Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Autolib, Paris' younger brother of the Velib

A sustainable transport system is a system of choices – quite the opposite in many ways of the old all-car no-choice model that all too often spends most of its time in taking up scarce space but not moving. With this very much in view, the City of Paris has just stepped up to the plate and is now in the process of bringing into service what they propose will be a new link in the chain of sustainable transport options: a carsharing system not quite like any other. No less than three thousand cars to come on line in shared service in just nine months – and electric cars at that – working out of 1000 to 1200 stations spotted over not only the central city but a number of surrounding communities as well. The biggest and most daring carshare bet of all time.  In World Streets you will find a machine translation of an article prepared   by Sylvain Marty, director of the much-awaited Autolib’ program at the City of Paris. (The full original text is available in French here.) Autolib’ is a seductive idea, whose oldest historical antecedent was the excellent Witkar project of the mid seventies in Amsterdam which even today looks like a great try. Read on in World Streets.

Autolib’ – Paris bets big on new carshare technology

A sustainable transport system is a system of choices – quite the opposite in many ways of the old all-car no-choice model that all too often spends most of its time in taking up scarce space but not moving. With this very much in view, the City of Paris has just stepped up to the plate and is now in the process of bringing into service what they propose will be a new link in the chain of sustainable transport options: a carsharing system not quite like any other. No less than three thousand cars to come on line in shared service in just nine months – and electric cars at that – working out of 1000 to 1200 stations spotted over not only the central city but a number of surrounding communities as well. The biggest and most daring carshare bet of all time.  In World Streets you will find a machine translation of an article prepared   by Sylvain Marty, director of the much-awaited Autolib’ program at the City of Paris. (The full original text is available in French here.) Autolib’ is a seductive idea, whose oldest historical antecedent was the excellent Witkar project of the mid seventies in Amsterdam which even today looks like a great try.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Bicycle culture in Portland and Amsterdam

In Peter Pelzers study the central question is: How can bicycle culture in Portland and Amsterdam be understood and explained? Understanding bicycle culture from a spatially conscious perspective necessitates bridging two paradigms. The first research question is: How can bicycle culture be conceptualized? The resulting answer to this question will then be related to two cases under scrutiny in his study. This is reflected in the second research question: How can bicycle culture in Portland and Amsterdam be described and understood? An important assumption in this study, on which he elaborates in Chapter 3, is that a bicycle culture cannot be addressed as a static phenomenon, but is historically shaped. This results in the third research question: How have historical pathways shaped the bicycle culture in Portland and Amsterdam? The insights resulting are the input for the fourth research question, which attempts to grasp relatively universal processes with regards to the way in which a bicycle culture emerges and its internal causal relations. What are the causal mechanisms that constitute a bicycle culture? A type of study Velo Mondial promotes and hopes we will see more of.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Cute Add

Utrecht starts 4D Planning

In the CIVITAS MIMOSA project the city of Utrecht is set to start using an innovative 4D-planning software to help smooth traffic congestion arising from the re-construction of the Central Railway Station area - benefiting the city, its citizens and the project developers. In the next ten years, the central railway station area in Utrecht will be reconstructed to dramatically improve the infrastructure. This revamp will involve increased construction work traffic and have a knock-on effect on the construction project progress and other city centre traffic. Within CIVITAS MIMOSA, Utrecht is implementing a co-ordinated approach to minimise the disturbance of the urban transport system and the polluting emissions. It will also concentrate on reducing the waiting times for vehicles unloading at construction sites and the amount of storage space needed at the construction site. Peaks in demand or in construction work traffic can be levelled out during the day with the new 4-D planning tool. The 4-D planning software is the latest trick up Utrecht’s sleeve, following the Construction Logistics Plan and the set-up of a Construction Logistics Centre near the central station. Read on here.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Münster became Germany’s bicycle capital?

With a proportion of 37.6% the bicycle is the prevailing transport mode in Münster. Nearly half a million bicycles in comparison to 280,000 inhabitants requires a specific focus on the demands of cyclists. Today the city of Münster provides a high standard of infrastructure and safety for cycling. In contrast, 10 years ago Münster’s road safety was very poor. 50% of all traffic-injured were cyclists. Therefore local politicians decided to elaborate a new policy “Vision Zero” meeting the particular needs of the vulnerable bicyclists and equally considering the failures and limited capacity of humans. With the introduction of “Vision Zero” an elimination of road causalities was targeted. Further, a high standard in road safety, mutual consideration and compliance with traffic laws became the basics of Münster’s new policies in mobility. To combat non-compliance with right-of-ways and red traffic lights, the main reasons for accidents, Münster implemented new transport infrastructure and intensified traffic regulation and monitoring. Read on at the SUTP website.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

America's Amsterdam?

It’s become a cliché that Portland is America’s most livable city, a hotbed of innovations when it comes to green policies, public spaces, pedestrian amenities, transit, public spaces, and, of course, bicycles. In fact some people are growing weary (and the rest of us envious) of hearing about how great things are in Oregon’s largest city. But clichés often turn out to be true. After spending several days exploring Portland as part of a Bikes Belong Foundation-sponsored transportation workshop for city officials from across the country, I must admit that Portland offers a wealth of inspiration and practical tips for how we can make our towns more bikeable, vital and fun. Yet, as the delegation of transportation leaders from Chicago, Houston, Seattle, Minneapolis and Salt Lake City discovered while biking across the city, Portland is no Ecotopia. Local bikers still contend with roaring traffic on crowded streets and motorists who park illegally in bike lanes or honk for no apparent reason. Jay Walljasper, who also visited Amsterdam recently with Bikes Belong is author of the forthcoming book All That We Share. Read what he wrote about the visit to Portland.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Moving Slow but Reaching Far

