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Newsletter.December 2011 Content Mom, can we go to the bicycle playground today? Good signals - for safety’s sake Introducing: Mejlgade, the first cycle street in Denmark Cycling on the agenda in 11 Nordic Municipalities

Published by Cycling Embassy of Denmark www.cycling-embassy.org info@cycling-embassy.org


Mom, can we go to the bicycle playground today? Around 5000 kids in Copenhagen have tested and approved the Danish Cyclists’ Federation’s bicycle playground. Now it is going out to play in the rest of the country. The kids were all smiles during the opening of the bicycle playground in Copenhaegn, September 2011. By Nicolai Willemoes, Danish Cyclists’ Federation

When Danish children learn to cycle, mom or dad is usually walking behind them steadying the wobbling bike with a broomstick attached to the rack. And although they have chosen a quiet street for the trip, it almost always ends with the child having a couple of scrapes – and becoming that much wiser – and that’s the way it should be. Novice at full speed But becoming a secure cyclist takes practice. So, in cooperation with the Nordea-foundation and architects Sigurd Elling and Petter Brandberg from the company WoodCouture, the Danish Cyclists’ Federation has developed the first mobile bicycle playground. Here, the more and less experienced bike kids can play themselves into secure cyclists. The bicycle playground was opened during the UCI Road World Championships in Copenhagen in September 2011. “We had a boy, Valdemar, who came by on the first day and was very insecure about everything and had to summon up his courage. But after a while he was wheeling around the playground and taking the challenges at full speed. I think he came down here every day,” says Mai-Britt Kristensen, Project Manager at the

Danish Cyclists’ Federation. Safety comes all by itself The challenges have been designed specifically for small cyclists and vary in level of difficulty. The children have an opportunity to practice coordination, timing, and balance – and speed, usually when the parents are not looking. According to Trine Juncher Jørgensen, Head of Projects and Customer Relations at the Danish Cyclists’ Federation, the many bumps, seesaws, and mounds provide a safe arena for the children to learn the basics of cycling. “The children get a sense of freedom on the bicycle that they don’t get to

experience many other places. And they think it is so much fun! The less we adults are there to interfere, the more they play, and the more they develop their games in completely unexpected directions.” Bicycle culture kids’ style Having recovered from the heavy bicycle play experiences during the UCI Road World Championships, the bicycle playground moved on to Østre Gasværk Theatre where the theatre version of “Cykelmyggen Egon” (The Bicycle Mosquito Egon) attracted full houses and full bicycle playgrounds. Here, the bicycle playground left clear marks - in the grass and with children and adults.

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The bicycle playground left clear marks at Østre Gasværk Theatre - especially in the grass

The Children get a sense of freedom on the bicycle that they don’t get to experience many other places. And they think it is so much fun!

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According to Theatre Manager, Pia Jette Hansen, the bicycle playground activated thousands of kids during its two-month stay at the theatre. “Cycling, health, nature interpretation, and theatre cycled hand in hand in a fun, new way – to the benefit of all. It was a bit of a dream that was realized,” she says. The bicycle playground is mobile and can be rented by municipalities and organizations all over Denmark. At present, the bicycle playground is hibernating in a 20-foot container, awaiting the next round of bicycle games.


Good signals – for safety’s sake By Claus Rosenkilde and Anne Eriksson, Traffic Department, City of Copenhagen.

The City of Copenhagen has high ambitions when it comes to cycling: The goal is that by 2015, 50% of all transportation to and from place of work or education will be conducted on bike. In addition, it is to be safe and secure to cycle in the city. Thus, the number of seriously injured cyclists is to be reduced by 50% in the period 2007-2015. The city works systematically to improve the safety on our streets, particularly at intersections. Twothirds of all accidents registered by the police in Copenhagen happen at intersections. Therefore, better traffic safety at intersections is one of our areas of priority in our action plan for traffic safety. One of Copenhagen’s most busy intersections is located by the lakes: here, Nørre Søgade & Vester Søgade meet Gyldenløvesgade. On a weekday, about 100,000 vehicles and 50,000 bicycles pass through this intersection, and many pedestrians who walk or run along the lakes also pass through it. The intersection connects several of the large radial roads leading into the city centre and is characterised by right- and left-turning car traffic. For many years, this intersection was the most dangerous in Copenhagen. In 2006, it was redesigned at a cost of approximately six million DKK in order to improve the level of safety. Prior to the reconstruction there was an average of 5.3 serious injuries per year. Now, this number has decreased to 3.4 per year. For the cyclists, the number of serious injuries has been cut in half. Prior to the reconstruction there were 3.5 serious injuries on average involving cyclists; a number that has now been reduced to 1.8. We cannot say that it is now com-

