On a dreary Saturday I snapped this picture of the entrance to the recently opened Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam.
This is also a photo of the only bike path in the world that bicycles are not (yet) allowed on, which is why there are barriers and security guards.
When in 2003 renovations started the architects came up with a plan to move the museum entrance from the side to the tunnel underneath the museum. This would bring museum visitors in closer proximity to the cyclists who fully expected to still be able to use their age old bike path. The footpath (not shown here) is several meters wide, but as anybody who lives in Amsterdam knows, tourists will not look where they walk.
Museum director Wim Pijbes has traditionally been against the bike path, Eindhovens Dagblad reports, and probably would shed no tears if people stopped noticing that there was one.
Although the Netherlands does have a concept of right of way (recht van overpad), people here make much less of deal about it than in, say, the United Kingdom where the Rambler’s Association actively works to keep public paths over private property open. The Rijksmuseum is, as the name implies, publicly owned.
The new Rijksmuseum opened on 13 April of this year. The bike path will be opened tomorrow evening, although the city reserves the right to close it ‘at busy times’ until it has had the time to put in extra security measures.
Tags: Amsterdam, bike paths, museums, right of way, Rijksmuseum
Although they say it took them more time than they had expected, Copenhagenize’s 2013 Index of bicycle-friendly cities is out, and Amsterdam is the orange on top.
“We ranked 80 cities in 2011 and increased that to 150 this time round. Although this time round we had the help of over 400 individuals on every continent – our eyes and ears on the ground – to assist with the ranking. Lots of changes in the Top 20 what with the addition of 80 new cities. ”
Some interesting bits about the list:
- Utrecht came in 3rd and Eindhoven 6th.
- My home town of Montréal came in 11th (tied with Munich and Nagoya), as the only North American city.
- France and Germany each have three cities in the top 20.
All in all, most top biking cities are European ones. I mentioned in passing on French Belgian radio last week how dangerous it was to cycle in Brussels, so I am glad to see Antwerp in the list.
From what I have seen and read, in the United States and in many parts of Canada, fitting in cyclists so late in the game is more of a nuisance and a diluted green affair than actually making cycling a valid and accepted mode of transport like it is here. It could make more sense in the long run to concentrate on electric cars in countries where the distances are greater than trying to get people to cycle two months out of the year when the weather is nice. Winter has to be a major factor worldwide for using a car over a bike. Copenhagen and Malmö have serious winters and are pretty far up the list, but they have relatively small city centres and apparently very good cycling infrastructure. I know for a fact that it took a lot of lobbying to get my home town of Montréal to build bike paths at the end of the 1980s.
(Link: www.copenhagenize.com, Photo by Flickr user comedynose, some rights reserved)
Tags: Amsterdam, Eindhoven, Utrecht
With a population of some 16.6 million inhabitants, the Netherlands still topping the list of most bicycles owned is not very surprising. However, when it comes to calculating the actual amount of cyclists, this quirky list has some issues, as not everyone who owns a bike is necessary a cyclist and other leaps of logic.
I also noticed that the picture used to represent Amsterdam was not right, and now I see it is Delft (to the right of the train station is my guess), a major student city.
In the Netherlands 27% of all trips and 25% of trips to work are made by bike. About 1.3 million bicycles were sold in the Netherlands in 2009, at an average price of 713 euro each. Amsterdam, the capital and largest city of the Netherlands, is one of the most bicycle-friendly large cities in the world, with 400 km of bike lanes and nearly 40% of all commutes in Amsterdam are done on bike.
And no, we don’t do bike helmets and yes, please get over it. You didn’t point that out about Asian countries now do you? Reads like a major cultural bias to me. The Belgians who cycle a lot as well have to wear bright yellow vests to get around and if you’re ever cycled in Brussels or Antwerp, you’d be wise to do the same, especially considering the constant construction.
I had to laugh when a good friend from Canada suggested that cycling was a great way to meet new people and that I should do it to. I told her that would be like her driving a car to work to meet people. We had a good laugh.
Tags: Amsterdam, cycling, Delft, helmets
The BlackStarBike has a unique bamboo frame that is ecologically sound and ‘as solid as steel’. The company has two secret weapons: bamboo from the West of Ghana and cactus fibres from the North, processed in an innovative way, giving the bikes their unique, woodsy look. As well, a large part of the profits from the sales of BlackStarBikes goes to craftspeople in Ghana.
During the years we lived and worked in Africa, one of the issues that kept us thinking is the lack of export of manufactured goods. Africa provides enormous amounts of raw materials, from crude oil to tea, cocoa and coffee, but what does Africa manufacture? Africa’s raw materials are shipped to western countries and to China, to be processed there. In other words, African countries are unable to enjoy the maximum of profits from their natural resources. The profits made by a Ghanaian farmer on a bag of cocoa beans are low, but the profits made by household chocolate brands, which contain those very same beans, are very high.
(Link: blackstarbikes.nl, Photo of BlackStarBike by Zapdelight, some rights reserved)
Tags: bamboo, Ghana
Yesterday I spotted this rectangle in the centre of Amsterdam which had a lot of bicycles in it and true enough there were two little icons at the corner that suggested it was a designated parking area for bicycles.
I’ve seen these rectangles before, but only next to bicycle racks. In those cases, the rectangles were intended for two-wheeled vehicles that did not fit into the bike racks: mopeds, scooters, cargo bikes, and so on.
