Views

Antisemitism in Labour

Vole O'Speed - 3 May, 2016 - 20:18
Disclaimer: I'm not a member of the Labour Party, or a registered supporter. I'm not Jewish, but I have a Jewish background and live with a Jew.

The business of 'antisemitism within the Labour Party' is basically nonsense. The affair is clearly constructed to undermine Jeremy Corbyn by his opponents both inside and outside the party and fed off by an uncritical press. There's just no evidence for the accusation of real antisemitism being a significant trend in the Labour Party (unlike various types of racism being significant trends in several other major parties).

The worrying thing to me is that the very terrm is losing its meaning. People are forgetting what real antisemitism is. There appears to be an attempt by some to define critical comment on Israel as 'antisemitic'. This is an affront to freedom of speech and is illiberal.

Indeed, it should be possible to argue even against the existence of the state of Israel in its current form – that is, in favour of a completely different political settlement for all the peoples in that region of the Middle East – and not be accused of antisemitism. (I am not going to do that here, but it should be possible, according to the supposed maxim of Voltaire I disagree with what you say but will defend to the death your right to say it.) The states of the world are artificial creations and we must be able, in free and liberal debate to question, not merely the actions and policies, but the existence of any of them, or to argue that the world would be better not organised into independent states at all, but in some other way. After all, the way states cut across ethnic and religious divides is a problem all over the world, not just in the Middle East. It's wrong to try to shut down such debate with accusations of various kinds of racism. Racism, hatred and prejudice based on race, of which antisemitism is a special case, is nothing to do with this, indeed it lies at an opposite, irrational, pole of discourse.

Former Mayor of London Ken Livingstone is not a racist in any way and I don't believe he is an antisemite. He does very make ill-judged comments. As has been pointed out in a perceptive piece by Adam Ramsay, though it is true that Hitler did at some stages of his career propose transporting Jews to Israel, to mention this is the flippant way he did, just before mentioning 'Zionism', risks, without much more detailed clarification, recalling a truly antisemitic conspiracy narrative of 'Zionists being being in league with Hitler'. I doubt Livingstone was aware of this, but he should have been aware of the fact that,  as Ramsay writes,
The speed with which conversations about anything relating to Jewishness in politics return to something relating to the man who murdered the parents or grandparents of many of the Jewish people around today must be deeply hurtful for huge numbers. It's generally not appropriate to turn such conversations to Hitler and Nazis without a very compelling reason.Saying in his next sentence Hitler had 'gone mad' in order to kill six million Jews (and many others) compounded the problem because 'madness', or insanity, is an argument used to try to reduce culpability for those accuse of murder and other heinous crimes: it is a legal defence that barristers try to use to diminish punishment for those accused. Nobody argues that Hitler was 'mad' in that sense, and I don't think Livingstone meant that, he was talking casually. But his words could be misinterpreted as an attempt to 'clean up' Hitler, which is actually the last thing I believe he was trying to do.

Livingstone's later attempted clarification of his remarks tended to make matters worse. Speaking on BBC Two he said:
A real antisemite doesn’t just hate the Jews in Israel, they hate their Jewish neighbours in Golders Green or Stoke Newington, it’s a physical loathing.Clearly if you 'hate the Jews in Israel' you are an anti-semite, full stop. And racism may not be a 'physical loathing'. It may be just a vague background framework of attitudes. But to build a case on the basis of these remarks for Livingstone himself being 'antisemitic' is loading far too much meaning on to flip comments and slips like the preposition in that sentence 'just'. I predict that Labour's investigation into him will end up exonerating him of the charge of antisemitism,  cautioning him to speak more carefully in future, and re-instating him to party membership.

There are bad eggs in every basket, but the Labour Party has actuially been fantastically hot at investigating all claimed cases of racism, including antisemitism, in its ranks, unlike other parties. This is in its tradition and nature. But we see, simultaneously, Conservative candidate for London mayor Zac Goldsmith running a thinly-veiled anti-Islamic campaign against the Labour candidate Sadiq Khan (A campaign which, I predict also, will do him very little good in this cosmopolitan city.)

Livingstone has often made silly and insensitive comments on various topics. They should be ignored and people should move on. This is not antisemitism. It's a storm in an anti-Corben and Conservative teacup.

I hope to return to London cycling matters shortly. In the meantime, I agree wholeheartedly with the voting recommendations (and rationale) of Londoners on Bikes.
Categories: Views

A ride from Market to Market (2)

BicycleDutch - 2 May, 2016 - 23:01
The almost 16 kilometre ride from the fortified town of Heusden to ʼs-Hertogenbosch takes you through a typical Dutch river landscape. You can cycle mostly away from traffic on endless … Continue reading →
Categories: Views

