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).
Upon arriving, I was immediately struck by three observations:
- An intersection on the east edge of town carrying 36,000 cyclists per day.
- A feature spread in the daily newspaper highlighting cycle track rage—not between car drivers and cyclists—but between cyclists.
- Public officials informing me of their desire to widen the cycle track standard from 2.5 meters to 3 meters (formerly it was 2.2).
The 10th post of the EU BICI series looks at Dutch cycling by exploring Delft and the Hague and benefits from the insights of co-author, Peter Furth, Professor of Civil Engineering at Northeastern University and frequent instructor of a sustainable transportation course via TU-Delft.
“With tulips and clogs, bikes are a signature element of the Netherlands—lots of them. Everywhere. It’s the only country in the world with more bikes than people. More than anywhere in the world, bicycling here appears to be a form of “mechanically assisted walking.” Where residents in other countries might walk for short distances, the Dutch pedal. But because they pedal, their “velo-walking” extends far greater distances than normal walking ever would. Cycling is used as the default mode for short trips like running errands. Except in busy shopping areas, bikes far outnumber pedestrians; cycling is pervasive.
But even in this exceptional national context, people are surprised to learn there is still wide variation in cycling use…”
There is reason to believe that Padova—a town with more than 200,000 people in the Veneto region in the north of Italy—is capable of becoming one of the country’s best cycling towns…
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.
“There is one place in the United Kingdom that reports more than two times as much cycling relative to its closest competitor: Cambridge (~31% of all trips). Many consider this high-tech and bioscience oriented town of 123K people—also home to one of the most prestigious universities in the world—to be the haven for cycling in the U.K. It’s easy to rationalize such based on the cycling culture. The overall cycling infrastructure, however, is a different story.”