FABIO in Uganda continued its project “Bicycle Credit Scheme” in Kiringa parish Nawandala sub county in Iganga District. The idea is to give away bicycles within a credit scheme in order to increase the number of bicycle users. The recent initiation of the project even included a discount on the initial deposits and the monthly instalments because our donor Barbara Kipke, a mobility consultant from Germany, supports the project. Using this credit-based method it is much easier for people to purchase a bicycle. The project will reduce poverty by improving accessibility to social services and promoting bicycle use as the most affordable and sustainable means of transport. Another positive effect which goes together with poverty reduction is the promotion of the culture and spirit of saving. The target group for the bicycle credits are especially women who use the bicycle for the benefit of the whole family. In Kiringa parish Nawandala sub county, FABIO handed over bicycles to 10 women groups each consisting of about 10 to 30 members – so around 200 women are profiting from the recent project. Each of the groups received one bicycle at 50.000 Uganda Shillings (about 15 Euro), as deposits, additionally they have to pay monthly instalments of 10.000 Uganda Shillings for 5 months. Read More in FABIO's New Letter

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Innovative Head Airbag; cool alternative for bike helmet

Hövding is a bicycle helmet & airbag, unlike any other currently on the market. It's ergonomic, it's practical, it complies with all the safety requirements, and it's also subtle and blends in with what else you are wearing. Hövding is a collar for bicyclists, worn around the neck. The collar contains a folded up airbag that you'll only see if you happen to have an accident. The airbag is shaped like a hood, surrounding and protecting the bicyclist's head. The trigger mechanism is controlled by sensors which pick up the abnormal movements of a bicyclist in an accident. The actual collar is the visible part of the invention. It's covered by a removable shell that you can change to match your outfit, and we'll be launching new designs all the time. Hövding is a practical accessory that's easy to carry around, it's got a great-looking yet subtle design, and it will save your life. The airbag is shaped like a hood that surrounds your head. It's made in an ultra-strong nylon fabric that won't rip when scraped against asphalt. The way the hood is designed and folded into the collar ensures that it will inflate quickly and safely. It takes about 0.1 seconds to inflate and the airbag will be fully inflated before head impact. Hövding protects nearly all of the head while leaving the field of vision open.

Next in line: New York City

The Bloomberg administration is set to move ahead with plans to create a large-scale bike-sharing program that would make hundreds or even thousands of bicycles available for public use throughout New York City — a nimble, novel form of mass transit that has already become mainstream in cities like Washington and Paris. An exhaustive proposal released by the city in 2009 offered a glimpse of how a bike-sharing program might look in New York. The study, by the Department of City Planning, envisioned an initial rollout of about 10,000 bikes that could be placed at automated kiosks below Central Park in Manhattan and in areas of Downtown Brooklyn, with a majority of bikes available in dense business districts. In Paris, the pioneer of bike-sharing, the bikes are used up to 150,000 times a day. Told of the plan late Monday, Paul Steely White, the executive director of Transportation Alternatives, expressed excitement for the idea. “Bike sharing has rapidly moved cycling into the mainstream in similar big cities,” he said. “The Big Apple will take to it like we’ve never lived without it.” Read on in the NYT.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Protected Bicycle Lanes since 1906

Helmets: the horse behind the cart?

This issue has been a disputed topic for about 20 years and continues to cause problems see Erke and Elvik (Norwegian researchers) 2007: "There is evidence of increased accident risk per cycling-km for cyclists wearing a helmet. In Australia and New Zealand, the increase is estimated to be around 14 per cent. When helmet laws were tried in Australia survey details showed cycling was reduced following legislation. Victoria, 297 extra people wearing helmets and 1110 fewer cyclists. New South Wales, 569 more people wearing helmets and 2658 fewer cyclists. More than 4 people stopped cycling for each extra person wearing a helmet, 866 started wearing a helmet while  3768 gave up cycling. Data published for children in New South Walles, number of injuries increased from 1310 in 1991 to 2083 in 1993. The UK's National Children's Bureau (NCB) provided a detailed review of cycling and helmets in 2005, stating that the case for helmets is far from sound and the benefits of helmets need further investigation before even a policy supporting promotion can be unequivocally supported. The 'Health and safety assessment of state bicycle helmet laws in the USA' provides useful information. Also tead this article from Freakonomics in the NYT. The source for this blog was Nieuws uit Amsterdam.

Downtown from Behind

One is wearing a couture gown, another just a pair of red underwear. One is lugging a huge bouquet of flowering rhododendrons on his shoulder, another a suckling pig. They are all riding bicycles in the middle of streets downtown, and they are all shown from behind, having passed by, headed toward some unknown destination — a party, a garden, a pig roast. The photographs are by Bridget Fleming, 30, who moved to the Lower East Side from Australia in 2008. She is halfway through an ambitious project to capture downtown denizens riding on two wheels down each of the approximately 200 streets below 14th Street. She posts some of the photographs on a blog,  Downtown From Behind, and hopes the project, which she describes as a glamorous ode to “the heartbeat of New York,” will culminate this spring with a gallery exhibition and Web site. The goal is to capture some of the city’s most creative residents — writers, designers, chefs — at the locus of their work or personal life using a mode of transportation they love. “When I see these photographs, I see what New York is to me,” she said. “The diversity, the creativity, the beauty, it’s my vision of downtown.”  Read on in the NYT

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Safety after dark

Long winter nights and autumn leaves can turn a cycle path in to an obstacle course of slippery patches, overgrown weeds and general rubbish. With this in mind, inventor Grant Taylor decided to turn his previous experience with glow-in-the-dark technology into an eco-friendly way to make cycle paths safer. Result: the Traxeye. Bike Radar writes: Traxeyes are round discs which contain the photo luminescent compound GS2000, after just eight minutes of normal daylight they’re good to glow visibly for up to 12 hours. They can be fitted to any concrete or fixed surface using a special tool. Each Traxeye is fitted with a specially capped nail that should avoid punctures and protect the product from all but the most determined of vandals, and their robust design is highly resistant to weather conditions. The Traxeyes cost £2.99 each, around £80 per unit cheaper than some of the light-giving solar competition. The GS2000 compound is non-toxic and has been rated suitable for use in children’s toys, which means that even damaged units pose no threat to wildlife. In addition, no decline in light output is expected over their five year lifespan. TraxEye increases safety after dark and considerably extends the use of the network.