Goodbye ibikelondon blog, hello Strategic Cities

ibikelondon - 2 May, 2016 - 13:02


After six years of incredible cycling experiences, ibikelondon blog is coming to a close. I want to highlight where I have been, where I am going, and to say thank you for coming along for the ride.
I began writing about riding in London in 2009. I hardly expected then ibikelondon would become such a big part of my life.  My first post had just ten readers, and included a photo of me participating in a Skyride on a very rusty, very purple second-hand bike. Over 500 blog posts later and thankfully my wheels have improved - and so has London.
If you know me via Twitter you’ll have seen clues that change is coming.  Starting any new venture is daunting, but I’ve been preparing to make this move for a while.  I worked hard on building this, I’m excited to share it with you, and I hope you’ll be as excited using it as I have been creating it.  @markbikeslondonwill shortly become @StrategicCities, and you’ll be able to find me at my new website; strategic-cities.com 
 With some of you on Blackfriars Bridge in 2011.
I’ll still be looking at how people travel, and how cities can become increasingly efficient and liveable, but my focus will be wider than just the bike.  I’ve come to realise bikes are the “canary in the coal mine” of liveable cities, and there are many issues – childhood freedom, planning, obesity, transport – which are all part of the same urban matrix we call home, and which deserve further scrutiny.
StrategicCities will also see me start a new career.  I’ll soon be delivering training for urban professionals and communications analysis for city leaders.  Why?  I’ve been fortunate enough to work in the media from the inside - as well as influence it from the out - and my experience has shown me that the way we convey messages is more and more important in delivering difficult projects. You only need to look at the vociferous – and frequently hysterical – anti-bike lane sentiment we’ve experienced in London.  Communicating well in a difficult environment is not a skill which comes naturally to most, but preparation goes a long way in helping to navigate that minefield.  My first web-based training seminar; “Achieving Change In A Hostile Media Environment” takes place in May and registration is open.  If you want to keep up to date about further events and training then you can sign up to the Strategic Citiesmailing list, or connect with me on LinkedIn.
ibikelondon has given me incredible opportunities. I’ve given evidence at Parliament, lectured at the National Conference for Urban Design at Oxford University and written for national newspapers about cycling and cities. I even appeared on Newsnight and Russian state radio.  Blogging takes (a lot of) time, effort and patience, but I’ve had fantastic experiences by bicycle along the way as well; from riding through backstreets in Shanghai, to chasing the Tour de France through Belgium in a helicopter.  More amazing things than I could ever have imagined when I wrote that first post back in 2009.
There have been tough times, too.  I’ve stood beside dangerous junctions as grieving relatives mark the site of a loved one’s death too many times.  Too often I’ve written about poorly designed, poorly driven lorries in London, and the fatal problems they present.  And too often I’ve written how someone has died on an appallingly designed stretch of road which authorities had been warned in advance would lead to fatalities.
Two terrible weeks in 2013 saw six London cyclists lose their lives in rapid succession on our roads.  Those missing riders marked a shadow for a long time afterwards, when the bus seemed more appealing than the bike, and more likely to deliver me to work alive.
The "Tour du Danger" around London's 10 most dangerous junctions for cyclists.  Here the ride is seen outside TfL HQ on Blackfriars Rd - now the site of the north / south cycle superhighway.
London’s anger at those deaths, and others, helped to spur our cycling community on.  This helped to achieve genuine political commitment and action from Mayor Boris Johnson.  Protests on Blackfriars Bridge and around dangerous junctions lead to really meaningful change.  Hours of meetings with politicians and their advisors helped to guide policy and new street designs.  But it should never have taken so many deaths for this process to start.
Now we’re seeing the result of that commitment with hard-won bike tracks and re-designed junctions appearing across London, most contentiously along the Embankment.  Credit where credit is due; the North / South and East / West Cycle Superhighways is going to change the way we cycle in the city, and for good.
But resistance was ferocious, well-organised and – in the case of the taxi lobby and CanaryWharf Group – incredibly well-funded.  Those same opposing forces are still out there, making their backwards-thinking grievances an issue for the next Mayor of London. 
People who want a liveable London must remain focused (and angry), and Mayors must not be afraid to be bold.  Do not underestimate the change that committed citizens together with committed leaders can bring about.
I recommend you to the London Cycling Campaign and their Sign4Cycling Mayoral target, and to my fellow bike blogger Danny, at Cyclists In The City, who so often has been “a partner in crime” in campaigning escapades.
So it’s goodbye ibikelondon blog, and hello to exciting, new Strategic Cities.  Through the years what has often kept me going have been the wonderful interactions – both online and off – with people like you who have read my words here.  Thank you.  I hope you’ll come with me on my new adventure, and that there are many safe and wonderful bike rides ahead for us both.
Share 
Categories: Views

International Cargo Bike Festival 2016

BicycleDutch - 25 April, 2016 - 23:01
A weekend chock-full of cargo bike themed activities in Nijmegen, where the annual International Cargo Bike Festival was held on 16 and 17 April last. The 3rd international Cargo Bike … Continue reading →
Categories: Views

Environmental groups’ failure over HS2

John Adams - 19 April, 2016 - 15:18

Letter in Telegraph, 17 April2016

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/opinion/2016/04/17/letters-for-all-its-faults-the-eu-is-a-bold-project-that-still-d/

Environmental groups’ failure over HS2

SIR – It is now very clear indeed that the hugely expensive HS2 project is fundamentally flawed; yet it continues to make progress towards delivery in spite of compelling evidence justifying its cancellation.

Its passage has been assisted by two important factors that are as problematic as the project itself. The first is the failure of both governmental and non-governmental supporters to change direction on the basis of evidence. The second is the dramatic transformation of so-called environmental groups.

The Campaign for Better Transport, Friends of the Earth, the Campaign to Protect Rural England and Greenpeace have assisted this extremely environmentally damaging project at every stage.

These groups have betrayed their members as the project will, without question, add to greenhouse gas emissions, seriously damage the countryside, destroy woodland and generate levels of noise greater than those set in World Health Organisation community noise standards.

This marks a serious decline in the legitimacy of these environmental groups. It can be seen as a huge loss in a democracy constantly struggling with the excesses of government policies that emphasise the importance of the environment but in practice contribute to its degradation.

The environmental movement has embraced the old maxim, “if you can’t beat them, join them” – and we are all the losers.

John Whitelegg

[former Board member of Transport 2000 – now the Campaign for Better Transport

John Adams

Emeritus Professor, University College London [and member of the original board of directors of FoE]

Mayer Hillman

Senior Fellow Emeritus, Policy Studies Institute

Stephen Plowden

[independent transport planner]

Categories: Views

Utrecht; Cycling City of the Netherlands?

BicycleDutch - 18 April, 2016 - 23:01
Utrecht is a rapidly growing city that is convinced the bicycle can and should play a major role in keeping the city liveable, accessible and economically strong. Reason to give … Continue reading →
Categories: Views

Do speed cameras work?

Road Danger Reduction Forum - 18 April, 2016 - 16:08

The letters pages of the transport professionals’ fortnightly, Local Transport Today, have recently  carried an unprecedentedly long correspondence about the statistical analysis of the effects of speed cameras. We welcome in-depth statistical analysis of “road safety” interventions such as cameras. However, our take on how results should be interpreted – and indeed, what “works” actually means in the overall context of reducing road danger over time – is different from most of the participants. Here is our contribution to – and comments on – the debate: LTT 695


Categories: Views

Berlin Decides its Future

Copenhagenize - 14 April, 2016 - 08:42

This article is written by Copenhagenize Design Company's urban planner, Leon Legeland. Originally from the least- bicycle friendly city in Germany, Wiesbaden, he has lived, studied and worked in Vienna, Malmö and currently Copenhagen. He has a master in Sustainable Urban Management and is currently finishing his second master in Sustainable Cities here in Copenhagen. He has been working with us for eight months and is motivated to support and plan the needed paradigm shift in mobility in Germany and particularly in Berlin.

Mikael will be speaking at this year's VivaVelo congress next week in Berlin, on April 18, 2016, so we thought we’d take a closer look at the status quo and current buzz about urban cycling in the German capital.

In the 2015 Copenhagenize Index, we saw the city slip from 5th in 2011 to 12th in 2015. Still, Berlin is in the Top 20, but where is the city headed in the next few years? Things are happening in the city. Both things that make us optimistic and excited and things that make us want to throw up a little bit in our mouth.

If we look at the baseline, progress is slow and soooo last century.

There appears to be a total disconnect between the declared municipal strategy and what is actual happening (or not happening). The Senate in Berlin, on some level, understands that urban cycling improves the quality of life and that it has to be promoted and supported. The official bicycle strategy is full of promising initiatives and visions - more than many cities.

