Last year a friend asked me to check a series of fines he received from France in French (in error), stating he had to pay the maximum fine for speeding even though he never got the original fines, which were for a lot less. Although an administrative mess, at least French speed cameras can read Dutch license plates. It took the Netherlands until sometime last year to be able to properly read French license plates on speed cameras and stop being the laughing stock of French speed freaks.
However, we’re still laughing stock to anyone that doesn’t have a Dutch, French, Swiss, German or Belgian license plate: the software in Dutch speed cameras can’t read anything else. The Dutch government keeps making lame excuses, while other European countries seem to have figured out how speed camera software works.
This also means that Dutch speed cameras don’t fine the notoriously fast driving Poles, Romanians, Bulgarians and Latvians who probably know all this and not suffer the consequences. It also attracts comments about the Dutch ‘paying for everybody’s mistakes’, as it is easier to nail locals for speeding that trying to decipher a Polish or Latvian address and registration that cannot be easily checked on the side of the road.
Speeding is dangerous, and apparently the Dutch government doesn’t feel that road safety is a priority.
(Link: www.flitsservice.nl, Photo by Heiloo Online, some rights reserved)
Tags: fines, France, license plate, speed camera, speeding
After a few cities in Canada, it’s now the turn of the United States to embrace the building of a ‘woonerf’, a typical Dutch construct from the 1930s, an area where drivers, cyclists and pedestrians have to share the same space, but where pedestrians always have the right of way.
Ithaca, New York is building what they call a ‘living yard’ (‘woonerf’), with a low speed limit of no more than 10 or 12 mph (16 km/h to 19.2 km/h). Today in the Netherlands the woonerf speed limit is 15 km/h, although a few years ago it was still referred to as ‘stapvoets’, which is a old term from when people rode horses at a slow pace, which would be 6 km/h if it was really a horse, but not actually possible by car or bike without consequences. However, 15 km/h is still slower than what Ithaca has decided, which to me sounds too fast.
“The whole point is to encourage human interaction; those who use the space are forced to be aware of others around them, make eye contact and engage in person-to-person interactions.” As a North American, the car is always king of the road, but the woonerf forces drivers to realise that it’s not always their space just because there’s a road, which I think is a good thing to learn.
(Link: ithacavoice.com, Photo by Payton Chung, some rights reserved)
Tags: New York, woonerf
The Court of Middle-Netherlands has declared car manufacturer Spyker bankrupt, Channel News Asia reported last Thursday.
Internationally the sports car manufacturer was perhaps best know as the company that bought Saab in 2010 for 1.5 billion euro. CEO Victor Muller said the line of sports cars had been doing well, but that “we had to pay dearly for our other activities.”
Spyker is a name with some history in the Netherlands. In 1880 coach builders Jacobus and Hendrik-Jan Spijker founded a company with that name which amongst others built the Gold Coach that was given by the citizens of Amsterdam to Queen Wilhelmina and that is still in use today. The company went bankrupt after one of the brothers died when the ferry he was on sank, but was bought by another party and continued until 1926. It also built aeroplane engines and provided the inspiration for cartoon hero Oliver B. Bumble’s car De Oude Schicht (The OId Flash).
In 1999 Victor Muller used the brand to start a new car company. Last Thursday Muller said he would “relentlessly endeavour to resurrect Spyker as soon as practically possible.” Unless of course somebody else buys the intellectual property from the trustee. Interest in the company appears to be healthy.
With Carver and now Spyker bankrupt, soon the only cars produced in the country might be flying cars—assuming they ever get off the ground.
(Photo of Adrian Sutil driving the Spyker F1 by Morio, some rights reserved)
Tags: Formula 1, Gold Coach, Olivier Bommel, Spijker, Spyker
In IJsselstein, Utrecht, a man ready to propose to his girlfriend rented a crane. Unfortunately, the crane crashed down onto the neighbour’s roof. The neighbour’s daughter had just woken up and was out of her room when the crane came crashing through it.
While trying to lift the crane out of the way with another crane, the arm of the first crane crashed down on the roof a second time, trashing the roof in its entirety.
While the police, city and even the mayor have gone to the scene to assess the damage, the girlfriend did say ‘yes’ and the couple have gone off to Paris, leaving the mess behind them for now.
Tags: crane, Utrecht
‘Tractor girl’ Manon Ossevoort, a 38-year-old Dutch actress and adventurer, has arrived at the South Pole at 10:30 p.m. EST on 8 December 2014 after a 17-day, 2,500-kilometre journey across Antarctica in a red Massey Ferguson MF 5610 tractor.
Ossevoort had already driven a tractor 38,000 km from her home in the Netherlands across Europe and Africa in 2005, when she had missed the boat due to transport her to Antarctica. At the time Ossevoort returned home, wrote a book, and waited for the opportunity to finish the final leg of her journey.
The journey was achieved with the help of a mother and daughter team from Iqaluit, Nunavut, Canada, Matty McNair and Sarah McNair-Landry as well as a mechanic, two truck drivers and a creative director. The first mechanised trip to the pole was done in 1958 by Sir Edmund Hilary using Ferguson TE20 tractors.
In 2008 Bernice Notenboom reached the South Pole on skis, becoming the first Dutch woman to do so.
(Links: www.independent.co.uk, www.cbc.ca)
Tags: Antartica, South Pole, tractor
Shandrick Elodia, the ‘most amusing bus driver of the Netherlands’ from Enschede was sacked recently for safety reasons. By sacked, I mean not rostered anymore to work, as he didn’t have a permanent contract.
