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Old 07-23-16, 01:24 PM   #1
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Dutch Street Design

This video is long but it shows and explains many pictures of Dutch street configurations and how transportation cycling is prioritized and made as safe as possible for all levels of riders. Which aspects of these roads are most worthy of implementation elsewhere? Which do you think would provide the most benefit per unit investment? Do you think parents would be more likely to allow children to bike unaccompanied if bike roads were this safe, or do you think fear of predators is too big a factor?
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Old 07-25-16, 09:12 AM   #2
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I skipped a bit through the video but I think I got the general idea of what he's saying. He's mainly talking about the City I happen to live and bike in, so I didn't watch the full hour. Funny though, him asking about a bicycle map of the city.

A few things I think he and his audience didn't get about Dutch cycling:

- There is a consensus culture (basically we have meetings so long and so often every is forced into agreeing), but the consensus on cycling is there only since the early 90's. It started from the rebellion culture, which is part of Dutch culture just as well. Revolt, mass demonstrations, road blocks, riots, controversial left winged local government is what caused the turn around in the 70's.
- Cyclist in mass cycling make their own rules, together. Dutch cycling is ruled by unwritten rules more than by the written ones, which get broken according to unwritten rules.
- City planners have to plan and should plan, but should be prepared and willing to have their plans changed by the cyclists they are planning for. Not because they didn't listen to the cyclists in the first place, but because mass cycling evolves autonomously to an order that seems chaotic from the outside. City council here often adjust the rules to the facts on the ground, rules are changed for the better by cyclists breaking them.

Interesting subject, I wish it was simple like just do as we did, but I'm afraid it isn't. There too many differences between 70's Netherlands and today's America. But on the other hand, I have the experience that mass cycling is as self stabilizing as a bicycle, it just needs impulse and little corrections to keep it up. Balancing is the hardest in the first few yards, and the difficulty is in that, it will only get easier if there's a certain level of mass cycling. How do you get the first impulse, for example, do you start by making the whole city a bit better, or do you pick one large area where it's great for cyclists and spread it out from there? The goal is clear, but how do you get closer to it step by step?
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Old 07-25-16, 11:09 AM   #3
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I skipped a bit through the video but I think I got the general idea of what he's saying. He's mainly talking about the City I happen to live and bike in, so I didn't watch the full hour. Funny though, him asking about a bicycle map of the city.

A few things I think he and his audience didn't get about Dutch cycling:

- There is a consensus culture (basically we have meetings so long and so often every is forced into agreeing), but the consensus on cycling is there only since the early 90's. It started from the rebellion culture, which is part of Dutch culture just as well. Revolt, mass demonstrations, road blocks, riots, controversial left winged local government is what caused the turn around in the 70's.
- Cyclist in mass cycling make their own rules, together. Dutch cycling is ruled by unwritten rules more than by the written ones, which get broken according to unwritten rules.
- City planners have to plan and should plan, but should be prepared and willing to have their plans changed by the cyclists they are planning for. Not because they didn't listen to the cyclists in the first place, but because mass cycling evolves autonomously to an order that seems chaotic from the outside. City council here often adjust the rules to the facts on the ground, rules are changed for the better by cyclists breaking them.

Interesting subject, I wish it was simple like just do as we did, but I'm afraid it isn't. There too many differences between 70's Netherlands and today's America. But on the other hand, I have the experience that mass cycling is as self stabilizing as a bicycle, it just needs impulse and little corrections to keep it up. Balancing is the hardest in the first few yards, and the difficulty is in that, it will only get easier if there's a certain level of mass cycling. How do you get the first impulse, for example, do you start by making the whole city a bit better, or do you pick one large area where it's great for cyclists and spread it out from there? The goal is clear, but how do you get closer to it step by step?
I usually avoid even mentioning Dutch cities or Copenhagen when discussing transportation reform, simply because it diverts the discussion into the realm of comparative nonsense rhetoric. People will say things like "American isn't Europe," etc. which only obstruct constructive discussion about what kinds of transportation and land-use reforms are possible within the situation(s) under consideration.

Something I especially liked in this video was when the presenter said that we have the benefit of learning from the Dutch experiment's successes and failures. He noted that road/infrastructure designs have evolved from one bike/pedestrian friendly configuration to another, so we can look at the changes and reflect on the benefits and drawbacks in planning how to build and reform things.