The city has a goal of hitting 20% modal share by 2025 and wants to invest in bicycle infrastructure and parking and to improve the overall bikeability of the city. The Senate initiated a collaborative online platform that identified and discussed fifty dangerous intersections that get will be prioritised for a bicycle friendly redesign. It was a clever move to get local insights about needs and problems with added subjective expertise. This all sounds fine and good, but the reality is far-removed.


Out of fifty intersections, only three intersections have been redesigned in the past three years. Safety in intersections is key. Since 2000, almost 200 people have been killed on their bicycles in Berlin. Tragic. No doubt about that. Instead, however, of accelerating the redesign of dangerous intersections and building Best Practice infrastructure along roads, the city decided instead to merely advertise their own lack of desire for change with large digital signs aimed at motorists (above - spotted on this Facebook group).

Texts included:

“In 2015, 15 cyclists were killed by passing cars. Minimum 1.5m distance”
“Every two hours a bicycle accident happens, keep 1.5m distance”.

We suppose the idea - however primitive - is good. Creating awareness among motorists that cyclists are present in the city. It is also a bold advertisment branding cycling as dangerous. There is little messaging that would encourage motorists - who cause many of the ills that cities suffer - to consider a shift in transport mode. Finally, it shows in no uncertain terms how outdated, flawed and incompetent the current traffic planning and road design is.

The solution is simple: build adequate, protected bicycle lanes and redesign your intersections. You won’t need warnings, you’ll avoid branding cycling as dangerous and you will save vast amounts of money on public health.

Since the city has already invested in the digital signs, why not use them for positive messaging? Off the top of our heads:

“Berliners spend 100 hours per year in traffic jams, take your bike!”
“Berlin is one of the most polluted cities in Germany, stop driving!”
“500,000 apartments in Berlin suffer from noise pollution from cars, take the train and bike!”

It’s one thing wasting money on digital signs, but what’s worse is that Berlin is not even spending its annual budget for bike infrastructure. The Senate failed to use €4.6 million that was available to it. The City spends €3.80 per person on bicycle infrastructure. Embarrassing considering that in Copenhagen, that number is €25. In Oslo, it’s as high as €35. But even cities like Paris, London and Madrid spend more than €12 per person.

Berlin is not even spending what they have, let alone finding more money to modernise their transport and keep up to speed with global trends. A recent investigation by Berliner Morgenpost newspaper mapped all the roads in Berlin in regards to their bicycle infrastructure. They found that 55% of all main roads in Berlin have bicycle “infrastructure”. That sounds nice, but it includes narrow painted lanes and bus lanes that can be used by bikes. The painted lanes are generally only 80 cm wide - far from the 2.5 meters dicated by Best Practice - and are often clogged with parked cars.


The study found that 338 of Berlin’s main roads do not have any bicycle infrastructure at all. Cycling in Berlin is not at all intuitive. It’s confusing and irritating. There is no uniform design or cohesive, comprehensive network.

In a nutshell, the municipality talks the talk, but doesn’t walk the walk. Progress is painfully slow and there is little Best Practice design. Politicians blame the tricky administrative division between the Senate and the districts, as well as the lack of professional staff to get projects pushed through to completion. Basically, the money is there but there are no planners to use it.


Don’t think stuff doesn’t get done in Berlin. The largest infrastructure project in the city - currently under construction - is the extension of the Autobahn 100 from Neukölln to Treptow. Yep. A highway! In 2016. Bizarre.

Do you know what the city will get for the €480,000,000 price tag? A whopping (not) 3.2 km long, six-lane highway labelled “Piece of Berlin”. They say the same thing as people have been saying for 60 years - that this highway will magically improve the city’s traffic environment, increase quality of life, economic growth and reduce automobilie traffic and congestion. Seriously. Despite the fact that no highway has done this anywhere in the past 100 years.

The only thing we’ve learned over the past century is this: If you make more space for cars, more cars will come. Traffic in Berlin will stay the same - and probably become worse. A six-lane highway cannot improve quality of life. Other cities are tearing out their last-century monuments to failure, not building new ones.

The extension of the A100 requires the demolition of a couple of apartment buildings, the felling of hundreds of trees, the relocation of an old landfill and is a extremely complicated construction due to high groundwater level, noise protection, and so on. This is a madman’s playground for German Autobahn engineering, not a “Piece of Berlin”.

Even more sad is the fact that a further extension of the A100 - adding on another 4.1 km - is currently being discussed and is expected to be approved in the next two years. According to some preliminary calculations, the cost may hit €1 billion, due to a tunnel under the Spree River. There will be the usual demolishing of buildings, the eviction of clubs and cultural institutions and more chopped trees. Let’s hope the people of Berlin can mobilise and stop this madness.

Wild, isn’t it? The municipal departments are able to plan, approve, finance and construct a complicated, monster highway for a total of €1.4 billion but they can’t seem to find money to move far more people through the streets of Berlin with a network of uniform, Best Practice bicycle infrastructure based on designs and experience over 100 years old.

Berlin - more than many cities in the world - is all about the citizens. They seem to get it. In the inner city, the modal share is 18% for bicycles. Car traffic is at 17%. Urban cycling is mainstream and is ready for massive growth. Cycling is growing by 5% every year - even though only 3% of all traffic space is dedicated to bikes. All Berliners need is a group of politicians currently residing in this century.


Citizens are also doing it for themselves. There is an ambitious group of activists, planners and regular citizens who happen to use bikes to get around and they are fed up with the inactivity of the Senate. The Berlin chapter of the national cycling NGO - called ADFC - were notorious for their displeasure with infrastructure. A hangover from this school of thought. Luckily, they are now supporting the referendum.

The Volksentscheid - Fahrrad is behind a cycling referendum that is currently shaking the Senate out of its drowsiness and insisting that more has to be done to make Berlin a bicycle friendly city. The group have established ten goals that are incorporated in the first German bicycle law. The goals include the transformation of 325 km of roads into bicycle streets, safe bicycle infrastructure on every main road, a safer redesign of 75 intersections per year, quick maintenance and fixes along bike lanes, 200,000 bike parking spots, fifty stretches with a green wave for bikes, 100 km of bicycle highways, police on bikes that ensure the bikeability, more bicycle planning staff in council positions and communications campaign that prepare Berlin to become a bicycle friendly city.

All goals are bound to a timeplan. There are great activists out there in the world, but this group has taken it to the next level.

This might seem a bit optimistic. But consider this. The ambitious goals of the Cycling Referendum will cost about the same as just one kilometre of the A100 extension. That’s it. Add to that the fact that one kilometer of cycle track is paid off in under five years and the referendum plans will be making money for the city in no time. The A100 never will.