“Are you ready for the ride of your life?”, he would ask depressed passengers and then chat on the microphone and play music like Nirvana’s ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ and Tom Jones’ ‘It’s Not Unusual’. Everybody loved this guy, but he was way too much for his employer.
At some point, Elodia needed something more challenging and wanted to do something about all those sad faces boarding his bus. He once startled an old lady by wishing her a nice evening on the microphone and kept going from there.
Sure, Elodia should have followed the rules (only greeting people) and just done his job or quit and find something else — he is the first to admit that. Elodia has a degree in industrial design, and according to him, his global vision of ‘making poverty cool’ ended up spilling over into his work as a bus driver. “When you’re poor, you have to make due with rubbish products. When I drive up in my happy bus next to some guy in an expensive Mercedes, he sees how much fun the ‘poorer’ people are having and wishes he was in my bus.”
Since Elodia has been on television (in Dutch), work offers have been pouring in.
(Links: www.nrc.nl, www.nieuws.nl, Photo of Bus in Enschede by Daniël Bleumink, some rights reserved)
Tags: bus driver, Enschede, industrial design, public transport
This morning Privacy First, a foundation committed to preserving and promoting the right to privacy, is in court in Amsterdam over having to enter one’s license plate number when parking on the city’s streets.
Bas Filippini, who when parking in Amsterdam enters the license plate number ‘NOWAY’ (see film linked to the source), says the problem is two-fold: 1) a person in Amsterdam now has no choice but to enter their license plate number and 2) people cannot pay with cash, which both breach the right to privacy and anonymity, never mind being a pain for tourists or other visitors who don’t have the right bank card or mobile phone.
Filippini is in court because of a 60 euro fine he got for not entering his license plate number. According to Privacy First, every free citizen has the right to privacy in the sense of anonymity in public spaces, including parking one’s car, a right stated by Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights (PDF).
We’ve been parking cars on the streets in Amsterdam for decades without the city knowing anything about our cars, and continue to gleefully do so across the country. Article 8 says unless matters such as, “national security, public safety or the economic wellbeing of the country, for the prevention of disorder or crime, for the protection of health or morals, or for the protection of the rights and freedoms of others” come into play, which I cannot possible imagine they do.
UPDATE: The verdict is due 23 December 2014. Postponed for six weeks.
UPDATE No. 2: Verdict out: “The council considers that using the wrong number plate is the same as not paying but the court disagreed. Not finding a payment corresponding to a real number plate could be evidence that no payment was made but the person parking can demonstrate they did pay in a variety of ways”.
Tags: Amsterdam, parking, privacy
A man got fined 147 euro for putting the sticker of a Dutch flag over the EU logo on his license plate.
Legally you can’t hide any part of the license plate, not even something deemed non-essential by some. Apparently, in the UK someone put a UK sticker over the EU part, argued in court, and won. According to Wikipedia, the EU symbol is not compulsory in the UK.
Chances are, someone from the UK won’t leave the UK by car as often as the average Dutch car leaves its borders, and so not having the right sticker seems less important in the UK than in the Netherlands.
(Link: , Photo by Quistnix, licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 1.0)
Tags: Dutch flag, license plate
A study by an insurance company from Emmen in Drenthe states that nine in ten drivers gets ticketed occasionally for violating the rules of the road.
Audi drivers take the cake though. One in five of them gets fined more than ten times a year. Driving over the speed limit is a particularly favourite pastime for Audi drivers as each and every one of them gets caught speeding at least once a year. Especially heinous is their track record for red light jumping, something which almost half of the Audionistas has ever done.
Autoblog.nl’s Casper Heij has his doubts about the study. He questions the sample size together with the methodology (1,081 drivers against over 18 different brands of cars). He also wonders out loud about curious results such as Mercedes drivers being paragons of virtue (“I take it they failed to poll cab drivers”) and Peugeot drivers never getting fined for broken lights (“I own both a Peugeot and, not by coincidence, shares in an automotive lights factory”).
(Study: Netpolis; photo of an Audi R8 and a London traffic warden by Lars Plougmann, some rights reserved)
Tags: Audi, driving, Emmen, insurance, Mercedes, Peugeot, traffic offences
The Dutch don’t do local TV commercials, as most of them are either made nationally or dubbed from countries like France (you’ll notice everybody is white, shorter and has dark hair). There’s no tacky second-hand car salesman ads, with the exception of a bed and mattress chain that went rogue a few decades back.
Dutch car rental company Diks, a generic surname like Smith in Dutch, has gone rogue too and made their own commercial. It’s a short movie full of corny Dutch puns (great for learning Dutch catch phrases), the Diks family men showing off their resemblance and the ironic use of tits & ass, which works because it’s all in English. Much like swearing in a foreign language, T&A is also more socially acceptable and funnier in English, pointing a finger at pop culture. I praise the makers’ use of ethnic minorities and the disabled in positive roles, giving it a big city feel.
You can get away with T-shirts saying ‘Chicks like Diks’, as it is the name of the company, then there’s ignoring that line drawn in the Anglo-Saxon sand and going with ‘Our chicks clean your Diks’ (a bit Dunglishy, yes), as women on heels (!) wash some cars. I can get past that because it’s click bait, or maybe even chick bait.
Love the superman, the American football team, the normal-looking girls dancing around, and the ending. I foresee a run on those blue T-shirts as well.
(Link: www.froot.nl, Image: screenshot of video)
Tags: advertising, commercial, Dunglish