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Even More From The Netherlands: Ride from Assen to Groningen!

By now if you haven't seen our Streetfilm "Groningen: The World's Cycling City" you should check it out. Like, now! It has broken every single Streetfilms viewing record - it had nearly 40,000 plays in just its first week!

One of the folks you'll see featured in that video is David Hembrow who has been reporting on cycling in the Netherlands for many years via one of the smartest transportation blogs out there "A View from the Cycle path". It's full of great knowledge you will want to devour. He also leads group bike tours of many cities in the Netherlands.


I was very fortunate to get to spend some time with him and we got along famously. Above is a video with some anecdotes and biking montages during our 20 mile bike journey from Assen to Groningen. It's only a small taste of what you'll experience in the Netherlands, but I think it will leave you craving more.

He currently has up a blog post full of all sorts of references and links to other posts that will give you a wealth of information about Groningen. Good stuff!

19 Comments
  • http://www.greenidea.eu/ Slow_Factory

    Hooray!

    David has such a nice accent and he has a great tone, and a not quite understated yet also unspoken twinkle in his eye saying "that's clever, is it not?" about the things we see.

    Also I liked how it started with discussion of more of urban/architectural design than cycling -- perhaps if the journey had ended with a different/complementary example it would have been even better.

    It was short and some of the explanations seemed rushed, if only in editing. The detail about the no stop light journey from the center of Assen to that development 5kms away is amazing -- this might stand out with some graphic, some funky edit, etc.

    Also, the other hand the trip from Assen to Groningen was 20 (or 15) kilometers and in the video was very compressed. You just cycled 12 miles or whatever... was it amazingly easy? What would be like to do that distance in other places between towns?

    I would like to know about the "unraveled routes". How does this happen between two towns or other areas with narrow roads between private land? Or indeed do all roads simply have allowance for paths due to tradition of property lines, or is there some kind of variant of eminent domain in the Netherlands which is evoked, if necessary, when land is needed... even for cycling? And how does unraveling work in cities and large towns when arterial streets for motor traffic also have a lot of destinations? Do excellent paths get built on both the most unraveled linear space AND the arterial?

    Even if some of these questions can be answered here, you gotta see them in action. So get in touch with David Hembrow.

    Finally - back to formal issues - I liked that at some parts the music was only percussion. This works well for pacing...sometimes the more complicated compositions with higher sometimes too happy notes distract from what we are looking at. But I am the kind of guy who doesn't listen to an iPod whilst cycling.

  • Rebecca Albrecht

    The Hembrow's also do holiday tours. My family did several of their self-guided holiday tours this past Summer. The instructions were up to date, very clear, and we saw things that we could not have seen had we been left to our own devices or used guide books.

  • Kevin Love

    I am saving up my pennies to go on one of David Hembrow's cycle tours. This will probably be one of the highlights of my life.

  • http://www.streetfilms.org Clarence Eckerson Jr.

    Kevin, I don't know what it costs, but it will be worth every penny.

  • Walk Eagle Rock

    "David has such a nice accent and he has a great tone, and a not quite understated yet also unspoken twinkle in his eye saying "that's clever, is it not?" about the things we see."

    ^ This!

  • gecko01

    The future works: absolutely wonderful film.

  • p_chazz

    Bicyclists in the Netherlands seem to proceed at a much more relaxed pace than San Francisco. Also, I noticed a distinct lack of spandex.

  • Good King Wenceslas

    Can you point me to the streetfilms showing biking in The Netherlands and in Denmark when it is raining and snowing?

  • Sprague

    Another great film that beautifully illuminates how streets can be devoted to other modes and that reduced reliance on automobiles may result in seemingly happier and healthier lives. It would be great to see a Streetfilm about Davis, CA's bike infrastructure. Like many Dutch cities, Davis has similar topography and a somewhat similar history of promoting the bicycle for everyday transportation.

  • Joe R.

    You just cycled 12 miles or whatever... was it amazingly easy?

    From what I gather reading David Hembrow's blog, the cycle routes between cities and towns are usually fairly direct. More importantly, in most cases they either don't intersect major roads, or bikes are given signal priority over other traffic when they do, so you rarely need to slow or stop. That to me is the biggest factor making a journey more pleasant. Routes which require stopping several times per mile or more greatly increase journey times, decrease potential range, and in general just making cycling a chore instead of a joy. When you rarely need to stop, you also have very predictable journey times.

    Here's a good example of what these types of routes can accomplish:

    http://www.aviewfromthecyclepath.com/2009/11/commuting-speeds.html

    David manages to do his 30 km (18.6 mile) commute in well under an hour thanks to a cycle route where you can usually just get up to speed and stay there.

  • http://www.streetfilms.org Clarence Eckerson Jr.

    Well we just have gotten the best weather every time we go!

  • Todd Edelman, Slow Factory

    YES, Joe. Good details -- my point was that it may have helped if this point was emphasized.

  • http://www.streetfilms.org Clarence Eckerson Jr.

    Good King, THere are also plenty of clips of just that on Vimeo and Youtube.

  • Walk Eagle Rock

    Copenhagenize and Bicycle Dutch both have video of that.

    Here's The Netherlands

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5JQr8cm-6X4

    And here's Copenhagen

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_mXOqv38euQ

  • http://www.streetfilms.org Clarence Eckerson Jr.

    Sprague: we did a Streetfilm about Davis many years back:

    http://www.streetfilms.org/adventures-in-a-platinum-bike-city-davis-calif/

    Enjoy!

  • http://www.streetfilms.org Clarence Eckerson Jr.

    And really good ones! Thanks for posting. The best videos about every day conditions are usually best produced by people in their cities since they can be there almost any day of the year while I am constrained to 2 to 4 days travel.

  • Marven

    I went on one of his tours earlier this year and all told, I probably spent ~$2200 (haven't added it all up yet). It was definitely worth my money, I had a grand time. I'd also recommend picking up a copy of the Design Manual for Bicycle Traffic put out by the Dutch transit authority, CROW. There's an English version available in the likely event that you don't speak Dutch. It blows the NACTO Bikeway Guide out of the water (but I haven't yet had a chance to compare it to the new NACTO guide).

  • Marven

    That's because its the daytime. The spandex crowd comes out every evening on their racing bikes and they also ride with plenty quickness. Yet, they aren't encumbered by the infrastructure as most of the American MAMIL crowd envisions because of the availability of direct routing, etc. Don't want to run into school girls/grannies? Then don't ride where they're likely to be. It's just that simple.

  • Marven

    I took the study tour, so I know the exact route that was taken. It parallels the main road (Asserstraat/Groningerstraat) between the two cities. But unlike a main road in America, it's only a two-lane affair and traffic was fairly light (by our standards) the entire time anyway. There is also a highway connecting the two cities, which naturally takes more traffic off the road. Last, but certainly not least, the superb train service also relieves pressure on the road. So all in all, it would probably be a paint stripe affair here in the States.

    Nonetheless, the cycle track parallels the entire road between the two cities (with a separate one paralleling the canal for a bit out of Groningen before joining the road one), with bikes having priority over all side streets and at some of the major junctions. While it isn't completely accurate to say that the route has no stops, the relatively light traffic and lack of fixation on stop signs mean that in practical terms, the trip really is usually possible without stopping.

    I'm including here a picture taken at one of the junctions. This one is special/unusual because of what was done. Just out of the frame to the left is an old house that predated the cycle track. While most cycle tracks have ample visibility at intersections, the house made that impossible at this junction. So the mirror was installed. Also, made a couple notations on a few other things.