If you want to find an unassuming place where bicycling is a way of life and nobody makes a big deal about it, head south. The south of Sweden, that is, where the small university town of Lund has a big bicycle habit. They just don't advertise it.
In Lund, 60% of the populace bikes or takes public transport to go about their daily tasks. And then there's Malmö, Sweden's third largest city - only 20 miles southwest of Lund. Malmö also doesn't have a reputation for fantastic biking. But some say it is the country's best biking city - ahead of both Stockholm, the capital; Gothenburg, the second largest Swedish metropolitan area, and a host of smaller bike-friendly burgs.
Just across the Øresund sound from Copenhagen, Malmö has always lived a bit in the shadow of the Danish capital. But in the last few years it has done a lot to take a place among the great biking cities of Northern Europe, mostly by its investment in infrastructure and pure commitment to get people on their bikes. That has paid off - cycling has increased 30% each year for the last four years, while car trips under five kilometers have dropped.
Now Malmö is upping the stakes by putting up 30 million Swedish crowns (about US$4.1 million) toward the building of a four-lane super cycling highway between it and its bike-happy northern neighbor city Lund.
The Swedish Traffic Authority (Trafikverket) has already studied the feasibility of building the bicycle superhighway between the two cities. What remains is for the central government (and Lund and the smaller towns between the two areas) to put their money down. Trafikverket has planned a route for the superhighway running roughly parallel to railway tracks, which makes it easier and less expensive to build, as right of ways are already in place.
The proposed bicycle superhighway would, in addition to four lanes (2 in each direction) have exits but no intersections, two types of wind protection (low bushes as well as solid fencing) periodic bicycle service stations, and would take eight years to complete. Total cost of the superhighway is estimated to be about 50 million Swedish crowns (US$ 7.1 million).
We already know that building bicycle infrastructure is magnitudes cheaper than building new car roads, and better for our health and our air quality. So, what will the first U.S. cities be to build this type ofsystem?
KEHA3, it bends to fit bikes of different sizes and shapes, so you lock your bike however you want.
The rack is made from metal cable surrounded by rubber, attached to a hot galvanized metal plate that is bolted to the ground. It's simple and smart, and I'd love the see it wherever I ride.
KEHA3 has a couple of other interesting bike rack designs, notably the Grazz, with stalk-like metal cables with looped ends, and the eye-catching Typo.
Some of the biggest dangers to cyclists occur when they are riding improperly or breaking traffic laws. On any given day, it is difficult to not come accross a rider that is riding against flow of traffic, jumping curbs, and running stop lights/signs. If the US would adopt some of the new fines being implemented in Copenhagen, maybe it would start to detour these dangerous actions, make the streets safer for riders, and create a better perseption of riders from motorists. Mind you that I have converted the fines to US dollars, and that these infractions would be occurring on Copenhagen's protected bike paths.
Beginning in the new year, riding no-handed, cycling through a red light, or forgetting to signal a turn will cost bicyclists dearly in Copenhagen. The traffic law changes will result in fines for a variety of bicycling infractions jumping from $85-$100, and in some cases to $175. It is the first increase in biking fines in 12 years.
Cycling on the pavement, riding without lights, and cycling through a pedestrian crossing are among the acts that will net a $100+ fine, while cycling against the traffic, running a red light and using a mobile phone will result in a $175 fine.
According to a Konservative MP, Tom Behnke, the fine increases are meant to discourage cyclists from breaking traffic laws.
“A $175 fine will hurt more, so that most people will think: ‘Oh, that sucked,'” Behnke told Politiken newspaper.
But a 100 percent jump in the cost of cycling infractions overshoots the mark, argued the cyclists’ union, Cyklistforbundet.
“Parliament is using a bazooka to shoot a butterfly in this case,” the union’s head, Jens Loft Rasmussen, said in a statement. “It cannot be right that it should cost [the equivalent of] one fourth of the cost of a bicycle to talk on a mobile phone while on a deserted bicycle path.”Rasmussen, however, was not against the notion of fining cyclists.
“We don’t think cyclists should have free rein,” he told Politiken. “But we know that it is primarily motorists who cause the serious accidents - it’s not cyclists who kill others. Cyclists can be irritating, but I believe that smaller fines would be more appropriate.”A Copenhagen Police spokesperson, John Sckaletz, told Politiken that while he hoped the fines would help to decrease traffic chaos, he questioned the higher fines’ preventative effect.
The traffic laws not only affect cyclists, but motorists as well. Registered traffic infractions that used to cost between $85 and $200 will after January 1 cost $335, while speeding tickets will increase by between $100-$200.
Biking fines, effective Jan 1
- Cycling without lights in the dark: $115
- Using a hand-held mobile phone while biking: $170
- Missing or defective brakes or reflectors: $115
- Cycling through a red light: $170
- Cycling against traffic: $170
- Cycling across a pedestrian crossing: $115
- Cycling on the cycle path on the left side of the street: $115
- Not respecting traffic signs or arrows: $115
- Violating the right of way: $170
- Failure to signal a turn or stop:$115
- Cycling no-handed: $115
- Cycling on the pavement: $115
- Holding onto a vehicle: $115
- Having two or more people on a regular bicycle: $115 per person
- Wrong position while/before turning: $115
- Non-functioning bell: Warning
I love bikes and I love when designers reuse materials to make bikes more functional and efficient. So what's not to like about "Two Go" by Israeli designer Yael Livneh?
Using a reclaimed milk crate, the piece acts as an additional bike seat for carrying a passenger or it can be converted back into a crate for carting your groceries home. Very neat, very low tech, and a great way to add capacity and adaptability to that greenest of machines—the bicycle.
Head over to designboom for more pictures and a detailed description of the Two Go concept.
New York City has become much more bike-friendly over the past decade, and despite some bumps in the road, momentum seems to have increased over 2011. StreetFilms point out in the video montage above, the bike count in NYC is up almost 3X since 2001, and it has doubled since 2007. Public opinion surveys show that support by New Yorkers for more bike lanes is increasing, and the data shows that pedestrians are safer where there are bike lanes. All of this is worth celebrating! Let's keep going and make even more progress in 2012!