Car traffic is the minority group in the transport paradigm and yet the City is spending obscene amounts of money to increase car traffic in Berlin.

The Cycling Referendum has jumpstarted a modern and much-needed discussion and put political pressure on the municipal officials. Instead of the usual, ineffective critical mass events, the group around the Cycling Referendum use a clever way to show their dissatisfaction - by offering best practice alternatives. This year, Berlin is electing a new Senate, and cycling is becoming a hot issue on the political agenda. The Cycling Referendum and its objectives get a lot of media coverage, which further fuels the political debate.


We at Copenhagenize Design Co. fully support the goals and plans of the Cycling Referendum (Volksentscheid Fahrrad). Berlin can do so much more and it is time to stop the backward-directed traffic politics. It is time for a paradigm shift away from a last-century, car-centric planning approach and towards a modern and inclusive one.Copenhagenize the planet. And have a lovely day.
Categories: Views

A ride from market to market

BicycleDutch - 11 April, 2016 - 23:01
A fast cycle route from ʼs-Hertogenbosch to Veghel was opened in November 2015. The route runs parallel to the canal between the two cities on what was a private maintenance … Continue reading →
Categories: Views

Nijmegen, Cycling City of the Netherlands?

BicycleDutch - 4 April, 2016 - 23:01
The results of 15 years of forward cycling policies are clearly showing in the streets of Nijmegen. A network of high quality fast cycle routes has been built, connecting major … Continue reading →
Categories: Views

TfL and cyclist warning stickers – Update

Road Danger Reduction Forum - 2 April, 2016 - 10:18

Here’s the latest update. For the main story see this account with a timeline  and our latest on lorry safety here  and here . The “Cyclists stay back” stickers seem to have disappeared from Fleet Operators Recognition Scheme (FORS) registered members’ vehicles. But there is still an obvious problem with stickers on the wrong kind of vehicle – those without “blind spots” such as smaller lorries, vans and cars – belonging to FORS registered members. This includes those registered as Gold in FORS, such as the London Boroughs of Brent and Camden, Murphy and Travis Perkins. Because of continuing concern Darren Johnson MLA asked the Mayor the following question:-

Inappropriate use of cyclist warning stickers

Question No: 2016/0621

Darren Johnson

Despite providing an assurance (2015/1512) that TfL had contacted operators signed up to its Fleet Operator Recognition Scheme (FORS) to stress that blind spot stickers should not be used on vehicles under 3.5 tonnes, I have been informed that many operators including gold standard operators are still doing this. Please set out what new measures TfL will take to promote the use of consistent signage by operators and stop the arbitrary use of these stickers from bringing FORS into disrepute.

…and received this answer Written response from the Mayor

Please see my response to MQ 2015/1512.

The Fleet Operator Recognition Scheme (FORS) standard requires fleet operators to fit approved blind spot warning signage to vehicles over 3.5 tonne gross vehicle weight, as these vehicles have larger blind spots. FORS guidance is that blind spot warning signage is not required on vehicles under 3.5 tonnes gross vehicle weight. This guidance is communicated to all FORS accredited operators via e-news bulletins, the FORS website and in FORS training and toolkits. This guidance is available online at http://www.fors-online.org.uk/cms/warning-signage/.

The FORS annual audit verifies that approved blind spot warning signage is fitted to vehicles over 3.5 tonne gross vehicle weight. Operators that use non-approved or badly placed stickers, or who fit signage to smaller vehicles, receive an action plan and are expected to address this prior to the next audit. (RDRF emphasis)

I believe this approach is reasonable and proportionate for operators that have blind spot warning signage fitted to smaller vehicles, and therefore does not bring FORS into disrepute

The implication is that operators like Murphy

and LB Camden

have either changed since these photos were taken (they might have – I haven’t checked recently) or have received “action plans” and are in the process of doing so. If that is the case, then we may be finally able to leave this sorry saga behind. However, my perception is that FORS have not managed to get members to follow advice laid down some time ago. And my suggestion is that there has had to be a lot of pressure from TfL’s danger reduction and cyclist stakeholders to get them this far.

So you may want to nudge FORS  by contacting  enquiries@fors-online.org.uk

A recent contact led to: “Thank you for your email and informing us of these companies not displaying the correct signage. We will be contacting the companies and will make sure they are displaying the correct signage from now on. We do our best to ensure that all companies are displaying the correct signage. This is through our audits and our compliance checks. If you have any further queries do not hesitate to contact …”

So you can get results, and we’re happy to be of assistance to TfL/FORS.


Categories: Views

Stylish Public Transport Wear from Transit Republic

Copenhagenize - 1 April, 2016 - 09:21
In this age of rapidly shifting mobility patterns, the race is on to attract commuters to alternative transport forms. Public transport like busses, metros and trams suffer from negative perception and branding, not least in America. Busses, for example, have been labelled as "loser cruisers".

Enter a new start-up fashion firm - Transit Republic. After studying the alternative transport market, they realised that nobody was creating products that would encourage people to take public transport, as well as understanding the needs of the modern citydweller.


It's a Swedish duo, Terese Alstin and Anna Haupt who are behind the new company, and their main focus is the American market. "North America is a growth market for public transit. We heard they started a tram or something in Dallas and we realised that North Americans need to be lured with tech solutions before they do anything. We want to address their needs with style in order to boost transit usage".

After their now defunct Office Helmet project, where they tried to improve safety in the office environment, Alstin and Haupt realised that the world needed something important.

"Public transit is a great alternative", says Haupt. "I sometimes take the train in Stockholm when my car is in the shop and while I love being with my fellow citizens, I also need my own space. That's what Transit Republic is all about. Style and space in busy cities."

As an avid cyclist on the weekends, Alstin was inspired by the technology afforded cyclists by a plethora of intelligent accessories. "You can't just ride a bike. Gear is incredibly important, as well. Everyone knows that. The same should apply to public transit."


Creating your own space whilst enjoying the benefits of public transit is the key element in Transit Republic.



The idea is taking hold. Transit Republic is now working on collaborating with Levis and Volvo, which will provide them with some exciting, visionary partners.

Taras Grescoe, author of the definitive book on public transport, Straphanger, sees the new company as a breath of fresh air. "Finally, someone is taking the task of encouraging public transport usage seriously. It's hard to get people to take busses and trains and I firmly believe that Transit Republic are creating the products necessary to boost transit use", he said in an email from Montreal.

Copenhagenize the planet. And have a lovely day.
Categories: Views

Springtime!

