Thursday, January 22, 2015

Master's Programme Spatial, Transport and Environmental Economics

The Master of Science in Spatial, Transport and Environmental Economics (“STREEM”) is a one-year master’s programme offered at the Department of Spatial Economics, VU University Amsterdam, which is one of the main players world-wide in these three fields of specialization. This master will be of interest to students with a background not only in economics, but also in geography, transport science and related disciplines. The programme starts in September each year and is completely taught in English. More detailed information is provided at the website. The application deadline for the next academic year is 1 April, 2015 (and 1 March, 2015, if applying for a scholarship). The admission and application procedure can be found hereIn addition to the master’s programme STREEM, we offer a summer school (3 ects) on Metropolitan Economics from 6-17 July, 2015. This might be of interest to the same group of students. It addresses economic mechanisms behind urbanization, urban policy challenges, as well as policy instruments to address these. More information can be found on the website. We look forward to welcoming new students at our department!

Last call for the European Cycling Challenge 2015

The European Cycling Challenge – ECC2015 is a urban cyclists team competition. It will take place from 1 to 31 May. Tt is a challenge among European cities: the city that “rides” the longest total distance wins! The challenge is open to all people living in participating cities, or travelling to/from those cities for work, study or other reason. All trips made by bicycle – except for sport activities – are accepted. For instance: journeys to and from workplace, school, cinema, to have shopping, etc… are valid journeys. The initiative, which is held every year throughout the month of May, sees the participating cities (each with its own official team) challenge each other in using bicycles as the method of urban transport. The European Cycling Challenge is organized by SRM, the Public Transport Authority of Bologna, and by the Municipality of Bologna. Those who participate are able to trace their movements with a free, smartphone App, contributing to the grand total of kilometers travelled in their city. The leaderboards are updated in real time, both on a local (between participants in a city) and European level (between cities), and are a fun way for citizens, colleagues and friends to compete both against each other and against rival cities. Read on here.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Bogotá Bicycle Account

Bogotá’s reputation as a bike-friendly city dates to the late 1990s with two mayors that promoted bicycles as a viable mode of transportation and developed bikeways and other infrastructures. Although bicycle promotion and infrastructure construction have lagged since then, bicycle use in the city has steadily increased from around 0.5% of daily trips in 1996, before the construction of the first bikeways, to 6% in 2014. Bogotá 2014 Bicycle Account presents a preliminary English-language study of trends, perceptions and needs for cycling in Bogotá. It uses a combination of empirical data on bicycle infrastructure and use in Bogotá and survey data on social perceptions of bicycle use in the city. The Bicycle Account was produced by Despacio, a Bogotá-based NGO that conducts research to promote quality of life in all stages of the life cycle, with a particular focus on sustainable transport and urban development. Despacio hopes to produce future bicycle accounts to monitor and better understand the situation in Bogotá. This report can also serve as a model for other cities around the world wishing to do similar work.Summary and full doc is available here

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Cycling infrastructure best practice study

Achieving the Mayor’s Vision for Cycling in London (March 2013) will require London practitioners to apply tried-and tested techniques from around the world to the London context, and to innovate as necessary. To this end, TfL commissioned a study of selected cities, to understand better what makes for success in relation to cycle infrastructure, safety and culture. The study was based around visits during 2013 to 14 cities of different character, to learn from them by interviews with local practitioners, by observation and by riding. The cities were chosen to enable different types of lesson to be learned: from what works best in cities where mass cycling is established, to how cities lower down the curve have applied learning from those further up; and from physical techniques to systems of governance. For this reason, they visited cities as diverse as New York and Utrecht. The former is a mega-city of 8+ million inhabitants with low overall levels of cycling, but with a recent successful policy of reallocating street space from general traffic to cycling. By contrast, Utrecht (south-east of Amsterdam) has around a third of a million inhabitants and is one of the world’s great cycling cities, where around a third of all journeys are by bicycle. Read more here.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Could Smart Cities Slowly Destroy Democracy?

Has the concept of the smart city ”crystallised into an image of the city as a vast, efficient robot?” In the age of the “Internet of Things,” where does the citizen fit in? In this article from The Guardian, journalist Steven Poole takes a critical stance against the purported utopian ideals of smart . Poole delves into the nuances of who the smart city is truly meant to serve, questions the debate over whether it should develop along a top-down or bottom-up approach, and poses the provocative thought: “a vast network of sensors amounting to millions of electronic ears, eyes and noses – also potentially enable(s) the future city to be a vast arena of perfect and permanent surveillance by whomever has access to the data feeds.” Questions of control, virtual reality, free-will, and hierarchies of power, Poole asserts are critical to the discussion of technology’s powerful role in the future. Read the full article to learn more about the possible potential of the smart city to “destroy democracy,” here.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Copenhagen: Relatively good for cycling

The purpose of the doctoral study -Vélomobility; A critical analysis of planning and space- is to bring a spatial dimension into the research on urban mobilities and connect the spatial dimension to the marginalisation of cyclists in urban space. This is been done by exploring the role of urban bicycling and transport planning. The materialisation of power relations is analysed with the example of modern planning in Sweden and Denmark. Overall this thesis manages to show how cycling as a mode of transport is marginalised in urban space, and that urban space wars between cyclists and car drivers and among cyclists are fought in Copenhagen as well as in Stockholm. The conclusion is that different factors, such as the economic situations in Denmark and Sweden, have affected urban and transport planning and thus have created two very different transport systems, where cycling plays a large role (Copenhagen) and a smaller role (Stockholm). Nevertheless, this thesis shows that even in cities that are very good for cycling, like Copenhagen, the motorised modes of transport create many problems and are still dominating urban space. Read on here.

Monday, December 8, 2014

What BMW has learned from cycling; London calling.

BMW is hoping to be in the vanguard of dealing with the changing way Britain’s city dwellers use vehicles by launching a joint venture with car rental company Sixt. The companies have brought the DriveNow car-sharing model to London from Germany which allows users to locate, unlock and start cars using a mobile phone app, then drive them on a charge per minute basis. The system – currently in a small scale test with a fleet of about 250 BMW 1 series and Minis – does away with the need for a central collect and return point so users can make one-way journeys. DriveNow has agreed a deal with Islington, Hackney and Haringey councils allowing the cars to be parked in any on-street parking spaces, meaning they can be used in a similar way to London’s “Boris Bike” scheme, as long as they are dropped off within the three boroughs. Peter Schwarzenbauer, BMW board manager said the company looked at the future of the car market several years ago and decided it needed to be in the sector. Read on here.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Planning the Cycling City: Highly recommended graduate level program!

This graduate level programme will explore urban cycling from a Dutch perspective, both historically and current, and will provide students with a host of skills on how to develop and foster cycling cities and gain insights on what this means. Students will examine the impacts of history, policy, infrastructure, planning, and culture within the context of urban cycling in the Netherlands. Next to this, the programme invites students to bring and share their personal views and experiences on cycling cities. Amsterdam is the world’s cycling capital and offers the most suitable environment for examining bicycle-related issues in the urban context. Admission requirements: - Master's and graduate students in the field of urban planning have priority. - Undergraduates in their final years, majoring in urban studies or related, are welcome to apply. - Those not in the field of urban planning are also welcome to apply, but should make clear in their motivation letter why they believe they qualify for the programme. Highly recommended by Velo Mondial! Be quick!