Perhaps this nytårstale should have come out yesterday, and been given by some more official person, but nevertheless. Godt nytår/Happy New Year! It goes without saying that 2014 was an unbelievable year for cycling and those whose lives it impacts in Copenhagen, New York, and cities elsewhere around the World, setting the stage for even more of a watershed year in 2015. Astonishing may be the best way to describe how cycling innovation has exploded in places other than Denmark and the Netherlands in recent years, and it seems that this growth only becomes more exponential over time. Though these few examples surely do not even begin to scratch the surface of this monumental growth, a few memorable “moments” in cycling in 2014 inspire those whose lives cycling has changed and portend an even more cathartic New Year.
For Copenhageners and especially those who live in Frederiksberg, the traffic light right before one rides over Sankt Jørgens Sø, as H.C. Andersens Boulevard turns into Gyldenløvesgade, is almost ALWAYS a stop…to think that one day this could be a thing of the past! These experimental lights would completely revolutionize the cycling commute in Copenhagen and in the other cities that are experimenting with it (including San Francisco and Los Angeles, which, of course, don’t have quite as many bicycles…). Though some of this LED sensor technology would help car drivers as well, this really is another win for the cyclist, who, as one in the article did, could more easily give up the car because the bike is simply easier. And only easier will it get. Such a thing would be great for New York…if we had bike lanes in the first place…
As someone who has had a number (4?) of bikes stolen in Copenhagen and NYC, I’m leery of anyone who says that they’ve “invented” a theft-proof bicycle, but this smartly points out that anti-theft measures have still not really been factored into (at least significantly) most of bicycle design language. These Chilean engineering students seem to have the right idea, in that thieves must destroy the bicycle in order to steal it, rendering the act irrelevant. I do not see bicycle thievery to be stopped any time soon, though. While Denmark may express dissatisfaction with rampant bicycle theft, many young Danes rely on “discarded” bikes around town for transport. Bicycle “theft” is rather ambiguous and over-enforcement could actually disenfranchise some who might not participate as actively in the bicycle economy other than as sharers.
Though the article does not explicitly state this, I’m assuming that these “solar lanes” are being experimented with as bike lanes because of the weight distribution. This is not necessarily a cycling-specific innovation, but a shining example of the multitude of positive externalities of cycling.
In the works in 2014 and to come in the New Year, in fact, may also be an expansion of New York City’s acclaimed/troubled Citi Bike program, this time into another STATE (just right next door). Jersey City has become nearly another borough of New York, with hundreds of thousands of commuters entering and leaving Manhattan daily. It remains to be seen how the two bike share systems would interact (they would be completely separate entities, though likely maintained by the same company), but an expansion would be regardless impressive. Again, bike sharing is just a “gateway drug” to commuter cycling in lieu of driving, but for us Americans (especially New Yorkers) it has been instrumental in changing the transportation fabric of our streets. With the 2014 saving-grace acquisition of Alta, the company that manages bike share systems across the Nation, by the parent company of real estate behemoth Related and gym-rat heaven Equinox, will come the continually sticky traction of the system and cementing of bike sharing in popular consciousness.
Last, but certainly not least, my “cousin” from Denmark, Morten, took New York City by storm yet again in 2014! We got around town in very un-Danish ways…in part because my bicycle collection has become diminished…but that will soon change. I cannot wait to get back in the saddle (literally) on the mean streets of Frederiksberg when I return to CPH soon in 2015, and of course drudge up some comic fodder for my tiny audience here addressed.