BicycleDutch - 28 March, 2016 - 23:01
It’s finally spring! And it may be good to spend some moments looking at people riding around all the lovely spring flowers. These weeks I’m publishing many city portraits and … Continue reading →
Categories: Views

Maastricht; Cycling City of the Netherlands?

BicycleDutch - 21 March, 2016 - 23:01
Maastricht never really had a name as a good cycling city. Things have changed though, the city feels it has caught up with other Dutch cities. Cycling has improved with … Continue reading →
Categories: Views

Making driving more convenient: Assen's FlorijnAs project attempts to reverse decades of improvements for cyclists.

A View from the Cycle Path - 18 March, 2016 - 16:50
Readers will have noticed that my blogging slowed down somewhat in 2015 and has not really picked up again this year so far. There are a number of reasons why, but the main reason for blogging less is that there is less good news for cyclists in Assen and across the Netherlands in general now than was the case eight years ago when this blog started. The good ideas have mostly been documented on David Hembrowhttp://www.blogger.com/profile/14543024940730663645noreply@blogger.com0http://www.aviewfromthecyclepath.com/2016/03/making-driving-more-convenient-assens.html
Categories: Views

Bicycle Infrastructure Fail(s)

Copenhagenize - 15 March, 2016 - 11:41

By and large, we are optimists here at Copenhagenize Design Company. In our extensive travels around the world to our client cities and to give keynotes, we are privileged to see so many cities changing for the better and working to reestablish the bicycle as transport on the urban landscape. We get to work with great cities to help them make it happen. I've ridden bicycles in over 70 cities around the world with my work and while often the infrastruture is sensible, once in a while I am presented with weird stuff. Like the photo, above, taken in Washington, DC by our colleague Ole Kassow of Cycling Without Age. Initially, our team of planners and urban designers here at our Copenhagen office had a good laugh but then it sinks in. This is actually a thing. Someone was tasked with putting in bicycle infrastructure and THIS is what a city ended up with.

Here's the rub. Best Practice in bicycle infrastructure is basically a century old. Dedicated bike paths date from 1892 when an equestrian path was turned over to bikes on Esplanade in Copenhagen. In 1915, the first on-street, curb-separated cycle track was installed on Strandboulevarden. From there, protected bike infrastructure spread out around the world.

Over 100 years, the infrastructure has been tested by easily hundreds of millions of daily cyclists. Planners have tweaked and experimented, made mistakes and fixed them and ended up with a Best Practice that is simple, effective, safe and cost-efficient. Generations of planners and engineers have done an amazing job and just handed us everything we need on a silver platter. There are only four types of infrastructure in Danish Best Practice. One of the designs fits any street in the nation and any street in any city in the world. Copy-paste, baby.

Why, then, do we see crap like in the photo, above, showing up on city streets? Who, in their right mind, would ACTUALLY choose to put cyclists in the middle of a street with speeding cars on either side? Certainly not anyone with an understanding of the bicycle's role in urban life as transport or a sincere desire to encourage cycling and keep people safe. As I suggested on Twitter, find the person who is responsible and fire them. A flippant remark - but still a serious one.

The primary problem is that traffic engineering, in certain countries, still has influence on planning and urban design. In America, where this infrastructure was put in, bicycles are placed in the same category as motorized vehicles. In countries that GET the bicycle's role in cities, they are regarded as fast-moving pedestrians and we've been planning for them for a century.

We work with planners and engineers all over the world so we realise the challenges in changing the old-fashioned, car-centric mentality. It is, however, 2016. Planning for bicycles is child's play. Or should be.


Cycle tracks run parallel to the sidewalk. Separated from the motorized traffic. Period. It's not rocket science.

Looking at the photo from Washington, DC, my first thought is, "how am I supposed to get to a destination in mid-block"? Do I go up to the next intersection and walk my bike back? Why would I want to cycle with my kids or my grandparents on a barren wasteland as cars fly past?

No humans were considered in the development of this solution. There is no respect for access, safety and no broader idea of an intelligent, cohesive network.

"Oh, but it works!" You hear muttered from the wings of urbanism. What works, exactly? Cycling down this stretch is possible, yes. We are, however, planning our cities for the next century of transport. It is important to plan properly, using solutions that are tried and tested. Using cyclists as guinea pigs in solutions whipped together by lazy, car-centric engineers is ridiculous when we know the best way to approach it. Don't even get me started on the folly of on-street bi-directional lanes on stretches with cross streets.

I wonder if the people who mutter, "oh, but it works!" have homes filled with chairs sporting only two and a half legs. Technically, they work. You can take a load off. Rest your tired limbs. But they are not exactly Best Practice. We figured out as far back as the Neolithic period that four legs or a solid base is the best way to design a chair.

This is the chair at the moment in too many cities. Bits and pieces that don't connect up in a network, loads of sharp edges but technically - they tell us - it works. None of us have four of these in our living rooms.

If we design cities for humans, with respect for the human experience, safety, logic and ease-of-use, you wouldn't see stuff like a bike lane in the middle of a street, or sharrows, in any city. Engineers stare at computer screens and geek out on mathematical models. Designers think about the human on the other end of the design process. It's a human to human process. Let's design our streets like we did for 7000 years before we invented the automobile.


"Oh, but they have them in Barcelona!" Yes. And in Nantes. And in Sao Paulo. Does that mean it's a good idea? No. It just means that these cities have allowed themselves to listen to engineers instead of designers. I have ridden on the ones in Barcelona several times, on holidays with my kids and while working. No access to destinations in mid-block. Wide, arrogant intersections that force you to speed across them. The City is currently revisiting these designs, realising that they are not "all that".

The one in Nantes is shouldered by low-speed car lanes that allow easy access back and forth across the street. The one in Sao Paulo is an even bigger brain fart than the one in DC.


One difference about Barcelona is that most of the city is a 30 km/h (20 mph) zone. The City is focused on slowing the whole place down in order to save lives, reduce injuries and create a more life-sized city. The center cycle tracks lead to roundabouts, which make at least a bit more sense than throwing you into a car-centric intersection. The infrastruture in DC is focused on the fit and the brave, not the 99%. Hardly an intelligent way to grow cycling as transport.

One rule of thumb to consider is a simple one. If you don't see an infrastructure design in the Netherlands or Denmark, it's probably a stupid infrastructure design. If you wouldn't put pedestrians in a center-lane between moving traffic, why the hell would you put cyclists there.

It's all been invented. It's all right there, ready to use. Not using established Best Practice is three steps forward, two steps back and this is the time that we need to step boldly forward with confident, intelligently-placed strides.

Don't worry. The engineers and planners we need to fire will probably get another job. There's other engineery stuff to do. When it comes to our streets, let's use designs and ideas that make sense.