There is really nothing constructive in focusing on differences between Dutch cities and cities in North America or anywhere else. All that does is imply that there is something inherent in a landscape, geography, and/or culture that makes it more or less suitable for reforms. This is essentialist thinking that promotes feelings of nationalism and superiority by people who live in better-reformed areas, while promoting feelings of resignation and defeat in those that live in less-reformed areas.

In reality, anyone anywhere can think of ways to improve land-use and transportation culture. All it takes is identifying problems and their causes and contingencies; and then generating possible solutions and evaluating the benefits and drawbacks, and what it would take to avoid or mitigate the drawbacks. The problem is that people take attitudes that are defensive of status quo and resistant to change purely as a function of ego/territorialism. In reality, there are very good reasons for resisting change, but they have nothing to do with fighting against progressivism in defense of status quo and territorial pride.

Likewise, there is a problem with national thinking that is strengthened when national territory is smaller and more unified/homogenized, like with Dutch national culture. Dutch critics of the US or other nations tend to view them as unified/homogenized areas/cultures because they assume this about nations in general. In reality, each city/area is different, yet the differences do not conflict with the universalities and commonalities that make it possible to generalize about problems and solutions. For too long, 'international' discourse has been dominated by silly debates about universalism vs. particularism, which only distract from the real work of getting to know particular situations and contributing positively to them. There is defensiveness against this because of desires for territorial autonomy and sovereignty, but really such defensiveness is nothing more than the defensiveness of a child who doesn't want to be shown his mistakes because he wants to be seen as perfect in his own right.

So I didn't post this video to start a comparative discussion of anything Dutch but just to create an opportunity to discuss infrastructure designs that are bike/pedestrian friendly. Thanks for attending to and contributing to the thread.
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Old 07-25-16, 02:04 PM   #4
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Something I especially liked in this video was when the presenter said that we have the benefit of learning from the Dutch experiment's successes and failures. He noted that road/infrastructure designs have evolved from one bike/pedestrian friendly configuration to another, so we can look at the changes and reflect on the benefits and drawbacks in planning how to build and reform things.
Yes, and I'm pointing out that he and his audience are overlooking things. Not because they are American but because they are street designers. If a sociologist was having a look at Dutch cycling he would probably underestimate the role of street design in Dutch cycling and overestimate the role of the social behaviour between cyclists. It's just a normal human tendency in professionals to think that their profession is more important in the solving of a problem than things they don't have control over or less knowledge about.

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There is really nothing constructive in focusing on differences between Dutch cities and cities in North America or anywhere else. All that does is imply that there is something inherent in a landscape, geography, and/or culture that makes it more or less suitable for reforms. This is essentialist thinking that promotes feelings of nationalism and superiority by people who live in better-reformed areas, while promoting feelings of resignation and defeat in those that live in less-reformed areas.
No, what I did implie is that it has a lot to do with luck, just the coincidence of the right circumstances at the right time and place. A lot of things came together, from Dutch-Israeli relations to the law on shop closing times.

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In reality, anyone anywhere can think of ways to improve land-use and transportation culture. All it takes is identifying problems and their causes and contingencies; and then generating possible solutions and evaluating the benefits and drawbacks, and what it would take to avoid or mitigate the drawbacks. The problem is that people take attitudes that are defensive of status quo and resistant to change purely as a function of ego/territorialism. In reality, there are very good reasons for resisting change, but they have nothing to do with fighting against progressivism in defense of status quo and territorial pride.
You're obviously missing my points. one of them beeing that cyclists in big numbers are a huge part in shaping bicycle friendly environments. When the Dutch had their their turning point, there were still a lot of cyclists left, enouhg to play their part in making the country cycling friendly. America doesn't have those numbers, and cycling and driving changes with the number of cyclists around. So for me the difficult question is where do you start with improvements. You're going to make infrastructure for mass cycling without the masses, or do you have to take a different approach because you don't have the numbers yet?

