Friday, July 31, 2009

Revolutions Flipside Film

Just saw this on my facebook wall...Looks like the Live from Memphis Crew put together a film about Revolutions, the bicycle cooperative back in my fair city.

Hope you enjoy it!

Friday, July 24, 2009

Keepin' it Real in CPH

Wow. Somehow in the past week I became a busy man. In a foreign town. Where I don't speak the language.

Nonetheless, bicycles appear to be their own form of communication. I've been working on bikes*a whole lot* this past week. The best part is I've enjoyed nearly every minute of it. I'm volunteering at Schrøder Cykler this week, building bicycles out of the box and occasionally piecing together a bicycle from the frame on up. The owner of the shop, Niels, is a legend in this town. He was a serious track racer in the 1970s and 1980s and knows just about anyone who was someone in bicycling during that time. Greg LeMond etc. I have photos but, alas, I'm in no position today to upload them to the blog today. Stay tuned.

I do want to provide a link to my Flickr gallery so you can peruse the ever growing collection of photos. Some are neat, others are probably kind of lame. The great thing about the internet is you have the power to close the window.

Check out the fun photos here.

Look for more extensive posts in the near future...though on second thought, maybe hoping for more extensive posts in the near future is a better use of your energy. I'm learning just how much livin' there is to do in this ole world. Its mighty big, and you'd be amazed at the amount of fascinating people doing fascinating things running around this planet of ours. I've been busy with this sort of thing, mostly.

For now, enjoy these quixotic photos:

Friday, July 17, 2009

Starting Early (with a Note on Land Use)

Here in Copenhagen, the individuals who are working to grow the bicycle culture understand that a 37% mode share can be lost in a single generation.

The Danish Cyclists' Federation (DCF), a 105 year old bicycle advocacy group still at work here in Copenhagen, has begun a program to ensure that the next generation of Danes continues to ride bicycles.
This bicycle is similar to the first bike created in Germany in the 19th century, the velocipede
(The handsome man holding this bicycle is Kristian, a former bicycle messenger/bicycle mechanic who now works full time at the DCF). The bike has no pedals and is instead powered by pushing. Its for the very little ones among us. The very, very little ones.

While kids in America can begin riding the bicycle with training wheels at 4 or 5, this little device enables kids to get moving on two wheels a bit earlier. Perhaps most importantly, the young people learn balance at an early age, which means they can often safely forgo training wheels and begin riding a real bike at a young age.

I tried to snap a shot of this mother/daughter duo as they rode past, but managed only to catch them in the background. They were riding quite fast!

Still, I think this picture tells a story about the bicycle culture here. The young girl riding beside her mom appeared to be 5 or 6 years old. They are riding in a bicycle track near the busy city center on a roadway used frequently by motor vehicles.

In Copenhagen, they ride with a clearly discernible sense of security: in part because the effort to teach safe bicycle riding starts early and in part because the City of Copenhagen has created safe places for little people and old people, fast people and slow people, to use their bicycles.
Maybe they parked here a bit later. This parking lot is typical for Copenhagen, and one can be found on most city blocks in within the city. There are perhaps 25 or 30 bicycles parked here. Using this same space, you park two cars.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

My Commute

My commute into and out of the city from my apartment just northwest of the city center is quick and easy.

This is, in part, because the city has taken measures to constantly preserve the efficiency of the bike path.

This is a shot of a bike track similar to the one on Norre Alle, the largest street on my commute.
It's a very typical intersection. The bike track is roughly 12' wide, nearly the same width as the pedestrian crosswalk, and the bike track is separated from the very busy 4 lane roadway by a raised curb. At each intersection, the bike path levels out to the same grade as the road but retains its bike specific designation through a swath of blue paint.

There is quite a bit of construction happening on Norre Alle at the moment. I'm guessing they're doing some plumbing or electrical work as the city has dug out the underside of the street. That means they have to dig out the earth underneath the bike lane, but luckily, they have this handy machine to make it all right again:
They also have this handy machine to keep it tidy once construction is complete.
It would be understandable if the bike lane was shut down whilst construction happened. But that is just not the way they roll here in Copenhagen.
They create the bike track regardless. Custom built street sweepers, pavement rollers designed to smooth out bike paths and the vigilant maintenance of the bike facilities--even through construction--all serve to sustain this vibrant population of bicyclists.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Pictures for Reflection

In advance of a post about the infrastructure here in Copenhagen, take a moment and enjoy these images from the streets of the world's bicycle capital.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

New (old) Apartments and Danish Bicycle Shops

I've settled into my new place, 159 Emdrupvej, just north of the city center. Though my home is quite north of the center, it only takes 15 minutes to ride in because I ride *literally* on a bicycle superhighway each way. The road has three lanes of car traffic in each direction, but along each side is a bicycle track, that is a bike specific path that runs alongside car traffic but which enjoys separation by way of a modest curb. In my local tongue, it is totally ballin'.

Here are the promised pics from the first week:

This is my friend Clavs beside a statue that basically says bicycles live forever. Duh.

I traveled to a couple bike shops on my first day on a City Bike.

The City Bikes have a map mounted to the handlebars (kinda crappy as maps go in Medieval Cities), and you unlock them from stations around town with a 20KR coin. When you return the bike, you get your coin back. Really, the bikes are all around kinda clunky. But you know, it got me around when I didn't have another option. So, horray City Bike!

Among the most notable shops I visited was Schroeder Cycles, a shop that has been around for more than 90 years.

I met the owner, Niels Christensen, whose father has made bicycle frames for most of his life.

