Tuesday, May 5, 2015

How Amsterdam became the bicycle capital of the world

Anyone who has ever tried to make their way through the centre of Amsterdam in a car knows it: the city is owned by cyclists. They hurry in swarms through the streets, unbothered by traffic rules, taking precedence whenever they want, rendering motorists powerless by their sheer numbers. Cyclists rule in Amsterdam and great pains have been taken to accommodate them: the city is equipped with an elaborate network of cycle-paths and lanes, so safe and comfortable that even toddlers and elderly people use bikes as the easiest mode of transport. It’s not only Amsterdam which boasts a network of cycle-paths, of course; you’ll find them in all Dutch cities. The Dutch take this for granted; they even tend to believe these cycle-paths have existed since the beginning of time. But that is certainly not the case. There was a time, in the 1950s and 60s, when cyclists were under severe threat of being expelled from Dutch cities by the growing number of cars. Only thanks to fierce activism and a number of decisive events would Amsterdam succeed in becoming what it is, unquestionably, now: the bicycle capital of the world. Read on here. And when done read much more here.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

End of the car age: how cities are outgrowing the automobile

Cities around the world are coming to the same conclusion: they’d be better off with far fewer cars. So what’s behind this seismic shift in our urban lifestyles?  Gilles Vesco from Lyon calls it the “new mobility”. It’s a vision of cities in which residents no longer rely on their cars but on public transport, shared cars and bikes and, above all, on real-time data on their smartphones. Birmingham, which vies with Manchester for the title of England’s second city, has been following the experience of Lyon and other European cities closely, and is now embarking on its own 20-year plan called Birmingham Connected, to reduce dependence on cars. For a city so associated in the public mind with car manufacturing, this is quite a step. London, which has pioneered congestion charging and has a well-integrated system of public transport, has led the move away from cars over the past decade, during which time 9% of car commuters have switched to other forms of transport. Helsinki has a vision of how the city will look in 2050. It will have a lot more people – the population is projected to rise by 50% – but with much less dependence on cars. And much, much more here.

All you can learn today about Bike Share systems

The number of cities offering bikeshare has increased rapidly, from just a handful in the late 1990s to over 800 currently (note:VM estimates 600). This paper provides a review of recent bikeshare literature. Several themes have begun to emerge from studies examining bikeshare. Convenience is the major motivator for bikeshare use. Financial savings has been found to motivate those on a low income and the distance one lives from a docking station is an important predictor for bikeshare membership. In a range of countries, it has been found that just under 50% of bikeshare members use the system less than once a month. Men use bikeshare more than women, but the imbalance is not as dramatic as private bike riding (at least in low cycling countries). Commuting is the most common trip purpose for annual members. Users are less likely than private cyclists to wear helmets, but in countries with mandatory helmet legislation, usage levels have suffered. Bikeshare users appear less likely to be injured than private bike riders. Future directions include integration with e-bikes, GPS (global positioning system), dockless systems and improved public transport integration. Greater research is required to quantify the impacts of bikeshare, in terms of mode choice, emissions, congestion and health. Read on here.

Friday, April 24, 2015

So much more idylic if only motors and scooters were gone

Why the Dutch cycle

In recent years cycling has taken centre stage as an important political topic for cities around the world. In an age of austerity and increasing oil prices, it is little wonder that cycling has reemerged as a significant form of sustainable transportation. Besides the affordability and inherent health benefits to having an active population, there is a growing body of research suggesting cycling plays a significant role in fostering social belonging and active civic participation. Currently, many municipal leaders and planners are grappling with the challenges of invigorating a new cycling culture or reinventing one that was lost during the past 60 years of car-friendly urbanism. However, there is one country that stands out as the cycling capital of the world—the Netherlands has kept its cycling culture alive despite the pressures of modern industrialisation. Cycling always remained one of the preferred means of transportation and is so entrenched in Dutch society that it is often easy to overlook the reasons for its continued prominence. This animation examines the history and political factors that led to the Netherlands keeping their cycling culture alive and strong for all these years. If you want to know more about the political turning point, you can continue here.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Copenhagen to pull plug on pricey city bikes

