Sunday, December 21, 2014

Could Smart Cities Slowly Destroy Democracy?

Has the concept of the smart city ”crystallised into an image of the city as a vast, efficient robot?” In the age of the “Internet of Things,” where does the citizen fit in? In this article from The Guardian, journalist Steven Poole takes a critical stance against the purported utopian ideals of smart . Poole delves into the nuances of who the smart city is truly meant to serve, questions the debate over whether it should develop along a top-down or bottom-up approach, and poses the provocative thought: “a vast network of sensors amounting to millions of electronic ears, eyes and noses – also potentially enable(s) the future city to be a vast arena of perfect and permanent surveillance by whomever has access to the data feeds.” Questions of control, virtual reality, free-will, and hierarchies of power, Poole asserts are critical to the discussion of technology’s powerful role in the future. Read the full article to learn more about the possible potential of the smart city to “destroy democracy,” here.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Copenhagen: Relatively good for cycling

The purpose of the doctoral study -Vélomobility; A critical analysis of planning and space- is to bring a spatial dimension into the research on urban mobilities and connect the spatial dimension to the marginalisation of cyclists in urban space. This is been done by exploring the role of urban bicycling and transport planning. The materialisation of power relations is analysed with the example of modern planning in Sweden and Denmark. Overall this thesis manages to show how cycling as a mode of transport is marginalised in urban space, and that urban space wars between cyclists and car drivers and among cyclists are fought in Copenhagen as well as in Stockholm. The conclusion is that different factors, such as the economic situations in Denmark and Sweden, have affected urban and transport planning and thus have created two very different transport systems, where cycling plays a large role (Copenhagen) and a smaller role (Stockholm). Nevertheless, this thesis shows that even in cities that are very good for cycling, like Copenhagen, the motorised modes of transport create many problems and are still dominating urban space. Read on here.

Monday, December 8, 2014

What BMW has learned from cycling; London calling.

BMW is hoping to be in the vanguard of dealing with the changing way Britain’s city dwellers use vehicles by launching a joint venture with car rental company Sixt. The companies have brought the DriveNow car-sharing model to London from Germany which allows users to locate, unlock and start cars using a mobile phone app, then drive them on a charge per minute basis. The system – currently in a small scale test with a fleet of about 250 BMW 1 series and Minis – does away with the need for a central collect and return point so users can make one-way journeys. DriveNow has agreed a deal with Islington, Hackney and Haringey councils allowing the cars to be parked in any on-street parking spaces, meaning they can be used in a similar way to London’s “Boris Bike” scheme, as long as they are dropped off within the three boroughs. Peter Schwarzenbauer, BMW board manager said the company looked at the future of the car market several years ago and decided it needed to be in the sector. Read on here.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Planning the Cycling City: Highly recommended graduate level program!

This graduate level programme will explore urban cycling from a Dutch perspective, both historically and current, and will provide students with a host of skills on how to develop and foster cycling cities and gain insights on what this means. Students will examine the impacts of history, policy, infrastructure, planning, and culture within the context of urban cycling in the Netherlands. Next to this, the programme invites students to bring and share their personal views and experiences on cycling cities. Amsterdam is the world’s cycling capital and offers the most suitable environment for examining bicycle-related issues in the urban context. Admission requirements: - Master's and graduate students in the field of urban planning have priority. - Undergraduates in their final years, majoring in urban studies or related, are welcome to apply. - Those not in the field of urban planning are also welcome to apply, but should make clear in their motivation letter why they believe they qualify for the programme. Highly recommended by Velo Mondial! Be quick!


Friday, November 28, 2014

No cycle super highway, but a fast cycle route: a timeline

Timeline: 2008 First investigation into the feasibility of a high-speed cycle route ʼs-Hertogenbosch-Oss. 2009 The national government decides to subsidise fast cycle routes and local and/or regional authorities are asked to send in plans with a subsidy request. A total sum of 21 million euro will be available. 2010 The Province of Brabant, together with the municipalities of ʼs-Hertogenbosch, Oss and Maasdonk, apply for a subsidy for the F59. 2011 The preliminary design is finished. 2011 The National Government grants 1.3 million euro to this project. 2012 The province and the municipalities try to allocate funds for their part of the route. The total costs of 4.8 million euro will be shared as follows: National government 1.3m Province 2.5m (including 0.6m as a guarantee for unforeseen costs) Municipalities 1m (all three combined). The municipality of ʼs-Hertogenbosch will be in charge of the project. 2013 Representatives of all parties involved sign an agreement to start building the route. 2014 The first part is officially finished and opened. January 1, 2015 The municipality of Maasdonk will cease to exist and its territory will be split between ʼs-Hertogenbosch and Oss. 2015 The full route is expected to be finished by the end of 2015 Read on here in Bicycle Dutch.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Public Bike sharing in North America During a Period of Rapid Expansion