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Likewise, there is a problem with national thinking that is strengthened when national territory is smaller and more unified/homogenized, like with Dutch national culture. Dutch critics of the US or other nations tend to view them as unified/homogenized areas/cultures because they assume this about nations in general. In reality, each city/area is different, yet the differences do not conflict with the universalities and commonalities that make it possible to generalize about problems and solutions. For too long, 'international' discourse has been dominated by silly debates about universalism vs. particularism, which only distract from the real work of getting to know particular situations and contributing positively to them. There is defensiveness against this because of desires for territorial autonomy and sovereignty, but really such defensiveness is nothing more than the defensiveness of a child who doesn't want to be shown his mistakes because he wants to be seen as perfect in his own right.
Well, some cities are more different than others, some difference are more important for the problem that has to be solved than others. Yes, I have my views about the USA and homogenization, no I'm not this homogenized that my view is the same as the Dutch critics you appear to know. Yes, I was getting to know particular situations and noticed an important difference in making a city better for cyclists: the numbers of cyclists to start with.

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So I didn't post this video to start a comparative discussion of anything Dutch but just to create an opportunity to discuss infrastructure designs that are bike/pedestrian friendly. Thanks for attending to and contributing to the thread.
I assumed you posted this video to start a discussion about it's content, you even added another cultural difference you came up with yourself. But appearantly your not interested in discussing the interaction between a cycling community and cycling infrastructure, you're not interested in discussing where and how to start improving for the best effect. What do you want to discuss? What a safe intersection looks like? The video is quite clear about that, but a few of them in a city won't create safe mass cycling, would it?

For me safe cycling infrastructure in my own city is boring, one intersection should be redesigned and buses are about to be moved from one street, and than we're done here. Finished. So I'm not here to discuss how much fantastic it is here. The process of transition from cycling unfriendly cities to cycling friendly cites, with lessons learned an to learn from foreign countries, is what interests me.
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Old 07-25-16, 04:11 PM   #5
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Yes, and I'm pointing out that he and his audience are overlooking things. Not because they are American but because they are street designers. If a sociologist was having a look at Dutch cycling he would probably underestimate the role of street design in Dutch cycling and overestimate the role of the social behaviour between cyclists. It's just a normal human tendency in professionals to think that their profession is more important in the solving of a problem than things they don't have control over or less knowledge about.
You seem to be focusing on people and your assumptions about them instead of infrastructure. Your general orientation here seems to be negative, as if to criticize faults instead of focusing on solutions.

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No, what I did implie is that it has a lot to do with luck, just the coincidence of the right circumstances at the right time and place. A lot of things came together, from Dutch-Israeli relations to the law on shop closing times.
Maybe, but that doesn't mean transportation reforms can't be achieved in various situations. You're implying that the Dutch case is exceptional, and while I have noticed that Dutch exceptionalism is as typical (or perhaps atypical) as US exceptionalism, there's no benefit in calling Dutch cycling infrastructure a perfect storm that can't be replicated. Again, there's no focus on any Dutch here for the sake of worshiping or otherwise defining it historically or otherwise. It's just a source of information for potential transportation reforms.

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You're obviously missing my points. one of them beeing that cyclists in big numbers are a huge part in shaping bicycle friendly environments. When the Dutch had their their turning point, there were still a lot of cyclists left, enouhg to play their part in making the country cycling friendly. America doesn't have those numbers, and cycling and driving changes with the number of cyclists around. So for me the difficult question is where do you start with improvements. You're going to make infrastructure for mass cycling without the masses, or do you have to take a different approach because you don't have the numbers yet?
Well, you have to because many people will only consider biking if the infrastructure is friendly. Plus, if you allow popularity to sway the political decision to support infrastructure reforms, then automotive interests will attempt to buy off and dissuade people from LCF in an effort to undermine demand. The reality is that automotive sprawl growth has already passed the point of sustainability so reforms are necessary. It's just a question of how to achieve them, both in terms of reforming infrastructure and in terms of stimulating people to shift from driving to other modes. The future simply won't work otherwise, without horrible population interventions.

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Well, some cities are more different than others, some difference are more important for the problem that has to be solved than others. Yes, I have my views about the USA and homogenization, no I'm not this homogenized that my view is the same as the Dutch critics you appear to know. Yes, I was getting to know particular situations and noticed an important difference in making a city better for cyclists: the numbers of cyclists to start with.
You're right about more people shifting away from driving. When the demand for closer destinations grows, then more businesses and jobs will emerge within bikeable/walkable reach. But in order to create the demand, there have to be both infrastructure improvements/reforms AND incentives to avoid driving, such as congestion-corridor permits/fees that make it cheaper to take the bus or walk than pay for a permit to drive on congested routes during peak times.

