If cycling is to become the modern trendy choice for city transportation it is important to provide innovative high quality solutions for both the urban space and the cyclists themselves. In Denmark different companies have specialized in innovative cycling solutions like designer bikes, cargo bikes, really smart helmets, battery-free bike lights and different cyclist service equipment for the urban space.
By Sara Fritzner, Reelight, and Marianne Weinreich
Veksø Danish design is known the world over – with architecture and furniture being two of the areas in which we excel. The special characteristics of Danish design are clean and simple lines, but it has also become synonymous with quality, function, innovation and sustainability.
These values and principles also apply to cycling. Danish cyclists do not use a bicycle out of necessity, but because it is the quickest and easiest means of transport, and because cycling is a natural part of Danish culture and lifestyle.
Most Danes cycle in their everyday clothes, on bicycles that are made to be used as a means of transport in cities and not for road racing or mountain biking. Like Danish furniture, Danish bicycles are designed in simple harmonious lines, without a lot of superfluous accessories. There are however many different types and models of bicycles to choose from depending on the cyclist's needs – classic bikes, city bikes, cargo bikes, etc. The leading Danish bicycle brands are Avenue, Principia, Kildemoes and Winther. But smaller brands like Von Bachhaus, Velorbis and Biomega are also succesful. Danish cargo bikes like Nihola, Christiania Bikes and Trio Bike are also becoming popular around the world.
The Danish frame number system
Although the vast majority of Danes own a bicycle, many bicycles are stolen in Denmark. To make it easier to return a stolen bicycle to its owner, the Danish Parliament adopted a law in 1948 that all bicycles and bicycle frames that are sold or transferred in Denmark must be marked with a unique frame number stamped into the frame. So if you are unfortunate enough to have your bicycle stolen, you can state the frame number to the police when you report the theft. If the theft is not reported and registered in the police database, you cannot obtain compensation from your insurance company. Receiving compensation for a stolen bicycle is however also based on the condition that the bicycle was locked, with a frame mounted bicycle lock, which has been approved by the Danish Institute for Informative Labelling, whose purpose is to promote voluntary use of informative labelling of consumer goods and services for consumers.
Battery-free bike lights and other safety equipment
Making a bicycle a safe and easy choice helps promote cycling. One of the latest and most innovative solutions in safety equipment is the patented battery-free light from Reelight. With Reelight, cyclists always have lights on their bicycles – day and night. The light is based on the electrodynamic induction principle and operates via two magnets mounted on the spokes with the light itself on the wheel hub. Electricity is induced when the magnets pass the light.
The new magnet lights give safety and freedom to cyclists. Safety because the lights are fixed and always lit, and freedom because cyclists never need to worry about remembering to switch on the lights or change batteries. A comprehensive survey conducted by Odense Bicycle City shows that fixed magnet lights on bicycles reduce the number of accidents by 32 per cent. In addition, fixed magnet lights increase cyclists' feeling of safety by up to 85 per cent.
The bike lights from Reelight are the only ones in Denmark that have been approved by the Danish Institute for Informative Labelling. This is the guarantee for cyclists that the product fulfills legal requirements, and that it has been tested and checked by an impartial authority. In addition, Reelight has won a Eurobike Award for two years in succession. The award is one of the most significant in the bicycle industry. Innovation, safety and eco-friendliness were the decisive criteria when the jury chose to award the prize to Reelight.
It can be difficult to get cyclists to use a helmet. The arguments for not using a helmet are numerous – it looks anything but elegant, it messes up the hair and is awkward to carry around.
A Danish manufacturer has taken up the challenge. Yakkay developed a helmet where the requirements for safety and aesthetics are compatible and equal. Yakkay helmets consist of a helmet and a cover. The latter resembles a hat or a cap and is available in countless designs. The helmets have been developed for cyclists who want to feel safe and well-dressed at the same time. Yakkay has already won several design and innovation awards including a Eurobike Award in 2009.
Bicycle parking and cyclist service facilities
Every cycling trip ends with a parked bicycle, and bicycle parking is thus a significant factor in promoting cycling. Without bicycle parking, lots of parked bicycles quickly become a mess that makes the city hard to access for pedestrians.
In the last 60-70 years, Danish companies have provided bicycle parking facilities with a focus on quality, design, innovation and sustainability. Veksø for example uses leading architects and designers to develop bicycle parking solutions to ensure not only that the solutions are attractive-looking and functional, but are also connected in terms of design with other city fixtures such as benches, waste bins and lighting, thus making bicycle parking part of a city's design expression.
Altogether there has been a major focus in the last 10 years on developing different innovative solutions for cyclists. Odense municipality was for example the first to install a bicycle counter from Veksø, which records how many cyclists pass the counter each day.
In addition to giving City of Odense important trend data on the number of cyclists, installing equipment such as cyclist counters sends a signal to cyclists that it makes a difference whether they cycle or drive a car. To the cyclists the information about how many other cyclists have previously passed a certain spot that day shows that they are not alone, and that they are part of a community.