Today Rotterdam is celebrating Park(ing) Day, which sounds like a lot of pun fun. The city of Rotterdam is letting people take over a parking spot for free and camp out on it, as if it were a park. And to sweeten the deal, the rules of a park apply to the parking spot.
Park(ing)Day is part of Happy Streets, yet another let’s-use-English-rather-than-Dutch named event (where ‘happy’ often sounds like ‘hippie’ when some Dutch people pronounce it) lasting the entire weekend in order to promote ‘sustainable mobility and a better use of public spaces’.
The city will also feature yet another let’s-give-it-an-English-name-to sound-cool event called Walk’in Rotterdam, where people can take a stroll along various uncommon parts of the city with a knowledgeable guide who I bet will tell their stories in the country’s main language.
And Sunday is another why-use-Dutch-go-for-English event called Open Streets when streets will be car-free and feature other merriment.
Sometime around 2013, Amsterdam’s city marketing people decided to rebrand ‘Muiderslot’ (‘Muiden Castle’) to ‘Amsterdam Castle Muiderslot’ to attract more tourists because they believe that if you put the word ‘Amsterdam’ in front of something, cash register sounds start ringing in your head, like a pleasant form of tinnitus. Maybe the name sounds close by or more fun, who knows. Muiderslot is in the town of Muiden now under the same municipality as Naarden (their beautiful fortress doesn’t need rebranding) and Bussum, also known as ‘not Amsterdam’.
Pseudo annexation of interesting tourist venues that are not Amsterdam remains awkward. Nobody calls the coastal cities of IJmuiden, Bloemendaal and Zandvoort ‘Amsterdam Beach’ but the city marketing people who thought that nonsense up. However, bus company Connexxion’s line 80 that goes to Zandvoort is being rebranded as the ‘Amsterdam Beach Line’ possibly because Amsterdam only has fake beaches and Connexxion hooked them up with a real one.
Also having jumped on the bandwagon apparently is the lake area between Amsterdam and Utrecht called ‘Loosdrechtse Plassen’, which is now the ‘Leisure Lakes’ (nope, not a direct translation), which sounds like a floating red light district. And there’s always the ‘Bulb Region’ closer to Haarlem that magically became the ‘Amsterdam Flower Strip’ also not used by anyone except the voices in someone’s head in charge of city marketing.
Picture a map of Amsterdam with everything around called ‘not Amsterdam’. In fact, many people would agree that’s how a lot of Amsterdam residents and unfortunately millions of tourists view the rest of the country.
In the spirit of ridiculous name changes, here are some other suggestions:
Cities close to Amsterdam like Amstelveen, Badhoeverdorp and Diemen that house a lot of expats (read: rich immigrants and migrants) should be called ‘Almost Amsterdam’, Amsterdam Airport Suites’ or just ‘Amsterdam’s suburbs’ and have their official names removed to cause less confusion.
The huge-ass flats in Amsterdam Zuidoost, which is its own district, could be rebranded as ‘Amsterdam Heights’ to have an excuse to hike up the rent of lesser wanted immigrants and migrants by sounding fancier.
Any other interesting towns like Zaandam, Haarlem and Abcoude better watch out before they get ‘Amsterdamized’ as well.
The test was carried out with a self-driving Mercedes-Benz bus from German car company Daimler AG, some of which took place on a public road, but mostly on a closed circuit. The bus was able to communicate with traffic lights, collect data and negotiate junctions. As well, there was a driver on board in case things when wrong.
There is still a lot of testing to be done before self-driving cars become a reality, and it is cool that tests are carried out here. I don’t know about cars dealing with cyclists and pedestrians in the big cities, which still is a major source of accidents.
In Flevoland in 2013 a fire brigade bought 14 new trucks, five of which didn’t fit in their fire stations.
It has happened again, this time in Almen, Gelderland, but with a tanker, which is five centimeters too high and one metre too long for the fire station, a 40-year-old station that is due to be either replaced or renovated. It’s odd that fire brigades don’t talk to each other about a problem I am sure has happened before more often than the press has reported.
I guess it’s one way to get a new fire house or renovate the current one. Maybe that’s the idea.
