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).

Copenhagen’s Cycling Craze | streets.mn

IMG_7632The EU BICI series travels to Denmark’s capital city: Copenhagen

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).

 

Houten (Holland): Heaven or Hollow? | streets.mn

The next post of the EU BICI series stays in the Netherlands and travels to the widely acclaimed bike town of Houten.
“We keep it simple: we design all bike facilities in town to be 3.5 meters wide.”IMG_7735-Andre Botermans, urban planner for the town of Houten (the Netherlands) talking on June 25, 2014 to a delegation of the World Symposium on Transport and Land Use Research.

All things in Houten appear simple, including bike planning.

Dutch Cycling around Delft and The Hague

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.IMG_7751

“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…”

Padova’s (Italy) Cycling Potential | streets.mn

IMG_7309-500x375There 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…

Here is the next entry in the EU BICI series including: Seville (Spain), BolognaFerrara (Italy), Berlin , Munich (Germany), Zurich (Switzerland), and Cambridge (U.K.).

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.

RvB-20140616-253RvB-20140616-327