Monday, November 1, 2010

San Francisco joins the main stream

Already one in four San Franciscans bikes regularly -- an impressive number by state and national measures, but what will it take for even more people to try bicycling in our city? What would persuade your boss, your neighbor, or your mother-in-law to choose to bicycle in San Francisco? Will it be a graceful bridge that takes them from Marina Green around Fort Mason and to Fisherman's Wharf? Or a bike lift that helps them up some of the steepest and least avoidable hills? Or a fully separated bikeway in the street on both sides of the Panhandle? Moving this vision to reality, the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition has launched its boldest initiative to date: Connecting the City. This project presents the stunning idea that our city's bike network should be designed for everyone, from an eight-year-old child to an eighty-year-old grandmother, recognizing that sharrows and bike lanes aren't enough to make everyone feel comfortable and safe. This initiative imagines a complete system of crosstown bike routes, elegantly designed, and filled with all types of people. Connecting the City kicks off with three priority routes that would become the backbone for the city's bicycling network. Read on here.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Cyclists are almost real people in New York

The New York Police Department plans to step up enforcement of bicycle safety in parts of the city that have seen a disproportionately higher rate of collisions involving bicyclists, city officials said Thursday.The initiative, which would be aimed at common cycling infractions like running red lights or riding on the sidewalk, comes after numerous complaints about two-wheeled scofflaws and recent protests against new bicycle lanes added to streets in Brooklyn and downtown Manhattan. “We’ve installed 250 miles of lane over the last four years and thousands of new bike racks,” Janette Sadik-Khan, the city’s transportation commissioner, said at a news conference. “We have been friendly to cyclists. Now it’s time for cyclists to be friendlier to the city.” Critics charge that City Hall has placed a stigma on car ownership and unilaterally removed traffic lanes for the use of a small minority of residents.The result has been that bicycling, once a niche, even antiauthoritarian, mode of transport, has entered the New York mainstream, and cyclists and pedestrians alike are trying to adjust. The city has issued 26,000 moving violations against cyclists so far this year. Read more here in the NYT.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

New York Police can save budget

New York City agreed on Monday to pay nearly $1 million to participants in the monthly Critical Mass bicycle rides who claimed they had been wrongly detained and arrested by police officers. The lawsuit, originally filed in 2007, represented the claims of 83 riders who had been arrested or ticketed by police during the rides from September 2004 to January 2006. The awards to the plaintiffs range from $500 for those who were cited for minor infractions, to $35,000 for a plaintiff who was arrested multiple times and was injured because of the arrests, said David B. Rankin, one of the three lawyers who represented the riders. The Critical Mass riders and the Police Department have a long, antagonistic history. Since 2004, riders have claimed that police officers harass them, take their bicycles and arrest them without reason. The police have said the cyclists violate traffic laws. The department has deployed hundreds of officers, a mobile command unit and a helicopter to monitor the rides, which wend their way through Manhattan on the last Friday of each month. “We hope that the cyclists and the N.Y.P.D. can figure out a way to work together,” he said. Barbara Ross,  “They’re still wasting taxpayers’ money to show up every month,” Ms. Ross said. Read more in the New York Times

Monday, October 18, 2010

The Parking Space that Finds You

A nifty piece of French technology will bring joy to the heart of any driver who has ever spent hours looking for a parking space: The city of Toulouse is testing a system that displays available spots on your mobile phone. The authorities also know if you have fed the parking meter or not. It is 10 in the morning on the Boulevard Lascrosses, near the historic city center of the French city of Toulouse. Behind the metro station, people are casually strolling in the direction of the pedestrian zone, but on the four-lane street, the morning traffic is bumper to bumper. Aggravated drivers honk their horns, and exhaust fumes fill the air. "The daily anarchy," growls Alexandre Marciel, pushing his fists into his pockets. "The existing parking spaces are already occupied by long-term parkers who hog the places, and the drivers coming from outside are hunting for spots." That should soon change, however. Marciel, who is the 37-year-old deputy mayor of Toulouse, has been responsible for traffic and sanitation for the past two years. Now he wants to start guiding drivers to available parking spaces with an ingenious new system. Spiegel Online International explains more about this useful aid.

Bike Asylum; from grass roots to glamour

Cracked cobblestones, hurried drivers and a dearth of bike lanes make cycling in the center of Prague a perilous affair. The self-proclaimed bike activist Martin Kontra wants this to change. Mr. Kontra created Bike Asylum (Rasinovo nabrezi; www.bajkazyl.cz), a repair and rental shop, to help build a community among cyclists and persuade legislators to improve conditions. The shop opened in July beneath the Palacky Bridge on the A2, an 18.5-mile cycling route between Zbraslav in southern Prague and Zámky on the city’s northern edge. An avid cyclist for the past 15 years, Mr. Kontra discovered Berlin’s bike culture while living there in 2007, and was inspired to create something similar back home. He is also an editor for the weekly newspaper Respekt, and has reported on alternative transportation options in Prague. “I believe biking could make life in the city center much better,” he said. Bike Asylum, which also offers a small bar, is modeled after Les Lanternes Rouges, a repair shop and cafe in Berlin, as well as like-minded Bike Kitchens, with outposts in several European and North American cities. Called “Bajkazyl” in Czech, the shop hosts free do-it-yourself repair workshops. Read more here.

