January 8, 2017

‘No more bike wheels stuck in tram rails’

Filed under: Bicycles,Sustainability by Orangemaster @ 8:30 pm

A Dutch friend once told me about when he was a student in Amsterdam and went on a date, which involved the girl hitching a ride on the back of his bicycle (on the rack) and instead of having a typically fun and possibly romantic moment of her having to hold on to him, the front wheel of his bike got stuck in a tram rail and they both fell.

SafeRails solves the well-known problem of getting your bike wheels stuck in tram rails. Invented by two engineering students, Ward Kuiters and Roderick Buijs, SafeRails is a profile made from recycled plastic that can be inserted into existing tram rails. The idea is that bike wheels cannot get stuck in the rails and the tram can ride right over the profile as if they weren’t even there.

SafeRails is sustainable, durable and makes cycling safer. The guys’ goal is to start with The Hague, the political centre of the country, but first they need to win The Hague Innovators Challenge 2017 and are currently in second place. You can vote, too.

In Dutch with English subtitles:

(Link: www.bright.nl, Photo of the Kinkerstraat by Wikimedia user Ilonamay, some rights reserved)

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January 4, 2017

A new year, a bigger bike rack for cargo bikes

Filed under: Bicycles by Orangemaster @ 5:08 pm

Not too far from 24oranges HQ, the city of Amsterdam is trying out a new bike rack that fits cargo bikes and bikes too wide to fit into normal bike racks, usually with crates in the front.

People with bigger bikes usually park them willy-nilly, taking up more space, which is a bit inconvenient. As well, instead of jamming your bike front wheel first where it may bend because the bikes are stacked too close to each other, the front fork of the bike rests on the rack, as the slots are wider, and hopefully morons won’t lock their bike to yours catching your brake cable in the process.

For anyone living in Amsterdam, you can even e-mail your opinion about the rack to help the city decided whether it should install more.

(Link: parool.nl)

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December 30, 2016

Branko’s favourite postings of 2016

Filed under: Bicycles,Food & Drink,General,History by Orangemaster @ 1:30 pm

It’s that time of year again where we look back and tell you about some of the things we wrote about, and this year we had one clear theme that stood out and that, sadly, was ‘tastelessness’.

First the weird junk food combos:

Spring: the discodel

Summer: frikandel ice cream

Winter: smoked sausage and kroket

Dear Dutch snack bars, please follow our neighbouring countries and sell halloumi, and stop mixing crap already.

Next up, we have a tasteless escape room with Anne Frank as a theme.

The entire year saw some tasteless bashing of Ukraine. What did Ukraine ever do to us? Oh yeah, they gave back stolen Dutch paintings to a museum to show how classy they are.

As well, we found out in 2016 that supermarkets sell fertilised eggs, chicks prove it, we saw a food bank snub the poor over a Facebook like and had a good laugh at this organic fries truck stuck at a junk food chain drive.

And then to move towards some more classy bits, here’s the bicycle tunnel built in a single weekend in Utrecht, police training eagles to attack drones and a woman as the world’s first ever Professor of Fatherhood.

To finish off, here’s a story that went from classy to tasteless, an elderly woman sews bags from abandoned umbrellas, but then a few months later is pushed off her mobility scooter and robbed of her gold chain.

We’ll leave it at that, thanks for all your comments, and a reminder that next year is our 10th year anniversary in February, so I guess we should think about doing something special.

Happy New Year!

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August 15, 2016

Riding the green wave on your bike

Filed under: Bicycles by Orangemaster @ 11:06 am

The city of ’s-Hertogenbosch’ (Den Bosch) came second in this year’s Dutch “Traffic light region of 2016 Election”, after Helmond, both in the province of Noord-Brabant, and below you can watch a video shot in Den Bosch about how intricate and tech-savvy traffic lights for cyclists are. Den Bosch also features the country’s’ first Cycle-DRIP (Dynamic Route Information Panel) for cycling, an interesting read as well.

