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Posts tagged "Groningen"

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The Innovative Way Ghent, Belgium Removed Cars From The City

Witness the transformation of Ghent, Belgium, who instituted the Traffic Circulation Plan in April 2017, which completely changed the way nearly every resident gets around the city and has inspired unheard of mode shifts. It encourages less car use, more bicycling and more transit use by splitting the city into  seven distinct zones: a mostly car-free city center core surrounded by six zones which have been cordoned off with concrete or controlled by cameras. The only way to reach them is to travel to the ring road on the city outskirts, thus making it not impossible to use a car but motivates those shorter trips to be done via human power or mass transit. Bike mode share in 2012 was 22%, now it is 35% and growing!

This swift, creative strategy of turning Ghent in to a place for people is such a phenomenal story it's a mystery as to why it has not gotten more attention worldwide. It is a city of 262,000 residents, so not a large metropolis, but not a small city either. The metamorphosis was achieved thru a sort of tactical urbanism approach by throwing concrete barriers and planters here and there (some backed by enforcement cameras) and altering the gateways into public spaces and safer places to walk and bike. (There are now 40% fewer cars on bicycle priority streets than before the plan!)

Their main inspirations were the cities of Groningen and Utrecht, both in The Netherlands. And as Vice Mayor, Filip Watteeuw explains they did not have the funds or the time to spend 10, 20 or 30 years to catch up to where they were. So they improvised with interesting tactics and treatments and The Traffic Circulation Plan. And as I have said before what happened was stunning: almost never has their been such a rapid metamorphosis occurred in such a short time. And Ghent isn't stopping there.

Ghent was a fabulous city for many reasons. I highly recommend a visit. It is quiet and lovely and nearly everywhere is attainable by multiple modes of transportation. You can even use a car if you like - but just remember it is a little more complicated.

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Ghent’s Political & Media Obstacles to Implementing the Traffic Circulation Plan

SUPPLEMENTAL CONTENT!

We had to cut out so much from our Ghent Streetfilm on The Circulation Plan and how wonderful it was for the country. We probably could have released a 30 minute version!!

But we had to take out over half of the section on the political obstacles and negative media sensationalism that led up to (and during) the first days. So this was important to retain more of this story in an additional release for those curious. After all, we all know the usual story that occurs when a city, state or country tries to implement an innovative transportation scheme: there are often community scare tactics, the opposing political party tries to take advantage or not support it and - usually standard - the media tries to drum up controversy and say the plans will not work and cause difficulty.

Thus it is a valuable tool to make this expanded story from Ghent as you will hear about some of these (including "death threats" to the Vice Mayor Filip Watteeuw and even Dutch planners, yes the Dutch(!) saying the plans were "political suicide".

But as we know in most cases well-thought plans do work and the public ends up liking it more than the media ever assumes.

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The Netherlands Megamix Bike Montage

Over the past five years, I've visited several great cities for cycling in the Netherlands. One thing you'll notice if you go to places like Amsterdam, Groningen, Rotterdam, Utrecht, and Nijmegen is that there are a lot of kids biking.

Contrary to what advice columnist and bike lane opponent Amy Alkon has been spouting on Twitter, there's no evidence that biking with kids in the U.S. is more of a hazard than driving with kids. And if you're really concerned about children's safety, you shouldn't be trying to put a stop to bike infrastructure in your neighborhood.

I hope this short "Netherlands Megamix" montage, culled from some of my favorite shots and including some never-before-seen footage, helps bring home the idea that in countries with sane transportation policies, the goal is to make cities safe for people of all ages to bike, not to banish parents from cycling with their kids.

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A Groovy Array of Bicycling Streetfilms From The Netherlands

With so many of my friends posting Facebook photos and Tweeting short video snippets of what they are seeing while in Amsterdam at the PPS Placemaking Summit, I thought this would be an excellent time to compile in one place most of my Streetfilms I've shot there since my first visit in 2013, great films to watch right now whether you are there with them or not.

