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Sumit Singhal
Sumit Singhal
Sumit Singhal loves modern architecture. He comes from a family of builders who have built more than 20 projects in the last ten years near Delhi in India. He has recently started writing about the architectural projects that catch his imagination.

Bike Share System in Copenhagen, Denmark by RAFAA

June 10th, 2011 by Sumit Singhal

Article source: RAFAA

Higher Density & Sustainable Transportation

In the post-oil era, the cost of transportation will rise dramatically. The solution lies in the densification of the city as well as in finding alternative ways of commuting. The long term question remains, how much density Copenhagen can afford and at what price. A first step into the right direction has been done by expanding the existing, extensive network of bike lanes into the suburbs. Additionally, there is also a network of 13 highway bike routes for bicycle commuters in planning. They will connect the suburbs with the city centre. The new Bicycle Sharing System must be integrated into this concept to create synergies with other fields, e.g. public and individual transportation. It must become an integral part of a comprehensive transport and energy policy.

Station inside

  • Architect: RAFAA
  • Nmae of Project: Bike Share System
  • Location: Copenhagen, Denmark

The New City Bike Share System

The Bike Share System must become more than just a transporting system. It deals not only with the problem of stocks and flows of people, but must add extra value to its user and to the city itself. We suggest that the Bike Share System becomes an integral part of the city. The bicycles should function as censors and inform the system about certain behaviours, so that the system can react according to the situation.To predict the performance of a system, the entities have to exchange information. An internet-based platform can analyse the different interests and could then manage possible conflicts. The bicycles are equipped with GPS und W-Lan, so they are connected to each order and can inform the system about their position and status. (Is a bike being used? Where is the bike and where is it moving to? Is there a reservation for the bike? etc.) Privacy protection is a matter that has to be taken into account in the process.

Station outside

To increase the number of commuters travelling by bicycle from 37% to 50% by 2015, approx. 25.000 bicycles have to be integrated into the urban fabric; these bikes will need at least 20.000 m2 of storage space. We see a high risk of overloading the squares, streets and stations of Copenhagen. Therefore, our focus is to reduce the „visual pollution“ wherever possible. At the same time, easy accessibility as well as the system’s visual presence has to be maintained (hide & show policy). The following proposal distinguishes between three different trajectory scales: S,M and L.

Bike Share System

Bike (Scale S)

Today, the success of a system is not only based on its usefulness and benefits, it has to be fashionable, too. The outdated belief that you have to own an object to be able to use it leads to a kind of „consumption fetishism“. We think that this phenomenon can help us change the users’ habits. Our design philosophy is based on the belief that there are unspoken design values such as an excellent customer service. Not only must the handling of the Bike Sharing System be easy, but people have to be able to enjoy the whole experience from beginning to end. Even though every bicycle looks the same, it somehow becomes your rolling home every morning. The bike combines usefulness with simple, modern elegance. Contrary to well known examples, it is neither a colourful toy nor a good, old, bulky bicycle. It will help to convey the positive and innovative image of Copenhagen, thus creating a sense of identity. The bike has to satisfy an important criterion to make both Copenhagener and tourists use it: It has to be better than their own bike! Great importance has been attached to user friendliness and innovation.

Market night

The bike has a computer including a display with integrated GPS and WLAN. It is equipped with a supporting electric motor and a 26V lithium battery (E-bike) to make it suitable for short and long distances up to 15km. The battery has a range of max. 50km and is recharged at the stations. The lightweight aluminium frame is made of one piece, thus enabling an easy wiring inside. Most of the components are integrated into the frame or the wheel to prevent theft and damage. The LED lighting, for example, cannot be dismounted and drum brakes, generator and 8-speed gear are integrated into the hub. The inner part of the frame is made of carbon reinforced plastic with integrated LED lighting. It can be demounted for maintenance. The bike is designed as “righty” respectively “lefty”, thus allowing an easy exchange of the wheels. The tandem function allows two bikes to be attached together at the axle (see tandem function). Since the cost of production is higher, safety precautions have to be taken. A registration respectively a credit or Maestro card is necessary to release the bike from the station. The card will only be charged in case of theft or damage. The GPS also records when the bike is taken outside of the city limits; if necessary, it can lock the bike by way of the electric drive.

Detail plugin

How to use a bike?