Monday, October 11, 2010

No permit needed

In November 2009, Ben Tseitlin was driving along on the 280 highway between San Francisco and Palo Alto when he noticed something weird. There was a Toyota Prius next to him with a weird spolier-like thing on the roof. And on top of that was some sort of spinning contraption.  What Tseitlin captured, of course, was the Google self-driving car. The secret project, which Google revealed for the first time today, is a combination of different technologies developed by Google that will allow a car to drive itself — yes, even on the highway. Google has disclosed that they’ve been testing these cars “recently“, but they’ve clearly been testing them for longer than that, as Tseitlin’s video proves. The fact that these specially-equipped Priuses (and one Audi TT) have racked up over 140,000 miles (1,000 of while have been completely human-free) on the road, suggests a longer cycle of testing as well. One of the most interesting aspects of this whole project is that local authorities were fine with Google road-testing these cars. Read more here on this cutting edge development.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Surrender your permit

Unless you drive to work every day, you don’t need a car in Hoboken, New Jersey! Just give up the car habit and sign up for Hoboken’s Corner Car program. What is it? The New York Times calls Corner Cars a “bold new experiment” to ease congestion that’s “about as convenient as car rental could ever be.”  Once you’re a member (for free) you can reserve any available car online or by phone for one hour or a week or more! For more info, visit www.hobokennj.org/cornercars. The City of Hoboken provides a community shuttle bus service called “The Hop” within two blocks of almost every resident. Local shuttle bus service is so easy and convenient, you can think twice before getting in the car to get around town. Our mini-transit system is called “The Hop”, because you can easily “hop on” and “hop off” at any intersection along the route. Each of the three Hop routes circuits the city in less than thirty minutes. Hoboken as also an excellent example of a walkable city and is working hard every day to protect pedestrian rights and safety, and to continue to explore ways to make walking the most convenient, enjoyable way to get around you can think of. The next best way to get around Hoboken after walking is to ride your bike! Read more about these great developments here.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

'Bikes Belong Coalition' Partner and Funder

Velo Mondial's American partner in Showcasing The Netherlands 'Bikes Belong' runs a Grant Program that strives to put more people on bicycles more often by funding important and influential projects that leverage federal funding and build momentum for bicycling in communities across the U.S. These projects include bike paths and rail trails, as well as mountain bike trails, bike parks, BMX facilities, and large-scale bicycle advocacy initiatives. Since 1999, Bikes Belong has awarded 215 grants to municipalities and grassroots groups in 49 states and the District of Columbia, investing $1.7 million in community bicycling projects and leveraging close to $650 million in federal, state, and private funding. Learn more about the grants we've awarded in your area by viewing our grants map or searching our grants database. Learn more about who is eligible to apply for Bikes Belong funding, and what we do and don't fund. In this section you can learn more about our REI/Bicycle Friendly Community grants and the Paul David Clark Bicycling Safety Fund. Click here to view a brochure highlighting our Grant Program. The Bikes Belong Coalition was formed in 1999 as the national coalition of bicycle retailers and suppliers.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Make Cyclists, not war

On September 20th and 21st a team of four Dutch experts on bike policy led by Velo Mondial's partner Balancia held a two-day workshop in Toronto, called ThinkBike, to give a boost to Toronto’s bikeability. There were two teams (Blue and Orange) of 9 people, with 2 Dutch experts in each of them and 7 from the Toronto city staff, TCAT and bicycle advocates. Each team worked on a different design assignment and also worked on a long term strategy for Toronto bikeability. The objectives were: Produce a ready to apply bike improvement design for the area chosen; Display the Dutch philosophy on bike policy and make it applicable to the Toronto bike policy; Give ingredients for a Toronto long term strategy and marketing campaign. In those two days – productive beyond imagination! – they were able to show what they had achieved in a well-filled club “El Mocambo”. The team ThinkBike BLUE, produced a bike friendly network for Downtown west, the other team, ThinkBike ORANGE, made a carefully worked out design for Sherbourne Road. Velo Mondial  sees this ThinkBike Workshop as a mini format that precedes the new and improved version of the 'Amsterdam Bike Slam' that we will offer the world imminently.  If your city wants to execute a slam of any format, contact Karim Maarik at Velo Mondial.

How to make biking mainstream

Last spring, public officials from Madison, Wisconsin, made a tour of the Netherlands, guided by Velo Mondial and within three weeks were implementing what they learned there about promoting bicycling on the streets of their own city. Last August , Velo Mondial guided a similar group of latter-day explorers on a quest to discover what American communities can learn from the Dutch about transforming bicycling in the U.S. from a largely recreational pastime to an integral part of their transportation system. They were elected officials, traffic engineers, and business leaders from the San Francisco Bay Area. The Netherlands resembles the United States in many ways: It is a prosperous, technologically advanced nation where a huge share of the population owns automobiles. The difference is that the Dutch don’t drive every time they leave home. Their 27 percent rate dwarfs not only the measly 1 percent of trips taken by bicycle in the U.S., but also the rates of many, much bike-friendlier nations (12 percent of trips in Germany are by bike; in Denmark, it's 18 percent). Jay Walljasper wrote an article on this study tour. If your city is interested in a tour like this, please contact Karim Maarek of Velo Mondial.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Capital Bikeshare

