Tag Archives: train

What good are “bike superhighways”?

After our tour of Albertslund, we started heading out of town to try out the “new” bike superhighway. It’s not technically built yet, but you can view the route here. As it turned out, the trail didn’t seem to be new at all, but simply bike trail number 58, which already exists. Perhaps they will just add some new signs to spiff it up a bit but it looked pretty much like a rebranding job from what we could tell.

The first part of the path was really segregated- sunk a few meters below grade and rather disconnected from the street. There were bus stops on the road above but only steps to get to them, no parking and no way to put your bike on the bus.

It was nice enough on a sunny afternoon with a fair number of folks running or biking along it, but didn’t seem like it would be so welcoming after dark since no one could see you if you got into any danger. It was nice to not have to make any stops, but after a couple kilometers of non-stop peddling, we started getting a bit sweaty and actually hoped for a stop light to get a little break!

After several kilometers, we got lost and accidentally wound up in the suburban town of Glostrup near the train station. We knew something was amiss because the path follows in parallel to the train tracks, but at a distance of about 2 km the whole way. Rechecking our map, we went back and eventually found the trail again.

This turned out to be a fateful mistake. As soon as we were about as far from a train station as possible, Ayako proceeded to get a flat tire. We then found ourselves about 3 km from the nearest station- and any sort of town center, bike shop or anything else useful- and in no mood to walk back to the station we just passed up.

We had a patch kit but with the weather hovering around freezing and the sun on its way down in the afternoon, we weren’t that interested in stopping to fix it. We stopped to pump up every few hundred meters at first and then, finding the air leaking out too fast, we gave up and walked the last 2 km to the next station. We were a bit grumbly by the time we made it.

Ultimately, I feel that the concept of a segregated superhighway (and perhaps this extreme segregation we found in Albertslund) just doesn’t really add up. This experience of the flat tire really drove home the fears I already had about the system. Why would anyone want to ride 10-15 km (30-45 minutes) into town on a path that is far from any grocery, day care, or bike shop and feels unsafe at night? Perhaps this would be a nice change of pace on a sunny day in August when temperatures can crack a balmy 25C (~75F) if you are lucky. But when it is freezing cold, windy, and rainy- like it is most days in Denmark- I’d be hard pressed to imagine all but the most avid cyclist to be keen on biking that far.

Given that you could take the train (and even park your bike or put your bike on the train) and be in the city in less than 20 minutes, why not focus your resources on getting people from a few kilometers away in to the train station, which also conveniently has access to things like shopping, bike and repair shops, schools, and day care?

Multi-modal integration seems like a much more reasonable approach than assuming people want simply “speed and safety” like car drivers. Bikes aren’t cars. We shouldn’t apply traffic planning that works for cars for bicycling. We will need to have a more comprehensive and systemic experience to offer cyclists if we will capture more than the most extreme recreational riders on such trails.

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Copenhagen city archeologists ride customized cargo bikes

So, obviously, the mail gets delivered by bicycle in Copenhagen. But now there’s a custom bicycle for a lesser known urban profession: archeologists. The entire city is getting dug up to put in a new metro system which means that urban archeologists are scurrying around town making sure each cultural artifact uncovered is carefully taken care of.

The Copenhagen City Museum has provided them with their own custom cargo bikes to carry all their tools, lunchbox, etc.  They say it saves them the hassle of parking and a lot of time, especially with the green waves that time lights on major streets so  you sail through town at 20 km/h during rush hour.

“Sweden: Illogical Rules for Bikes on Trains” (in Lapland)

This is an article about some Danes who travel up to Lapland in northern Sweden above the arctic circle and then find out that you can’t easily take your bicycle on the train. The Danes, of course, assumed they could just stick their bikes on the train when they were tired. But it turned out they were not allowed unless they gave 5 days notice. Using some clever thinking and Danish ingenuity, they decide to wrap their bikes in cardboard and call them ‘packages’. It worked and they managed to get their bikes to Stockholm.

Sverige: Ulogiske regler for cykler i tog.

Moving from Amsterdam to Copenhagen by train with my bike

So I decided to take the train when I moved back from Amsterdam to Copenhagen so I could take my bicycle (and a bunch of stuff). I bought the ticket through the Deutsche Bahn (German Railway) online site because they are one of the few train companies in Europe that sell international tickets. However, they didn’t include the special additional bicycle ticket.

So I had to go down to Amsterdam Centraal in person and pay an extra 10 euro service fee in addition to the 12 euro bicycle ticket.

I was hoping to get to ride this charming beauty, which one of the founders of De Fietsfabrik was going to lend me for free. But the once-in-5-years Sail festival was going on and the streets were clogged with people and traffic. My (small, Japanese) girlfriend didn’t feel comfortable riding it back from the station alone. It was probably a good decision to skip it though it was a very cool cargo bike.

I had to leave my bike at the station, go to my apartment by light rail, pick up my bags and bring them back to the station by light rail. It took a bit longer than expected and I might have missed my train but the door to one of the Russian trains was delayed and we left 20 minutes late. There was no ramp to get up the steps to the car so it was tough to get it in. It was also tough to lock the frame since the rack was designed just for the wheel. I left some clothes in my saddlebags and hunkered into my seat for the 18 hour ride.

My companions were a Dutch guy in his early 20s who was doing an exchange program in northern Sweden (Umeå). I don’t think he really understood that it was 35 hours of train rides away until he sat down in the car. We were later joined by a Danish woman who had a super cute mixed girl.

I got into Copenhagen only an hour delayed. My friend was supposed to pick me up but we had a problem. Nowhere for him to park his bicycle with an attached trailer and no elevator or ramp on the stairs. I had too much stuff to move and he couldn’t leave his bike. Finally, I put all my stuff balanced on my bike, locked my bike on the platform and then we quickly hauled it up the stairs.

His tire was losing air so we had to keep pumping it up but managed to find my new place a couple km away. It was a bit tricky but felt nice to come home on a bicycle. Special thanks to Tim and Ayako for their help!