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"Bicycle Anecdotes from Amsterdam" at nearly 370,000 plays was a fun one to make and very quickly edited together with little effort. So much so that I thought it would be entertaining but by no means did I expect it to become our 4th most popular film of all-time (out of over 800!) But it has a lot of nice moments in it. (Side note: partly due to it, I ended up buying a Fre8 WorkCycle thanks to seeing them being made in the shop while being able to chat with Henry Culter. See above photo!)

Of course, our universally loved Streetfilm on Gronigen proved to be groundbreaking and now is heading towards a half million Streetfilm plays across all media we can track. We had read stories (50% bike mode share!) and seen a few short snippets of the great downtown of Groningen on Youtube before deciding to work in a visit. We were glad we did. Even four years later, if you type in "Groningen" and "bicycling" into search engines, our film is the first to pop up. And in the aftermath of my visit there were dozens of stories on Groningen, many citing or even embedding our Streetfilm in their coverage. (BTW, a reminder: anyone can embed our linked videos in their reports or websites.)

In 2017 I was able to return to The Netherlands while attending the VeloCity 2017 conference and I fell in love with the city of Nijmegen. I had been planning to just shoot a few shorts while there on all sorts of tours and interviews with people. But while roaming around on foot downtown, I couldn't believe how car-free the city was and how there were a series of steel bollards that kept cars out most of the time. Simply amazing. So I rushed to grab enough interviews towards the end of the conference to produce the result above!

Additionally, the Arnhem-Nijmegen region boasts the quickest, safest continuous bikeway I have ever ridden. You are gonna want to watch that too!

Jumping back to Amsterdam, I actually assembled this fun montage in a few hours one night after my first full day of shooting to get people psyched for my videos to come. It too was a very modest hit!

At this point, I'll leave you with the linkage below to even more Streetfilms. Please enjoy them!  And go to the Netherlands if you want to see great bicycling infrastructure!  And for those still waiting for more? I do have a long gestating film from  Rotterdam I hope to have ready, eventually.

"Danish Infrastructure Tour of Bicycle Streets & Intersections" 

"Journey from Assen to Groningen with David Hembrow":

"From Netherlands to America: Translating the World's Best Bikeway Designs"

"Groningen's Green Phase For Cyclists"

"Rotterdam: Trams on Grass"

"Amsterdam Draws Bike Boxes to Better Organize Bike Parking"

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The Power of Bicycling (Get Psyched)

Has winter fatigue set in yet? Time to get psyched about biking again!

This has been the worst winter of my adult life. And if you live most places in the United States you'd probably agree.  Between the extreme below-average temperatures and the constant barrage of snowstorms, it's made cycling outdoors a rough proposition - even for the intrepid.

To attempt to lift my spirits, I started browsing archived Streetfilms bike b-roll from all over the world, and I could feel my mood instantly change. We've certainly been lucky to shoot in great bicycle places in beautiful weather and that magic of bike love easily translates via the camera.  So I thought maybe I should share some of that joy and get some of you looking forward to the Spring with this hasty-assembled montage.  

Warmer days are coming my friends. Enjoy the bike porn.

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Journey from Assen to Groningen with David Hembrow

By now if you haven't seen our Streetfilm "Groningen: The World's Cycling City" you should check it out.

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!

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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!

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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.

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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Groningen, The Netherlands: The Bicycling World of Your Dreams

When I first moseyed off the train in Groningen and began the mile walk to my hotel, I remember laughing often as I looked around in little boy amazement. For years I had pictured how the world of Groningen would appear and this was the first time in my life where reality exceeded imagination. It really is bicycling nirvana. It's like the board game Candyland with bikes instead of sweets. Or maybe better yet: Willy Wonka & The Bicycle Factory.

I'm 46 and I've never been to Disneyworld, but I kinda felt like I had wished upon a star.

Okay seriously - schmaltz aside - I can't accurately convey the profound joy and silly happiness I fondly recall when I think of my three days in Groningen . In fact, I've been a little overly-concerned the Streetfilm I've been working on will not visually do the city justice.  Since many of you have inquired how editing has been going, I wanted to give you a small bit of what I was surrounded by. So here's a short montage tease lifted from my current 15 minute rough cut.

