Saturday, May 05, 2007

And now the news from Europe

The Wall Street Journal yesterday ran an article titled Building A Better Bike Lane. It starts off with a slight sense of wonder about how Europeans use their bikes:
COPENHAGEN -- No one wears bike helmets here. They're afraid they'll mess up their hair. "I have a big head and I would look silly," Mayor Klaus Bondam says.

People bike while pregnant, carrying two cups of coffee, smoking, eating bananas. At the airport, there are parking spaces for bikes. In the emergency room at Frederiksberg Hospital on weekends, half the biking accidents are from people riding drunk. Doctors say the drunk riders tend to run into poles.
Some 40% of people commute to work by bike in Amsterdam, but...
Even in Amsterdam, not everyone is pro-biking. Higher-end shops have already moved out of the city center because of measures to decrease car traffic, says Geert-Pieter Wagenmakers, an adviser to Amsterdam's Chamber of Commerce, and now shops in the outer ring of the city are vulnerable. Bikes parked all over the sidewalk are bad for business, he adds.

Still, the new measures in Amsterdam and Copenhagen add to an infrastructure that has already made biking an integral part of life. People haul groceries in saddle bags or on handlebars and tote their children in multiple bike seats. Companies have indoor bike parking, changing rooms and on-site bikes for employees to take to meetings. Subways have bike cars and ramps next to the stairs.
Then there's the best part:
Within the past four years, the city increased the fine for buying or selling a bike in the street. Punishment for stealing a bike is now up to three months in jail.
You need a subscription to see the WSJ online, but I did a PDF of the article which you can read here.

Speaking of Amsterdam bikes, there's a web page with some interesting photos I like despite myself. It's at Amsterdam Bicycles and is 82 photos of bikes in Amsterdam taken in 73 minutes last autumn. Here, let me be catty for a second and say what I don't like about this page.
  1. Deficient Photos - many of the photos are blurred. He needed a faster shutter speed or to pan with the bikes and in some cases the autofocus picked up on subject matter behind the bikes. This can probably be forgiven since he wanted to run all the photos he took. I've certainly had that impulse before.

  2. Unfamiliarity with subject matter - this shows mostly in his vast overestimation of the effort required to run a bottle generator but also on his frequent reference to $15 or $20 bikes. Generators take little effort and free you from batteries and these bikes are worth lots more than $20. Many of his mistakes are gently pointed out in the comments that follow.

  3. Annoying tic - in this case, "riding his bike in Amsterdam". Over and over again, it's Here's a lady in a dress talking on the cellphone riding her bike in Amsterdam. Yes, we know she's riding a bike and it's clear from the last 20 times you said this that it's in freakin' Amsterdam, so stop it already.
OK, I feel better now. Despite these gripes, it is an interesting set of photos because the mode of dress and riding is so much different than what we normally see here and the photos get this across.

Although I haven't previously posted this link, I think Cleverchimp did, and it's another set of Dutch cylcing photos from an apartment's second story. Again, a completely different riding vibe than we get in the Cities. Note that when you open this the use of white space on the front page of this PDF makes it look like it's blank. It's not.

Finally, the Cleverchimp guys are opening a bike store carrying some of the Dutch Cargo Bikes. It's called Clever Cycles and will be open soon (and, as I copy the links to put in here, I see he beat me to the WSJ story...oh well).

Heb een groot weekend!


Richard Jennings said...

You can get free access to that Wall Street Journal article with a netpass from - that was on television last week

Tuco said...

Love the dutch!
Have you seen these videos?

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