Thursday, May 29, 2014

Investing in cycling: a way to go part 1

 Cycling is taken into account when the Dutch undertake large infrastructure projects. Nijmegen now has a third bridge over the river Waal and it has a smooth wide cycle path. The bridge is named ‘The Crossing’ (De Oversteek) after a heroic military action in World War II and it was opened on 24 November 2013. The river Waal formed the north border of the city for 2000 years, but that is now changing. Nijmegen’s first bridge was the 1879 railway bridge. In 1936 the first traffic bridge was completed. Both these bridges can also be used for cycling. In the case of the railway bridge on the now 10-year-old cycle bridge attached to it (the ‘Snelbinder’). This new third bridge is part of a much larger project, that involves water management and a large-scale city expansion north of the river in the former village of Lent. As a measure to prevent flooding, the government of The Netherlands is changing the course of the river Waal at Nijmegen. The Nijmegen project is in itself again also part of a much larger project called ‘Room for the River’ in which more than 30 rivers throughout the country are being altered. Read much more here.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Cycling in Europe: Beyond statistics

Recently Strava released a global heatmap of 77,688,848 bicycle rides and 19,660,163 runs from the Strava dataset. This was more of an engineering challenge to create a visualization of that size than anything else.  Last year the code was cleaned up and became the Personal Heatmaps feature on Strava. This time it has been refactored to handle the large dataset by reading from mmapped files stored on disk. To start out, the world is broken up into regions presented by zoom level 8 tiles. Each one of these regions has a file containing the sorted set of key/values where the key is the pixel zoom and quadkey and the value is the count of GPS points. The quadkeys make it so all the data for a tile is stored sequentially in the file. Pixels with no GPS points are excluded and only every 3rd zoom level is stored in the file. The values for missing zooms can be found by adding the 4 to 16 values from higher zoom levels. Skipping zoom levels saves a bit a disk space, but it also preloads into memory the region of the file needed for deeper zooms. Well, if this is all way too technical, then go to this page and start playing.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Congestion & Polution charging

The city of Milan, one of the most car-dependent in Europe, is also among the few to have introduced a road pricing measure. Unlike the well-known cases of London and Stockholm, it was concern for the levels of pollution (rather than congestion) that initially led to the introduction of the ‘Ecopass’ scheme in 2008. In the following years, public debate focused on the effectiveness of this pollution charge in reducing PM10, a pollutant with adverse health impacts. The dubious effectiveness of Ecopass in reducing PM10 levels has had two consequences: First, the scheme was upgraded to a congestion charge in 2012, following the results of a city-wide referendum in which 79.1% of voters demanded both an upgrade and an extension of the Ecopass area. This was in stark contrast with the experience of other cities, where voters have rejected charging schemes, for instance in Edinburgh or Manchester in the UK. The new city administration has recently implemented a monitoring system for Black Carbon, a new PM metric that is more suitable to prove the effectiveness of traffic restrictions. Milan therefore is the only city which can boast two types of road pricing measures, pollution charge and congestion charge. Read more here.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Bike Share Fact Sheet

The prevalence of bicycles in a community is an indicator of our ability to provide affordable transportation, lower traffic congestion, reduce air pollution, increase mobility, and provide exercise to the world’s growing population. Bike-sharing programs are one way to get cycles to the masses. In early 2014, some 600 cities in 52 countries host advanced bike-sharing programs, with a combined fleet of more than 570,000 bicycles.Spain leads the world with 132 separate bike-share programs. Italy has 104, and Germany, 43. The world’s largest bike-sharing program is in Wuhan, China’s sixth largest city, with 9 million people and 90,000 shared bikes.In 2013, China was home to 82 bike-sharing programs, with a whopping combined fleet of some 380,000 bicycles.The United States hosts 36 modern bike-sharing programs. With a number of new programs in the works and planned expansions of existing programs, the U.S. fleet is set to nearly double to over 37,000 publicly shared bicycles by the end of 2014. Read more on the website of the Earth Policy Institute here.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

The Best of the best: Zwolle

Today Zwolle was announced to be the winner of the title “Best Cycling City of the Netherlands in 2014″! This week the magazine of the Cyclists’ Union gave spokesperson Hans Hop of the local chapter of the Union some phrases with regard to cycling in Zwolle, to which he responded as follows. Biggest challenge? “The lack of bicycle parking facilities, especially in the city centre and the station. Greatest improvement? “The many innovations, such as good bicycle tunnels, traffic light waiting time indicators and the bicycle roundabout. What is the effect of the Best Cycling City Election ? “This election is great because it draws attention to a lot of things. Wishes? “There are always areas to improve. For instance we think that bicycle signage could be better. We also advocate for bicycle facilities around larger stores. Zwolle will get a new Ikea, a new Hornbach and a new Zara. Developers forget the bike all the time. The municipality can make sure they do keep cycling in mind in the planning phase. And we would like new paths to be wider. You need to anticipate that there will be more people cycling in the future”. Read on In Bicycle Dutch here.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

This is real bicycle highway

The cycle highway from Hattem to Zwolle was festively opened by a class of schoolchildren, the alderman for traffic of the city of Zwolle and a representative of the province of Overijssel on November first of 2012. It was the third part of the entire route. The first part consists of ordinary cycling infrastructure from Hattem to a new railroad bridge. The second part is that railroad bridge over the river IJssel that got a cycle path hanging from one side of it. The cycle path on the bridge was already opened in June 2011. But with that third part the total fast cycle route was completed. It means people can now cycle the entire 5.5 kilometre route from Hattem in the province of Gelderland to Zwolle, the capital of the province of Overijssel at high speed away from motor traffic.The 5.5 metre wide fast cycle route from Hattem to Zwolle in the city of Zwolle. The route has almost no intersections and there are no traffic lights. Cyclists have priority all the way and that makes this route a fast and viable alternative to the car. The route for motor traffic is also almost one kilometer longer. The fast cycle route is an attractive and quick route to Zwolle’s central railway station but it can also be used to reach several schools and a commercial area. Read on here. The beauty in the video starts at 5'45" Thanks again Bicycle Dutch.