Sunday, September 30, 2012

Helmets revisited

In the United States the notion that bike helmets promote health and safety by preventing head injuries is taken as pretty near God’s truth. Un-helmeted cyclists are regarded as irresponsible, like people who smoke. Cities are aggressive in helmet promotion. But many European health experts have taken a very different view: Yes, there are studies that show that if you fall off a bicycle at a certain speed and hit your head, a helmet can reduce your risk of serious head injury. But such falls off bikes are rare — exceedingly so in mature urban cycling systems. On the other hand, many researchers say, if you force or pressure people to wear helmets, you discourage them from riding bicycles. That means more obesity, heart disease and diabetes. And — Catch-22 — a result is fewer ordinary cyclists on the road, which makes it harder to develop a safe bicycling network. The safest biking cities are places like Amsterdam and Copenhagen, where middle-aged commuters are mainstay riders and the fraction of adults in helmets is minuscule.  Pushing helmets really kills cycling and bike-sharing in particular because it promotes a sense of danger that just isn’t justified — in fact, cycling has many health benefits. Read on in New York Times.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Dutch Bicycle Infrastructure in figures

The Netherlands have almost 35,000 kilometers of cycle pathsThat's more than the previous estimate of 29,000 kilometers and much more than the last figure of 17,000 km from the Central Bureau of Statistics CBS dating back to 1996. Roads with bicycle lanes together have a length 4700 km, equal to the previous estimate. The new figures are more accurate since the Dutch Cycling Route Planner recently become nationwide. Thus, the Dutch now have a reliable and detailed source of information for all provinces The most mileage bike path located in the province of North Brabant, closely followed by Gelderland (see table). This is mainly due to the size of those provinces.  North Holland, South Holland and  Utrecht have 30-70% more cycle paths than the national average. Also, the use of bicycles as high, according to figures from the Dutch Central Bureau of Statistics. Per kilometer cycle path is in the Randstad 35-60% more kilometers are  cycled than the national average. Below you can see the lenths of bicycle paths per province, the surface of bicycle paths in square kilometers and the number of times every kilometer has been used on a dayly basis.

Paris Plage Plus

From Saturday 1 September 2012, Parisians will be able to enjoy a large new people-friendly section of the riverside north of the River Seine. The changes include narrowing the road between Hotel de Ville and Quai Henry IV to create new pedestrian corridors, riverside walkways, along with new cafes and bars. In spring 2013, an even larger scheme will be completed that will remove a 1.5-mile section of urban motorway from the opposite riverbank, creating what's hoped will be a walking and cycling paradise. The riverside transformations are the latest of Mayor Bertrand Delanoe's projects to reclaim portions of the city away from motor vehicles, following his expansion of cycle routes and introduction of the Velib cycle hire, which was the model for London's successful scheme. Delanoe has had to fight against national politicians and motoring groups to make sure the £30 million project succeeds, but planners have assured motorists that journey times are only likely to be marginally affected. The riverside project comes in the wake of the successful Paris Plages, which saw Voie Georges-Pompidou transformed each summer into a seaside resort, complete with sand, parasols and palm trees.