Copenhagenize the planet. And have a lovely day.
Categories: Views

Dutch style puncture repair

BicycleDutch - 14 March, 2016 - 23:01
Dutch bicycles require almost no maintenance. So the Dutch generally perform almost no maintenance on their bicycles themselves. But there is one thing that almost every Dutch child learns to … Continue reading →
Categories: Views

A second attempt at the A24 in Morden – and it’s still not good enough

As Easy As Riding A Bike - 11 March, 2016 - 18:53

I went to an interesting talk at the Guardian’s offices in London yesterday evening, entitled ‘What Can We Do to Get More People Cycling in London?’, featuring a panel of Chris Boardman, Andrew Gilligan, Rachel Aldred, Peter Walker and – as the token ‘opposing’ voice – Steve Macnamara of the LTDA.

The debate was wide-ranging, and largely consensual, with even Steve MacNamara stating that he ‘agreed with 90%’ of what Transport for London was building in central London, and making the reasonable point that taxi drivers don’t really want to be sharing space with people cycling on main roads – it doesn’t really work for either mode of transport. He also made the case for more cycling across London, arguing that more cycling means fewer motor vehicles on the road, and that (humorously) ‘we don’t really want anyone else on the road apart from cabbies’.

But a feature of the discussion that leapt out – for me at least – was delivery. For instance, despite Chris Boardman’s willingness to see improvements in his home town, any potential for change petered out in the face of council indifference and reluctance to do things that weren’t officially approved by central government.

Andrew Gilligan stated that he was ‘jealous’ of New York’s Janette Sadik Khan, who had control over all of that city’s roads, while in London TfL only controls about 5% of the road network. That means boroughs have a big say in whether schemes go ahead, and can effectively block cycling infrastructure if a few awkward individuals have a particular antipathy to it. This is the reason the E-W Superhighway completely bypasses the borough of Kensington and Chelsea, for instance, and why Superhighway 9 was cancelled.

And while there is obviously some very exciting stuff happening on a number of roads in central London, delivery in outer London is very patchy indeed, even when schemes are on TfL roads, designed by TfL. A case in point is the A24 in Morden. This is a road where, way back in 2012, TfL proposed some very poor changes ‘for cyclists’, which I reported on at the time. It essentially consisted of retaining 3-4 lanes of motor traffic, with shared use footways and narrow cycle lanes – repeatedly interrupted by parking bays – running in parallel with each other. I wrote that

with just a little more imagination, and a bit more budgetary commitment, there is great potential for good, separated infrastructure, suitable for all cyclists of all ages and abilities, to be provided along this road. The consultation proposals also bear the hallmarks of compliance with the Hierarchy of Provision; that is, conversion of pavements to shared use in the event that the authority responsible is unwilling to reduce traffic, slow it, or reallocate carriageway space. Likewise it is presumed that those using the pavement are willing to sacrifice their journey time for the privilege of cycling away from traffic.

I also wrote that

I’m not entirely convinced that the A24 immediately to the south of this area has to remain a four (and in places, five) lane road. There is scope for the reallocation of a vehicle lane for a cycle track, at least along the section until the junction with Central Road (but note that reallocation is not strictly necessary, given the existing width available).

I reached that conclusion because, although this road is 3 or 4 lanes wide at the moment, long sections of it are effectively only 2 lanes, because of the parking bays that take up most of one lane.

Well… it turns out that there is a new consultation on this road, or at least a part of it – the southern end – and the proposal is indeed to reduce the four lanes for private motor traffic to just two. But what is proposed for cycling is barely any better than before.

We have a mandatory cycle lane, yes. But it is directly on the outside of parked cars, in a dangerous position, rather than between those cars and the footway.

There’s a bus lane in the opposite direction, which wasn’t there before, but that is the extent of the cycling provision. Right at the bus stop itself, the footway becomes shared use. A ‘bus stop bypass’, but not a very good one.

And that’s pretty much the extent of this scheme – a bus lane in one direction, and an unfriendly and dangerously-positioned cycle lane in the other.

A cycle lane which also gives up at a bus stop –

And in the opposite direction, a cycle lane starts from behind a parking bay, leading you into a three lane-wide ASL. Good luck turning right here.

Given the width of this road – it is really very wide! – and the fact that two of the four lanes for motor traffic are now being lost, this is pretty thin gruel.

A very wide road. On which two lanes for motor traffic will be going. Is a shared bus lane and a poor cycle lane really the best we can do here?

The wide grassy median is of course being retained too – valuable space that could have been used for cycling, and would also help to reduce vehicle speeds if it were to be removed.

This is the second attempt at sorting this road in barely three years, and although it is progress of a some degree, what is proposed is very far away from the kind of inclusive cycling design that we are starting to see in central London, and in other British towns and cities. We need more – a lot more – of this higher-quality infrastructure if cycling is going to continue growing; it’s the only thing that will reach those parts of the population that aren’t cycling now. Cycling in bus lanes, or cycling between parked cars and fast motor traffic, on busy roads really isn’t going to cut it.

I’m not quite sure what the root problem is with this scheme. It might be that it hasn’t been allocated enough funding to alter the road properly, to create decent, parking- and kerb-protected cycleways in both directions, and to remove the median. It might be that officers and planners just don’t care enough. Or it might be that there’s only a relatively small amount of people in TfL who ‘get’ how to design for cycling.

Whatever the explanation – it’s still not good enough. If you can, respond this evening to the (very brief) consultation, saying exactly that.


Categories: Views

Demo on CS 11 tomorrow: show support for a cycle highway for NW London and a tranquil Regent's Park

Vole O'Speed - 10 March, 2016 - 19:51
When 'The Regent's Park' was laid out by John Nash and his associates in the early 1800s, the Outer Circle road was created, to quote a contemporary document, 'for the purpose of exercise'. At the time, this meant walking and horse-riding. When the villas around the park were built, it also provided access to them. When the wealthy who lived there aquired motor cars in the 20th century, of course they started using those on the Outer Circle. Because the Outer Circle remained connected to the roads around, via seven gates, it became a convenient cut-through for anyone using a motor car. There was no way to separate the cars of those who lived there from people passing through. Though the gates were closed late at night, and signs were put up banning commercial vehicles (but taxis were never banned), the Outer Circle became a rat-run, a dangerous and unpleasant barrier within the park, that greatly reduced its effective area, both through the noise and pollution experienced near the road, and because the road cut off the circle of the park outside it from the main body.
I've been campaigning to reverse this undesirable situation, with many other local people and groups, since around 2004. Note that I have not so far mentioned cycling. Though Camden Cyclists have been campaigning for the removal of through-traffic from the Outer Circle for all that time, the argument has never been primarily about cycling. It has been to resore the Outer Circle and Park to its rightful and proper purposes, as laid out by John Nash: an area for recreation and exercise, not traffic. An area free from noise and pollution. A park. The Outer Circle is needed for motor access to car parks, the zoo, to premises around the park, but it is not nededed as a through-road. It is closely paralleled by other roads that through-traffic should be using instead: Park Road (A41), Marylebone road (A501), Albany Street (A4021) and Prince Albert Road (A5025).

