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!!).

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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

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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)

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Commentary: On priority lane strategies for Malta

Malta priority lane - smallOn 11 November, the following question was posted by James Craig Wightman‎, one of the leaders of Malta’s hard-pressed cycling activist program, to the World Streets Facebook site.

Not sure if this is worthy of the Worst Practices page so thought I’d ask your opinion. As of tomorrow bus lanes in Malta will be open for car pooling cars and electric vehicles as well. While it’s a laudable notion, it remains to be seen how this will effect cyclist and motorcyclist rider safety. Up to now we knew the only cars that would (or should) be passing us were Taxi’s. Motorcycles were also allowed to use the lane. We knew that other private cars were not allowed and this meant we knew who to look out for (the idiot breaking the law and dangerously trying to squeeze past). Now its not so clear, neither is it clear how this will be enforced (a big problem in Malta) and managed. So I’m deeply concerned about cyclist safety with higher traffic volumes on the bus lanes, and particularly electric cars creeping up silently on cyclists. While you need to ask why other two wheeled traffic lost out (that will now filter down files of traffic).

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Earth Policy Institute reports on Public Bicycles

USA Earth Policy Institute logo

 

EPI Bicycle Share Fact Sheet

The prevalence of bicycles in a community is an indicator of our ability to provide affordable transportation, lower traffic congestion, reduce air pollution, increase mobility, and provide exercise to the world’s growing population. Bike-sharing programs are one way to get cycles to the masses.

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Anybody who says that Berlin is great for cycling doesn’t know what they’re talking about

uk alternative dept of transport

Cycling in Berlin *

There’s so much to cover here in Berlin;  I have to tell you about the excellent public transport system, the suffocating dominance of car parking, the superb driving conditions, the less-than-superb cycling conditions, the at times downright hostile footways, the culture and attitudes, the VC-and-helmet-loving local cycle campaign, and so much more.

So this first post is a general overview of conditions for cycling in Berlin as I’ve experienced them these past five months, and I’ll begin with this statement:

Anybody who says that Berlin is great for cycling doesn’t know what they’re talking about.

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Bicycle Contraflow Lanes: Death Wish or Life Line?

A counterflow lane or contraflow lane is a lane in which traffic flows in the opposite direction of the surrounding lanes. *

Contraflow is a common part of decent cycling infrastructure and is often seen on one-way streets. A standard example is that car and other vehicular traffic might have only one lane while on both sides there are bike lanes; one going in the same direction as the vehicular traffic, the other (the contraflow bike lane) allows cyclists to safely go in the opposite direction to the cars

Counterflow cycle lane in Paris. Credit: Vladimit Zlokazov

Counterflow cycle lane in Paris. Credit: Vladimir Zlokazov

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Go Lillestrøm! Pedestrians and cyclists receive “reverse toll money” in Norway

japan pedesstria cyclist dressedAs part of Norway’s ongoing European Mobility Week celebrations, around 10,000 NOK (€1,200) was handed out in the town of Lillestrøm to pedestrians and cyclists in “reverse toll money”. The money symbolised the health benefits of walking and cycling, including better fitness, improved air quality and more efficient transport.

Cyclists received around €12, while pedestrians gained €11. Calculations carried out by the Norwegian Directorate of Health shows that active transport provides the state with a saving of 52 NOK (€6) per kilometer for pedestrians and 26 NOK (€3) per kilometer for cyclists. An average bike trip in Norway is 4 kilometers, providing a health benefit of 100 NOK (€12), while an average walking trip is 1.7 km, worth almost 90 NOK (€11)

The only thing I have to say about this is: EXCELLENT!

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Car Free Days 2014 – Citizen Cycling Audit (Revision 2.2)

Twenty questions to light the way to improving cycling in your city.

iceland planning meeting smallThis is the first revision of the initial listing of questions and criteria for the proposed first runs of the Citizens Cycling Audit, as  initially published as a fetture artcile in World Streets on 27 August at http://wp.me/psKUY-3HQ .[1]  As you will note as a result of additional inputs and suggestions from helpful colleagues, there are now a bit more than twenty questions. Not a problem and we can sort this out once we feel comfortable that we are moving in the right direction.

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