The project, known as Capital Bikeshare, is the latest to come to a major American city, mirrors the systems have become integrated into many European cities. Its goals are both modest and potentially transformative: to get more people riding bikes, thereby promoting health, and shift the way transit systems work in cities. In June, Minneapolis launched its Nice Ride program, with over 60 solar-powered stations and 700 bikes. A similar effort got under way in April in Denver, with 425 bikes. A major program is set to make its debut in Miami this fall, and New York is studying a massive program, with 30,000 bikes. For the last two years, Washington has had a very small bike share program, SmartBike, which was owned and operated by Clear Channel. Vandalism and theft were not a major problem for Washington’s earlier program, as it was in Paris. The new stations are portable, solar-powered and wirelessly connected to a central processing hub. Memberships cost $75 a year, and bikes can also be taken out by the day for a $5 daily membership fee paid by credit card. After that, the first 30 minutes are free. The next 30 minutes cost $1.50, followed by $4.50 for the next 30 minutes and $6 for every subsequent hour.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

A 20-minute city plan - Portland USA

How do you convince people to see what isn’t there? When you’re talking about the future of transportation, there is more than one city planner or politician who wishes they had a magic wand. More than a hundred years of a towering car culture has left many citizens unable to envision a different future, much less plan for it. Getting people to see fewer cars can seem like an insurmountable challenge. For Portland, Oregon, creating a sustainable city with sound policy and smart transportation has proven to be not just economically viable, but popular.  Portland, a city of 537,000, now has a combined total of 500 kilometres of bike lanes, off-street paths, signed connections and car-free boulevards.How do you sell a bicycle-friendly plan when voters have never been more polarized? Mayor Adams knew he had to convince everyone, whether they rode a bike or not, that it was in their best interest. Becoming a cycling Mecca would only make good policy if it made good economic sense for Portland. The foundation for the future of this western seaboard city is comprised of tight unity between economic development, climate action and the bicycle plan. Portland had to see these planning decisions create jobs, achieve prosperity and social justice. The cohesion of all these requirements under a 25-year strategic plan is bearing fruit. Read on in Wheels.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

'Less car policy' landed more scooters in Amsterdam

Velo Mondial sides with the majority of Amsterdammers who want the 21,000 (and counting) Amsterdam mopeds banned from the separated cycle paths in the city. Last year, the municipality promised to deal with moped problems, but a plan will probably not be presented until spring 2011. Political parties and cyclists’ organisations want mopeds banned from bicycle paths. When Velo Mondial guided a Taiwanese group showcasing Amsterdam, the leader of the group was knocked off her bike by a moped. The incident was no exception. People who ride a moped are not only themselves frequent victims of accidents; they also cause victims among cyclists. In addition, cyclists breathe small particles spread by scooters using the bicycle path. All kinds of organisations call for a solution. A Facebook group wants mopeds banned from bicycle paths. The Fietsersbond is collecting complaints and its Amsterdam branch will launch a petition in early October, in collaboration with environmental organisation Milieucentrum. As in other situations, the speed difference and the close proximity on the paths make the possibility of accidents high. The fact that mopeds go at a much faster speed than allowed makes the situation worse. Read more in News from Amsterdam here.

Friday, September 17, 2010

10 Lessons from the Low Lands

Velo Mondial spoke with David Vega-Barachowitz who writes the wonderful Ramblers Highway blog. He describes ten impediments to the widespread practical usage of the bicycle in the United States. The headings are: First. Terrain. Topography. Climate. The Netherlands is flat. The United States is not flat. Second. Sprawl. The Netherlands is an incredibly dense place. Third. Infrastructure and Facilities.  Fourth. Critical Mass As cities like New York or Minneapolis are quickly realizing, the installation of painted bicycle lanes is not enough. Fifth. Culture. Upbringing. The cultural differences between the US and the Netherlands represents a lengthy and complex topic. Sixth. Car culture. People in the United States are proud of their cars. Seventh.  Funding Speaking of funding, the Dutch have high taxes. Very high taxes.  Eighth. Policy. Policy is perhaps the trickiest piece of the puzzle and one of the least understood. Ninth. Multi-modal transportation network.  Tenth. Culture of Exercise. The culture of exercise and activity in the US is biased towards the young.

Sustainable Urban Freight Transport

CIVITAS MIMOSA, the European flagship project on urban mobility will be hosted by  the City of Utrecht on 26 and 27 October 2010. Sustainable Urban freight transport will be at the heart of this high level meeting. CIVITAS MIMOSA -of which Velo Mondial is a partner - will work together with EUROCITIES in order to present the State of the Art in Urban Freight Transport across Europe. CIVITAS MIMOSA and EUROCITIES invite urban politicians and practitioners to join the meeting in Utrecht! PROMOTION & BROKERAGE WORKSHOPS on 'Construction logistics', 'Urban goods consolidation concepts at the fringe of the city' and 'Goods flow to consumers' are only a few of this high up European event. Site visits on Emission-free goods transport, showcasing the prize-winning Cargohopper and Beer Boat and a visit to the Innovative HEMA Distribution Centre are only part of the programme that you can find here.  Deadline for registration is 15 October 2010.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

ThinkBike in mini 'Amsterdam Bike Slam' format

The City of Toronto and the Consulate General of the Kingdom of the Netherlands are hosting  bicycle planners on September 20th and 21st for the ThinkBike Workshop. For Velo Mondial Arjen Jaarsma from Balancia will be the leader of the Dutch delegation. Toronto and Dutch bicycle professionals will form two teams for this event. The teams will consider new elements to improve Toronto's cycling strategy. Each team will be given a Toronto cycling infrastructure problem to solve, the exercise will including drafting recommendations for marketing and communications. The two teams will be competing to develop the most exciting proposal. Explore the necessary treatments to convert the existing bicycle lanes along Sherbourne Street, from Queen’s Quay Boulevard to Elm Avenue, to a design that will provide a physical separation between bicycle lanes and the general purpose traffic lanes. Explore design options for locations where other bicycle lanes intersect Sherbourne Street. Intersection designs will consider existing on-street facilities, as well as physically separated design options for future development. Velo Mondial  sees this ThinkBike Workshop as a mini format that precedes the new and improved version of the 'Amsterdam Bike Slam' that we will offer the world imminently. Read more here.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Ergo Crosswalk

