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Posts tagged "The Netherlands"

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Happy Valentine’s Bike Day Montage!

Well it's February 14th. And I just decided that for the first time ever Streetfilms was gonna do some happy, loving Valentine's Day biking imagery for a card to our subscribers and fans.

I sifted thru about 30 Streetfilms over the past ten years and lifted out lots of scenes of happiness from some of our videos from NYC, USA and around the world.

Bikes = Love

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Touring Delft with the Bruntlett Family: The City That Keeps Cyclists Moving

Streetfilms has known the Bruntlett's for quite some time. In fact, Chris & Melissa, co-authors of "Building the Cycling City: The Dutch Blueprint for Urban Vitality" once told me that the 2013 Streetfilm on Groningen, was the vital juice that motivated them to first visit the Dutch and that wonderful city we profiled.

Now earlier this year the former Vancouver residents have moved to The Netherlands with their children and they have chosen the "smaller" city of Delft (population: 100,000) to reside instead of some of the "bigger" names like Amsterdam and Utrecht.

Why? Well their reasons are myriad but as we biked around it became quite clear what most attracted them to Delft is that the city has really taken seriously the Dutch philosophy of giving bicyclists free movement with limited stoplights, roundabouts and maintaining through movement for people using human power to get around. In many places bikes have the default right of way, the opposite of many countries and cities where they would be required to press a beg button and wait their turn.

So I got to take a great fun tour with the family and all four of them, including daughter Coralie and son Étienne, offered ample reasons why Delft and The Netherlands are so great for their lives and getting around independently.

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Amsterdam’s Removing 10K Parking Spaces: See what that can look like!

On my swing to The Netherlands to visit Utrecht, I planned on just trying to gather up enough footage and talk to a few people in Amsterdam regarding the transportation headlines they made a few months ago when they announced they would be removing from 10,000 to 11,000 parking spaces from the city's core.

I really only planned on perhaps a very short 90 second vid showing a few shots of parked cars and soundbites from a few notable folks in Amsterdam. What I got was so much more. As you will see I got to talk to some amazing folks including Zeeger Ernsting, a City Councilperson for GroenLinks (Green Party) who gave me the story how the initiative came about and told me I needed to visit the Frans Halsbuurt neighborhood where an entire grid of streets now virtually has no parking except for loading spaces (an extremely good idea!) and a few spaces for handicapped access.

The neighborhood has been undergoing a transformation for many years and there are a myriad of reasons why the spot was chosen (in fact I am planning on going back in July to fully document it even more in-depth.) But if you go to Google and check out the street views from 2012 thru this year, you will see car parking evaporate in the final panels. As dramatic and lovely as this film makes it seem I must advise you: it is even more lovely, lush and livable. If you have a chance, go there. See it for yourself.

We need to be thinking about this in every major city. A commitment to start shrinking the number of places we allow parking.

Paging Dr. Don Shoup!

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Utrecht’s Vredenburg is the busiest cycle path in all of The Netherlands!

In Utrecht you'll see the most mesmerizing site: Vredenburg carries 33,000 cyclists on an average day! 60% of trips into the city are by bike.  Private cars are banned from the road, all you will see is mega helpings of people on bikes, plus pedestrians, many bus lines and the very occasional taxi (taxis aren't very popular in Utrecht.)

On the plane ride home while going thru nearly 2,000 shots I took in Amsterdam and Utrecht, I realized so much of this good footage will not figure in the final product of my mega doc from Utrecht. So I thought best to put up a fun montage using some of the best shots. After all, I tweeted just one 30 second shot of footage overhead and that was watched nearly 400K times. So I figure there are probably many thousands that would love to just sit back and watch the bicycles flow by, sometimes their operators seemingly floating in air. If you go I warn you: one night I just sat for a half an hour sans camera taking it all in.

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Life on a Dutch Woonerf (Living Street)

When I posted I was headed to The Netherlands once again to visit (and for my first time to Utrecht,) as usual I got a lot of recommendations on what to look at. One of the first people to contact me was Rebecca Albrecht, who moved there with her husband Paul from Boston about three years ago and couldn't be more delighted to live there.

She mentioned she lived on a Dutch play street (woonerf) and when I looked at the photos she had snapped from the window of her bed & breakfast, my first thought was: maybe this would be an opportunity to get a unique angle from residents since I had ridden on so many similar streets in Amsterdam and in Copenhagen but didn't want to be too nosy.

When I arrived the street was full of neighbors and children and they wanted to talk to me about their lovely street. But this is not something exceptional as over 2 million Dutch people live on play/living streets. So take a gander but be warned: you will want the same thing for your block.