To my knowledge the Dutch are allowed to park their bicycles everywhere except where they would hinder access. Cities sometimes interpret this rule as “we can prohibit bicycle parking wherever we desire”, and then get shot down by the courts.
To get back to this rectangle on Rokin in Amsterdam, it is just a suggestion that you park your bike in the box. But the box seems to have magical qualities because people actually do park their bikes within it. The city took a leaf out of the book of design student Roosmarijn Vergouw, whom we wrote about before. (Funny, as I am googling I come across a discussion of her project at Retecool, a popular Dutch blog, where one Swanfeather writes: “She should do this along the construction sites of the new subway. Apparently it makes sense to designate areas for people to park their bikes rather than doing the opposite, i.e. put up a sign that says ‘no bike parking allowed’. The latter doesn’t work.” Rokin is one of those construction sites.)
Tags: bicycle parking, Retecool, Rokin, Roosmarijn Vergouw, theft
In a country with so many traffic rules and regulations, many of which involve bikes, some set of road signs are so weird you won’t find them in theory books on learning how to drive.
Some of the ones in and around Eindhoven are easy to understand even if you don’t read Dutch, but for the rest:
No. 12: A bike path where bikes are allowed.
No. 20: A bus lane where bikes are allowed, a dangerous place to cycle.
No. 23: Probably the shortest bike path in the country.
No. 24: Neighbourhood being built, forbidden for construction vehicles.
(Link: www.ed.nl, Photo by Photocapy, some rights reserved)
Tags: Eindhoven, Noord-Brabant, road signs
Bicycle blogger Mark Wagenbuur has enough clout these days that when he calls the city’s department for public works to tell them they forgot to clear a bike path of snow, they go out and clear the bike path.
The city of Den Bosch went even further and invited him over for an in-depth explanation of how clearing the roads works, which led to a fascinating blog post and video (in English):
A city of the size of Den Bosch (140,000 inhabitants) in this day and age works with sophisticated technology to detect and combat slippery road surfaces. Sensors in the road, weather reports from different sources and agreements with other governments and other departments all feed information to the five people who make sure someone is on duty around the clock during the winter months. “The city in turn warns the smaller towns in the vicinity, which cannot afford to have such a sophisticated system themselves.”
(Photo: me. Video: YouTube / Markenlei)
Tags: bike paths, Den Bosch, municipalities, public works, snow, weather
When snow starts falling in the Netherlands, the Dutch often continue to use their bikes to commute even when there’s ice on the ground. It’s dangerous and there are accidents. It can be done more safely, although this blogger lives in a small town that cannot compare to an Utrecht or Amsterdam as far as bike traffic is concerned, but it’s definitely a good primer.
Cesar van Rongen may have found a quick, easy and cheap solution for stubborn Dutch cyclists.
With Cesar van Rongen’s Bike Spikes wintry slips and slides are a thing of the past, without having to change tyres. A rubber casing with iron spikes to cover the bicycle tyre gives you grip on icy stretches, and on ordinary asphalt they will still be comfortable. The special winter bike tyre can easily be fixed to any city bike with the little key that comes with it. And when it thaws, the Bike Spikes can be taken off in an instant and folded into a compact little package.
Bike Spikes By Cesar van Rongen from Design Academy Eindhoven on Vimeo.
(Links: www.cesarvanrongen.nl, www.blessthisstuff.com, Photo: Cesar van Rongen)
Tags: spikes, tyres, winter
The towns of Utrechts and Zutphen will start experiments with heating bike paths, DutchNews reports.
The news site quotes a Telegraaf article that says these experiments will start ‘soon’. The idea is that ‘asphalt collectors’ will collect and store the summer heat, and release this energy in the winter to stop ice from forming. This could reduce accidents:
‘The result is cooler asphalt in summer and a warmer surface in winter,’ Marcel Boerefijn, the project’s leader, is quoted as saying. In the future, footpaths could also be kept ice-free using the same techniques, he said.
Boerefijn says the new surface and heat collection system will cost between €30,000 and €40,000 a kilometre – about the same as it costs to lay new asphalt.
Car drivers need not feel left out. In 2013 a “few hundred metres of glow in the dark, weather-indicating road will be installed in the province of Brabant” according to Wired.
The special paint needed for these glow in the dark roads was developed by Studio Roosegaarde and will be used to create road markings.
The studio has also been working on a paint that will be invisible until the temperature drops below a certain point. This could be used according to designer Daan Roosegaarde to indicate that the road is slippery.
The idea is to not only use more sustainable methods of illuminating major roads, thus making them safer and more efficient, but to rethink the design of highways at the same time as we continue to rethink vehicle design. As Studio Roosegaarde sees it, connected cars and internal navigation systems linked up to the traffic news represent just one half of our future road management systems — roads need to fill their end of the bargain and become intelligent, useful drivers of information too.
See also: A Dutch bike path with solar panels
(Photo by Flickr user comedynose, some rights reserved)
Tags: accidents, bike paths, roads, seasons
The Springtime picnic set has three life stages, as a pair of bicycle ‘bags’ (pupa), as a basket (larva) and as a table and two chairs (imago).
The set was design by Jeriël Bobbe. It is made of wood and contains pockets for tableware. It is currently not for sale, according to Bright.
(Photos: Bloon Design)
Tags: furniture, picnic