'Ergo crosswalk'  by Jae Min Lim from korea is one of the 240 shortlisted entries from more than 5100 participants in a recent designboom competition 'design for all' in collaboration with seoul design fair 2010.  Designer's jae min lim: 'when people cross roads, they tend to take the fastest shortcut. they sometimes do it intentionally, but mostly it is an unconscious act.  This kind of action violates the traffic regulations and sometimes threatens the safety of the pedestrians.  The 'ergo crosswalk' is a design that makes people follow the law, as well as consider their habits or unconscious actions.  It will encourage pedestrians to follow the lines of the cross walk and protect them from any potential danger.  If regulations cannot force people to follow the law, wouldn't it be more reasonable to change the law and fulfill the main purpose of keeping the safety and convenience of the pedestrian? Velo Mondial notices that Zebra crossings, Pelican Crossings and other pedestrian crossing issues are in debate at many places now. Pedestrian safety is becoming an increasingly important issue. Read on here.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Gehl & Hook: a cool duo

Urban consultant Jan Gehl and Walter Hook have together set out ten key steps to creating more sustainable cities in a new publication “Our Cities Ourselves: 10 Principles for Transport in Urban Life”. What are the ten principles of sustainable transport? 1. Walk the walk: Create great pedestrian environments 2. Powered by people: Create a great environment for bicycles and other non-motorized vehicles 3. Get on the bus: Provide great, cost-effective public transport 4. Cruise control: Provide access for clean passenger vehicles at safe speeds and in significantly reduced numbers 5. Deliver the goods: Service the city in the cleanest and safest manner. 6. Mix it up: Mix people and activities, buildings and spaces. 7. Fill it in: Build dense, people and transit oriented urban districts that are desirable. 8. Get real: Preserve and enhance the local, natural, cultural, social and historical assets. 9. Connect the blocks: Make walking trips more direct, interesting and productive with small-size, permeable buildings and blocks. 10. Make it last: Build for the long term. Sustainable cities bridge generations. They are memorable, malleable, built from quality materials, and well maintained. Velo Mondial is happy to promote both authors and their 10 principles.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Europe: more action on road safety

The European Commission has Juy 20, 2010  adopted challenging plans to reduce the number of road deaths on Europe's roads by half in the next 10 years. Initiatives proposed in a set of European Road Safety Policy Orientations 2011-2020 range from setting higher standards for vehicle safety, to improving the training of road users, and increasing the enforcement of road rules. The Commission will work closely with Member States to implement this programme.  Europeans are calling on Member States to boost their efforts to improve road safety, according to a survey published by the European Commission today. Nine out of ten Europeans (94%) considered driving under the influence of alcohol to be the most significant road safety problem, while eight out of ten (78%) called speeding a major safety problem. A majority of respondents (52%) said Member States should focus on improving road infrastructure as a first or second priority, while 42% said the same for improving the enforcement of traffic laws and 36% for dealing equally forcefully with resident and foreign traffic offenders. The Eurobarometer survey was commissioned by the Commission as part of its ongoing campaign to cut road fatalities across the EU. Read more here.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Walking in Mumbai, less harrowing?

A pilot project to survey the state of footpaths and pedestrian infrastructure between the busy Andheri railway station and Seven Bungalows has been initiated by the environment cell of the Mumbai Regional Congress Committee (MRCC). The aim is to enable the creation of a walking policy and a manual to aid the preparation of pedestrian-friendly policies.The project will be implemented in four stages. The first step will entail identification of the key problems of pedestrians. In the second stage, a comparative analysis with other cities will be done to see how certain aspects of pedestrian infrastructure there could be emulated in the city’s environment. Proposing a walking policy and a walking manual will follow. Lastly, various civil society groups will be empowered to take up walking environment improvement projects. The brain behind the initiative, Rishi Aggarwal of MRCC’s environment cell, said it is an attempt at creating a good walking environment for the city’s harried pedestrians. He pointed out that according to Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority’s comprehensive transport survey, out of the 2.5 crore trips made by commuters in the city every day, 1.5 crore are of pedestrians. The need for pedestrian-friendly policies in the city is thus immense. Read on in the Daily News & Analysis

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Cars scrapped, Parking Meters converted to Bike Racks

New York City has done a good job in recent years to encourage cycling instead of driving in the city.  The Earth Policy Institute released a study showing that car ownership dropped by 4,000,000 vehicles in 2009; the Upper West Side of New York City will be converting 240 parking meters into bicycle racks. During 2009, 14 million cars were scrapped while only 10 million new ones were purchased.  The U.S. fleet of cars declined by 2 percent from 250 million to 246 million within the year.  This marks the first time since WWII that the number of cars scrapped was greater than those purchased. Bike lanes and paths have been created and new policies have been instituted to protect cyclists and pedestrians, but the city may be planning the biggest encouragement yet:  a huge bike-sharing program. The proposed program, created by Mayor Bloomberg and Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan, would start with 10,500 bikes availabe for rent and then quickly spread to 49,000 bikes, similar in scale to the successful Paris Vélib’ program. With ECOGEEK we'll be excitedly awaiting more news. Read more in EcoGeek.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Merchandise pick-up points