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I assumed you posted this video to start a discussion about it's content, you even added another cultural difference you came up with yourself. But appearantly your not interested in discussing the interaction between a cycling community and cycling infrastructure, you're not interested in discussing where and how to start improving for the best effect. What do you want to discuss? What a safe intersection looks like? The video is quite clear about that, but a few of them in a city won't create safe mass cycling, would it?
I think you could discuss the interactions you're talking about. Maybe if you just mentioned specific points instead of generalizing about the Dutch situation as a specific case different than others, it would help. Sometimes I make general claims in threads based on social patterns I've observed without specifying where they've happened. I do this to avoid discussions of how people in one area are different than people in another. E.g. I've noticed people accusing transportation-reformists of "forcing people out of their cars." Presumably no one says this in Dutch discourse, though maybe they do, even though in many ways you could say that Dutch policies punish people for driving in order to make cycling more convenient. The point is that wherever you are, you may note social or political patterns that you can express in a general way and others elsewhere may or may not benefit from what you share. All you can do is share and try not to offend, and when you do offend, try to empathize, apologize, and reconsider why you considered your offensive statement to be a worthy contribution to discussion and explain that, maybe in a way that avoids whatever it was that someone found offensive in the first place.

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For me safe cycling infrastructure in my own city is boring, one intersection should be redesigned and buses are about to be moved from one street, and than we're done here. Finished. So I'm not here to discuss how much fantastic it is here. The process of transition from cycling unfriendly cities to cycling friendly cites, with lessons learned an to learn from foreign countries, is what interests me.
Imo, Dutch cities can still benefit from more reforestation, and from what I read there are big economic challenges that have been created throughout the history of social-democracy. Consumption-reforms are very difficult where middle-class egalitarianism and entitlement feelings are strong. This is not a uniquely Dutch problem, but I think it is strong with that culture. Even though people claim egalitarianism, they don't really consider whether their standards of consumption are attainable for 9 billion people globally. There are many purchases for the sake of keeping up with fashion, or decorating, or gift-giving, etc. that drive commerce but maybe aren't ultimately good for the environment or for people. Dependencies form in areas like social-work where people expect to be paid for just caring for each other, and economic recession results in massive protests and interventions to protect work and incomes. Amazing that so much economic dependency could still exist in a region where practically everything is bikeable/walkable in terms of distance, but there are many social problems and differences that prevent anyone from wanting to live in just any area and housing prices get driven very high by demand for that and other reasons, ranging from aesthetic desirability of neighborhoods to proximity to family/friends, etc. Dutch bike infrastructure may be sufficient but there are enough other problems to solve.

Last edited by tandempower; 07-25-16 at 04:15 PM.
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Old 07-26-16, 04:40 AM   #6
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You seem to be focusing on people and your assumptions about them instead of infrastructure. Your general orientation here seems to be negative, as if to criticize faults instead of focusing on solutions.
Maybe we got off on the wrong foot because I was in a hurry to discuss what in my view are the shortcomings of the analysis in this video and forgot to praise the rest of it. Sorry about that, I didn't realize it would come across negatively.

I think it's a great presentation video, full of great insights, very funny and open minded. The funny thing with people who observe (cultural) differences well is that they also tell a lot about the culture or viewpoint of the observer, so it learns me a lot about cycling in that part of the USA. You also learn about your own culture through a viewpoint from the outside. An exchange like this not only a window into eachother's culture but also a mirror for both sides of the Atlantic. Cultural differences never stop to please and amuse me, generally I think they are funny and something to be enjoyed.

Where cycling is concernded, I feel lucky and privileged. And I have to admit a feel a bit of pride for achievements I had no part in other than just cycling around, but I'm afraid that's quite normal.

