The Blauwe loper (‘Blue carpet’) is a 800-metre-long bike bridge that will connect Winschoten to Blauwestad (‘Blue City’, a new village being built on reclaimed land) Groningen, making it Europe’s longest bridge for cyclists and pedestrians. It might also end up being a whole kilometre long if they connect it to the middle of the new town, and should be completed in late 2020.
It will be painted ‘bat-friendly’ green, with LED lighting designed to help the bats commute from the nearby nature reserve to the Oldambtmeer (‘Oldambt lake’). The bridge has been designed to last for at least 80 years and is made from wood sourced from Gabon, Africa. The wood has some sort of venting system rather than being pressed together, explains project leader Reinder Lanting.
Europe’s current longest bike bridge is 756 metres long and is located in Sölvesborg, Sweden, extending across the Sölvesborg Bay. However, the Xiamen Bicycle Skyway in China, designed by the Danish design firm Dissing + Weitling, is a whopping 7.6km long.
Although there’s not always something to see, there’s a webcam link if you like to watch Dutch motorway traffic when there’s no bridge construction.
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:
“With the aim of raising awareness about bike theft and how to prevent it, Czech cycling website We Love Cycling set out to find the answer by organising the European Bike Stealing Championships 2015.” Amsterdam nailed it, as we have “quality Dutch bikes in demand all over Europe”. The running commentary is very sporty, so grab a beverage and watch the video, it’s funny.
The unknowing contestants were Rome, Amsterdam and Prague, three great European cities apparently notorious for bike theft. And We Love Cycling is sponsored by Czech car brand Å koda for added humour. Try and guess who comes in second!
Dutch cycling law and etiquette requires bikes to have bells so they can warn fellow road users. However, many amateur racing cyclists can’t be bothered with bells on their bikes because real racing cyclists don’t have one. Then again, real cyclists have a race completely secured just for them, which is not the case for normal cyclists.
Racing cyclist enthusiasts go faster than most and cannot warn people properly that they are coming, making them ‘less sociable and less safe’, according to Rombouts. By putting a bell in a water bottle, a cyclist just has to extend their arm and ring their bell. Amateurs can now still look cool. After all even retired top racing cyclist Joop Zoetemelk has a Bi-Bell now.
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.
Two Dutch companies, AAArchitecten and Uq Design, combined forces and designed this bike storage system that doubles as a place to sit. They call it the “Bikes & Chill”.
For those of you who have no clue how badly crowded the bike racks in and around train stations are in the Netherlands, in January there were talks of charging people to park their bikes in Amsterdam. Bike racks are usually full, and if you try and park your bike somewhere else, big men with clamps will bust your bike lock open and take away your bike on their big trucks full of them. Then you have to call this number and try and get your back bike proving it’s yours and usually paying 50 euro.
The colorful “Bikes & Chill” bike storage system is modular and won an innovation prize. One of the conditions of their entry was an innovative design made from plastic fibres.
At first, it does sounds like a logical argument. Way back in the day you could park your car for free on the street, but nowadays there are too many cars so you have to pay because space is scarce. In a country with more bikes than people, bike space is becoming scarce and the idea of paying to take up that space is now an issue. Many people already pay to park their bikes safely indoors, but parking it unguarded in the rain for money doesn’t sound like a good deal at all.
Back in 2004, a huge bike flat was built at Amsterdam Central Station as a temporary solution to all the bikes cluttering the station area. If there’s one thing I learned about Dutch ‘street furniture’ is that temporary things become permanent very quickly. According to mimoa.eu, the ‘flat’ was supposed to be torn down in 2006, which was later pushed backed to 2009. It’s of course still there and it’s fuller than ever. One of the reasons it is full is because many people leave their bikes for a longer period of time or ditch their bikes there altogether, a national problem. If people were to pay, this would probably not happen as often.
However, the day has come where the idea of paying to park your bike could just be a few years away. Apparently, 40% of people bike to the train station, making the upkeep of bike parking spaces costly. There are all kinds of arguments against paying to park your bike, such as people turning to their cars to get to the train station, causing even more traffic, the environment (bike vs. car), the logisitics nightmare of it all and hiring people to fine cyclists who park their bikes illegally.