Ask any biking advocate what it takes to get a new bike lane in place, and you’ll hear stories about painful bureaucracy and skeptical neighbors. But what if a city could try out a pop-up lane that snaps together like a set of Lego—without any permanent commitment?
The Copenhagenize Flow, a set of tiles made from recycled plastic and wood, are designed to let a city easily and cheaply create separated bike lanes, says Mikael Colville-Anderson, an urban mobility expert and CEO of Copenhagenize Design Co., a consultancy and design company that specializes in exporting Copenhagen's expertise in urban biking to the rest of the world.
"Most of the cities we work with are aware that permanent solutions are necessary to increase ridership, but are reluctant to invest," says Colville-Anderson. "Painted lanes are no solid solution for inspiring citizen cyclists to ride. Especially those goofy lanes on the left side of parked cars—I hope someone got fired for inventing those. And sharrows [those arrows that indicate there is a bike lane somewhere in the middle of the car lane] are the unloved, bastard children of bicycle urbanism. The Flow is the gateway drug we have been waiting for."
One kilometer of The Flow is a tenth of the cost of a permanent, separated cycle track, Colville-Andersen says. After it's tested on one street, it can pop apart and be tested on another, and then another.
The Flow is intended to help convince neighbors along with city officials: "It's hard to imagine a cycle track for many citizens in cities who have never seen them before. The Flow helps visualize the future of transport."
The shift to better urban biking can happen relatively quickly. On the latest Copenhagenize Index, the organization's list of the most bike-friendly cities in the world, several newly bikeable cities suddenly appeared. "There are the usual suspects, sure, but look at cities like Bordeaux, Barcelona, Paris, Dublin, Seville. Zeroes to heroes in just five short years. Seville has gone from 0.2% modal share to 7% in that time, for example. Common denominator for all these cities? Bicycle infrastructure. Other cities need a bit more convincing."
Perhaps the Flow can help.