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May 1, 2014

Cycling in Utrecht, video by Morten Koldby

Filed under: Bicycles by Branko Collin @ 3:20 pm

cycling-utrecht-morten-koldbyDanish photographer Morten Koldby shot this video of Utrecht over the course of a few weeks in March.

The historic inner city of Utrecht has many traffic calmed streets that are closed to cars but open to cyclists.

(Photo: crop of the video)

March 24, 2014

Drunk Segway operator loses driving license

Filed under: Bicycles,Food & Drink,Weird by Branko Collin @ 8:00 am

segway-facemeplsA 45-year-old man from Ootmarsum in the province of Twente lost his driving license yesterday after getting caught Segwaying under the influence.

According to the local police a breathalyser test showed that the man had a blood alcohol level of 995 µg/l, which is far above the legal limit. Segways are considered a special type of moped in the Netherlands. They aren’t allowed to go faster than 25 kilometres per hour and driving them doesn’t require a driving license, but the law says that if you get caught operating any type of motor vehicle while under the influence of a certain amount of alcohol, the police may still take your car driving license.

If the man had been caught while riding a bicycle, the police would simply have sent him walking with his driving license still firmly in his wallet. It will be at least 13 days before his license is returned to him, unless the public prosecutor decides the drunk Segway driver is such a menace to society that he must be brought before a judge. In that case, the public prosecutor gets to hold on to the license a little longer.

(Photo by FaceMePls, some rights reserved)

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February 27, 2014

The white bikes of the Hoge Veluwe, 40 years of loyal service

Filed under: Bicycles by Orangemaster @ 11:49 am

white-bikes

On 27 April the Hoge Veluwe National Park in Otterlo, Gelderland will be celebrating 40 years of free-to-use white bikes for visitors, originally suggested by members of the mid-1960s Provos, a Dutch anti-establishment cultural movement whose co-founder passed away in 2009.

The Hoge Veluwe, a three Michelin star tourist attraction and the biggest nature reserve of the country, features 5,400 hectares of green and forest. When cycling through it on your white bike, you may catch a glimpse of animals like deers to rabbits. Also on the grounds of the park is the world-famous Kröller-Müller museum, featuring works by Van Gogh and Picasso indoors and with sculptures and paintings outdoors – a great place to spend the day. There’s also a nature discovery museum for kids and of course, white bikes for kids and even for parents with small children.

At the celebration, five of the white bikes will be painted by artists and auctioned off, and there will also be a photo competition, the winners of which will have their pictures enlarged and placed around the park.

(Link: , Photo of White bikes, Hoge Veluwe by 123_456, some rights reserved)

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January 29, 2014

Man wins bike from coloring contest after 50 years

Filed under: Bicycles by Orangemaster @ 10:15 am

Here’s a nice publicity stunt from Calvé, the makers of Dutch peanut butter (called ‘pindakaas’ in Dutch, literally ‘peanut cheese’).

A 66-year-old man from Den Helder decided to look for a colored drawing he never sent in for a contest that expired more than 50 years ago on February 1963. “Finish what you’ve started” had been ringing in his head for a while. He dug up the drawing from his attic and finally sent it in to get that feeling of completeness I imagine. And lucky him Calvé decided to give him the contest prize, a new bike albeit a very modern one (see the video).

(Link: www.rtvnh.nl)

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January 22, 2014

It’s a moped… it’s a scooter… it’s a bike! And that’s a problem

Filed under: Bicycles by Orangemaster @ 11:34 am

A German electric bicycle (aka e-bike), the blueLABEL cruiser (the pic is just a run-of-the-mill Vespa) can reach speeds of up to 45 km/h. Only a handful of them have been sold according to De Volkskrant newspaper, but they are popular, even with a price tag of 3,050 euro.

And although the blueLABEL cruiser is a fully functioning bicycle and looks like one too, Dutch law has problems classifying it as a bike, and apparently should have it down as either a moped (‘snorfiets’) or a scooter (‘bromfiets’) allowed to go up to 45 km/h.

If the blueLABEL cruiser is in fact a scooter, then you’d need a helmet, insurance and a different license plate (a blue one) to ‘drive’ it. If it’s a moped, you’d need yet another license plate (a yellow one). And when it goes over 25 km/h, it has to be driven on the road, not on a bike path.

The clincher is, the blueLABEL cruiser looks just like an ordinary bike, making the cops’ life difficult. In 2017 this type of bike, known as a ‘speed pedelec’ will be considered a scooter, which sounds about right. In the mean time, pricy German stealth bike it is.

Remember the Segway? That was a huge headache as well in the Netherlands.

(Link: www.volkskrant.nl, Photo by Facemepls, some rights reserved)

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December 21, 2013

Traffic signs for the colour blind and other short stories

Filed under: Automobiles,Bicycles,General by Branko Collin @ 1:19 pm

A couple of short stories today.

cars-no-entry-new-2012-branko-collin cars-no-entry-old-branko-collin1. Starting October 2012 transportation infrastructure operators in the Netherlands were allowed to use new traffic signs that have been optimised for colour blind people.

The new signs were given white lines to increase contrast between red and blue elements and to increase contrast of signs with a red border when viewed against a green background, the Dutch government said. Infrastructure operators (‘wegbeheerders’ in Dutch) are free to determine if and when they will replace the old signs. The Netherlands isn’t the first country to introduce road signs for people with deficient vision, I found examples on Flickr of similarly adapted signs in Italy and France.