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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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Rotterdam: A Post-War Central City Moves Beyond the Automobile

On a trip to the Netherlands this summer for the VeloCity conference in Nijmegen-Arnhem, I had one extra day on my itinerary. So I asked the Streetfilms Twitterverse what I should do with my 24 hours, and I heard loud and clear from people in Rotterdam that I should come see their wonderful city. I'm glad I did.

Rotterdam is the second largest city in the Netherlands. Because so much of the city was razed during a World War II carpet bombing, Rotterdam lacks a historic central district. Its newness makes it an interesting comparison to American cities. Even though much of central Rotterdam was built during the era of mass motoring, the city is still taking major steps to shift away from cars and toward transit, biking, and walking.

Traffic and parking are on the wane in Rotterdam as the city actively encourages more efficient modes of travel, with an extensive tram system and improving bike network (bicycling mode share currently stands at 20 percent and it's rising quickly). The city even has rain and heat sensors at traffic lights that give cyclists more green time during tough weather.

My guide to the city was José Besselink, a planner and one of the leaders of Rotterdam's "City Lounge" initiative, which makes public spaces in the central city more active and inviting for people. The program has been transforming parking lots and other underused spaces since 2008, and the results are impressive.

Perhaps the most stunning change is around the majestic Rotterdam Centraal Station. A 2014 overhaul reallocated huge amounts of space around the station, limiting car access while opening up more room for pedestrians and cyclists and laying down a "green carpet" for trams.

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Nijmegen: The City That Tamed Cars So People Can Walk and Bike Where They Please

This Streetfilm was a pure joy to make, and it really snuck up on me. Nijmegen, a small Dutch city, was never on my radar. But I found myself in town last month for the Velo-City 2017 conference, and it was a marvel.

The car-free center of Nijmegen is full of street life. Kids play and ride bikes without giving it a second thought. People just don't have to worry about cars. Nijmegen has accomplished this by devising a system where essential motor traffic, like buses and deliveries, has access to central city streets, but other vehicles do not.

In the city center, bicycling accounts for nearly 60 percent of trips, according to Sjors Van Duren, program director of Velo-City. The stories of these smaller Dutch cities "are not often told," he said, but they should be. The extent to which Nijmegen has prioritized walking, biking, and transit -- and kept car traffic at bay -- is something every city should strive for.

So I started interviewing as many people as I could -- residents and visitors -- about their experience in Nijmegen, to show what it's like to live in a city where cars have been tamed and people can walk and bike where they please.

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Exploring More of The Netherlands: Rotterdam, Nijmegen, Arnhem & more!

By now you may have seen a few of my newest Streetfilms debuting from my visit to The Netherlands for the Velo City 2017 conference. The above video is a great resource in case you've ever wanted an on-the-ground tour of cycling by Dutch engineers but haven't the opportunity to do so. It's difficult capturing events like this in real time while moving with a group, but there is certainly enough to soak up in this Streetfilm and learn a great deal about logical design for cyclists and intersections from the best, so check it out.

I saw much on this journey spending time in a few cities. My first stop - unexpectedly - was the city of Rotterdam. When a vocal group of Twitter followers from Rotterdam found I was spending an extra day in the Netherlands (to save big time on my roundtrip airfare) they cajoled me into an amazing tour. José Besselink, Urban Planner for the City of Rotterdam, and Monique Zwinkels, Inner City Manager, Municipality of Rotterdam organized a fabulous journey by bike to sample some of what the city has to offer, especially looking at its core urban livability concept City Lounge. We had a few fun moments I was able to pop up quickly while on the road. 

The above is kinda silly, but shows my great love for transit running over grass. It's something I have also experienced in Oslo and Cambridgeshire (buses); there's just something about it that brings out the kid in me. And it jives with my son, since he loves the video too.

This next video speaks to the testament about how much more dense cities all over the world are getting and how cars are becoming increasingly a bad technology to use in cities. The ANWB, which you can think of as the Dutch AAA car-federation for motorists, now has a fleet of cargo bikes they use to rescue or fix driver cars in the central city of Rotterdam. They had only been operating a few days when we ran into this gentleman. Oh, and also they will fix bikes, too.

Read more...

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A Tour of Dutch Bicycle Streets and Intersections

The 2017 Velo-city conference in the Netherlands this June was full of excitement, information, and enlightenment. And the pinnacle was seeing Dutch bike infrastructure first-hand, with guides who know it inside and out.

On the final day of Velo-city, I joined a bike tour around the city of Nijmegen and its outskirts, led by three Dutch infrastructure experts. We got their insights into the design of bicycle streets where cars are guests, how intersections prioritize bike travel above motor vehicles, and a grade school where more than 60 percent of students arrive by bicycle.

