Tuesday, April 28, 2015

End of the car age: how cities are outgrowing the automobile

Cities around the world are coming to the same conclusion: they’d be better off with far fewer cars. So what’s behind this seismic shift in our urban lifestyles?  Gilles Vesco from Lyon calls it the “new mobility”. It’s a vision of cities in which residents no longer rely on their cars but on public transport, shared cars and bikes and, above all, on real-time data on their smartphones. Birmingham, which vies with Manchester for the title of England’s second city, has been following the experience of Lyon and other European cities closely, and is now embarking on its own 20-year plan called Birmingham Connected, to reduce dependence on cars. For a city so associated in the public mind with car manufacturing, this is quite a step. London, which has pioneered congestion charging and has a well-integrated system of public transport, has led the move away from cars over the past decade, during which time 9% of car commuters have switched to other forms of transport. Helsinki has a vision of how the city will look in 2050. It will have a lot more people – the population is projected to rise by 50% – but with much less dependence on cars. And much, much more here.

All you can learn today about Bike Share systems

The number of cities offering bikeshare has increased rapidly, from just a handful in the late 1990s to over 800 currently (note:VM estimates 600). This paper provides a review of recent bikeshare literature. Several themes have begun to emerge from studies examining bikeshare. Convenience is the major motivator for bikeshare use. Financial savings has been found to motivate those on a low income and the distance one lives from a docking station is an important predictor for bikeshare membership. In a range of countries, it has been found that just under 50% of bikeshare members use the system less than once a month. Men use bikeshare more than women, but the imbalance is not as dramatic as private bike riding (at least in low cycling countries). Commuting is the most common trip purpose for annual members. Users are less likely than private cyclists to wear helmets, but in countries with mandatory helmet legislation, usage levels have suffered. Bikeshare users appear less likely to be injured than private bike riders. Future directions include integration with e-bikes, GPS (global positioning system), dockless systems and improved public transport integration. Greater research is required to quantify the impacts of bikeshare, in terms of mode choice, emissions, congestion and health. Read on here.

Friday, April 24, 2015

So much more idylic if only motors and scooters were gone

Why the Dutch cycle

In recent years cycling has taken centre stage as an important political topic for cities around the world. In an age of austerity and increasing oil prices, it is little wonder that cycling has reemerged as a significant form of sustainable transportation. Besides the affordability and inherent health benefits to having an active population, there is a growing body of research suggesting cycling plays a significant role in fostering social belonging and active civic participation. Currently, many municipal leaders and planners are grappling with the challenges of invigorating a new cycling culture or reinventing one that was lost during the past 60 years of car-friendly urbanism. However, there is one country that stands out as the cycling capital of the world—the Netherlands has kept its cycling culture alive despite the pressures of modern industrialisation. Cycling always remained one of the preferred means of transportation and is so entrenched in Dutch society that it is often easy to overlook the reasons for its continued prominence. This animation examines the history and political factors that led to the Netherlands keeping their cycling culture alive and strong for all these years. If you want to know more about the political turning point, you can continue here.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Copenhagen to pull plug on pricey city bikes

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Portland New Bike Share, where citizens own the bikes

Launching a citywide bike-share program costs many millions of dollars—taken from taxpayers or corporate sponsors—and often is a bureaucratic nightmare. But maybe it doesn't have to be like that. Spinlister, a platform that lets people rent outdoor sports equipment to nearby enthusiasts, is launching a bike-share program in Portland, Oregon that shirks the traditional hub and spoke model (designated bike parking and rental stations) for a decentralized network that's more akin to what Car2Go offers for cars. There's another twist: Spinlister won't own the bikes. Local cyclists will. With Spinlister's existing rental service, users rent bikes from a specific person at a certain time and location. The bike-share model will be completely differen. Spinlister power users will be given a new bike from manufacturer VanMoof, designed specifically for the bike-share program, with a Bluetooth lock, motion-activated lights, one-size-fits-all seat, lightweight alloy frame, puncture-resistant tires, and all sorts of theft deterrents. 
There's wireless tracking in the bike, and the only way to turn it off is to saw through the frame. Read on here.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Bicycle streets

What is the definition of a bicycle street? (“Fietsstraat” in Dutch, or ‘bicycle boulevard’ as they are mostly called in the US.) Nowadays a bicycle street is considered to be a route in a residential area that is a main route for cycling, but only a minor route for motor traffic. It is essential that cycle traffic is the dominating form of traffic and that the route looks clearly designed for cycling. This makes it immediately clear to drivers of a motor vehicle that they are guest in a space that is not theirs. (CROW recommendation in publication 216) Note, that we are talking about a route rather than a street. The Dutch always construct cycle routes, never individual streets, even if they call those routes ‘street’. Parking motor vehicles in a cycle street is also possible. The word cycle street does not imply that there are no cars. There are, parked and moving, but they are the minority form of transport. That the streets are in a residential area automatically means that the speed limit for motor traffic is 30km/h. (With the exception of rural cycle roads where that would be 60km/h.) Read more here.