Finally, we now have a solid plan that will achieve our goal. The plans for Cycle Superhighway 11 (CS 11) from Portland Place to Swiss coittage, though falling short of the route we were previously promised, all the way to Brent Cross, at least in this phase, solve the problem of Regent's Park traffic to a considerable extent. They propose the closure of four of the gates: Macclesfield Bridge (Avenue Road),  Hanover Gate, York Gate and Park Square East and West, for most of the day, as shown below.

The other major element of this plan is a proposal to completley re-design Swiss Cottage gyratory system. This is another thing that so many in the borough of Camden and beyond have looked forward to for a very long time. All routes to the south of Hampstead and West Hapstead converge on this junction, with has long been a barrier to creating a decent cycle network in Camden. The plan for this horrible, filthy 1960s sea of traffic isolationg the famous Swiss cottage pub and the Odeon Cinema is that it should be removed entirely. The bulk of the traffic will be taken down an A41 made continuous, and two-way, on the west side of the current gyratory, while the eastern side, outside the Hampstead Theratre, the theatre school and the library, will be turned into a bus-only road, with wide pavements, trees down the middle, and segregated cycle tracks. This will be a massive environmental transformation of the area, and one for which many people have fought hard for a very long time.

How the CS11 plan will replace a sea of traffic with an oasis of calm at the north end of Avenue RoadThe section of Avenue road south of Adelaide Road will not be car-free, but it will become far less convenient a route for general traffic, as to reach it traffic from the north will need to turn left from Finchley Road thd then right. Furthermore, for most of the day, it will not give access to Regent's Park or towards the West End. It will represent a legely pointless detour for those who do not have specific business in Avenue Road or adjacent residential roads. We will see an end to so much traffic from the north, Finchley Road and Fitzjohn's Avenue, bombing past Swiss Cottage and into Regent's Park via Avenue Road. That traffic will largely stick to the A41, where it belongs.

The scheme is far from perfect in my view. We need the closures of the gates to be full time (there is an exception betwweren 11am and 3pm) and we really need the southern part of Avenue Road more fully closed to traffic (traffic can still turn left or right into Prince Albert Road under these plans) as there is only room for painted (mandatory) cycle lanes on the southern part of Avenue Road, not for segregated tracks, as we have seen on other recent Cycle Superhighways. However, this scheme gives so many of the big wins that campaigners (not just cyclists) have been looking for in this part of London for so long, we all need to support it. It represents a brave move by Boris Johnson, Transport for London, and Camden Council.

But the forces ranged agains CS 11 are strong. There has been a major campaign against it mounted by NIMBYs and those wedded to motor vehicle domination of London, with its attendent epedemics of pollution, isolation, exclusion and inactivity. 2400 people have signed a petition agains CS 11:


Furthermore, local papers have uniformly been reporting CS 11 negatively, in terns of 'howls of protest' supposedly emanating from many and various quarters: to give a flavour of the nonsense that's being spread here's extracts from some articles:

Clive Beecham, chair of the St John’s Wood High Street association said the plan to restrict vehicular access to Regent’s Park from 11am-3pm would create “traffic chaos” as drivers looked for alternative routes.

He said: “By redirecting traffic through St John’s Wood what you are doing is storing up traffic chaos for the next ten to 15 years. “If they shut off Avenue Road it will be a complete nightmare. As residents we should have the right to use the route through Regent’s park. He added: “It’s also going to be the worst possible thing for the High Street because the impact of traffic in one area is like a domino affect on others. As a community we need to rebel against it.------------- Stephen Lewis, who lives in Lyttleton Close, Swiss Cottage, said bicycles could be like “cholesterol clogging up London’s arteries”. “If London were a human body, it would be facing an invasion of cholesterol which threatens the arteries,” he said. “In this case, for cholesterol read cyclists. We are slowly being strangled by measures implemented to facilitate the journeys for cyclists but at the cost of slowly squeezing out other road users.”Swiss Cottage resident Ian Braidman said: “St John’s Wood and Primrose Hill, to the east and west of Avenue Road and Finchley Road, will become a rat-run for cars endeavouring to escape the traffic congestion this is designed to create.” ------------- Actor Tom Conti, who is campaigning against the project, told the West End Extra: “It will cause mayhem. The whole area will be destroyed – but it will not happen. We are going to make this a national issue. A bike lane from Portland Place to Brent Cross will be absolutely massive. There will be a solid queue to Hatfield. Cyclists should be made to pay road tax. If they want a special road, they should have to pay for it. “This is the beginning of some kind of Soviet idea to ban all vehicular traffic from London.”---------

There's loads more like this, and it's not just the reporters on the local press, or fossilised white males breathing petrol fumes who are opposed. A group calling itslf "NW8 Mums; a community for all our mums' (seemingly without irony) has published this exhortation:
We cannot understand how this scheme was ever even thought of, let alone that it might be allowed to go through. We must all work hard and together to make them see sense and drop it, before all our lives are ruined.' Worse, Westminster Council seem to be doing all they cvan to stop the plan. They have organised higly biased 'public meetings' where offiers have briefed against TfL's plans and have given no real platform for the supporters of CS11, who have been howled down by angry mobs. Westminster's Councillor Robert Rigby has said at one of these meetings, as reported by my correspondent (and this is likely to be the official view of Westminster Council):
· Residents do not believe the results of modelling [TfL modelling that demonstrates little increase on traffic on other local roads]. · The Outer Circle can accommodate all road users. · If a cycle track can be created along Birdcage Walk, despite heritage considerations, something could be done for cyclists on the Outer Circle [Note he doesn't explain what]. · Pollution will get worse, both on main roads and on side roads. · No account has been taken of HS2. · Closing the park gates is a step too far.Local politicians are hearing the noise and nonsense arguments from the opponents of CS 11 too loudly. This has to be challenged, or the scheme will fail. London Cycling Campaign, Camden Cyclists, and the others who support CS11 and  traffic-free Regents Park, including Camden Friends of the Earth, the Canal and River Trust, and Westminster living Streets, have decided enough is enough, and we are organising a protest to make some noise in support of cycling, CS11, a clean, green park, and less domination of NW London by motor traffic.

The protest and ride is at 6:00-7:0pm tomorrow, Friday 11 March, starting at Park Square East. Everyone is welcome on bike, foot, wheelchairs, or mobility scooters. Bring banners ands make a noise. We will be riding slowly a circuit including Park Square East and West, Outer Circle and Marylebone Road.