Without a full crew and weeks of advance planning, it was tough to capture everything that makes this bike infrastructure work so well. So I focused on the important things, and I think this Streetfilm will help viewers see just how seriously the Dutch treat street design and safety for people on bicycles.

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What Streetfilms May Emerge from VeloCity 2017!

Above: "Cycling Copenhagen, Thru North American Eyes", with nearly 350,000 plays, the 5th most watched Streetfilm of all-time was shot at Velo-City 2010.

VeloCity is just about a week away and after six years of missing it, I'll be attending what promises to be 2017's exciting chapter in Arnhem - Nijmegen, The Netherlands. As the event approaches I've been pondering what videos I might produce. Of course, I do like to stay in-the-moment and spontaneous when I go to transportation conferences of any kind. I try not to over pre-plan since there are always so many great people, rides and sessions going on that a film could materialize right in front of me. However, here are some good bets of documentation I'll attempt.

First off, this cool thing that happened: while booking my trip over the phone - which is something I never do - my ticket agent explained that if I extended my trip by one day on either end, my round trip flight would be over 50% less. So easy decision to land 28 hours earlier. A nice group of folks in Rottterdam got wind of my extra day and cajoled me stick around there for an entire day and have organized a comprehensive bike tour! That's so completely nice. I'm super excited as I have never been. It should make for a phenomenal Streetfilm.

Because the lodging prices were high and extremely limited availability in Nijmegen, I opted to stay in Arnhem for the event. The choice was made easy when you have trains every ten minutes between the two cities. But as I did research I was intrigued to discover that the two cities opened a bicycle superhighway between them last year. So I'll certainly try and bike it at least a few times and see how cool it is. Could this be a Streetfilm? Sure. I'm hoping to find a few folks from the conference or the cities to ride it with me one morning and talk about how it came about.

The conference also features nearly a full day in which attendees are encouraged to attend an excursion to Amsterdam, as there are no sessions scheduled during this time. Of course, I did make a few very popular Streetfilms a few years ago on my original sojourn there (see "Anecdotes from Amsterdam" above.)  So I'll be going again. Bringing my camera. Not sure what will happen, but I'll be grabbing video. listening to tour leaders and talking with my fellow conference friends about it.

Another very short film I'm certain to churn out is something on the annual Velo City Bike Parade! The mass bike parade takes place Thursday night thru the streets of Nijmegen. The 2010 version in Copenhagen was a real fun treat as you can see above.

Of course, in addition to all that, I'll be tweeting and Facebook-ing plenty throughout the conference itself and I'm sure they'll be plenty of opportunities to gather quick interviews with leaders in the bike world. It's gonna be a real wave of sensory overload and hard to keep up. But that's a fun challenge.

Do you have ideas and thoughts about must see stuff at VeloCity or in The Netherlands? As you probably can imagine, I've gotten a few "Please cover this/me/come to our city too!" pitches via email and many asks on social media as to what my plans are. Please feel free to leave ideas in the comments field below or tweet them to @Streetfilms or @PurpleClarence. Just keep in mind I am only one person and I make all the videos at Streetfilms. I usually spend almost every moment of the day while daylight shooting films, so I can't do everything.

Finally, I'd like to thank the organizers of VeloCity 2017 for granting me a press pass so I may attend. Without that there is no way I could put enough funding to really make this happen. And if you want to see more about biking in The Netherlands, Streetfilms has a nice pod of work from over the years you can browse by clicking this link.

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Should NYC Have a Bicycle Mayor? Meet Anna Luten Amsterdam’s Bike Mayor

During 2017's Vision Zero for Cities Conference in New York City I got to spend a few minutes chatting with Amsterdam's Bicycle Mayor Anna Luten about her biking public advocate status and then I wondered if we could do the same in NYC.

Could we? Who would you nominate? What would be their qualifications? What powers would you like them to have? Most people I spoke to thought it would be an excellent idea.

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Bicycle Anecdotes From Amsterdam

Here we present our final -- and most informative -- Streetfilm from Amsterdam. It provides a nice cross-section of commentary on life in the City of Bikes. If you’d like to skip directly to a certain section, use this table of contents:

0:17 Rejecting the Automobile
2:15 A bike system that works for everyone
4:05 There's a science to what looks like "bicycle chaos"
5:55 Coming to The Netherlands from the United States
7:33 Dutch Bicycle Culture

Make sure you check out our other Streetfilms from Amsterdam: No Amsterdam is Not "Swamped" By BikesAmsterdam Draws Bike Boxes to Organize Bike Parking, and Some Things You Might See While In Amsterdam.

I still find it amazing that a five-year-old in Amsterdam can ride straighter and with more confidence than the average American adult!