The video voice-over calls the traffic light button a ‘reassurance button’, which is mildly funny, but I’m guessing the contraption was taken over by pedestrian crossings. However, when you’re a visually impaired pedestrian, the ticking sounds the button makes after pressing it and when the light is green is very reassuring. Yes, the cyclist ‘reassurance button’ is possibly just for show and doesn’t make a sound, as it would be drowned out.

UPDATE: Wrong video, changed it.

(Link: bicycledutch.wordpress.com)

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July 26, 2016

A singing bike path gets its own sign

Filed under: Bicycles by Orangemaster @ 9:43 pm
Pink bike

The town of Drimmelen, Noord-Brabant has built a one-kilometre long ‘singing bike path’ (an official traffic sign), encouraging people to sing on their bikes and hopefully continue singing when they see another cyclist rather than stop singing.

The idea came from artist Mapije de Wit, a former columnist for the Fietsersbond cyclists union. The special bike path was officially opened by city council member Jan-Willem Stoop for which local troubadour Rinus Rasenberg wrote a song, saying he got some of his best ideas while cycling. In 10 minutes of cycling you can belt out three hit songs or maybe one or two if you keep forgetting the words.

The bike path is a comfortable three metres in width and is part of a nice 17-kilometre network of paths around the town.

(Link: www.waarmaarraar.nl)

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May 1, 2016

Inventor of bike sharing explains why his plan never caught on in Amsterdam

Filed under: Bicycles,Sustainability,Technology by Branko Collin @ 4:59 pm

white-bikes-hoge-veluwe-ellywaAlthough bike share systems are increasingly popular all over the world, they have failed to catch on in Amsterdam, the city where bike sharing was invented.

British newspaper The Guardian asked the inventor of bike sharing, Luud Schimmelpennink, about the reason behind this lack of popularity.

In the mid-1960s members of the Provo movement were asking all kinds of questions of the Dutch establishment (the name Provo stands for provocation) and they were not liking the answers they were getting. Young engineer Luud Schimmelpennink was tackling the question of personal transport. In 1965 he proposed and implemented an alternative to the “gaudy and filthy motor car”, the white bicycle.

Schimmelpennink envisioned bikes that weren’t locked and that would be left wherever their riders needed to be. Provo painted 20 bicycles white and left them in the city, but these bikes were promptly impounded by the police.

“The first Witte Fietsenplan was just a symbolic thing,” Schimmelpennink told the Guardian last week. “We painted a few bikes white, that was all. Things got more serious when I became a member of the Amsterdam city council two years later.”

“My idea was that the municipality of Amsterdam would distribute 10,000 white bikes over the city, for everyone to use. I made serious calculations. It turned out that a white bicycle – per person, per kilometre – would cost the municipality only 10% of what it contributed to public transport per person per kilometre.”

The council soundly rejected his plan and told him that they saw a great future for the private motor car. This inspired Schimmelpennink to work on his White Car Plan instead – still using clean(ish) energy.

There is a phrase in Dutch – de wet van de remmende voorsprong, meaning ‘the law of the handicap of a head start’. The fact that Amsterdam was the first to experiment with bike sharing perhaps helps explain why it is late in its implementation. Or perhaps Amsterdam doesn’t need a bike share scheme, because everybody either owns a bike or can readily rent one from OV Fiets or the many bike shops in the city.

Schimmelpennink’s vision wasn’t wasted though, as he inspired other cities throughout the world to implement their own bike sharing schemes. And even his own plan got implemented, just not in Amsterdam. The Hoge Veluwe nature reserve has bikes that have been painted white and that are free to use. The program started in 1974 with 50 bikes and exists to this day. It currently consists of 1,800 bicycles.

(Photo of white bicycles in Hoge Veluwe by Ellywa, some rights reserved)

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February 29, 2016

Amsterdam Central Station’s shared space is successful

Filed under: Bicycles,General by Orangemaster @ 1:06 pm

First the media complained about how dangerous it looked, with opinions ranging from ‘completely bonkers’ and ‘sign this petition’, which have now turned into ‘yeah, but don’t be in a rush’ (video) and ‘hey, it actually works for 39,000 commuters a day’.

