Thursday, January 23, 2014

A taste of the best. Part 1: Zwolle

Zwolle is one of the five nominees to become best Cycling City of the Netherlands in 2014. Chosen from a long-list of 19 municipalities, these five municipalities compete to take over the title of current best cycling city ʼs-Hertogenbosch, which was elected in 2011. I will make a small portrait of all five nominees and in reversed alphabetical order Zwolle is the first. A bicycle street in Zwolle where people cycling outnumber other traffic and where cars are guest. Zwolle is a historic city, with a centre that can still be recognised as a fortified city. It is the capital of the province of Overijssel with a population of almost 123,000. I asked Ilse Bloemhof, the project leader for infrastructure in Zwolle, why she thinks Zwolle should win this competition. This is her response: “Our main cycle routes got a surface of smooth asphalt. Main routes through residential areas were transformed into bicycle streets, elsewhere we see wide cycle lanes or protected cycle tracks. All these cycle routes take people cycling to their destination in a fast and safe way. We are proud of our great number of (socially safe) tunnels and bridges, especially the cycle bridge next to the new railway line “Hanzeboog”, our fast cycle route (Fietssnelweg) to Hattem and the bicycle roundabout. In an innovative way we make sure that our cycling policies get people cycling forward.”

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

London Grid

London is seeking public comment on its plans for a draft cycle network for central London, known as the Central London Grid, which proposes that a number of streets be closed to other traffic and that cyclists use 97 kilometres of backstreets dubbed Quietways. “We are creating a new network of routes for a new kind of cyclist: routes for people who want to cycle slowly, in their ordinary clothes, away from most of the traffic,” said the Mayor of London Boris Johnson announcing the plans just before Christmas. “These are your secret cycling passages through London, taking you everywhere you need to go, directly and easily, using routes you might never know existed until we showed you.”
The seven Central London boroughs together with the City of LondonThe Royal Parks, the Canal & River Trust and Transport for London (TfL) have worked together to publish the Grid. Many of the new Quietway routes will run parallel to Tube lines or bus routes so that cyclists will know where they go. A Circle Line Quietway and a Victoria Line Quietway are among the routes that have been proposed. Read more here. You will find the grid map here.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Car Free Brussels!

If the city’s new mayor gets his way, Central Brussels will soon be essentially car-free. Mayor Yvan Mayeur, sworn in last month as mayor of the Brussels City district, wants to turn the Belgian capital's central axis into a pedestrian zone. The move would transform a handsome but car-snarled four-lane boulevard and a string of squares into a long, café-filled promenade.  This new zone will join up with an existing pedestrian zone in the narrow streets around the city's Grand Place and Rue Neuve, turning Brussels’ core into a spacious, rambling open-air living room. The change is long overdue. No European capital has been quite so ruined by motor vehicles as Brussels, which even last year was scorned by the French as a "sewer for cars." And the new plan is going over well with locals, meaning Brussels might finally gain its deserved place as a likeable European city. If it does so, it will be in the face of decades of poor planning from which the city is still recovering. Brussels managed this in the 1960s, however, when the city’s dual process of building ugly, over-sized buildings in the place of beloved historic ones and of prioritizing cars over everything else came to be called brusselization. Read on The Atlantic Cities.