pletely safe to pass through this intersection. But we have halved the risk that cyclists will get hurt crossing it. At the same time, the reconstruction has meant an improvement for the other road users as well, and that must be said to be a success. Prior to reconstruction, the three most dangerous situations while crossing the intersection were: 1) Left-turning cars from Gyldenløvesgade to Nørre Søgade who ran into oncoming cars or bikes going straight.

considered when redesigning the intersection. It had to be safe but also had to have room for the large traffic flows without turning the fine parks around the lakes into a freeway-style interchange. So the reconstruction combines a number of different solutions: turn arrows for left and right turns, forbidden turns, and a “prison-island” solution. In case this sounds like a catalogue from the Prison and Probation Service, here follows a short explanation:

2) Right-turning cars from Gyldenløvesgade to Nørre Søgade who ran into oncoming cyclists going straight (the so-called right-turn accidents).

Turn arrows: This is when a turning traffic flow has its own signal, i.e., red/yellow/green arrow. The right-turning cars from Gyldenløvesgade to Nørre Søgade have their own signal, so now they do not have a green light at the same time as the cyclists going straight.

3) Left-turning cars from Nørre Søgade to Gyldenløvesgade who ran into oncoming cars, cyclists, and pedestrians. There were many things to be

Forbidden turns: Cars can no longer turn left to and from Vester Søgade. The left-turning traffic did not result in many accidents, but the solution was chosen in order to

best direct the overall traffic in the intersection. Prison-island solution: When cyclists are going straight ahead from Nørre Søgade to Vester Søgade, they first have to cross a car lane where the right-turning cars are stopping at a red light. Then the cyclists come to an “island” where they await the green light for the straight through traffic (both cars and bikes). The intersection has now been adapted to match the traffic flows as best as possible and to prevent the conflicts the previous design caused, and the traffic lights have been set specifically for traffic in this intersection. Thus, here it has been great to design the intersection with good signals – for safety’s sake. Questions can be directed at; Claus Rosenkilde (claros@tmf.kk.dk) or Anne Eriksson (anneri@tmf.kk.dk)


At their own green light, cyclists cross the lane for right-turning cars stopping at the red light.

From the prison island, cyclists safely proceed straight ahead while the car can turn right at its own green light without risk of hitting the cyclists.


Introducing: Mejlgade, the first cycle street in Denmark The City of Aarhus has now begun work to transform the street Mejlgade to a so-called cycle street – the first of its kind in Denmark. In short, this means that Mejlgade will be turned into a sort of pedestrian street, but for cyclists – where the cars have to be extra considerate of cyclists.

The inspiration for the cycle street comes from Germany and Holland. The idea with the cycle street is that all road users can go about the street – but on the cyclists’ terms.

Mejlgade is one of the city’s most important radial roads for cyclists in Aarhus. In 24 hours, 4,600 cyclists pass through the narrow street, making Mejlgade the fifth most frequented street in Aarhus as far as bicycles are concerned. In terms of issues with safety and passability, however, Mejlgade is number one. “The problem in Mejlgade is that the sidewalks are so narrow, making the pedestrians walk out onto the roadway and causing the cyclists have to zigzag their way through the street. Then when a car is coming through as well, the street is completely blocked,” Project Manager Pablo Celis at Aarhus Cycle City explains. Today, Mejlgade is a one-way street for cars, while cyclists can go in both directions. The street is lined with narrow cobblestone sidewalks. The cars consider the cyclists In order to improve traffic behaviour and to strengthen the role of Mejlgade as one of the most important cycle routes to and from the city centre, the street will be transformed to a two-way cycle street where cars are only allowed to go in one direction. The new street will

have broad sidewalks separated from the roadway/cycle street by a kerb, and the middle of the street will be marked by studs dividing the street into a two-way cycle street. The inspiration for the cycle street comes from examples in Germany and Holland. The idea is that all road users can use the street – but on the cyclists’ terms – and the pavement will be optimised in order to cater for cyclists and pedestrians, instead of the cars.

The present cramped conditions for cyclists on Mejlgade in Aarhus.

