Sunday, June 27, 2010

Amsterdam: Many more bicycles than people

In the inner city and at stations, there is insufficient room to park a bicycle. However, measures are being taken to deal with this, the administration assures. The problem is persistent: year after year, the message has remained the same. Meanwhile, new spaces are added, but bicycle parks may disappear as well. “Bicycle parking is the greatest challenge we face with regard to bicycle policy”, says policy advisor Geert de Jong. “You can’t solve it just like that.” In 2006, the municipality for the first time conducted a survey among cyclists, which has since been repeated every year. In each edition, respondents say they are not satisfied with bicycle parking in the inner city and at stations. In fact, they have only become more critical over the years. Each year, measures are announced and progress has in fact been made. Guarded bicycle parks have been added in the inner city and floating bicycle parks have been created north of Central Station. Amsterdam further tries to do something about the shortage of bicycle racks by removing disused bicycles. Each year, districts remove 40 to 50,000 bicycles. “But at some locations, it’s banging your head against a brick wall.” At the longer term, ProRail plans to create three bicycle parks near Central Station, with room for 7,000 bicycles. Read on in Nieuws uit Amsterdam

Bicycle theft as sign of cycling emancipation in USA

As cyclists from New York to San Francisco take advantage of new commuting infrastructure, thieves appear to be taking a growing interest in two-wheeled travel as well, riders and advocates report. The response by some cities and local law enforcement agencies has been a kind of high-tech cat-and-mouse game, one involving bait bikes and radio trackers as well as social media Web sites. In San Francisco, the police are working with advocates to develop a series of stings this summer using hidden transmitters mounted on bikes. Campus police at the University of Nevada, Reno, began using a similar tracking system in early May to trap thieves, who have been found to operate in small groups. “It’s actually a continual problem,” Cmdr. Todd D. Renwick said.Boston has been trying another technological approach, using Twitter and Facebook to help publicize bicycle thefts in a kind of virtual lost-and-found message board. Bicycle theft remains an underreported crime, advocates and criminal justice experts said. The Federal Bureau of Investigation reports 188,698 thefts nationwide in 2008, up slightly from previous years. It is certainly an undercount, experts said, because cyclists assume that once the theft occurs there is little chance of getting the bike back, and often do not report thefts. Read on in the New York Times.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Live Live London Tube Map

As you may have noticed, we at Velo Mondial are very happy about innovative stuff like tools and gadgets. The Live London  Tube Map shows all trains on the London Underground network in approximately real time, and is strangely yet completely mesmerising! It may serve no real purpose to most of us, but we defy - together with our friends from LEPT in London - you to find a more hypnotic site on the net. This map shows all trains (yellow pins) on the London Underground network in approximately real time. Click the stations for a local map of that station. Live departure data is fetched from the TfL API, and then it does a bit of maths and magic. It’s surprisingly okay, given this was done in only a few hours at Science Hackday on 19/20th June 2010. Play the clip under this blog or have a direct look yourself.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Plazas Permanently Pedestrianized

Two swaths of Broadway closed to cars in the heart of Manhattan as part of a traffic experiment that drew international attention will be permanently made into public plazas for pedestrians and bicyclists, Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced Thursday. The eight-month pilot program in Times Square and Herald Square has been embraced by pedestrians and people who work or live nearby, but it has been cursed by drivers and had lackluster results in traffic studies. Since last May, Broadway has been closed to vehicles between 42nd and 47th streets in Times Square and between 33rd and 35th streets in Herald Square. With painted pavement, outdoor furniture and other landscaping, the city created outdoor plazas intended to evoke public pedestrian areas popular in many international cities. This is another step that comes after Bloomberg's failed attempt to institute congestion pricing in the city, in which he wanted to charge cars entering the most congested parts of Manhattan during the day. That plan had to be approved by the state Legislature, and wasn't. Most recently, he created pedestrian plazas in Times and Herald Squares, two of the most nightmarish intersections in the city. While results on traffic are mixed, everyone predicted a disaster that didn't happen. The plazas are there to stay. Bike lanes pop up around the city on a regular basis now, too. Read more in USA Today

Monday, June 7, 2010

Fast lane for buses in New York

Buses in New York are as slow as snails. It is as sure a thing as Yankees wearing pinstripes and congestion on the Cross Bronx Expressway. But an ambitious $10 million project to bring European-style rapid-transit buses to First and Second Avenues — among the most highly used and heavily congested bus routes in the nation — is aiming to turn that truism on its head. Starting in October, buses will be granted an exclusive lane to speed up travel on those avenues from Houston Street to 125th Street, a trip that can last an hour and a half — the length of an Amtrak ride from Pennsylvania Station to Philadelphia.  The plan represents the latest move by the Bloomberg administration to siphon away space from private automobiles in favor of other forms of transport. Once dominated by trucks, cars and taxicabs, First and Second Avenues will now gain cycling lanes and concrete pedestrian islands, as well as a bus route meant to function more like a subway. The city’s Department of Transportation and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority hope that bus travel times will improve by about 20 percent. That could benefit more than 50,000 riders on Manhattan’s transit-starved far East Side, still waiting for its subway line after 80 years. Read on in the NYT.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Latest Performance Enhancer: The Electric Bike

Lost in the titanic hubbub of the departed Giro d’Italia — can the unsung David Arroyo keep the leader’s pink jersey? (no), can the formerly sung Ivan Basso complete his comeback? (yes), can the riders fail to be buried by an avalanche of snow in the highest Alps? (again, thankfully, yes) — was, for technology nuts, the story of the year, maybe the new decade. “Technology nuts” is shorthand for the people who really do care what gears the riders are using in the mountains — a 53/34 crank with an 11-26, yielding a gear ratio of 34x26, 34x29 or 36x29 — and by how many millimeters their saddles have been raised. That sort of stuff. Most tifosi, the demented Italian fans who paint their faces in the green, white and red of the national flag, strip down to their shorts in frostbite conditions atop the Giro’s mountains and run alongside the riders to encourage, or goad, them on, couldn’t care less about gears and saddle heights. What they want is performance. How’s this for an aid to performance: L’Equipe, the French sports newspaper, reports that everybody is buzzing about the latest innovation in the sport, even more of a performance enhancer than EPO, CERA, human growth hormone, homologous and autologous blood transfusions or some other substance, widely used but not yet within the domain of drug inspectors. It’s the electric bicycle. Read on in The New York Times.