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Maybe, but that doesn't mean transportation reforms can't be achieved in various situations. You're implying that the Dutch case is exceptional, and while I have noticed that Dutch exceptionalism is as typical (or perhaps atypical) as US exceptionalism, there's no benefit in calling Dutch cycling infrastructure a perfect storm that can't be replicated. Again, there's no focus on any Dutch here for the sake of worshiping or otherwise defining it historically or otherwise. It's just a source of information for potential transportation reforms.

Well, you have to because many people will only consider biking if the infrastructure is friendly. Plus, if you allow popularity to sway the political decision to support infrastructure reforms, then automotive interests will attempt to buy off and dissuade people from LCF in an effort to undermine demand. The reality is that automotive sprawl growth has already passed the point of sustainability so reforms are necessary. It's just a question of how to achieve them, both in terms of reforming infrastructure and in terms of stimulating people to shift from driving to other modes. The future simply won't work otherwise, without horrible population interventions.
That's the question I hurried to, becaus imo that the most interesting and difficult one. I'm not saying Dutch cycling is the result of a perfect storm, If it hadn't happened at that moment something simular would have happened later. But if you want to learn from how the Dutch got their cycling back, you have to take in consideration that the cyclists and the traffic engineers are in constant interaction, and that in the achievement of the cycling infrastructure, in general the cyclists are leading and the city planners were following most of the time. If you want to do that the other way around, and let the traffic engineering lead and the cyclists follow, you probably will have to adjust the infrastructure to that leading role.

In my opinion the number of cyclists is very important to make infrastructure work. In the video was an example of a biking lane that was used by pedestrians, so it didn't work. But people wouldn't walk on a biking lane if there were bikes all over it. In the USA in general you have more space, greater distances and less cyclists, so to me it seems like a challenge to get it going. I assume there's a tipping point, that's why I like the name of the 'critical mass' movement, that once in an area you have reached a certain density of cyclists, it will take off almost autonomously from there, and the first and greatest challenge seems to me to reach that point.

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You're right about more people shifting away from driving. When the demand for closer destinations grows, then more businesses and jobs will emerge within bikeable/walkable reach. But in order to create the demand, there have to be both infrastructure improvements/reforms AND incentives to avoid driving, such as congestion-corridor permits/fees that make it cheaper to take the bus or walk than pay for a permit to drive on congested routes during peak times.
I would concentrate on incentives to start cycling as a means of transportation, first use it to have people move around more. That's great for local businesses and the general vibe of a city. Fights have to be fought and toes have to be stepped on, but the main part should probably seduction. The bike friendly city is a great 'product', great for business, great for children, great for health, great for air quality, great for atmosphere, great for noise, great for social interaction, great for motorists, but it won't sell itself. You'll have to pay first and wait years for the real benefits to take effect.

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I think you could discuss the interactions you're talking about. Maybe if you just mentioned specific points instead of generalizing about the Dutch situation as a specific case different than others, it would help. Sometimes I make general claims in threads based on social patterns I've observed without specifying where they've happened. I do this to avoid discussions of how people in one area are different than people in another. E.g. I've noticed people accusing transportation-reformists of "forcing people out of their cars." Presumably no one says this in Dutch discourse, though maybe they do, even though in many ways you could say that Dutch policies punish people for driving in order to make cycling more convenient. The point is that wherever you are, you may note social or political patterns that you can express in a general way and others elsewhere may or may not benefit from what you share. All you can do is share and try not to offend, and when you do offend, try to empathize, apologize, and reconsider why you considered your offensive statement to be a worthy contribution to discussion and explain that, maybe in a way that avoids whatever it was that someone found offensive in the first place.
To me it seems arrogant and condescending to just say 'do as we did, we got all worked out and you're just late and our formula will work perfectly for you, unchanged'. I see cycling as walking with mechanically enhanced speed, it's what people and communities will do in their own way, with little control from authorities needed or possible. Cycling in Seattle will be different from cycling in New York, just because it is shaped by the locals.

I don't think driving in general is punished here, I think quite a large part of it's costs to society are paid for by the drivers instead of by every taxpayer. It encourages to consider alternatives, but more as a choice for a specific occasion than as a lifestyle, it's more about not using the car than not having one to use. The competition is not really between the bike and the car, but between the train and the car, and the train has lost about a 15 years ago. But against the bike the car never really stood a chance after the turning point in the seventies started to take effect in the early nineties. No one likes traffic jams, no one wants to drive around to find a parking space, no one wants to live in or go shopping in a city that has all it's historical buildings flattened to make space for roads to accomodate cars. Then you can drive but there's nothing left that's worth driving to. Of course a lot of motorist would like to drive in the city, as long as they are one to few cars, but everyone understands it doesn't work like that. But thanks to cycling, cities ar still accessible by car.