To use a bike, you have to register in the internet or insert a credit or Maestro card into the bike’s handle bar and log in (see 1). The first 30 minutes are free; after that, 5 DKK per 30 minutes will be charged. The fee per hour rises proportionally so that the bikes stay in circulation. There are stations everywhere in Copenhagen’s city centre (max. distance 300 metres). At all times, you can find out in the internet how many bikes are available at which stations. Commuters will be able to profit from a text message service informing them about available bikes. Train passengers will have the possibility to make a reservation 30 minutes in advance. By using the Bike Share System, you will get credit for other public transportation or discounts for various cultural events. After you have registered your personal settings into the system, they will be saved and displayed when logging in (see 2). In the menu Quick Start, the user will be able to choose from different options such as tourist or commuter (see 3). In My Menu, you can access music, audio news, DSB’s timetable or the bike settings (see 4). You will also find a navigation system with various saved destinations; this is particularly useful for tourists (see 5). For safety reasons, the image of the traffic captured by the camera in the saddle is displayed during the ride (see 6).


Small station

TThe stations are in-ground to reduce visual pollution. With it, we pursue the strategy to interweave the already existing urban fabric, grown over the years, with the new elements. The stations will become an integral part of reducing the pile of bikes. The bikes are shoved backwards into the ground and then locked. The batteries are charged and information gets exchanged via the plug-in. Thanks to the card reader integrated into the handle bar, there is no need for the usual check-in machine.


A pre-fabricated metal trough with all necessary plugs is built into the existing paving and subsequently re-covered with paving stones. The metal trough has a lateral slide rail making logging in easier. It also has a metal belt pushing the pedals into a horizontal position. The module can work with all kinds of surfaces. A small blinking light signals the charging state of the batteries or if there is a reservation for the particular


Medium stations

There is also a model for situations where there is not a lot of space but where there is a greater need for bikes, e.g. near train stations. The metal module is built into a preexisting wall or into a stand. A grappler clamp secures the bike’s back wheel on the wall. By entering a pin code, it can be unlocked again. The image on the display is automatically turned through 180°. After entering the pin, the clamp slides downwards along a track and brings the bike into a horizontal position. After confirmation on the display, the clamp is

Large stations

To ensure a fast delivery of a large number of bikes during rush-hour, large facilities with at least 20-30 bikes have to be installed near busy centres such as the main station or the university. The best way to reduce visual pollution is to use facilities that are largely built underground. As shown in the example, the bikes are stored underground in a depot. A common rail system automatically transports the bikes upwards as needed. Booking is done the same way as explained before. A glass parapet prevents the users from falling.

Light concept

Small stations – special

The Bike Share System can also be integrated into conventional urban settings. In this example, you can see how the reinterpretation of the street lighting creates a hybrid which can lead to synergies of use and an upgrading of Copenhagen’s squares. At night, excessive energy of the wind power stations can be used to recharge the bikes’ batteries. At the same time, the bikes’ LED frame serves as a light fixture. During daylight, the “flower” unfolds and captures the solar energy with its solar panels. By clicking on a button or sending a text message, the bike gets unlocked and slides downwards alongside a rail.

Log in card

Temporary medium stations

Under certain conditions, e.g. during football games or festivals lasting several days, it makes sense to set up some stations on a temporary basis. In this case, autonomous and transportable solutions are necessary. This common cargo container has been remodelled to accommodate 28 stations with bikes. The photovoltaic system built on the roof guarantees an independent power supply.

Medium stations – special

The module can also be used to close existing voids between buildings. By doing so, comparatively large facilities can easily be hidden.

Distribution (tandem function)

One of the biggest problems to be solved is the sufficient supply of the stations with bikes. It is inevitable that there will be some shortages, since the demand for bikes is not symmetric. How can these shortages be avoided without additional transports, only by way of self-regulation? By giving Copenhagen’s population and the bikes’ users a strong incentive: For example: By giving the user a choice of stations to bring his bike back at a specific point in time, he can ride the bike for free or receive some extra credit. To further amplify this redistribution, there is the possibility to connect two bikes at their front and back axle: A single person can thus transport two bikes at the same time.

Market day

Light concept

Different kind of light situations can be created with the bikes’ LED frames. The battery provides the power. By creating a personal desktop image, the user is able to customise the bike. The interface can also be used as advertising space, thus serving as a further source of revenue. The LED frame could also change according to the light conditions, hence making the bike more visible in traffic .

Contact RAFAA

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