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Posts tagged "Joe Baur"

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The Gaman Spirit: Why Cycling Works in Tokyo

In Tokyo, bicycling accounts for 14 percent of all trips. Yet Tokyo does not have the cycling infrastructure of Amsterdam or even Hamburg. As much as wider bike lanes would help, Tokyo residents will bike regardless. If there's no bike lane, they'll just hop on the sidewalk or wherever they feel safe.

Joe Baur produced this excellent Streetfilm. He writes:

Still, it was easy to see some of the same problems in Tokyo that I've seen in my own cycling in Cleveland and throughout the United States. That is, motorists will take that space back when it pleases them.

For instance, while cycling on a beautiful blue lane into downtown Tokyo, my hosts and I stopped at an intersection to get some shots of cyclists passing by. Across the street a delivery truck had pulled over into the bike lane. Ahead of us, a car in the bike lane forced cyclists to either hop onto the sidewalk or move further into the vehicle lane. Unsurprisingly, drivers did not seem keen to make space for the merging cyclists or to slow down.

The other peculiarity was the fact that the responsibility of designing cycling infrastructure falls to the individual districts within Tokyo. Byron Kidd of Tokyo By Bike equated it with New York City boroughs coming up with their own cycling infrastructure, irrespective of one another. The result is, indeed, confusing -- comically so at times.

However, cycling continues to work beautifully in Tokyo. I was surprised by just how young the kids were cycling around the city. I was told that kids start in the back of their parent's bike, then they move up to a handlebars seat when the second child comes along before hopping onto their own bike when they're too heavy. This all makes sense when you consider that it's very common for Japanese children to be sent off on their own at an age many North Americans would consider too young.

There's at least one thing the rest of the world can take from cycling in Tokyo. That is the "Gaman Spirit." Literally, it means "to endure." But when applied to cycling in Tokyo, it refers to everybody getting along.

Whether you're a cyclist, pedestrian, or driver, it doesn't matter. We all have a job to get done, so as Kidd put it, "get it done."

StreetFilms
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Why did so many people think Hamburg was declaring a car-free City Center?

This one continues to be a head-scratcher!

Last year, many in the transportation world thought Hamburg, Germany was making plans to declare a car-free city center. I, too, had read many articles such as this and this that reported of it.

Even Copenhagenize which lists Hamburg as its #19th Most Bike-Friendly City on their biennial index was hoodwinked (make sure you read their addendum.)

When guest Streetfilms journalist Joe Baur was headed to Hamburg a few months ago he asked if I'd be interested in a story on the city's plans to become car-free. But when he dug deeper residents told him it just wasn't true! (See the above excerpt on what some of told him.)

As Joe wrote, "Basically nobody had any idea what I was talking about. One of my initial contacts said that the story was started by a British journalist who obviously got the story wrong and then every other outlet from there just picked up the story without fact-checking. The only thing anyone agreed on is that they wish it was a true story." We invite any readers who know more or have any instinct as to what happened to please leave information in the comments.

Regardless, Joe was still able to put together a nice piece for Streetfilms about Hamburg which you can watch here.

By the way, let me just include a few words about Mr. Baur who is a travel writer and filmmaker by trade. He's been car-free for the last four years and lives with his wife in Cleveland who gets that constant "How do you live without a car?" query from suburban family and friends.

He recently spent a year in Central America and promises to be uploading travel videos to his site and putting together a podcast focused on a mixture of travel, urbanism as it relates to travel, and simply talking to interesting people. So if you are "interesting", drop him a line!

 

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Hamburg’s Quest to Get Bicycling Up to 25 Percent of All Trips

Hamburg, a city of nearly two million people in northern Germany, has a 12 percent bike mode share and regularly ranks among the world's most bike-friendly cities (Copenhagenize currently has it in 19th place). Nevertheless, many cyclists and advocates in Hamburg believe their government should be doing much more to build safer bike lanes and encourage cycling.

Guest Streetfilms journalist Joe Baur was recently in Germany and got to interview advocates about the state of cycling and how Hamburg can achieve its goal of 25 percent bike mode share by 2025.

You can view more of Joe Baur's work on Vimeo.