Also in the video, the button cyclists can activite the traffic light with and cycling lanes are portrayed as cycling friendly infrastructure. But they're not, their car friendly infrastructure. Without the button the traffic light would be activated even if there wasn't a cyclist, so it prevents cars from having to stop and wait without necessity. Bicycle lanes seperate speeds, not vehicles, and allows cars to speed up and go much faster than the traffic that surrounds them, that's motorist friendly infrastructure. And no one wants to kill a kid on a bike, so the other 'cycling infrastructure' is helping them too.

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Imo, Dutch cities can still benefit from more reforestation, and from what I read there are big economic challenges that have been created throughout the history of social-democracy. Consumption-reforms are very difficult where middle-class egalitarianism and entitlement feelings are strong. This is not a uniquely Dutch problem, but I think it is strong with that culture. Even though people claim egalitarianism, they don't really consider whether their standards of consumption are attainable for 9 billion people globally. There are many purchases for the sake of keeping up with fashion, or decorating, or gift-giving, etc. that drive commerce but maybe aren't ultimately good for the environment or for people. Dependencies form in areas like social-work where people expect to be paid for just caring for each other, and economic recession results in massive protests and interventions to protect work and incomes. Amazing that so much economic dependency could still exist in a region where practically everything is bikeable/walkable in terms of distance, but there are many social problems and differences that prevent anyone from wanting to live in just any area and housing prices get driven very high by demand for that and other reasons, ranging from aesthetic desirability of neighborhoods to proximity to family/friends, etc. Dutch bike infrastructure may be sufficient but there are enough other problems to solve.
Social democracy is becoming more an more something that has to operate between smaller margins set by international neoliberalism. And within those margins, there also has been a shift towards right wing policies. But that has little to do with cycling, the right wing has acknowledged a long a time ago that cycling is a big part of the future of transportation.

Also you shouldn't assume a widespread egalitarian spirit just because getting poor kids educated is good for their productivity and there's more money to made off them. If a succesfull business man is biking on old beater it's not because he's very egalitarian, it's just practical and it shows (whether he cares or not about showing) that he can afford to live in the city where bikes get stolen and were not caring about the bike you ride as long as it has two wheels is just a 'cool' attitude. If people get kids they often move out to villages near the city so they can afford space and a garden, and it often it's a bit too far to bike, but you're not admired for not beeing able to have a drink because you have to drive back home. If you had done better in life you could have a few drinks and bike to your home nearby.

Not everything is bikeable, in the countryside you really need a car to get around. And cycling certainly doesn't get the economy to a standstill as you seem to hope. It spurs the economy, and to me that's a good thing. If people can get from A to B easily they will go to C also, and spend money there. But it shifts spending from buying to own to paying for enjoyment, Bars, restaurants, exhibitions, cinema's, musea, theatres, sports etc.
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Old 07-26-16, 09:33 AM   #7
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Maybe we got off on the wrong foot because I was in a hurry to discuss what in my view are the shortcomings of the analysis in this video and forgot to praise the rest of it. Sorry about that, I didn't realize it would come across negatively.
No, I'd rather avoid praise or negative criticism. Both are egoizing. What I'm saying it focus on problem-solving. There's a difference between citing problems to put someone or something down for the sake of putting them down and doing it with the purpose of coming up with remedies and solutions.

Egoizing is putting some things down to elevate the status of others. It has no constructive purpose. It's just about feelings of superiority and inferiority.

