"Bike butlers" tackle problem of Copenhagen's illegally parked bikes

Bikes moved, lubed, and tyres pumped up. Imagine that happening here? Us neither.

by Simon_MacMichael   August 27, 2010  

Copenhagen (picture credit Ludovic Péron_Wikimedia Commons).

Cyclists in Copenhagen who park their bicycles illegally are returning to where they left them to discover that city authorities have moved them – and placed them in the nearest purpose-built bike rack, while giving the chain a bit of a lube, pumping up the tyres and leaving a polite note asking them to park in the correct place in future.

The Copenhagenize blog, citing a report from the newspaper Berlingske, says that aim of the initiative, begun in April this year and set to run through to at least January 2011, is to encourage people to use bike racks located by the city’s Metro station, rather than leaving them in places where access may be required by the emergency services.

It’s a typically bike-friendly approach from the Danes to the problem of bikes that cause an obstruction, and one that it’s hard to imagine being employed in say, London. What’s more, the initiative appears to be working – when the project began, 150 bikes a day needed to be moved, but now the number has fallen to between 30 and 50 a day.

"It's about getting people to stop parking their bicycles in areas that emergency service vehicles need to access if there is an incident at a Metro station", said Project Leader Poul Erik Kinimond, who together with a colleague visits the city’s biggest Metro stations to move bicycles around. "We're being called ‘Bicycle Butlers,’" he continued. “People really like what we do."

Kinimond concluded: "It's been a bigger success than I had expected. At the beginning I wasn't keen on rewarding people who parked illegally. The idea was to tackle the problem in a way that wouldn't make people angry because we moved their bicycles.”

His colleague, Morten Schelbech, added: “We haven't had one single person who was angry", and said he didn’t think cyclists would start parking their bikes illegally to benefit from a free oild and getting air pumped in their tyres. "We can recognize the same bicycles that are parked illegally several days in a row. They don't get oil or air," he explained.

7 user comments

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Do you mean to tell me that they park their bikes and don't lock them? Surprise

I don't believe you!

Is it April 1st in Denmark?? Smile

Did Nightrider 2013 for Parkinson's UK, doing it again this year just for the fun of it and to raise more money.

jova54's picture

posted by jova54 [603 posts]
27th August 2010 - 11:11

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What a great initiative! Surely there's a lesson here for our own local authorities - being nice pays off! Smile

simonmb's picture

posted by simonmb [360 posts]
27th August 2010 - 11:15

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I'm still waiting to hear about a clamp down on careless driving... have been waiting for a long time now...

posted by Alankk [121 posts]
27th August 2010 - 11:15

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jova54 wrote:
Do you mean to tell me that they park their bikes and don't lock them? Surprise

I don't believe you!

Is it April 1st in Denmark?? Smile

if there are people to move the bikes then id guess they get stored in a manned secure location till they collect them?

STATO's picture

posted by STATO [411 posts]
27th August 2010 - 11:22

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STATO wrote:

if there are people to move the bikes then id guess they get stored in a manned secure location till they collect them?

Nope, they just pick them up and put them in the proper bike rack nearby.

Must be nice living in a city where you can leave your bike not fixed to anything and it will still be there when you get back (or at least, be a few yards from where you left it).

It does make you wonder though if everyone is aware of the initiative - it would be terrible if someone who wasn't found their bike was gone and trudged off home disconsolately and didn't bother reporting it - presumable there's been decent publicity and signage put up about it in the appropriate places.

Personally, I was more surprised that Copenhagen has a Metro system - I thought everyone cycled everywhere there Wink

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posted by Simon_MacMichael [8004 posts]
27th August 2010 - 11:28

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I imagine they are locked by one of those frame mounted locks which goes through the rear wheel to immobilise the bike. Cycle theft is much worse in the Netherlands.

two wheels good; four wheels bad

posted by cat1commuter [1334 posts]
27th August 2010 - 12:34

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Imagine that, a carrot instead of a stick. Whatever next?

posted by kitkat [198 posts]
27th August 2010 - 12:57

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