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The ‘tour’ and the buzz – Utrecht

Even on the other side of the country (almost), here in the Netherlands (admittedly, a very small country), one can feel the buzz of the Tour de France that will be starting in Utrecht on Saturday.

The tensions between sport cycling and city cycling still persist in Holland, but in a different way that is difficult to pin down. Either way, here is yet another attempt for Utrecht to put their stamp as the ‘capital of the bicycle kingdom.’ Its all good (love the sarcasm), though a bit overdramatic.


Bike sharing woes

From an intellectual or research perspective, there is room for me to support bicycle-sharing systems more than I do currently. But my perspective is strongly shaped by personal experiences. In four cities in four different countries over the past four years, I have tried to use four different systems. I have been denied on all accounts.

  • I tried to do use the system Paris. The machine would not take my credit card because it did not have the requisite ‘chip.’
  • I tried to use the system in Seville. The access machine for pod accessible from my hotel was not functioning at the time.
  • I tried to use the system in London. No bikes available at my pod.
  • On Tuesday, I tried to use Capital Bike share in DC. 24 hour memberships were not available owing to software system upgrades. Then, I read the below (thanks to Chuck Kooshian @ CCAP for sending).

Am I missing something?


Capital Bikeshare to offer limited service as upgrade gets underway

By Dana Hedgpeth February 3 at 9:54 AM Follow @postmetrogirl

The popular Capital Bikeshare program is expected to offer limited service as its operational software that powers the system goes through a major upgrade.

It is the first time in the Washington are program’s four-year history that it has done such a significant upgrade, officials said. It promises in an announcement that the upgrade will “improve the user experience for our members.” The new software is also expected to allow the bike service to “begin testing new equipment for future expansion.”

For bike riders who use the program, the upgrade process will cause some inconvenience. The software work begins at 7 p.m. Tuesday and is expected to last from 16 to 24 hours. During that time, there will be a “significant impact” on users of the system, Capital Bikeshare said. Those temporary changes include:

  • No credit cards can be used at Capital Bikeshare stations.
  • Users of the program who have annual, monthly or daily key memberships will not be able to rent bikes from the same station more than once when the upgrade is underway. Users can rent bikes from one station and drop them off at the same or another station.
  • New memberships and renewals will not be available on the bike share Web site,
  • There will be no updates for Web sites, maps and mobile apps on whether bikes are available.
  • Capital Bikeshare stations will not offer the “time credit” feature.

Users of the Capital Bikeshare program are encouraged to check on Twitter and Facebook for updates or changes in the process, according to the program.

The bikeshare program has become increasingly popular in the D.C. area. In Montgomery County, the program had about 35,000 trips in its first year, exceeding the expectations from county officials by almost 50 percent.

Help Cycling Scofflaw Science

In a project led by Wes Marshall and Dan Piatkowski, the Active Communities/Transport (ACT) Research Group is looking into the dynamics of the cyclist risk-taker who laughs at traffic laws versus the sucker who obeys them. The project was featured in the Washington Post,  picked up by MPR and mentioned in other places. More survey responses to help the research are always welcome by going here.



What’s new (with cycling)

IMG_4091I started focusing on bicycling as a research theme in 2002. The novelty for the first few years was “exciting” (e.g., is it really possible to have such a sliver the larger transport landscape comprise a larger portion of a research agenda?). The next few years was more so “interesting” (e.g., why does this mode of transport have such a difficult time integrating into major transport discussions; how can research methods from other modes be applied to cycling). The last few years have been “surprising” (e.g., who would have thought that such a previously marginalized transport mode could garner such attention?). A dozen years later, the continually shifting landscape helps maintains interest in cycling (at least for me). Here are at least four reasons:

  1. The media and other attention that the mode is receiving suggests that more and more people (including political leaders) are starting to devote considerable resources towards bicycling. It’s a bit unclear why this mode has taken off at this time (I have some explanations).
  2. Transforming transport systems in cities suggest a strong role for repurposing of primary rights of ways. Cycling will be a large beneficiary of this space.
  3. Large-scale, long-haul transit has a distinct role in the future of cities. How people access these transit systems—and more broadly transit/cycling integration—is a key research topic moving forward. Oh, cycling egress also plays a role.
  4. ICT is having a revolutionary affect on everything in society, but specifically, ICT is facilitating and transforming both cycling research (e.g., smart phones) and cycling use (e.g., apps for wayfinding).

Last of the Mohicans has fallen

The last of the mohicans has fallen. My colleague, David Levinson, told me,

“how can you expect to be a self-respecting and authoritative voice on the future of urban transport if you don’t own a smart phone?”

Owing to this and other complications, I just acquired my first cell phone in 43 years. Based on 24 hours of use, I have three semi-philosophical observations:

1. We (as a society) have the lost the art of planning (e.g., where should we meet? It does not matter, I will text you).

2. No one asks for directions anymore; our ability to accurately give them is probably at an all-time low as well (not that it was anything great to begin with).

3. No one talks on the phone anymore, socially. We have seemingly moved to texting for all socially related interpersonal communication when physical proximity jeopardized (and even then texting seems preferred).

VerDuS congress in Rotterdam

I was invited to participate in the VerDuS programme in Rotterdam (the Netherlands) on June 16-17, in which there were a variety of sessions focussing on:

  • Knowledge for Strong Cities
  • Sustainable Accessibility of the Randstad
  • Urban Regions in the Delta

Here are two photos from the event: one from my presentation and another in conversation with Luca Bertolini.