Pioneering project The establishment of a cycle street can become one of the most important demonstration projects in Denmark in terms of creating better conditions for the increasing number of cyclists in the city centres – a problem many Danish cities are facing these years. Often, there is not enough room to build cycle tracks in the narrow city streets, and neither is it possible to shut the streets off completely from car traffic. The experiences

Visualisation of the new cycle street on Mejlgade.

from the Mejlgade project in Aarhus can thereby prove to be one way to meet the calls from citizens and politicians alike, in order to make better conditions for cyclists. The cycle street is expected to open in the beginning of 2012.


Cycling on the agenda in 11 Nordic municipalities Strategic and systematic promotion of cycling have been the key words for 11 small and medium-sized municipalities in Denmark, Norway, and Sweden who for the past three years have participated in the interregional bicycle project, “Nordic Cycle Cities.” ”I hadn’t heard about training bicycles for small kids before, so it was a great experience to see how Denmark has had positive experiences teaching kids to cycle through play.” Eva Berdenius, Project Manager for Nordic Cycle Cities, Municipality of Mariestad. Photo: Jeannot Huyot, City of Randers. By Dea Seeberg, VEKSØ Mobility, dea@vekso.com.

During the past three years, 11 small and medium-sized municipalities have developed methods and tools that can help them meet the challenges of getting more citizens to jump on their bikes. Prior to the project, ad hoc planning and a focus on physical infrastructure often characterized their work. Thus, one of the main objects of the project was to secure a more systematic and holistic approach to working with cycling, and through this process, to secure political ownership and an organizational framework. Bicycle account, strategy, and plan of action The core of the project was the preparation of three very central strategic documents: bicycle accounts, a bicycle strategy, and a bicycle action plan which answer the questions: “Where are we?”, “Where are we going?”, and “How do we get there?” This process has involved different administrations, politicians, and citizens in each of the municipalities, and the politicians have subsequently approved the documents. For the Swedish municipality, Mölndal, the strategic effort has resulted in a significantly greater focus on cycling – and more funds for cycling as well. Regarding the effects of the partnership of Nordic Cycle Cities, Project Manager in Mölndal, Sweden, Ulf Bredby says, “For us, participating in Nordic Cycle Cities has meant that cycling has been put on the agenda both among politicians and government officials to a much higher degree

than before. Working out the plan of action has given us a plan for what to do within seven different focus areas. And the structured drawing up of a bicycle strategy, bicycle action plan, and bicycle account has significantly contributed to the fact that it looks like we will receive a lot more funds for cycling in the coming fiscal years.” For many of the project managers, the project has had a great impact on their work, among other things because the increased focus has resulted in more resources. “For us in the region of Kristiansand, I think the most valuable has been the development of a bicycle strategy and action plan. It has been an important task that has meant that we have allotted large resources for building cycle tracks. The objective of doubling the modal share of cyclists within 10 years has also been incorporated into other plans and strategies,“ says Siri Gilbert from the Municipality of

Kristiansand, Norway. Kids and commuters In addition to securing the strategic basis for the promotion of cycling, the 11 municipalities have worked on projects focusing on children and commuters at local companies. Exchanging experiences across the municipalities has also opened the eyes of the Swedish and Norwegian partners to the use of training bikes for bicycle events for kids, which, for example, the Municipality of Randers has done. In addition, the participants have been inspired to develop their own campaign concepts. Also many workers in companies in the 11 municipalities have noticed the increased efforts to support cycling. For example, Mölndal established a network for businesses focusing on how to get more commuters to cycle. The project has also focused on drawing attention to cyclists on the common Nordic Bicycle Day on 21

April 2010. Here, all the participating municipalities organized a list of local events to the benefit of cyclists. Moreover, a list of products have been put up such as bicycle racks, bicycle counters, water fountains, air pumps, signs, and information boards to offer better services to cyclists. At www.nordiskecykelbyer.dk all interested parties can download process plans for the preparation of bicycle accounts, strategies and action plan used by the 11 municipalities, read more about the work of the task groups, and download a magazine presenting the results of the project. Facts: The participants of ”Nordic Cycle Cities” were: Frederikshavn (DK), Viborg (DK), Randers (DK), Silkeborg (DK), Kristiansand (N), Sandefjord (N), Varberg (S), Mölndal (S), Svenljunga (S), Mariestad (S), Tranemo (S)


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