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I think it's a great presentation video, full of great insights, very funny and open minded. The funny thing with people who observe (cultural) differences well is that they also tell a lot about the culture or viewpoint of the observer, so it learns me a lot about cycling in that part of the USA. You also learn about your own culture through a viewpoint from the outside. An exchange like this not only a window into eachother's culture but also a mirror for both sides of the Atlantic. Cultural differences never stop to please and amuse me, generally I think they are funny and something to be enjoyed.
Again, here this is all praise/worship and comparison. This is egoizing for the sake appreciating or depreciating what is in focus; not identifying problems and opportunities for solutions and improvements. What you are enjoying is reflecting on culture for aesthetic appreciation; as if the world was a museum of ethnic differences for your entertainment. I did not post this video about Dutch road design for that purpose. The purpose was just to start a discussion about transportation reform with regard to some information about existing improvements. They just happen to be in Dutch cities, but if you want to add something about the social context of the people using the roads, that's fine; but don't turn it into aesthetic musings about cultural differences.

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Where cycling is concernded, I feel lucky and privileged. And I have to admit a feel a bit of pride for achievements I had no part in other than just cycling around, but I'm afraid that's quite normal.
Pride is ego. The funny thing is I've listened to Dutch discussions where ego and pride are harshly criticized as well as others where pride is cautiously yet vehemently asserted. There seems to be some strong cultural embroilment regarding pride and ego in Dutch life, but this happens everywhere so its not uniquely Dutch. Interesting I find myself slipping into this endless pursuit of ethnocultural uniqueness that I've noticed emerges in so many discussions national culture. Isn't there some way to just talk in terms of generalities instead of getting into cultural identities and differences? Couldn't we just discuss transportation reform without limiting discussions to exclude global references?

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That's the question I hurried to, becaus imo that the most interesting and difficult one. I'm not saying Dutch cycling is the result of a perfect storm, If it hadn't happened at that moment something simular would have happened later. But if you want to learn from how the Dutch got their cycling back, you have to take in consideration that the cyclists and the traffic engineers are in constant interaction, and that in the achievement of the cycling infrastructure, in general the cyclists are leading and the city planners were following most of the time. If you want to do that the other way around, and let the traffic engineering lead and the cyclists follow, you probably will have to adjust the infrastructure to that leading role.
Here I go with the cultural differences again, but my impression is that Dutch culture is more pro-active when it comes to taking responsibility for biking; but on the other hand, I've known plenty of people who moved from Dutch cities to American ones and stopped biking because they just couldn't handle being in the minority, so maybe Dutch conformism is the reason cycling has more popular impetus there, and because the cities were already developed in an age of LCF before driving was a mode.

Either way, the point is that it's no use worrying about Americans being different from Dutch or anyone else. If anything, American conformism is no different from Dutch conformism, only driving has been pushed as the conformist mode instead of cycling and transit. The bigger picture is that people have to go beyond conforming to popular behavior and start conforming to what's good for the future. Driving-dependency and sprawl aren't as sustainable as LCF, so that's the direction we all have to go in, and it doesn't matter whether engineers or conformists or individualists or people concerned about children or recreational cyclists or whoever lead the way; because we will all have to lead ourselves in that direction eventually anyway. If we don't, the traffic congestion, sprawl, and environmental damage will just keep growing.

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In my opinion the number of cyclists is very important to make infrastructure work. In the video was an example of a biking lane that was used by pedestrians, so it didn't work. But people wouldn't walk on a biking lane if there were bikes all over it. In the USA in general you have more space, greater distances and less cyclists, so to me it seems like a challenge to get it going. I assume there's a tipping point, that's why I like the name of the 'critical mass' movement, that once in an area you have reached a certain density of cyclists, it will take off almost autonomously from there, and the first and greatest challenge seems to me to reach that point.
So if people are walking on a bike lane, why isn't it working? If cyclists bike on it, the pedestrians move out of the way. What's the problem? You seem to be measuring success in terms of a perfect aesthetic picture of what you're trying to create; but sometimes you build infrastructure and it evolves in different ways than you expect, and you tweek it in various ways, such as ringing your bell or shouting at pedestrians to move out of your way when you're biking there.

I've had mixed feelings about Critical Mass rides. I've never ridden like that but I've read about them and they can be quite aggressive. When I am in a peaceful mood, I have faith and hope that cyclists can just ride as far right as we can and motorists will courteously pass us and respect our road rights. When I am getting sick of all the negativity and harassment toward non-motorized transportation, I see Critical Mass as a way of making drivers aware of what it's like to be a non-dominant minority on the roads. Ultimately, however, my only real hope is that drivers shift to other modes so that congestion and road expansion pressures go down. The world should be moving in the direction of greater sustainability, not greater unsustainability.

