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.

It allows a city to try out a pop-up lane that snaps together like a set of Lego--without any permanent commitment.

One kilometer of The Flow is a tenth of the cost of a permanent, separated cycle track. 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," says Mikael Colville-Anderson, an urban mobility expert and CEO of Copenhagenize Design Co..

“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," he says.

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 bike-able 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."

"Common denominator for all these cities? Bicycle infrastructure. Other cities need a bit more convincing.”

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2013-11-13

Co.Exist

Lego-Like Bike Lanes That Snap Into Place Could Create Instant Biking Cities

The Copenhagenize Flow is just a a set of plastic and wood tiles, but it could change the way cities think about bike lanes.

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.

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14 Comments

  • Bikway

    We are very happy to see that we managed to inspire Mikael Colville-Andersen and Copenhagenize with our concept and ideas. We (www.bikway.com) been working on this project since 2011.

    Currently we are fundraising our first European tour of the 500m test-path.

    your support can make a difference:

    http://bit.ly/1aUMzaz

  • Joshua Putnam

    Since these create a grade-separated facility, would it really be a bike *lane*, legally, or a bike *path*? Legally, a lane is part of the roadway, a path is not. That has implications for rules of the road, liability for injuries, etc. (The same is true for permanent cycle tracks in many states, too -- in a bike lane that's part of the street, the city is liable for dangerous conditions that cause accidents. On a sidepath, cyclists are recreational users who voluntarily assume risk, and the city has a much lower obligation to maintain safe conditions.)

  • Sacramennah

    Coville-Anderson should curb his enthusiasm. "Flow is the gateway drug we've been waiting for!" Not the best PR statement.

  • Keith Johnson

    Just more government waste of peoples money. Would be great for special events but not everyday use. Just share the road.

  • SolarBozo

    Hmmm, not a horrible idea. But it seems to me that having a 2 inch (or whatever it is) drop off on the edges is a recipe for bicycle disaster. That's enough to affect steering control if someone accidentally hits the edge.

  • Yoda

    The difference in height should make it harder for other vehicles to step on the bike lane.
    My problem is with the pieces getting disassembled/lost/stolen in less "civilized" cities.

  • Niels Philbert

    I agree with you Yoda. The ease of placement makes for just as easy removement :-/

    I do see the Flow bricks as a way of testing out a bikeline tempoarily or focusing attention on a city's bike priority. I don't see them as a permanent solution. And in that light, I think you could live with the added risk over flexibility.

  • Yoda

    It's not about creating an actual obstacle for the car, just making it noticeable to the driver when he steps on the lane. It should help, like the small bumpers they put between lanes in some cities, to keep you on the right track.

  • SolarBozo

    Hmmm, maybe you work for the company that is pushing these. The more I think about this idea, the less I like it. Seems like a waste of plastic stuff to me, with little advantage.

  • Peter Signorini

    That sort of lane with a step-down to the road is as common as muck in Copenhagen. They don't seem to have any safety issues with them. It works to help keep drivers from straying into the bike lane.

  • Niels Philbert

    I live in Copenhagen, and the step-down is something you learn to respect (and navigate) as you learn to brake late, navigate fast and slow bikers, taxis etc. It's a skill like everything else.

    But no doubt about the higher placement of the bikelane is a safe and intuitive way of getting "the cars" to take bikes into account (and that too is a skill, that needs som reminding).

  • KimDRivera

    Good question, also wondering about how slick they are when it rains.
    Looks like they are designed with traction in mind though. If these
    tiles are already being tested as popup bike lanes in several cities, a
    study on what has or hasn’t worked for them could answer these
    questions… the concept is innovative. What are your thoughts on this
    related article on bike-friendly infrastructure?
    http://globalsiteplans.com/env...