Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Cycling infrastructure best practice study

Achieving the Mayor’s Vision for Cycling in London (March 2013) will require London practitioners to apply tried-and tested techniques from around the world to the London context, and to innovate as necessary. To this end, TfL commissioned a study of selected cities, to understand better what makes for success in relation to cycle infrastructure, safety and culture. The study was based around visits during 2013 to 14 cities of different character, to learn from them by interviews with local practitioners, by observation and by riding. The cities were chosen to enable different types of lesson to be learned: from what works best in cities where mass cycling is established, to how cities lower down the curve have applied learning from those further up; and from physical techniques to systems of governance. For this reason, they visited cities as diverse as New York and Utrecht. The former is a mega-city of 8+ million inhabitants with low overall levels of cycling, but with a recent successful policy of reallocating street space from general traffic to cycling. By contrast, Utrecht (south-east of Amsterdam) has around a third of a million inhabitants and is one of the world’s great cycling cities, where around a third of all journeys are by bicycle. Read more here.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Could Smart Cities Slowly Destroy Democracy?

Has the concept of the smart city ”crystallised into an image of the city as a vast, efficient robot?” In the age of the “Internet of Things,” where does the citizen fit in? In this article from The Guardian, journalist Steven Poole takes a critical stance against the purported utopian ideals of smart . Poole delves into the nuances of who the smart city is truly meant to serve, questions the debate over whether it should develop along a top-down or bottom-up approach, and poses the provocative thought: “a vast network of sensors amounting to millions of electronic ears, eyes and noses – also potentially enable(s) the future city to be a vast arena of perfect and permanent surveillance by whomever has access to the data feeds.” Questions of control, virtual reality, free-will, and hierarchies of power, Poole asserts are critical to the discussion of technology’s powerful role in the future. Read the full article to learn more about the possible potential of the smart city to “destroy democracy,” here.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Copenhagen: Relatively good for cycling

The purpose of the doctoral study -V√©lomobility; A critical analysis of planning and space- is to bring a spatial dimension into the research on urban mobilities and connect the spatial dimension to the marginalisation of cyclists in urban space. This is been done by exploring the role of urban bicycling and transport planning. The materialisation of power relations is analysed with the example of modern planning in Sweden and Denmark. Overall this thesis manages to show how cycling as a mode of transport is marginalised in urban space, and that urban space wars between cyclists and car drivers and among cyclists are fought in Copenhagen as well as in Stockholm. The conclusion is that different factors, such as the economic situations in Denmark and Sweden, have affected urban and transport planning and thus have created two very different transport systems, where cycling plays a large role (Copenhagen) and a smaller role (Stockholm). Nevertheless, this thesis shows that even in cities that are very good for cycling, like Copenhagen, the motorised modes of transport create many problems and are still dominating urban space. Read on here.

Monday, December 8, 2014

What BMW has learned from cycling; London calling.

BMW is hoping to be in the vanguard of dealing with the changing way Britain’s city dwellers use vehicles by launching a joint venture with car rental company Sixt. The companies have brought the DriveNow car-sharing model to London from Germany which allows users to locate, unlock and start cars using a mobile phone app, then drive them on a charge per minute basis. The system – currently in a small scale test with a fleet of about 250 BMW 1 series and Minis – does away with the need for a central collect and return point so users can make one-way journeys. DriveNow has agreed a deal with Islington, Hackney and Haringey councils allowing the cars to be parked in any on-street parking spaces, meaning they can be used in a similar way to London’s “Boris Bike” scheme, as long as they are dropped off within the three boroughs. Peter Schwarzenbauer, BMW board manager said the company looked at the future of the car market several years ago and decided it needed to be in the sector. Read on here.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Planning the Cycling City: Highly recommended graduate level program!

This graduate level programme will explore urban cycling from a Dutch perspective, both historically and current, and will provide students with a host of skills on how to develop and foster cycling cities and gain insights on what this means. Students will examine the impacts of history, policy, infrastructure, planning, and culture within the context of urban cycling in the Netherlands. Next to this, the programme invites students to bring and share their personal views and experiences on cycling cities. Amsterdam is the world’s cycling capital and offers the most suitable environment for examining bicycle-related issues in the urban context. Admission requirements: - Master's and graduate students in the field of urban planning have priority. - Undergraduates in their final years, majoring in urban studies or related, are welcome to apply. - Those not in the field of urban planning are also welcome to apply, but should make clear in their motivation letter why they believe they qualify for the programme. Highly recommended by Velo Mondial! Be quick!