s fastest cargo bike. 

Lasse and I were on the same team for the relay race. Miche and Brandon Gobel all rode his Bullitt. I started first so I wouldn’t have to carry any of the luggage (which consisted of two car tires and a wooden Carlsberg beer crate). The race was hosted on the Carlsberg brewery lot.

How do you enjoy the roses: Smell them or photograph them?

A tram in Milan, outside the Castello Sforzesco and near the Milano Cardona train station, where I arrived from a short trip from Como.

My mother is one to consistently tell me, a communications and photography obsessed traveler who bikes 60 miles per week with a camera around my neck, to “stop and smell the roses” instead of “stop and take their picture”. My 18,208 photos taken in the last 12 months are probably a testament that I’m doing more clicking than sniffing. But the photos I take are there to enhance my stories when I come home. I feel I enjoy my trips even if half the time my eyes are looking through the lens.

On my trip to Europe this year, I made a commitment to myself to not worry about costs – I had money to spend on a wonderful trip. This came after I spend 10+ hours calculating on the value of a Eurail Pass that would give me unlimited free trips on all local trains and discounted trips on high-speed trains. A simple rule eventually made the decision for me: the ticket took two weeks to mail and my trip was in five days. After all those calculations, and understanding the pass’s restrictions, I was moving towards a decision to buy my tickets à la carte, or as I needed them. I kept all of my receipts to monitor the cost of my journeys. Guess what? They came out the same: I spent $512.55 on 19 train trips (including metros; conversion made on January 25, 2011)*. A Eurail Pass that would have gotten me the same trips (and more if I wanted to) was $716 or $771. By keeping my mind focused on enjoying the trip instead of analyzing my costs.

Why do I bring all of this up now? Wired’s October issue has a “travel optimization” article and I love that the author was in a similar quandary:

Halfway through my visit I missed a text message that cost me $5,000 in lost income. At the moment the message arrived (or didn’t arrive), I was enjoying a eucalyptus steam bath with an old laborer who’d belonged to the Solidarity Union, which had helped defeat communism in Eastern Europe. His stories were thrilling, but were they $5,000 worth of thrilling?

Of course they were, I concluded on the flight back. When the mind of the traveler grows overly preoccupied with estimating opportunity costs, the capacity for discovery diminishes, displaced by the obsession with efficiency. The voyager may as well have stayed home, since he’s not really on a voyage anymore; he’s researching economics in the field.

That is exactly the state of being I wanted to avoid. And I did a pretty great job.

I’ve got another example: When it came time to pay the bill after dinner and drinks in Copenhagen, I opened my wallet and said (mainly because I was unfamiliar with how to convert kroner to dollars), “This is what I have”. Thankfully it was enough, although I had to visit the ATM a couple times per day in Copenhagen.

*Add on $85 for a flight from Milan to Hanover. I rode on trains operated by at least 10 different companies and agencies – it was one of the most splendid journeys of my life.

More evidence of your bicycling culture transition

Low numbers of people in “your” cycling organizations and advocacy groups. From the comments on “Why I’m not a ‘cyclist’ anymore,” a story about moving from a bicycle subculture (United States) to bicycle culture (Copenhagen):

In Amsterdam, 700,000(?) people cycle, only 4,000 are member of the Fietsersbond (cyclist’s union). We always explain this comparing it to the non-existing vacuum-cleaners union. Everybody owns and uses a vacuum cleaner, no-one feels the urge to unite themselves around this.

People riding their bicycles in Copenhagen, Denmark.

Europe trip recap: List of cities I visited

All links lead to a photo or photoset of that city. More links will be added as I upload more photos. Cities are in the order I traveled through Europe, over 18 days.

All blogs about this trip are under the tag, Europe trip.

A bike “jam” – everyone in the photo is performing a “Copenhagen left” or box turn.

The Schwebebahn is the world’s oldest operating monorail that operates daily in the North Rhine-Westphalia city of Wuppertal, Germany.

A place to rest

While in Copenhagen this past weekend for about 60 hours, I hung out with Mikael of Copenhagenize and Copenhagen Cycle Chic.

After several drinks in a classy basement restaurant, we took a little tour of some neat bicycling infrastructure and “landed” on this hand and foot rest for people waiting at the light. This nifty device means you don’t have to take your feet off the pedals or you can use it as a launch pad.

The message on the foot rest says, “Hi, cyclist! Rest your foot here… and thank you for cycling in the city.”

Mikael has written much more about how cyclists in Copenhagen “hold on” to their city.

(When I passed it on Monday morning, I saw a leftover high heel shoe hanging on the footrest. Did somebody lose it or is someone trying to make a joke?)

Photos by Mikael.

Thanking your city’s bicycle riders

A bike counter outside of City Hall in central Copenhagen on the westbound side of Hans Christian Andersen Boulevard.

A nice way of saying, “Hey, the city values you for riding your bike.”

It’s currently 1°C at 9:21 in the morning of Monday, January 10, 2011. So far today, 2,142 people have biked past this counter (and only in this direction, westbound). 43,504 have biked past in 2011 (again, westbound only) and it’s only the 10th day of the year.

What’s the best your city can do? I’m a little embarrassed to say Chicago can only throw 3,100 cyclists in the ring, in warm weather, and in two directions on Milwaukee Avenue at Grand Avenue.

UPDATE: One thing this sign might say if it had some intelligence and a voicebox, “Hey cyclist, you’re one of 4,000 people to have ridden on this street today. Good job, and thank you for not contributing to our growing car traffic congestion problem as well as pollution emission!”

How the Danish have fun on bikes

A cargo bike race occurs in Copenhagen each year. More than Danes compete. This year’s Danish Cargo Bike Championships was last Saturday, on June 26, 2010. You can read the rules in English on the official website.

It looks like a lot of fun. The modern incarnation was held first in 2009. Prior to last year’s race, there were competitions in the 20th century until 1960. View the race starting point on Google Maps, in Søren Kierkegaards Plads on the Copenhagen Harbor.

There’re races for three-wheeled bikes.

And there’re races for two-wheeled bikes. These two racers are riding Harry vs. Larry Bullitts. Harry vs. Larry was a sponsor for this year’s championships. You can buy Bullitts at Copenhagen Cyclery in Chicago, Illinois.

Racers have to carry car tires (see top photo) and if I were to race with my Yuba Mundo, I would need to practice at home. My Mundo doesn’t have a flatbed like the pictured bikes, which would make it easy to throw on an automobile tire.

© 2017 Steven Can Plan

Theme by Anders NorénUp ↑