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)
Tags: cycling, Groningen
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%.
Tags: grave, rain, weather
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:
Tags: Amsterdam, comedy, orange
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)
Tags: bicycle bridges, bridges, ipv Delft, tunnels, water, water works, work-arounds
Dutchman Sebastiaan Bowier has broken the previous 2009 record of Canadian cyclist Sam Wittigham by just 0.6 km/h by reaching a speed of 133,78 km/h, making him the fastest cyclist in the world. Students from the Delft University of Technology and the VU University Amsterdam joined forces to beat this record in a high-tech recumbent whizzing through the Nevada desert in the United States. The speeds were measured over a distance of 200 metres, after accelerating on an eight kilometre straight road. It’s the special coating of the recumbent that gave it 90% less wind resistance than a normal bicycle.
Wil Baselmans, the second cyclist of the Delft/Amsterdam team also reached a world class speed of 127,43 km/h, making him the third fastest man on earth, right after Bowier and Wittingham.
Tags: Delft University of Technology, VU University Amsterdam
Toronto was probably the first Canadian city back in 2010 to build a Dutch-style ‘woonerf’, streets where the boundaries between the areas for drivers, cyclists and pedestrians have been removed, and now Montreal and Ottawa are adopting them as well. They’ve also adopted the word ‘woonerf’, a typical Dutch word and construct from 1934 to go with it.
When I was learning how to drive here I had to learn everything about these special residential zones where the driving speed is ‘at a foot’s pace’ (about 15 km/h, although it isn’t actually specified) and where a car must give right of way to all other drivers (including cyclists) upon entering and all other road users upon exiting. As well, any drivers coming at you from the right in a woonerf have right of way, and parking is only allowed where indicated.
(Link: www.bnr.nl, Photo by Payton Chung, some rights reserved)
Tags: Canada, Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto, woonerf
The Pixio bike light has a built-in solar panel with a battery that charges up during sunny days when a bike is parked outside. Five days is enough for two years of biking with the lights on and the Pixio is already good to go for two years of biking with the lights on when you buy it. It comes in a range of colours, and a set of Pixios (back and front, as the law requires) will set you back 55 euro, but then those cheap bike lights and their batteries will run you a lot as well in the long run, never mind the stress they cause. It even has a locking mechanism so you can actually leave it on your bike, as long as your entire bike doesn’t get stolen or removed.
One obviously drawback is if you leave the lights on by mistake, but then that goes for battery-powered lights as well. Raise your hand if you’ve turned off someone else’s bike lights off as a courtesy. Parking your bike indoors like many people do won’t charge your light up, but then if you’re good to go for two years, you can cross that bridge when you get to it.
(Link: www.bright.nl, Screenshot: Rydon.eu)
Tags: bike lights, Delft University of Technology
If you want to feel like an investor, maybe even invest in a project or just browse to get some ideas, have a look at these Dutch projects on Kickstarter. At first glance, films, software and design/inventions seem to be major categories, but I also saw some well-funded music.
Amsterdam: The Belll (yes, extra l), got funded. A customisable, loud, Dutch-made clip-on bell for your bike.
Groningen: The Last Holdouts: ‘One couple’s journey from Antarctica to Holland: A documentary about impossibility and the creative process’.
Amersfoort was the busy city at the time of writing, with three projects vying for cash, although one stood out: Doodle 3D, a sketching tool to print your own personal drawings on a 3D printer.
Charge your gear on the go using your travel bag (older pic above).
Two inventions—a charger in a safe, and a power strip in a book (and a bonus invention).
Tags: 3D printing
All that heavy duty construction work at Utrecht Central station, the country’s biggest train station, will eventually house the world’s biggest bike garage — all three floors of it. The garage will also feature a bike path and fit neatly under the train station, unlike the sea of bikes that can now be found around the station in the photo above.
Also home to Utrecht University, the country’s biggest university, Utrecht is very visibly full of students, many of which bike everywhere.
Just a few days ago we told you about how many wrongly parked bikes had been removed in 2012, but this kind of mega project should help alleviate the problem. The bike garage will be able to accommodate 12,500 bikes, which is exactly five times as many bikes as Amsterdam’s bike flat next to the train station that’s already overflowing.
Designed by Ector Hoogstad architects, the mega garage will open partially in 2016, and be ready entirely in 2018.
(Link: www.bright.nl, Photo Photo of Bikes at Utrecht Central station by Fietsberaad, some rights reserved)
Tags: bike parking, bikes, Utrecht
Bicycle parking is a serious matter in most major Dutch cities, as bikes parked near busy places like train stations have to be placed in designated areas or else run the risk of getting a fine, just like a car. To avoid ugly clutter, the city of Amsterdam removed a record number of bikes in 2012, some 65,000 ‘wrongly parked’ bikes and bike carcasses. I can sympathise with removing the carcasses, but removing ‘wrongly parked’ bikes implies that there’s not enough bike parking available, something the media writes about all the time.
Unlike cars, which are quickly demonised, bikes are supposed to be good, and dissuading anyone to take their bike instead of public transport would be blasphemous. In 2011, 54,000 bikes were removed and in 2010, 34,000. Since there’s an increase in the use and ownership of bikes, the big cities need more racks, but municipalities are basically ignoring the problem and causing a new one: expensive and tedious bureaucracy for anyone who wants to get their bike back.
In a recent post about recycling bicycle parts, cities remove (steal) bikes under the guise of keeping bicycle parking manageable and keeping the streets clean. The bikes are stored at a depot where rightful owners can retrieve their bikes after paying a ‘fine’. A lot of people don’t bother picking up their bikes and just get another one, putting more bikes out there.
Tags: Amsterdam, bicycle parking