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Portland New Bike Share, where citizens own the bikes

Launching a citywide bike-share program costs many millions of dollars—taken from taxpayers or corporate sponsors—and often is a bureaucratic nightmare. But maybe it doesn't have to be like that. Spinlister, a platform that lets people rent outdoor sports equipment to nearby enthusiasts, is launching a bike-share program in Portland, Oregon that shirks the traditional hub and spoke model (designated bike parking and rental stations) for a decentralized network that's more akin to what Car2Go offers for cars. There's another twist: Spinlister won't own the bikes. Local cyclists will. With Spinlister's existing rental service, users rent bikes from a specific person at a certain time and location. The bike-share model will be completely differen. Spinlister power users will be given a new bike from manufacturer VanMoof, designed specifically for the bike-share program, with a Bluetooth lock, motion-activated lights, one-size-fits-all seat, lightweight alloy frame, puncture-resistant tires, and all sorts of theft deterrents. 
There's wireless tracking in the bike, and the only way to turn it off is to saw through the frame. Read on here.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Bicycle streets

What is the definition of a bicycle street? (“Fietsstraat” in Dutch, or ‘bicycle boulevard’ as they are mostly called in the US.) Nowadays a bicycle street is considered to be a route in a residential area that is a main route for cycling, but only a minor route for motor traffic. It is essential that cycle traffic is the dominating form of traffic and that the route looks clearly designed for cycling. This makes it immediately clear to drivers of a motor vehicle that they are guest in a space that is not theirs. (CROW recommendation in publication 216) Note, that we are talking about a route rather than a street. The Dutch always construct cycle routes, never individual streets, even if they call those routes ‘street’. Parking motor vehicles in a cycle street is also possible. The word cycle street does not imply that there are no cars. There are, parked and moving, but they are the minority form of transport. That the streets are in a residential area automatically means that the speed limit for motor traffic is 30km/h. (With the exception of rural cycle roads where that would be 60km/h.) Read more here.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

The best roundabout design for cyclists

Roundabouts are often disliked by cyclists because using them by bicycle can be fraught with danger. When riding on a roundabout, you rely upon drivers seeing you on your bike. There is a tendency for motorists to look right through cyclists while looking for other motor vehicles, hence the frequency of "SMIDSY" incidents. However none of this has to be the case. The best Dutch roundabout designs do not cause significant danger for cyclists. But note that not all Dutch roundabouts are created equal. There are big differences in the safety of different designs of roundabout used in the Netherlands, and not all advice from this country emphasizes the safest design. In the Netherlands it is not expected that cyclists should be mixed with motorized traffic on roundabouts. There is always a cycle-path or lane of some form. While cycle-lanes around roundabouts are not generally thought to work well.  There are two opposing views on how these cycle-paths should be designed. One view holds that cyclists should have priority across each road leading to the roundabout, the other holds that it is dangerous for cyclists to have this priority. Read on here. Also read this in BicycleDutch.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Amsterdam children in 1972; amazing footage shaping the Amsterdam of today

“This would be a perfect area for a trial with a maximum speed of 30km/h” (18mph) explains a traffic expert of the city of Amsterdam to a child in a film that was broadcast on Dutch national TV almost 42 years ago. The TV documentary was made for a progressive broadcasting corporation and shows the Amsterdam neighbourhood “De Pijp” which was about 100 years old at the time. The homes were run down and small. The streets were never built, nor fit for all the cars brought in by the 40,000 people living in the small area and its many visitors. This led to an overpopulated neighbourhood with a lot of dirt and filth and especially the children suffered. The documentary is one of a series and this particular episode looks at the situation from a child’s perspective. Read much, much more here.