In CIVITAS MIMOSA - the EU flagship project on sustainable mobility - Utrecht is working to decrease car traffic in the city centre by looking into establishing merchandise pick-up points at the fringe of the city. Consumers can park their car at the pick-up point and travel to the centre by public transport. After purchasing large or heavy goods in the centre, they can return to the same pick-up point and collect the cumbersome goods there. Is the time right for this innovative concept? Utrecht has just finished a feasibility study in which nearly four hundred consumers and city centre entrepreneurs were approached to survey the market potential and requirements. “Choice travellers”, who make separate transport choices for every trip they make, and current P+R users are more prone to embrace the concept since they are most open to behavioural change. However, the reactions were not only positive. Utrecht will decide later this year whether to set up a pilot Pick-up point within the CIVITAS MIMOSA project, as one of the first cities in the Netherlands.Velo Mondial will keep you posted. Merchandise pick-up points are a good example of the indispensable connection between various areas of sustainable urban transport. Read more here.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Reinventing parking

Japan's version of proof-of-parking (shako shomeisho) does not require ownership of a parking space. Permission to lease the space is good enough. If you are renting in a building with no parking you are not prevented from buying a car. You would just have to find a parking space to lease nearby and prove this to the local police. The policy was imposed in the 1950s in Japan as car-ownership first started to take off. With very narrow residential streets, there was an urgent need to prevent them becoming hopelessly clogged with parked cars. The policy generally succeeded on that goal. How does one get proof of a parking space? Find the person who is renting (or willing to rent) you a parking space within 2km of where you live and ask for an official document showing that the space is yours. This document is a Certificate of Permission for Use of Parking (hokan basho shodaku shomei) and it must be stamped by the agent. Then go to the local police station and fill out an application form as well as an application form for a badge (hyosho) so you can certify the space. You have to draw two maps in a detailed manner. Paul Barter, assistant professor LKY School of Public Policy | National University of Singapore explains the background more in detail here.

India joins congestion debate

The Mizoram transport department's move to deny registration of any automobile that is bought without proof of parking space needs to be replicated all over the country. In an upwardly mobile society like ours, owning a car is not just a matter of convenience. It is representative of our status. It supposedly defines where we are on the social pecking order. It is this thinking that is the main driving force behind the third largest automobile market in Asia. Given the furious pace at which cars are being added to our streets everyday, it is only natural that urban road space is at a premium. To counter this problem, we need to increase the cost of owning and maintaining a car. It is all very well to say that the government should provide for better public transport facilities and dedicated parking sites. These suggestions have been on the cards for a long time. Yet no state government can claim to have a plan in place to tackle the massive growth in the number of private vehicles. On the other hand, it is also true that people view public transport as a bitter necessity. Unlike New York's taxis or London's double-decker buses, we hardly take pride in our public transport infrastructure. It is this lack of both supply and demand that needs to be addressed in order to decongest our roads. Read on in The Times of India.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Radio: Cities that work

How do we build a city we can all love living in? From public art and integration to defying developers and preparing for the post-oil age… what it takes to make a place liveable, and likeable. Radio Netherlands World Wide produced a program just about that.  You can also hear the following chapters separately: Good planning vs. bad planning; Host Marnie is joined by urban planner Hannah Evans* to discuss this. Can art fix bad planning? Earth Beat producer Ashleigh Elson takes a walking tour around the Bijlmer with Dutch artist Walter van Broekhuizen who was commissioned to create six public works as part of the most recent transformation. Getting there by bus; Hannah Evans reacts to the idea of commissioning art as a way to make things a little less ugly, and comments on how important it is for planners to take the bus if they want to improve public transportation. We hear about a controversial new project in Toronto, which re-envisions the city’s mental health centre as a place where patients and neighbourhood residents co-exist, inside and outside the facility.  More items discussed in this radio program: What makes a city great? Denying developers.Tripping up Trump. The failure of planning. Peak oil. Post peak living. Planning for the future

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Obstacles according to World Streets

1. The Mayor/city manager: The mayor or prime city leader either: (a) does not get it; (b) , (c), (d), (e) etc. These are the rule; fortunately there are exceptions. 2. The City Council: Where you have city councils taking these decisions, it turns out that they are often much better at disagreeing then agreeing ... 3. The city’s transportation experts: The city’s main transportation expert, team, may well not be interested in having any “outside help”.... 4. Local consultants: The specialized consultants who already work in the sector in that city ... ; 5. Local business groups, who the most part are firmly wedded to the idea of cars and car access ....6. Transportation service providers: bus/transit services, taxis, school and special service buses, others — tend to be the most part narrowly focused on their specific business area,..... 7. Public interest groups: Specific transportation, environmental groups  tend to be committed to their specific turf.... 8. Local media: For reasons of their own, advertising revenues included.... 9. The “local car lobby”. While there are financial interests tied to the continuing abundant unfettered use of cars in the city,..... 10. All of us: Doubtless the biggest single obstacle ... Read on in Eric Brittons cri de coeur here.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Bikes for sale


Powered by the wind

SAIL 2010 brings the world's most beautiful tall ships and over 500 heritage ships right to the heart of Amsterdam. The city has also presented a lovely walking, biking and even a boating tour right through the heart of SAIL 2010 in the beautiful 'Eastern Docklands' area or Oostelijk Havengebied. This part of Amsterdam is renowned for its wonderful modern architecture and design and its hotspots situated in renovated warehouses. The Oostelijke Handelskade constitutes the heart of the area and has consisted of a chain of storehouses since the end of the 19th century, but Java Island and KNSM Island are most impressive for their modern architecture. From all sides, this is a beautiful part of town, especially from the water! The boating audio tour isn't available (yet) in English, but if you do speak Dutch, then we do recommend taking a trip on the canals with your own hired boat. On the Boat Rental page you'll find a complete list, but we are for obvious reasons a particular fan of sloepdelen; this "boatsharing" company provides electrically powered boats. All tours are available through the Tourist Information Offices and complimentary to the walking tour there is also an 'Oostenlijk Havengebied' audio tour.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Amsterdam still International Cycling Capital