Public bike sharing systems offer accessible shared bicycles for first-and-last mile trips connecting to other modes, as well as for both short and long distance destinations in an urban environment. Access to the bicycles is gained through membership in a bike sharing organization. While the majority of North American bike sharing operators charge for use (membership and use-based fees), some community-based bike sharing organizations do not. This report highlights Information Technology (IT)-based bike sharing activities in the United States, Canada, and Mexico. Bike sharing systems typically permit both one-way trips and round-trips with bikes available on-demand (no reservation) via a network of docking stations for retrieving and parking bicycles. Thus, bike sharing can facilitate connections to and from public transit and provide a means to make local trips within the bike sharing network. IT-based bike sharing has grown rapidly in North America over the past five years.  Read on here.

Why don't the poor use bike share systems?

Bicycle sharing systems have been spreading like wildfire over the past few years, with new initiatives in New York and Chicago bringing the idea to America's biggest cities. But even the oldest such systems aren't very old, so we're still learning a lot about how they work. One striking finding of a major new report from the Mineta Institute at San Jose State University is that bike shares cater disproportionately to the rich. At least they do in the four major established systems in the US and Canada that the report examined. For each city, this table shows two different populations. In the left column, you get the share of the city's total population that belongs to each income bracket. In the right column, you get the share of the city's total bike share membership that belongs to each income bracket. In all four cities, you see that low income cohorts are a lower share of the bikeshare population than they are of the total population. In the high income cohorts it's the opposite. 17 percent of Salt Lake City bike share members earn over $150,000 a year, even though such well-to-do individuals are only 8 percent of the city's total population. Read on here.



Sunday, November 16, 2014

Investment in cycling can bring very strong returns to society.

new statistical report from the Department for Transport in the UK shows that investing in cycling brings huge economic, social and health benefits, with some cycling schemes having a benefit-to-cost ratio (BCR) of up to 35 to 1. The newly-funded cycling schemes have BCRs of 5.5:1 – the Department for Transport said this means that "for every £1 of public money spent, the funded schemes provide £5.50 worth of social benefit." The DfT's "Value for Money" guidance says a project will generally be regarded as "medium" if the BCR is between 1.5 and 2; and "high" if it is above 2. In transport terms, 35 to 1 is most definitely "off the scale".To put this into perspective, the Eddington transport study of 2006 said the BCR for trunk roads was 4.66, local roads 4.23 and light rail schemes a measly 2.14. The UK's £43bn HS2 rail project has a BCR of just 2.3. Ministers often state that road and rail projects offer "high" benefit to cost ratios.This tallies with another ground-breaking DfT report, "Claiming the Health Dividend", also released today; the report riffs on the many benefits of "active travel", stressing that the investment case for cycling is "compelling." Read on here. 

Barriers to bikesharing: an analysis from Melbourne and Brisbane

This study quantifies the motivators and barriers to bikeshare program usage in Australia. An online survey was administered to a sample of annual members of Australia’s two bikeshare programs based in Brisbane and Melbourne, to assess motivations for joining the schemes. Non-members of the programs were also sampled in order to identify current barriers to joining bikeshare. Spatial analysis from Brisbane revealed residential and work locations of non-members were more geographically dispersed than for bikeshare members. An analysis of bikeshare usage in Melbourne showed a strong relationship between docking stations in areas with relatively less accessible public transit opportunities. The most influential barriers to bikeshare use related to motorized travel being too convenient and docking stations not being sufficiently close to home, work and other frequented destinations. The findings suggest that bikeshare programs may attract increased membership by ensuring travel times are competitive with motorized travel,  Convenience considerations may include strategic location of docking stations, ease of signing up and integration with public transport. Read on here.