Dutch construction company Heijmans has published a time-lapse video on Facebook of them digging a 70-metre stretch of tunnel and then inserting it very efficiently under motorway A12 near Ede, Gelderland all in one weekend. The film has been viewed over 750,000 times on Facebook (it’s now floating around on YouTube) and their post has had 7,200 likes and over 8,400 shares so far.
Someone posted, ‘Hey, it would be nice if it has some music to it’, and then Heijmans gave them the classic Dutch radio answer of ‘You asked, we’ll play it’ and here is the result below.
A small convoy of six self-driving trucks arrived in the Port of Rotterdam this week after an experiment organisers say will “revolutionise future road transport on Europe’s busy highways”. Some of the trucks in this convoy came from as far as Sweden and Southern Germany, and some of you may have even passed them without knowing it.
This ‘truck platooning’ involves two or three trucks that autonomously drive in a convoy, connected by wireless with the leading truck determining route and speed. It it is said to ensure cleaner and more efficient transport. Dutch Minister Melanie Schultz van Haegen also explains that self-driving vehicles contribute to road safety because most accidents are caused by human failure.
The trucks drive at a constant speed, maintain the same distance between them by braking at the same time, while standardisation will allow trucks from different companies to ‘talk to each other’.
The Netherlands currently holds the EU presidency and plans to hold an informal summit in a few weeks to discuss changes to regulations needed to “make self-driving transport a reality.”
Inspired by the Volkswagen emissions scandal, ‘sjoemelsoftware’ (‘cheat software’) was crowned Dutch word of the year 2015 today, with 48% of the votes. The definition is ‘software to positively influence the test results of a device, like software used in cars to make carbon dioxide emissions appear more favourable’. Since compound words work well in Dutch, the word ‘sjoemel’ can be coupled with a whole bunch of other words to imply something has been tampered with to defeat a device, a bit like a copper penny in the electricity meter.
Dutch kids have been creative this year, coming up with ‘Tinderellasyndroom’ (‘Tinderella syndrome’), with 34% of the votes for youth word of the year. The word means ‘young people who cannot flirt in real life and depend on mobile apps like Tinder’. What’s odd is that ‘Tinderella’ in English already was a woman found on Tinder presumably by a man, while the Cinderella complex defines an unconscious desire for women to be taken care of by others, usually men. ‘Tinderellasyndroom’ would appear to imply that boys can’t flirt, if we assume that boys usually initiate flirting online in the heterosexual sphere. I would read this new word as mainly boys looking for passive, willing women on Tinder-like apps instead of in real life.
This summer Dutch company Oxboard claimed that its self-balancing device, the Oxboard, wasn’t going to be affected by all the speed and permit issues that the Segway had to endure. In fact, it’s worse: the Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment has kaboshed Oxboard’s plans to be used as a form of transportation, saying ‘it’s just a toy’.
The Oxboard is also not allowed on the sidewalk, not that most Dutch cities have wide enough sidewalks, and can only be used on people’s own property, which is impractical. To be able to be recognised as a ‘special scooter’, the Oxboard needs ‘a proper steering system and braking system’, and according to the Ministry it has neither. Then again, Dutch law isn’t completely clear about what constitutes steering and braking, as the words used are ‘properly functioning steering system or operating system’ and ‘properly functioning braking system’, both of which the Oxboard has.
Being able to steer the Oxboard with your feet should count for something, however, if you search for Oxboard videos on the Internet you’ll get a lot of kids playing around with one as it if were a toy. To be continued.
According to insurance data gathered by newspaper Het Parool, some 95% of all Vespa scooters are stolen off the streets of Amsterdam within five years. Throughout the rest of the country only about 4% of Vespas are stolen in the same period of time.
I once had that Roman Holiday vibe and seriously considered buying a Vespa. British comedian Eddie Izzard made owning a Vespa (video excerpt) even more appealing to me during one hot Dutch summer and after a memorable trip to southern Italy.
The NLTimes and other sources claim that “Piaggio brand scooters are also a hot target, with 12% of them being stolen within five years”, but then Vespa scooters are made by Piaggio, so that sounds off. Het Parool does explain that Vespas and Piaggios (not Piaggo dear Parool) are registered separately by Stichting Aanpak Voertuigcriminaliteit (SVAC) who handles stolen vehicles.