Pumps and detectors and counters, oh my!

Malmö is the place bikeway inventions are born.

The City adopted its first bicycle plan way back when I was two years old (1976 if you’re wondering). Even before that time, they have been leading the charge to create bicycle-friendly communities. It was back in the 60s when they decided to invest in a system of segregated cycle tracks on major roadways. It must be strange for them to hear bicycle planners from other cities talk about their “breakthroughs” in  bikeway design. Oh yes, we did that over 20 years ago, might be the response.

Source: Malmo stad Anslaget 1/11 (sketch: Stina Gustafsson)

Despite the already high proportion of trips made by bike (or perhaps because of it), bicycle ridership in the city continues to grow. They saw bicycling jump from 20% to 30% of all trips since the late 90s – which is not an easy task. There are now 260 miles of bikeways in Malmö and about 40% of all journeys to and from work are made by bicycle.

Since arriving in Sweden, I have had the great privilege to be hosted and led around town by Leif Jönsson, manager of the bicycle program in the municipality’s traffic division. He has a modest disposition despite being the brains behind many of the bikeway innovations that are not only found in Malmö but have made their way to some of the world’s best bicycling cities. On Monday afternoon, we took a three hour bike tour around town. I felt like Charlie Bucket being led through the Wonka chocolate factory by the great Willy Wonka himself. It’s a bicycle wonk’s (sorry for the bad pun) dream come true! I thought I’d share just a few highlights we encountered along the way.

Signal rail. The hand and foot railings at traffic signal is the bicycling equivalent to the cup holder on your car’s dashboard. You know you are in a City with advanced bicycling infrastructure when it offers this level of comfort and convenience on bikeways. If you find yourself stuck at a signal, just kick up your foot and take a rest against the rail.

Public pumps. There is no need to search out a gas station to inflate a flat or low tire in Malmö. Public air compressors have been placed at strategic locations to create mini service stations for people on bicycles. If we had this in Portland, I’d lose my only regular upper body exercise – the floor pump.

Bicycle barometers count passing cyclists and provide a visual indication of cycling levels each day at key intersections in Malmö. People on bikes can see that their trips count as they pass the site. The permanent installation allows them to see the change in cycling numbers throughout the year. Winter ridership numbers are a whopping 80% of volumes in the Summer.

Radar sensors. In Malmö, the signals are watching you. And if you’re on a bike, you might be rewarded. Small sensors have been fitted above the signals at around thirty intersections in Malmö to detect approaching cyclists. Once detected, the bicycle signals quickly turn green. I was told that the radar costs fraction of loop detectors in the pavement which require tearing up the pathway surface to replace.

Bike lounge. The newly opened City Tunnel, built to shorten the travel time between Copenhagen and Malmö, has brought with it two new stops (underground stations) within the city limits. The Hyllie Station is equipped with a state-of-the-art “bike and ride” facility. The garage not only accommodates a thousand bikes in both open and secure facilities, it offers a repair station and waiting room for those who arrive by bicycle.

Braille bollard. One of the coolest bits of infrastructure I saw was actually for people on foot. Small bollards have been placed at crossings of major and minor roadways. The cap of the bollard has a tactile diagram for those with impaired vision to inform them of the number of lanes they must cross and of the presence of a median refuge.



About Denver Igarta

This blog was established to document my search for streets that my 5-year old can play near without my constant supervision. Where kids can live active lives and learn independence. My quest began when I was selected as an Urban and Regional Policy Fellow by the German Marshall Fund, for info: gmfus.org/cdp/fellowships. I am a multi-modal transportation planner for the City of Portland (OR), America's sustainable transportation capital. SHORT BIO/PROJECT DESCRIPTION Denver Igarta (October-November 2011), Urban Planner, City of Portland Bureau of Transportation Project: Livable Streets Where People Live: Fostering People-Friendly Streets by De-emphasizing Automobile Traffic in Residential Areas Cities: Munich, Rotterdam, Copenhagen, Malmö Denver Igarta is an urban planner with the Transportation Bureau of the City of Portland. He works on a broad range of transportation policy, street design initiatives and pedestrian, bicycle and freight planning efforts. He recently served as one of the principal authors of Portland's new bicycle plan. He is currently staffing two “active transportation” projects: a rails-with-trails project along the Banfield Freeway and a local street system plan for one of the state's most diverse neighborhoods. He performed his graduate studies at the University of Dortmund, Germany and the University of the Philippines and holds a Master of Science in Regional Development Planning. Portland is struggling to reverse generations of auto-oriented development patterns and make neighborhood streets more “livable” (people-friendly) by restoring their multimodal and placemaking functions. Mr. Igarta's research will evaluate how cities in Germany, the Netherlands, Denmark, and Sweden have enacted policies to restore the multiple functions of public streets through traffic management, green infrastructure and giving priority to sustainable travel modes. He will meet with local practitioners, policymakers and civic leaders involved in transportation planning, traffic safety and neighborhood livability projects, street design, and implementation of multi-modal traffic policies. The ultimate aim of the study is to compile a set of best practices and policies implemented in European cities that have broadened the role of residential streets beyond automobile mobility. Additional focus will be given to understanding how acceptable policy tradeoffs are determined within city agencies and the level of public support for measures that restrict car movements, such as reduced speed zones, bicycle streets, shared spaces, residents-only streets and residential parking restrictions.
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7 Responses to Pumps and detectors and counters, oh my!

  1. Scott COhen says:

    Plus Malmo conducted a fantastic promotional campaign to get people to bicycle more for short trips. I think their mix of great infrastructure and promotion have helped propel the city past that 20% level. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uVwtTM4cRe8

  2. Peter says:

    I haven’t yet gotten microwave sensors that will detect bicycle accurately (and the cost 5 times more than loops depending on the situation) and our loop detectors are pretty effective. Yet, when the leaves are on the ground, you can’t find the stencil, so perhaps we need to move towards a sensor such that you have described. I saw these in the Netherlands: http://koonceportland.blogspot.com/2011/07/microwave-detector-for-bicycle-traffic.html
    If you get a contact, let me know.
    Now, the response of the signal is another matter. That’s a setting in the controller.

  3. Pingback: UW Fixit stations welcome bikes to campus « Cascade Bicycle Club Blog

  4. Mrs.Hanna says:

    That’s a great info about pumps and detectors.i really admire to this..

  5. Charles says:

    The radar costs fraction of loop detectors in the pavement which require tearing up the pathway surface to replace.

  6. Tracy says:

    The use of the signal rails, bicycle barometers and public pumps with the radar senssor for the bicyclist is really amazing.

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