After a major redesign of the space behind Amsterdam Central Station, where the many ferries take commuters across the IJ river to Amsterdam-Noord, cyclists and pedestrians need to navigate a sea of each other in a no-traffic-rules-figure-it-out-among-yourselves zone. The idea is that a shared space avoids using traffic lights, and if it had been a total disaster full of accidents, the city would have changed it, but now the shared space is deemed successful.

People coming off ferries on bikes and scooters are definitely to be avoided as a pedestrian, then again, if I’m in their way, it’s up to them to go around me. I’ve actually been there on roller skates at night and that went well. According to Het Parool newspaper, in three months, there has been one ‘incident’ where a cyclist hit a scooter and got back on their bike and buzzed off. They say that cyclists are a bit less aggressive and more polite to pedestrians there as well, and all the naysayers, including us, although we kept it down the pub, have been proven wrong.

Have a look at this time-lapse video and see for yourselves:

Timelapse van de shared space bij Centraal Station from Gemeente Amsterdam on Vimeo.

(Links: www.parool.nl, citinerary.net)

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February 19, 2016

A solar-powered bike with endless battery power

Filed under: Bicycles,Sustainability by Orangemaster @ 4:21 pm

Dutch_Solar_Cycle

Dutch start-up Solar Application Lab (SAL) has developed a solar-powered bicycle in collaboration with the Eindhoven University of Technology, Segula from Eindhoven and E-Bike Nederland from Cuijk. The prototype, nicknamed ‘Sally One’, will be presented next week at the university after which it will be thoroughly tested to see if it holds up in different weather conditions and against vandalism.

“The Dutch Solar Cycle is our flagship application, an electrical bicycle with endless battery power. By applying custom built solar discs to the universal component of a bicycle, the wheels, we enhance the personal freedom of all cyclists. Founder Marc Peters explains that they have developed a technique that is 20 times more effective than current solar cells, making it possible to generate enough energy using smaller surfaces like on bikes.”

(Links and photo: www.bright.nl, www.tue.nl)

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February 5, 2016

Stainless steel 3D printed bicycle comes to life

Filed under: Bicycles,Dutch first by Orangemaster @ 2:02 pm

Arc-Bicycle

A team of students from Delft University of Technology have designed and produced a fully functional 3D printed stainless steel bicycle. It looks like a robot did some heavy metal basket weaving.

At the beginning, we noticed the project was being welded at MX3D in Amsterdam, the folks working on a 3D printed steel bridge.

The Arc Bicycle is apparently the first ever 3D printed metal bicycle to be produced using a welding process.

(Link: www.bright.nl, Screenshot: YouTube video by Arc Bicycle)

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January 31, 2016

Bicycle tunnel built in a single weekend in Utrecht

Filed under: Bicycles by Branko Collin @ 11:49 pm

bike-tunnel-utrechtThe Netherlands is known for taking better care of its cyclists than other countries, but this may be taking the cake.

The sign at the beginning of the video says it all: “Spinoza Bridge closed from 2 May 9 p.m. to 4 May 11 p.m.” Two days in 2014. That is how little time it took the city of Utrecht to tear apart the bridge, put tunnel parts in the gap and repair the bridge. And all this for cyclists.

The city then took 12 more months to dot the i’s and cross the t’s, which included placing tile murals by Louise Hessel. Why the tunnel had to be built so quickly is unknown, but a report from 2009 (PDF) mentions that traffic crossing the bridge would be seriously inconvenienced if the bridge had to be closed. The same report argues vehemently against building the tunnel. Apart from the effects on traffic it mentions that the bridge’s counterweight room would ‘conflict with’ the tunnel and that the costs of alternative solutions would be humongous.

In 2015 the city started its campaign Utrecht Fietst (Utrecht Cycles) and (the run up to) this campaign may have created the funds and the political will to improve the cycling situation around the Spinoza Bridge after all. Alderman Lot van Hooijdonk opened the tunnel on 28 November 2014.

A more recent cycling development in Utrecht is that the city has closed a lot of bike paths to mopeds, which aren’t allowed to go faster than 25 kph, but reach much higher speeds in practice.

See also: The city of Utrecht received 5,000 answers when it asked which traffic lights should go

(Illustration: crop of the video, link: Mark Wagenbuur)

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