Fix what is broken [car dominant society] …
… Not what works [pedestrian infrastructure]
Restrict what kills [cars] ...
… Not what saves lives [bikes].
Sisdel Birk Hjuler presenting at the BMW Guggenheim Lab in Berlin
Copenhagen Cycle Chic started with a photo posted by Mikael Colville-Andersen in 2007. Colville-Andersen wanted to show the beautiful lighting of the morning reflecting off the streets in Copenhagen, but what people around the world commented on instead was the bike riders in the photo, riding to work in their regular clothes. Colville-Andersen had never really thought of this as unique, but was intrigued by their interest and started the blog Copenhagen Cycle Chic to capture this culture. The blog has been extremely successful in spreading the message and capturing the “normality of riding”. To Sisdel Birk Hjuler, who presented Copenhagen Cycle Chic at the BMW Guggenheim Lab in Berlin, the blog captures “Bicycle Culture 2.0”. Cycling in normal clothes, was normal when bicycles were first invented, but with car domination, things changed.
Other Cycle Chic blogs have started up all over the world, and as a huge fan, I have been tempted to start up one with my cycling buddies. Birk Hjuler commented that a new city starts almost every year, perhaps it is our year! There are some guidelines
on the Cycle Chic website about how to start your own.
It is certainly something that needs to be promoted in Brisbane, and with Lazy Sunday Cycle
and Style over Speed
(which I discussed and promoted in my Powered by Pecha Kucha talk on this day) I have seen more people excepting and realising that cycling in “normal clothes” is normal. However this has not put us in Copenhagen Cycle Chic's Top 80 cycle cities. Birk Hjuler discussed the “Copenhagenize Index for Bicycle Friendly Cities” Top 80 Cycle Cities List that the team at Copenhagen Cycle Chic have recently put together the list to inspire and encourage healthy competition. I think this is a great idea, and will be striving to put Brisbane on that list!
So why is Brisbane not on this list? I did ask this question of Birk Hjuler, but I already knew the answer – our helmet laws. No Australian City was featured on their list, because of our helmet laws. They gave us a “zero” for their criteria of the “perception of safety”.
By wearing helmets our cities are perceived as being unsafe, and I would agree completely. We do not have the number of riders to make our city safe for riding on the roads without a helmet. Our car drivers (including myself) do not know how to safely drive with cyclists around. This has got to change and the only way it can is by riding our bikes more, and encouraging more to do so! I would love to discuss my view of helmets, but will leave that post to another day.So how does Birk Hjuler suggest that cities get more people on bikes?
- Get cyclist from Point A to Point B quickly and tell them how with good mapping! People should only be expected to cycle for quick 20 minute journeys.
- Apply basic marketing. Promote the positives of cycling, in the same way that alcohol brands promote the positivity of their products.
- Stop ignoring the bull in society's china shop. Build cycle infrastructure where car infrastructure is, do not steal space from pedestrian infrastructure. This connects with the quote at the start of this post. It is also something that Berlin is particularly doing wrong, but it's actually something we could commend Brisbane on.
- Use what you have. We have some great cycle infrastructure in Brisbane, we just need to use it!