As you can surmise from the trailer, 50% of all trips in Groningen are done by bike; and reach as high as 60% within the city itself. The city has 190,000 inhabitants, 75,000 cars and around 300,000 bicycles. That's pretty extraordinary, but not car-free by any means.

How can bike mode shares possibly go that high?  Well wherever you go in The Netherlands great care is taken to make your bicycle trip safe, swift, and convenient. You prefer to ride a bike no matter the distance because it will be faster, healthier, and cheaper!  Here's a good example in this graphic from the still-uncompleted Streetfilm, comparing car & bike travel times from my hotel to shoot my first interview in Groningen.

gronigen

My Streetfilm will contain lots of great moments. An IKEA's bicycle parking.  A crossing over a canal that goes the extra mile to accomodate cyclists. Bicycle parking for over 10,000 at Central Station. The amazing, omnipresent cycle tracks and car-free (and light) areas of downtown. And of course words from the denizens of Groningen telling you why it's so great to ride a bike. In the Netherlands it's nothing special to be accommodated as a rider.  It's just expected. Read more...

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Rethinking the Automobile (with Mark Gorton)

For more than 100 years New York City government policy has prioritized the needs of the automobile over the needs of any other mode of transport. Working under the faulty assumption that more car traffic would improve business, planners and engineers have systematically made our streets more dangerous and less livable. As a result, even the idea that a street could truly be a “place” – a shared space for human interaction and play – has been almost completely destroyed.

During his decade long effort to understand and improve the streets of New York City, entrepreneur and livable streets advocate Mark Gorton has gathered together a compelling set of examples of how transportation policy impacts the quality of our daily lives. Mark is regularly invited to speak in public about these issues.

In his current presentation “Rethinking the Automobile” Mark explores the history of autocentric planning and considers how New York and other cities can change. Filled with ample video footage of dozens of Streetfilms, we’ve worked with Mark to create a version of the presentation here.

As the founder of Streetfilms, Streetsblog, OpenPlans, and the New York City Streets Renaissance Campaign, Gorton has been on the front lines of the battle to transform New York’s streets. But Mark is not done fighting. He contends that the recent improvements that have been implemented in New York should only be considered as the “tip of the iceberg” and that a truly comprehensive set of changes are still necessary.

For more on Mark’s continued efforts to make our world more equitable, livable, and safe visit www.rethinktheauto.org

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From the Netherlands to America: Translating the World’s Best Bikeway Designs

The Netherlands is widely recognized for having the highest cycling rates in the world. What's not so well known is that the Dutch don't bike so much because cycling is in their DNA. They do it because after the country started down the path toward car dependence, they made a conscious decision to change course. After many decades of deliberate policy to invest in cycling as a mode of transportation, the Netherlands has the most advanced bike infrastructure you'll ever see.

Recenty Streetfilms joined a group of city leaders from Chicago, Washington, DC and Miami on a study tour of the Netherlands, through the Bikes Belong Foundation's Bicycling Design Best Practices Program. The program shows American transportation professionals and policy makers real life examples of what it looks like to invest in cost-effective bicycle facilities. This video takes you on a tour of the incredibly well thought out street designs in the Netherlands. You'll see the infrastructure, hear from the experts on the ground, and watch the tour participants react and imagine how they might implement similar designs in American cities
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Groningen’s Green Phase for Cyclists

Groningen is the largest city in the northern region of the Netherlands. With 57 percent of all trips in the city made by bike, it has acquired the title "World Cycling City." In Groningen, even the large multi-lane roads have been tamed for safe cycling.

At this intersection on the main ring road around Groningen, cyclists get their own green phase. When the bike signal says go, cyclists at any point in the junction can travel in any direction, including diagonally. Engineer Hillie Talens explains how it works in this short video, which kicks off a series of Streetfilms we made on trip to the Netherlands with a delegation from Bikes Belong.