I've made a deal with Niels to work a little bit in his shop in exchange for a custom made Schroder Cycle. I'll build it up for the tour I'll do around Western Europe.

These are the custom built Schroder Frames.

Before leaving, I received a piece of advice, we'll call it wisdom, from a former Watson Fellow. "Never pass up an opportunity," she said, "as you'll always regret it if you do." In keeping with the spirit of that advice, I helped Niels carry a bunch of trash to the dump upon his request. I had to take a photo, just so you would believe I'd do such a thing on my world adventure.
I went to visit Niels the next day, just before I went to the beach. I didn't take a picture of the beach--because I was, frankly, too busy enjoying it--but don't despair as I plan to go back this Saturday.

I was on foot at when I saw Niels the second day as my City Bike had been claimed by someone else. Niels was sympathetic, so he just gave me a bike. She was a real piece of work. She, in fact, needed some work.

The rear tube had a slow leak. But despair not! Niels, being as friggin friendly as anyone I've met, gave me an extra tube and a crescent wrench to complete the repair. That along with a lock. Guess that trip to the dump already paid off.

Though you may not be able to see it, Clavs is wearing American Flag converse. He also recently saw Bruce Springsteen at a massive stadium here in Copenhagen. Love it.

I know you've been on the edge of your seat. The time is now. You know him, you love him (don't lie!), the King of Pop himself--Michael Jackson:

And now for something completely different.....

Near the end of my second full day in the city, Clavs and a couple journalist friends took me to Nyhavn, a pedestrian street beside a canal.

I'm convinced that journalists are as cool as bicyclists...well, maybe not
as cool, but at least cool enough to hang out with cyclists.
I thought this next picture was especially cool, not only because it features Clavs' American Flag shoes but because it's four pair of feet similarly aligned. Maybe I'm enjoying symmetry more in my old age.
"So what about the bikes," asks the careful reader. "What about all the 'transforming people and places' nonsense?" Well, keep your spandex on, its coming. I had to spend some time taking in the city.

I'll wrap up this "I'm so pumped to be in Copenhagen" post with a couple pics of my apartment from the outside.
So what is so impressive about this image, even the daft observer asks? Well, what this pictures belies is the herd of people just inside the entrance to my apartment. This gentleman had a fairly simple job amongst the herd: harness the natural light for the movie shoot going on inside that green door. An entire movie crew had assembled inside my apartment building to shoot an episode for the annual Danish Christmas Calendar, a series of 30 (I think?) programs that count down the days to Christmas. This was the only shot I got, well, cause they wouldn't let me through to the apartment where they were shooting. But I did see that they hung a Christmas Wreath on my door. I was dissappointed to find it was gone when I came back.

I took a walk to pass the time while they were shooting the Christmas Calendar and found this. I got tickled by it. Hope you like it to.

Stay tuned on Friday for "Traffic Hierarchies and Effective Curbs."

Tuesday, July 7, 2009


I've finally made some time to post. Let us rejoice and be glad!
Internet has been a bit tricky here. The places where I've stayed so far don't have connections, so I had to find a place where I could hang out and get online. The Laundromat Cafe is just that place, and a picture will be forthcoming.

I met up with my friend Clavs when I arrived in Copenhagen. We met through great site--and he put me up for a few days.

This is Clavs' street, a beautiful place near the city center. You can walk to the Central Station from his house.

On my first night in town we took a trip down to the water to enjoy some drinks and listen to music

We passed along a pedestrian bridge that had access to this swimming hole. The next day, I passed by and saw this place filled with people enjoying the warm July sun.

We ended up next to a pavillion made out of a boat turned upside down and supported by sturdy wooden beams. A band dressed as pirates played some jazz, which was followed by a bit of storytelling care of our pirate friends to the left. He was accompanied by the pianist with a parrot on his right shoulder. Our swashbuckling narrator told the story of Captain Morgan and Don Juan, completely in Danish, but I enjoyed it nonetheless.

We passed this bicycle, wrapped in Christmas paper, and I thought it was cute. Hope you think so, too. There was a nice bicycle art installation near this bicycle, which I'll post very soon.

Of course one of the main reasons I am in Copenhagen is to investigate the bicycle infrastructure. This is a good example of little improvements that make a big difference. This gentleman is pushing his bike up a small ramp directly next to the stairs. This particular staircase has about 6 or 7 flights, and a little bike ramp made a big difference. Small investment, major improvement.

My first day in the city I walked nearly 10 miles. I didn't have a bike, so I beat the streets with the flat soles of my shoes. I came across a city bike (the free bikes all around Copenhagen) soon enough, but first I stumbled upon this beautiful cemetery.

It was among the most peaceful places I've been. There were dozens of gardeners tending the flowers, bushes and shrubs, and from what I understand the cemeteries are like parks here; free and open to pass through and enjoy.

Later in the day, I took the pedestrian street--the Stroget--to Radhuspladsen, the major square in Copenhagen right next to the town hall. It was amazing, and I have more picture to share soon, but this one is especially significant because I learned just how medieval McDonalds was.

Stay tuned for nerdy posts about the cycling culture in Copenhagen, including but not limited to close up shots of well made curbs and particularly well engineered intersections.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Memphis, Take Heed

Op-Ed Contributor
Bike Among the Ruins

Published: July 5, 2009
While bike enthusiasts in most urban areas continue to have to fight for their place on the streets, Detroit has the potential to become a new bicycle utopia.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

I made it

I'm in Copenhagen, Ladies and Gentlemen. Lots to report, but little time to do it.


For now, enjoy this!