Monday, July 21, 2014

South Africa Celebrates Cycling

City of Johannesburg officials are hoping the new bicycle lanes will help reduce traffic congestion newly paved lanes were tested on Sunday by Freedom Ride cyclists who raced from Braamfontein to Soweto - and back. At least 4,000 people took part in the event. The 36km social ride was meant to encourage cycling in the city, and to celebrate the spirit and legacy of Tat’Nelson Mandela. Officials are showing their commitment to making the streets of Johannesburg cyclist friendly. The city says it’s part of efforts to encourage the use of other modes of transport. “This is now becoming a major part of our policy both in terms of the city and the Gauteng provincial department of transport," says Gauteng Transport MEC, Ismail Vadi. "We want to make cycling part of a form of transportation not just for sporting and recreational activities. Read more here. " 

Monday, July 14, 2014

The ultimate Amsterdam 'Cycling Policy & Design' publication!

3rd of October 1960 cyclists were banned from Leidsestraat for the first time ever, and Amsterdam was moving towards becoming more of a car loving city. Between 1960 and 1970 the number of cars quadrupled. This had a negative effect on road safety and fatality rates climbed. For a short while the outlook for cycling in Amsterdam seemed bleak. However, the Amsterdam residents were determined not to let this happen. During the late sixties and early seventies, a cyclist protest movement gathered momentum, gradually forcing the city council to take more action. In 1978 a new traffic circulation plan was introduced by the city council, promising to allocate more space for cyclists and pedestrians by reducing space for cars and car parking. Today the city recognises the importance of the bicycle as the most valuable part of its mobility. In comparison to motorised traffic, it requires very little space, it’s cheap and clean, it’s convenient and quick and it keeps us healthy. Cycle policy has therefore become an integral part of the Amsterdam mobility policy. What would happen if all these people would drive a car or use public transport for that matter? There simply wouldn't be enough room! The City of Amsterdam composed a wonderful booklet entitled: 'Cycling policy and design; Putting knowledge into practice'. It is the best from the best!

Friday, July 11, 2014

Cycling in relative isolation; is that at all possible?

Phoenix is one of the first handful of cities nationwide to get bike share. But experts are scratching their heads at this step toward bicycle friendliness because it’s happening in relative isolation. If the city isn’t bicycle friendly on the whole, how successful will a bike share program be? “It’s only when bicycles are coupled with safe and more ubiquitous biking facilities that bike share is likely to get a large following,” warns walkability expert, architect and urban planner Jeff SpeckBut you have to start somewhere and even including bicycle infrastructure. The key is to begin to change the car culture in the city, which is starkly reflected in the Department of Transportation and to take steps to promote bicycling on the roads of Phoenix. Reasons for cycling for Phoenix: 1. Bikeways make places more valuable 2. Bikeways help companies attract talent 3. Bike commuters are healthier and more productive. 4. Bike facilities increase retail stores’ visibility and sales. 5. Bicycling saves a city money. 6. It reduces congestion and therefore reduces the need for more freeways. 7. Bicycling saves in health related costs. Read more here.

But it's clear that urban mobility badly needs to be rethought

The Finnish capital Helsinki has announced plans to transform its existing public transport network into a comprehensive, point-to-point "mobility on demand" system by 2025 – one that, in theory, would be so good nobody would have any reason to own a car. Helsinki aims to transcend conventional public transport by allowing people to purchase mobility in real time, straight from their smartphones. The hope is to furnish riders with an array of options so cheap, flexible and well-coordinated that it becomes competitive with private car ownership not merely on cost, but on convenience and ease of use. Subscribers would specify an origin and a destination, and perhaps a few preferences. The app would then function as both journey planner and universal payment platform, knitting everything from driverless cars and nimble little buses to shared bikes and ferries into a single, supple mesh of mobility. Imagine the popular transit planner Citymapper fused to a cycle hire service and a taxi app such as Hailo or Uber, with only one payment required, and the whole thing run as a public utility, and you begin to understand the scale of ambition here. Read on here.

