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Keeping count in New York and Copenhagen

Despite already having absurdly high numbers of bicycle commuters, the city of Copenhagen is always looking for ways to increase the share of trips taken by bike. The latest bit of social marketing struck me as pretty clever: a digital counter displays a running tally of the number of cyclists who pass through one of the city’s major thoroughfares. Lucky cyclist #500,000 gets a fancy new bike.

This being Copenhagen, it will only take about a month to hit the half million mark. I don’t know what the city’s plans are after that, but why not give away a bike a month? The program is trivially cheap to administer.

Even non-winners can benefit from the new display, which includes a free air hose for inflating soft tires. The U.S. could learn a lot from Copenhagen.

Speaking of social marketing, this weekend I participated in the five-borough tour, a ride that passes through all the major sections of New York City. 30,000 people participate, and one of the main draws is the chance to ride on sections of roads and bridges that are normally closed to bicycles. Despite weather that was about as bad as it could be — steady rain and low temperatures — the ride was astoundingly fun.


I’m always struck during events like these how pleasant it is to ride among other cyclists in a car-free environment. The best advertisement for cycling is always seeing cyclists themselves, enjoying the city environment at a human pace and a human scale.

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