2. Orangemaster and I attended the opening of the Dutch Rail Lost&Found pop-up store we wrote about earlier. We kind of rushed through it, so I did not get many photos (there is one below), but The Post Online’s photographer spent some more time there.

3. In the 1970s, the Netherlands were rapidly on their way to becoming a car sick country. Mark Wagenbuur has created several videos about how protesters managed to turn this development around. His most recent video explores how school children helped raise awareness for their particular plight in the densely populated Pijp neighbourhood in Amsterdam.

ns-lost-found-popup-branko-collin

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December 6, 2013

Nothing tops Groningen as a cyclist’s paradise

Filed under: Bicycles,History,Sustainability by Orangemaster @ 7:00 am

Bikes-Grunn

Groningen, a city in the North of the Netherlands whose slogan is ‘Er gaat niets boven Groningen’ (‘Nothing tops Groningen’) has some 196,000 residents, a quarter of which are students and where half of the population, if not more, gets around by bicycle. The film by Clarence Eckerson Jr., an American who was inspired by what he saw, tells the story of how cycling took over Groningen.

Travel times by car are longer (see screenshot) and cycling is faster because cars need to go around the city center to get from one part of town to another, while bikes can go anywhere. At about 9:00 into the film, you can see that even IKEA, apparently a very big one, has serious accommodations for cyclists. The one downside of this film is that it’s not bright and sunny like that very often, but again, when it is, you have a great excuse to get out on your bike.

Watch the whole film and get a feel for Groningen, always a lovely place to visit and a city we like, too:

Lou Reed’s Perfect Day rings out in Groningen

University of Groningen gaining popularity with Brits

Groningen students build world’s largest touch screen

Watch the film, it’s in English (and some Dunglish):

Groningen: The World’s Cycling City from Streetfilms on Vimeo.

If you want more, there’s always Bicycle anecdotes from Amsterdam, which has a friend of 24oranges nicely waiting for a tram to go by.

(Image: Screenshot of Groningen: The World’s Cycling City)

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November 23, 2013

It almost never rains in the Netherlands

Filed under: Bicycles,Nature by Branko Collin @ 10:33 pm

At hetregentbijnanooit.nl (it almost never rains dot nl) avid cyclist Gerard Poels from Grave near Nijmegen keeps track of how many of his bicycle commutes get rained on.

In the past five years it rained during an average of 9.4% of Poels’ rides, each of which took 40 minutes each way. Poels counts every little shower even if it rains for just a few minutes. He claims it happens only 4 or 5 times each year that it rains during the entire ride. During those five years Poels rode his bike to and from work 1,482 times.

Poels set up his site to counter the excuse “I am not going to take the bike to work because it always rains [in the Netherlands]“.

Eamelje.net points out that Peter Siegmund of the Dutch meteorological office (KNMI) calculated the probability that you will get wet if you stay outdoors (PDF). If you stay outdoors for an hour in the Netherlands, there is a 12% chance that you will get rained on. If you stay out for four hours, that probability increases to about 25%, and you will have to stay out for at least a fortnight to be absolutely sure to get wet. Siegmund adds that fans of camping are most likely to stay dry in June. Even then the probability of rain during a single week is still 91%.

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October 10, 2013

How To Be Orange, a book about going Dutch all the way

Filed under: Bicycles,Literature by Orangemaster @ 10:02 am

Greg Shapiro, an American-Dutch comedian and actor, has just published his new book How To Be Orange, which I had the chance of perusing one morning before we both went on the air on Amsterdam’s English Breakfast radio. I laughed everywhere I opened it as an immigrant with 14 years on my Dutch clock because I could relate to it and it is well written. Some of you locals may recognise the book’s illustrations by Floor de Goede.

Many of the better known guide-like books written about the Dutch are just a collection of superficial observations written by English-speaking expats who don’t speak Dutch and think the entire expat community thinks like they do (colonialism, anyone?). These books were written 10-15 years ago, use Amsterdam as a metonym for the Netherlands, and are quite offensive at times, giving me the impression that the Dutch are an obstacle to living and working here because actually adapting and learning Dutch is unfortunately seen as a downgrade for many expats.

But Greg has come up with something that the Dutch and the rest of us can really laugh about probably because Greg has seen both sides, the immigrant having to take Dutch lessons with illiterate adults (not an insult, but a fact) and goes Dutch, bike, cheese and all like a boss. In my books he lives up to his nickname, the American Netherlander.

Here’s an older video shot downtown Amsterdam with Greg sporting his best British accent:

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September 22, 2013

‘Underwater’ bridge for bicycles in Haarlem

Filed under: Automobiles,Bicycles by Branko Collin @ 3:24 pm

The city of Haarlem wanted to create a safer situation where a main road crossed another main road coming off a bridge.

For some reason all practical solutions turned out impossible (more likely someone couldn’t be bothered) so the city opted for a work-around, albeit a well designed one. They built a bicycle bridge that wraps around the underside of the other bridge and then partially submerged the bicycle bridge. The result is either a submerged bridge or an open air tunnel, your pick.

The bridge was designed by IPV who seem to be specializing in these sort of crazy work-arounds—check their bicycle roundabout hovering above Eindhoven.

Mark Wagenbuur, the bicycle vlogger, visited Haarlem and shot one of his trademark videos there.

(Photo: ipv Delft)

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