Amsterdammers like to think of their city as the international bicycle city number 1, which is true as far as Velo Mondial is concerned, but in fact nationally it is just bicycle city #259 of the Netherlands in terms of the percentage of trips locals make on bicycle. At least, that can be concluded from a study by Fietsberaad, which analyzed just that. According to the study, Amsterdammers use a bicycle in 21% of their trips. That is a bit more than Utrecht (20%) and The Hague (18%) and quite a bit more than Rotterdam, notorious for its bicycle-unfriendly traffic lights (14%). However, Amsterdam is doing considerably worse than Groningen (30%). Fietsberaad explains that large cities tend to have lower scores because they offer public transportation of a good quality. “Of course, it’s an excellent choice to offer good public transportation, but the consequence is that this does reduce bicycle use to some extent.” Bicycle use is highest at the West Frisian Islands Vlieland and Schiermonnikoog, where cars are not welcome. In Amsterdam, the share of bicycle use has risen by over a third over the past ten years, according to O+S data; something to be pretty proud of; in the center almost 60% of all trips is done on bike. A true World Champion Source Nieuws uit Amsterdam.

Google Maps for Cyclists / USA version

The beta version for bicyclists is just a few months old, but it is already reshaping how bike enthusiasts travel. Spanning more than 200 cities nationwide — and with plans to roll out bicycle routes internationally — Google Maps relies on a mash-up of data, from publicly available sources like bike maps to user-generated information. It joins a host of other bike-mapping Web sites, from Bikely, which lets people share routes in cities around the world, to Ride the City, a geowiki (or self-editing map) app, available in 10 cities (including New York, Boston, San Francisco and Toronto) that allows users to edit their routes as they ride, to MapMyRide, which is geared more toward fitness training and logging workouts. But the one with the most potential — and the most buzz among bikers — is Google’s. There are three kinds of routes highlighted on its maps: bike-only trails (dark green), dedicated bicycle lanes (light green) and bike-friendly roads but with no separate lanes (dashed green). The algorithm factors in variables besides bike lanes, like confusing intersections, steep hills or busy streets, before spitting out the “best” route. The software includes more than 12,000 miles of off-road trails as well. Read on here.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Boris Bikes in London

There is no shortage of information on London’s Bike-Sharing scheme.  The media and bloggers have given it a warm welcome, and most users are happy, despite a number of avoidable teething problems. Perhaps the schemes operators are surprised by the enthusiasm for the scheme, with many bloggers, and our reporter Ian Perry experiencing problems contacting their customer service representatives – and when his calls are answered, the person is unable to assist us, instead promising to have someone call us back...  but no one does. Daily use of each bicycle is rising, and will probably break the two uses a day mark before casual users are able to join the scheme, at the terminals in the street, in September 2010. Currently all users have to subscribe in advance online.  TfL is supplying excellent information on the system – which shows them to be having problems with bicycle redistribution.  Docking stations around the stations are empty at the time of writing (midday), but the historical graphs show that they fill up in the evening and overnight, with the electric redistribution vehicles struggling to cope.  For a live update of available bikes click on the link here.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Bamboo Bicycles

BAMBOO is one of the world’s fastest-growing plants, adding as much as three feet in a single day. That growth rate, along with the giant grass’s sturdy hollow stalks (with a strength-to-weight ratio similar to that of steel) may explain why bamboo is being heralded by bikers, environmentalists and social entrepreneurs as a material with no carbon footprint and the potential to provide cheap wheels in poor countries. Serious spandex-clad cyclists like bamboo bicycles, as do tattooed bike messengers and thrifty Ghanaian shopkeepers. “There is something going on with bamboo bicycles,” said Jay Townley, a partner in the market research firm Gluskin Townley Group. “They’re catching on with urban and commuting cyclists.” Though bicycles with bamboo frames account for only a fraction of the bicycle market, the number of bamboo bicycle start-ups is expanding. They include Boo Bicycles, with bamboo bikes available in shops like Signature Cycles in Manhattan and the Pony Shop in Chicago; Renovo Design out of Portland, Ore.; Panda Bicycles, in Fort Collins, Colo.; Organic Bikes in Wisconsin; and Calfee Design, of Santa Cruz, Calif., a pioneer in bamboo frames whose cycles sell in shops like Eco, a London store owned partly by the actor Colin Firth.  Read on in the New York Times.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Copenhagen live and in perspective

While Streetfilms was in Copenhagen for the Velo-City 2010 conference, of course they wanted to showcase its biking greatness.  But they  were also looking to take a different perspective then all the myriad other videos out there.  Since there was an abundance of advocates, planners, and city transportation officials attending from the U.S. and Canada, they thought it'd be awesome to get their reactions to the city's built environment and compare to bicycling conditions in their own cities. If you've never seen footage of the Copenhagen people riding bikes during rush hour - get ready - it's quite a site, as nearly 38% of  commuting trips in Copenhagen are done by bike.  With plenty of safe, bicycle infrastructure (including hundreds of miles of physically separated cycletracks) its no wonder that you see all kinds of people on bikes everywhere.  55% of all riders are female, and you see kids as young as 3 or 4 riding with packs of adults. The truth about Copenhagen , also on this blog, puts this nice portrait of cycling in Copenhagen in perspective.