Groningen: The World’s Cycling City

It’s no secret that just about anywhere you go in the Netherlands is an incredible place to bicycle. And in Groningen, a northern city with a population of 190,000 and a bike mode share of 50 percent, the cycling is as comfortable as in any city on Earth. The sheer number of people riding at any one time will astound you, as will the absence of automobiles in the city center, where cars seem extinct. It is remarkable just how quiet the city is. People go about their business running errands by bike, going to work by bike, and even holding hands by bike.

- by Clarence Eckerson, Jr. , Streetfilms,

The story of how they got there is a mix of great transportation policy, location and chance. You’ll learn quite a bit of history in the film, but essentially Groningen decided in the 1970s to enact policies to make it easier to walk and bike, and discourage the use of cars in the city center. By pedestrianizing some streets, building cycle tracks everywhere, and creating a unique transportation circulation pattern that prohibits vehicles from cutting through the city, Groningen actually made the bicycle — in most cases — the fastest and most preferred choice of transportation.

It does feel like bicycle nirvana. When I first got off the train in Groningen, I couldn’t stop smiling at what I saw around me. In an email exchange with my friend Jonathan Maus from Bike Portland, he described it as being “like a fairy tale.” This jibed with my first thought to him — that I had “entered the game Candyland, but for bikes!” In fact, for our teaser I originally titled this Streetfilm “Groningen: The Bicycle World of Your Dreams,” before I talked myself out of it. Although there is a magical quality about being there, in reality there is nothing dreamy or childlike about it. With political will and planning, what they have done should and can be done everywhere.

In our Streetfilm you’ll see the 10,000 (!) bicycle parking spaces at the train station, some of the incredible infrastructure that enables cyclists to make their journeys safer and quicker, and you’ll hear from many residents we encountered who go by bike just about everywhere they travel. But as one of my interview subjects, Professor Ashworth, wanted me to point out: the three days I was there were bright and sunny, and the hardy people keep up the bicycling through the cold winters. As with many bicycling cities, there area also big problems with cycle theft, and residents are always yearning for more bicycle parking.

I think most of us would trade some of those problems for a city with 50 percent mode share (and up to 60 percent in the city center!!).

# # #

About Streetfilms

Streetfilms produces short films showing how smart transportation design and policy can result in better places to live, work and play. Founded in 2006, Streetfilms has become the go-to organization for educational films about sustainable transportation, and inspires action and behavioral change worldwide. Individuals, public agencies, non-profit organizations, schools, and transportation advocacy groups use Streetfilms to educate decision makers and make change for livable streets in their communities. Streetfilms are freely distributed online, and our nearly 500 videos have been viewed over 5 million times. Thousands of daily viewers watch Streetfilms on our site, through embeds on hundreds of other sites, social media, digital files and DVDs, film festivals, and community screenings. As people share the videos that inspire them, Streetfilms brings more and more people to the movement for livable streets. * Click for more

# # #

From World Streets

* More than one hundred postings on sustainable transport and social justice covering cities, actors, strategies, projects and culture in the Netherlands – http://worldstreets.wordpress.com/tag/netherlands/

* Homage to Hans Monderman: Groningen – The Quiet Example – http://worldstreets.wordpress.com/2012/01/25/groningen-the-quiet-example/

* World Streets on Cycling – http://worldstreets.wordpress.com/tag/cycling/

About the editor

* The editor on cycle sharing (30 seconds is plenty) – http://vimeo.com/6856553

Eric Britton
9, rue Gabillot, 69003 Lyon France

Bio: Trained as a development economist, Eric Britton is MD of EcoPlan International, an independent advisory network providing strategic counsel for government, business and civil society on policy and decision issues involving complex systems, social-technical change and sustainable development. His forthcoming book, “Toward a General Theory of Transport in Cities”, is being presented, discussed and critiqued in a series of international conferences, master classes, workshops and media events over 2015. (More at http://wp.me/PsKUY-2p7)

View complete profile

 

Weekend Musing: Car Free Sundays – Dutch Style in 1973

Some fine people in Australia remind us today in a blog entitled Gizmodo about one of the many historic predecessors of the Car Free Day movement, more formally launched at an international conference in Toledo Spain in 1992 (see Thursday: A breakthrough strategy for reducing car dependence in cities) .  We need to keep an eye on those Dutch. They seem to be on to something.

Dutch Car Free Sunday 1973 - Pictures. Netherlands National Archive, Getty - www.gizmodo - small

 Car Free Sunday, Netherlands, 1973

Continue reading

Uber: Tough questions to our culture of innovation in Europe

Reaching new fundraising heights, Uber is now seeking to conquer the world — willingly or by force. Neither white knight nor bloodsucking scoundrel, Uber is posing tough questions to our culture of innovation in Europe

The smartphone-driven rideshare and taxi alternative service company  Uber,  founded in 2009 and headquartered in San Francisco, has announced for the second time in 2014, a billion dollar-plus fundraising! The company, which offers applications linking customers with drivers, now overtakes records previously held by Facebook: € 2.7 billion raised (with $ 600 million of additional potential), and a market valuation at $ 40 billion.

Yet if Uber is known to the public it is more for the controversies it is raising in its “war” against the taxis, which has in recent months turned into a crusade against all comers and for “free mobility”: against street taxis, against national governments and regulators, against local governments, and even against less controversial private hire services (in France the so-called VTC hire services have joined a lawsuit against Uber).

france paris uber taxi strike

Continue reading

The Uber Generation: Rogue Capitalism or Critical Paradigm Shift

World Streets is today kicking off a series of invited articles by authors from different countries and backgrounds, presenting their views on the topic of “The Uber Generation: Rogue Capitalism or Critical Paradigm Shift”. It is expected that this series will continue  over the months ahead. The present posting is being circulated to friends and others who have expressed interest in this particular angle of the New Mobility Agenda as an advance announcement and call for criticism, ideas and contributions.

china taxi drivers bashing taxis

Continue reading

The Archives of World Transport Policy & Practice: Help Wanted

Unburying hidden treasures from the Journal: 1995-2015
We could use a bit of help to get the following job done.  It has to do with a new collaborative program about to get into full swing in 2015  — The Archives of World Transport Policy & Practice (WTPP)  under development at https://worldtransportarchives.wordpress.com.  The goal of this new project is to see if we can, with a little help from usa - texas printing pressour friends, create a comprehensive, easy-to-use, free platform offering ready access to the full contents of the close to seventy editions of the Journal of World Transport Policy & Practice that have published under the leadership of Founding Editor John Whitelegg since 1995, but which at present technology are a bit isolated. The present article provides some first background on this project in process. If you might be interested to lend a hand, please get in touch and we can talk about it.

Continue reading

Let’s get disabled kids in developing countries to school

USA - Access Exchange International

This illustration shows how it should be: Disabled kids in developing countries should be able to get to school using a variety of accessible transport in order to learn alongside other kids. We hope you will help us as we work with others to turn this vision into a reality.

Continue reading

Fair Mobility: Can your city learn some lessons from Malta?

Can your city learn some lessons from Malta when it comes to proving fair mobility for all, including those with mobility handicaps? (Lessons that they Malta  poor sidewalksthemselves are, ever so sadly, not learning. At least not thus far. ) Let me put this in other, stronger words. If your city is not giving careful attention to these equitable pedestrian issues, well you are living in a seriously underdeveloped, inequitable, third-rate city. Face it! Let us hear what Kevin Cutajar of the Gozo Federation Persons with Disability has to say on this as he goes eye to eye with government authorities on this important issue. If he does not speak up, who will?

Continue reading