Getting rid of helmet law boosts Tel-Aviv bike share program

Eran Shchori of Israel’s peak cycling body is an advocate of helmets, yet he is opposed to helmet laws. The Advertiser spoke to him about his successful campaign to overturn the helmet law in Israel.  To help put the dangers of cycling into perspective, the Israel Bicycle Association organised a soccer game, which was played with helmets on. Heading a soccer ball has been linked to brain trauma – making soccer arguably a better candidate for helmet wearing than cycling. The press loved the images of soccer players looking silly in helmets – and it made people look again at cyclists. The efforts of Mayor Huldai, lobbyists, a handful of Knesset members and the Israel Bicycle Association brought about a modification of Israel’s helmet law in 2011, which allowed adults to cycle without a helmet in urban areas. “The number of cyclists in Israel has increased dramatically, especially in Tel Aviv,” says Eran. “The Tel-Aviv Municipality says that from 2010 to 2012 there was an increase of 54 per cent in the number of people who use their bicycles regularly.” Helmet law issues out of the way, Tel-Aviv’s bike share program has also taken off, growing from an initial 250 bikes and 35 docking stations to 1500 bicycles today at more than 150 stations. And yes, if you want to wear a helmet the Tel-O-Fun bike hire scheme can supply you with one. Read on in Bike News.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

'Free parking' is expensive and does not sell more

When considering free or cheap parking in shopping areas, it is important to research what this will bring to the shops. Most municipalities aim for a thriving retail sector but the research and practical experience available to CROW-KpVV in The Netherlands, show free parking to be an an expensive measure that hardly contributes to the number of shop visits or shop revenues. Moreover alternative measures are cheaper and contribute (much) more. These measures are in the fields of investing in a high quality public realm, a good mix with other entertainment functions like bars, cafes and restaurants, museums, and special events at or near the shopping area. Looking at the impact of transport related variables, the most important factor is that it is well organised. Easy accessibility and ease to find a parking spot is influential in the choice of the  shopping area for a mere 15 percent of the visitors. Parking rates play only a role for 6 percent of the visitor. Altogether municipalities have measures to their disposition promoting the retail sector that are much more effective than free or cheap parking. There is no such thing as free parking because the cost of free parking is very high for the municipality, i.c. the tax payer; An attractive shopping environment'  is key to the success of shopping areas, not free parking. Read more here.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

4.200 bcycles parked under stairs

Utrecht opened its – so far – largest indoor bicycle parking facility. It is the first new permanent solution to park bicycles in the area around central station. Under the new monumental stairs to the new station hall (that has yet to be finished) this huge new facility can accommodate 4,200 bicycles.Utrecht is rebuilding its station area and up to now most of the facilities were temporary. But the area at the west side of the station is now in a stage that the first permanent structures are being finished. One of those is the 8 metres high massive entrance stairs. The steps lead up to the new municipal office building that has also just been finished and the new station hall over the railway tracks. These stairs offer great views over the square ‘Jaarbeursplein’ that will also be used for events. For those events the stairs can double as a grand stand with seating for many people. That already happens. People use the seating areas in the stairs – which cleverly hide windows for the space under the stairs – the moment the sun is out. People can use elevators. Read on here.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Should Urban Cycle Hire Schemes be Financially Self-Sustaining?

It’s perhaps not surprising that bike-sharing was born in one of the world’s most prolific transport innovators. France brought us the stylish automobiles of the 1960s, high-speed TGVs, Airbus jetliners – and urban bike-sharing. 40 years ago, the French city of La Rochelle launched what is considered the world’s first successful bike-sharing programme, VĂ©los Jaunes (Yellow Bikes). Incredibly, the bikes were actually free to use at first, and 30 years later ( in 2004) the fellow French city of Lyon would launch the world’s first major bike-share scheme using next-generation, computerized bike racks and memberships cards. Some 600 cities around the world now have a bike-share system, most of them being wildly successful in terms of market penetration and user-rates. In fact, we’re positively hooked on them. New York City’s own Citibike was launched earlier this year and in only a few months the programme has already grown to nearly 100,000 members. User numbers aside, however, the vast majority of these systems have floundered financially, much to the dismay of city governments. But can (or should?) bike-sharing be financially self-sustaining? Read more here, also in Portuguese.

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