The Bicycle Butler – from scolding fingers to oil and a smile

| November 3, 2010

A bicycle butler’s most important job is to place wrongly parked bicycles correctly in the bicycle racks in good spirits and with a smile on his face. But not only does the bicycle butler move the bicycles that are in the way, he will also oil the chain and pump the tyres if needed.

For the last six months, as part of the City of Copenhagen’s strategy to become the world’s best city for cyclists, Copenhagen has had a bicycle butler service at six metro stations around the city. The idea is to exchange a wave and a smile in hopes of motivating the cyclists to change their behaviour if they get a good experience. Moreover, the bicycle butler himself is hired as part of an activation project to help long-term unemployed people back to the job market.

Why move the bicycles?

It is important that the bicycles are parked correctly so they are not in the way. Bicycles parked outside bicycle racks are a nuisance for those trying to get through the front areas of the metro station. More importantly, bicycles block fire access and emergency routes to be used by ambulances and fire engines in case of an emergency.

Where are the bicycles put and how do their owners find them again?

At the six metro stations signs have been put up explaining where to park and why, that the bicycle butler might have moved your bicycle, and if so, where you can find it. The bicycle butler puts a small note on the handlebar of the bicycles he moves explaining the project and wishing the cyclist a good day—naturally, bicycles that are placed wrongly over and over again do not get their chain oiled or tyres pumped.

A pilot project which looks like it’s working

All feedback so far indicates that the project is a great success, and very few abuse the good intentions: A count of the wrongly parked bicycles before and after the project began shows that far fewer park their bicycles incorrectly after meeting the bicycle butler. Cyclists as well as users of the metro are very happy with the efforts, and the bicycle butler loves his new job.

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Category: Campaigns, Danish Cycling Know How, Maintenance, Newsletter 1, Newsletters in English

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