In an American study entitled ‘Effect of Oscillation on Perineal Pressure in Cyclists: Implications for Micro-Trauma’, the all-male authors report that “genital numbness and erectile dysfunction in [male] cyclists may result from repeated perineal impacts on the bicycle saddle (micro-trauma) that occur during routine cycling. And if there’s a country we know that has men who into routine cycling, it’s definitely the Netherlands. Slots two and three are taken up by Denmark and Germany, with Sweden, Norway, Finland, Japan, Switzerland, Belgium and China rounding out the Top 10.
The study’s authors concluded that there was a strong linear relationship between oscillation magnitude and perineal pressure during cycling and that using shock absorption in bicycle design may reduce this perineal micro-trauma while possibly improving cycling-associated perineal numbness and erectile dysfunction.
The bridge was printed in June at the Eindhoven University of Technology and installed by construction company Royal Bam Group. It is made of pre-stressed and reinforced concrete, which is a feat of sustainability. “With 3D printing, you have more flexibility regarding the shape of the product. As well, 3D printing a bridge is also incredibly efficient: you need less concrete, but there is also no need for shuttering where the concrete is normally poured in. You just use exactly what you need, and there is no CO2 emissions”, explains BAM Director Marinus Schimmel.
And yes it’s a corporate film in Dutch, but you get to see how they made it.
Dutch people cycle mainly as a mode of transportation. The Dutch Royal family enjoys doing normal Dutch things, and one of them is cycling. A quick Google search tells me that the British press coined the term ‘Bicycle monarchies’, making a link between less ceremonials monarchies like the Dutch one as if that was a bad thing.
Watch this film from 2013 as generations of Dutch royals take to cycling and even some racing. Enjoy the funny moment when one of the members of the Royal family gives a lift to a stranger and find out why royals used to be banned from cycling.
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.
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:
A recently published report by the Foundation for Traffic Studies (SWOV) on the use of bike paths in Amsterdam and The Hague has reached the major conclusion that bike paths aren’t wide enough, and extrapolates their findings to other big cities during rush hour. As well, 20% of cyclists fiddle with their smartphones while cycling, four out of five cyclists don’t look around them when passing others (something Dutch driving lessons hammer into you) and one of out 20 cyclists cycle the wrong direction.
The report points out that many bike paths are not wide enough to accommodate the flow of cyclists, although 90% of people cycle with a standard sized bike. It does say that scooters are bigger and tend to add to the traffic, but only account for a small percentage of bike path users. Half of the locations observed in both cities during rush hour are too busy and the risky behaviour mentioned above is not making cycling any safer.
In Europe The Netherlands is the king of ‘cycling usage’, with 84% of the population owning a bike, while Denmark takes top place for ‘cycling advocacy’. The legend of there being more bikes than people here – a unique occurrence in the world – is still true. The real threat to safety remains scooters because they go too fast. The effects of having moved them off the bike path in Amsterdam has not yet been observed and reported.
In this older video below, there’s a cyclist moving ahead of the green light, which is wrong but not a huge deal. There are people completely outside of the cycle lane going wide and that’s slightly annoying. And then there’s some freestyling that is risky and inconsiderate. I’ll admit to pulling some stunts while cycling, but I categorically refuse to do anything with my smartphone and don’t listen to music.
Anyone saying a city is not like Amsterdam and implying that it can’t possibly have bike paths like a Dutch city has no clue what Amsterdam fought for and went through to get the world-class cycling infrastructure it has today. When I saw the bike lanes in London where people could get run over if they didn’t have eyes all around their heads, I was reminded of what we often take for granted in Amsterdam, despite it not always being that stress-free to get around, especially in the city centre.
In Brussels you need to wear a high visibility vest and expect cyclists in both directions. In London and Paris, cycling is mostly done on the street and you need to take up your rightful space, which discourages many people from cycling. I’ve cycled in Munich and it was OK if you’re not travelling large distances. Although it may have changed, cycling in Barcelona was done on the sidewalk, which meant unwillingly terrorising pedestrians. Most of my experience comes from cycling in Montréal, which consistently makes the list of the world’s most bicycle friendly cities, but then I biked before the advent of bike paths and got hit by cars a few times.
The argument of ‘but there’s no hills’ is true, but then there’s wind and rain so bad that we get weather warnings with trees falling and people going to hospital. There’s scooters speeding by hitting cyclists, wobbly tourists who don’t look where they’re going and irresponsible parents with kids cycling while on the phone, endangering everyone around them. However, we can get around everywhere without a cycling map by following proper road signs, and in many places we cycle separately from cars.
Bike parking is still a problem, but then there’s cities like Utrecht who will show the Netherlands how it’s done.
Drone enthusiast Paul Haerkens has captured himself cycling near Den Bosch, Noord-Brabant, filmed by his Yuneec Q500 drone camera in ‘watch me’ mode.
You’ll see Versailles-like miniature gardens, bollards stopping cars from parking on the side walk, flat trees, hints of traffic circles and very little traffic. The film will give you an impression of what a Dutch neighbourhood in the middle of the country looks like: no canals, no bike paths (!) and no bustle.
The catchy music is the intro music to Paul Verhoeven’s classic ‘Turks Fruit’ (‘Turkish Delight’), composed by heavyweight Rogier van Otterloo and performed by Belgian jazz legend Toots Thielemans, all three of which come highly recommended.
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.