Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Amsterdam Loves Bicycles

June 27th

Today we met with Amsterdam’s Center for Transportation.  They presented us with some interesting statistic and facts about cycling in Amsterdam and the Netherlands as a whole.  Our presenters were good resources, knowing common statistics (i.e. bicycle accidents, trips made by bicycle in Amsterdam, etc.) and some specifics about how bicycle policies were implemented into city enforcement, but there were also a lot of important/critical elements that just seemed to be givens in the Netherlands.  They didn’t know how it started, it just was. This lack of understanding made me aware of the huge differences between bicycle culture and acceptance in the Netherlands and the states. So far, in the Netherlands bicycle culture seems to be introduced at a young age even in formal school setting for young children, which in my opinion is a critical and necessary step to insure long-term bicycle usage through age groups, a safe transportation environment (including automobiles, bicycles, and pedestrians), and to continue to perpetuate the idea that bicycle transportation is of national importance.  This meeting was good, but it left me wanting to learn more about the specifics and origin of bicycle acceptance and use in the Netherlands. Before our class left the Center for Transportation’s building one of the presenters took a few of us to the building’s “bicycle parking garage”. 
The parking garage was awesome!  There was a direct connection to the exterior of the building by implementing an oversized glass sliding door.  Bikers ride up to the door and with a motion sensor the door slides open before the riders needed to dismount their bicycles.  The rider then enters the building and places their bicycle in one of many double-leveled bicycle parking spots.  Then, the rider has the ability to change their clothes and take a shower in the adjacent locker room if they desire (although the Dutch bicycle enable a clean and casual ride to work unlike American conditions).  This small design detail seemed minor, but critical to incentives a more sustainable and enjoyable way to get to work especially in the states.  The style of bicycles, condition of infrastructure, and mentality surrounding bicycle riding in most major cities in the states contribute to a rushed and frantic commute to work by professionals. Without a proper storage and clean up area the bicycle movement in the states misses a huge demographic of “transportation” riders. 

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