If you can come, and also if you can, be absolutely sure to fill in the consultation by 20 March. Don't only to only tick the overall/first section “support” button, but also tick Swiss Cottage support, gate closures, Portland Place segregated tracks etc., support specifically. More responding hints from LCC here.

We know that proper, serious, cilty-changing cycle schemes are massively popular: witness the 60-80% approval ratings for the consultations on vareious sections of TfL's East-West Cycle Superhighway, currently cutting a dramatic swathe through Parliament Square. But they also create fear, noise, and misguided panic in a place that has been so long in thrall to the car and the concept of engineering the environment around it, rather than around people on foot and bike.

Protest, ride, write to the papers, lobby your councillors, answer the consultation, and help make London a little bit more like the clean, civilised New Renaissance city that visionary architects and planners of the past, like Nash, and Christopher Wren before him, dreamed of. Please support CS11.

Here comes Madge!* Cycling infrastructure and roads reclaimed from motor traffic help all those who are excluded by a motor-dominated transport system, not just 'cyclists'.

*She may not really be called that.
Categories: Views

Ski Urbanism in Oslo

Copenhagenize - 10 March, 2016 - 10:20

The current and growing focus on creating life-sized cities involves all manner of tools and areas of interest. A healthy, intelligent transport form like cycling is obviously a primary focus for Copenhagenize Design Company but the picture is always bigger. Providing city dwellers with a myriad of activities within striking distance of the city is important, be it football pitches, tennis courts, running tracks, you name it. As is providing them with the opportunity to take a bike or public transport to these activities.

I have just returned from Oslo, where I spent the weekend sampling some "ski urbanism". Going downhill skiing on Friday and cross-country on Saturday and using only public transport to get to and from. Many cities are lucky to have such winter activities in a close proximity. That is not unusual.

What sets Oslo apart, however, is the totality of their public transport connectivity to winter sports and recreation. It is exceptional and enviable. It also makes it clear why a tiny country like Norway dominates the medal podium at the Winter Olympics. Skiing - especially cross-country - is the most normal of activities for Norwegians. Indeed, as John Oliver suggests, "...the only reason we have Winter Olympics is so that you freakish snow people can pick up your stupid cross-country ski medals".

Let's have a look at my intermodal ski bonanza weekend in Oslo.

Downhill Skiing (or Ski Jumping if you like)

Off we went on Friday, heading from Torshov to Oslo Winter Park. First by bus to Majorstuen and then the T-bane (metro) up the hill. We weren't alone, that's for sure. The Metro was packed with people carrying cross-country skiis, downhill skiis and snowboards. It was a Friday, but it was the winter break so there were many families out enjoying the sun and a temperature hovering around 0C. I discovered right off the bat that the accordian section of the bendy-bus was a perfect holder for our skiis. At Majorstuen station, we grabbed a coffee and waited 10 minutes for the train to take us up the hill.

The ski crowd - as well as commuters and the tourists heading to Holmenkollen - got company at Midtstuen station. A horde of passengers all carrying different kinds of sleds/toboggans stormed onto the train. If you didn't know what was happening - you would be as surprised as the French family I saw.

But hey! It's the Korketrekkeren! Basically "corkscrew" in English, This is an epic facility and quite unrivalled in the world.

Here's the rub: It's a sledding/tobogganing run dating from the turn of the last century. At the top you can rent sleds - or bring your own - and slide down for...get this... TWO KILOMETRES. With a vertical drop of 255 metres. It takes roughly 8-10 minutes to slide all the way down without stopping.

Don't worry about schlepping back up the hill. Just hop on the Metro and use it to get to the top again, which takes 13 minutes to get to Frognerseteren station. As many times as you like within opening hours. Tobogganing and public transport. Together at last. OMG this exists.

It was a cracking day on the slopes of Oslo Winter Park. The X-Games were in town and there was a half-pipe built in the area and, down in the city, a massive slope was constructed for some urban x-game action.

After a smooth bus-metro-bus connection to the alpine world, the next day it was time to try out that most Norwegian of all activities - cross-country skiing.


The weather was just as sunny and fantastic when we woke up, so off we went. Down to the tram stop to head towards Marka - the generic name for the wildnerness around Oslo. There was time enough on board the tram to remove some old wax from the skiis and rub on some new before switching to a local NSB train. On that station platform there were scores of people waiting. Individuals, couples, families with kids of all ages and a whole bunch of family dogs. It was most Norwegian thing I've ever experienced. If you exclude eating all their goofy food.


Like cycling, in order to ski - and to encourage people to ski - you need infrastructure. Sure, there are probably Vehicular Skiers who reject infrastructure, manipulate data to present a fake perception about the safety of it and who prefer to ski with the snowmobiles, but providing the citizens with ski tracks is a key element in the success of getting people to ski.

The City of Oslo prepares and marks out 400 km of cross-country ski tracks within the city region and the Norwegian Ski Union (Skiforeningen) does the same for a further 2200 km of ski tracks. Yes. A total of 2600 km (that's 1625 miles for those of you in Burma, Liberia or the USA). Either way, it's a lot of ski infrastructure within easy striking distance of every citizen of the city. It's worth noted that a few hundred of the kilometres are also lighted so you can get ski-busy in the dark, Nordic winter.

It requires, like bicycle infrastructure, some equipment. The machines that prep the tracks are considerably more badass than cycle tracks cleaners. But hey.

It's a modest investment to make when you are doing epic things for the public health and the urban experience. Like cycling.


In its's current state, urban cycling in Oslo lags behind many other European cities, with an estimated modal share of 8%, despite having a history of urban cycling like everywhere else in the world. Nevertheless, we can't wrap up without mentioning the fact that getting to a cross-country track from the city is very doable. As this gentleman will attest.

Liv Jorun Andenes from the City of Oslo's Bicycle Project, snapped this photo of this man heading home after skiing. Strapping his skiis and poles to his bike and heading off down the hill. When she asked why he chose to ride, he said, "It's slippery in the winter when I'm walking, so it's easier on the bike".

Exactly.


While there is no possible way to steal Oslo's thunder in the matter of ski urbanism, there are times in Copenhagen when such winter activities can be enjoyed. Climate change has slapped mild winters on us lately, but we have our moments. 1.5 hours from Copenhagen, in Sweden, you can hit some alpine slopes and, when the snow comes in the winter, you see all manner of winter activities combined with bicycles.

Oslo, however, is the world-beater. A life-sized city year round.


Copenhagenize the planet. And have a lovely day.
Categories: Views

Pages

Subscribe to Cycling Embassy of Great Britain aggregator - Views