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I would concentrate on incentives to start cycling as a means of transportation, first use it to have people move around more. That's great for local businesses and the general vibe of a city. Fights have to be fought and toes have to be stepped on, but the main part should probably seduction. The bike friendly city is a great 'product', great for business, great for children, great for health, great for air quality, great for atmosphere, great for noise, great for social interaction, great for motorists, but it won't sell itself. You'll have to pay first and wait years for the real benefits to take effect.
Calling it 'seduction' carries anti-Christian connotations, so I would recommend using a more neutral term, like 'promotion.' I think you're right about highlighting the benefits because people keep seem to keep forgetting about them. Again, this is negativity and the ego because giving up the hope of LCF involves driving, and people want to feel good about themselves in driving, so they block out the good things about cycling and walking so they won't feel like they're missing out by spending their time behind the (steering) wheel. I'm afraid what will happen is that environmental concerns with road and highway expansion will lead to permits and fees for driving that stimulate transit use and biking for some people. For a long time, I thought congestion would drive people to other modes, but they are just moving to less congested areas and continuing to drive. There's a strong will to disconnect personal actions from systemic actions and their collective consequences. Maybe Dutch culture is better at acknowledging the connection between individuals and systems; though I think Dutch culture is also prone to viewing Dutch society more in terms of separation from the larger world than in terms of connection with it; while US Americans often just view the US as the entire world and ignore what's going on around the world. I guess nationalism is just a problem everywhere.

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To me it seems arrogant and condescending to just say 'do as we did, we got all worked out and you're just late and our formula will work perfectly for you, unchanged'. I see cycling as walking with mechanically enhanced speed, it's what people and communities will do in their own way, with little control from authorities needed or possible. Cycling in Seattle will be different from cycling in New York, just because it is shaped by the locals.
All the arrogance and condescension is eliminated by removing the we/you framework. If Seattle people are comparing themselves to New York people or Dutch people, they're thinking wrong. If I moved to any of these places, I would look for problems and try to come up with solutions. It doesn't matter where you live, you can do this. If you think of yourself as part of a collective 'we,' you are bound to collective actions and collective responsibility. If you are just an individual looking at problems and suggesting potential solutions and improvements, you avoid all that; though collectivists will never acknowledge you as just an individual because they will always classify you and lump you together with everyone else in your classification as a collective. This is one thing that really got on my nerves when I toured Europe.

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I don't think driving in general is punished here, I think quite a large part of it's costs to society are paid for by the drivers instead of by every taxpayer. It encourages to consider alternatives, but more as a choice for a specific occasion than as a lifestyle, it's more about not using the car than not having one to use. The competition is not really between the bike and the car, but between the train and the car, and the train has lost about a 15 years ago.
Many people take any policy that doesn't favor driving and label it as punishing drivers or 'forcing them out of their cars.' This is just an attitude that defends the dominance of driving and attacks anything that dares to resist that dominance. It's just posturing. There's no real concern for whether or not it's true; just something dramatic to say to protect the dominance of driving.

As for the train, I once watched a Dutch movie about a huge traffic jam where people were going through dramatic life experiences while being stuck out on the highway for hours. It was a pretty amusing story; one that I wish would have gained more global popularity; though I'm not sure whether it was more of a critique of automotive congestion or a romanticization of it. Probably the train lost to the car because of government strategizing about how to control society. There may have been monopoly/union issues and/or issues of global investment and economic growth involved. I think that if Dutch government wanted to restrict driving and shift drivers to trains, it would happen.

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But against the bike the car never really stood a chance after the turning point in the seventies started to take effect in the early nineties. No one likes traffic jams, no one wants to drive around to find a parking space, no one wants to live in or go shopping in a city that has all it's historical buildings flattened to make space for roads to accomodate cars. Then you can drive but there's nothing left that's worth driving to. Of course a lot of motorist would like to drive in the city, as long as they are one to few cars, but everyone understands it doesn't work like that. But thanks to cycling, cities ar still accessible by car.
"Everyone understands it doesn't work like that," is a key statement. I have often said this about the US, that driving could easily be preserved and made more convenient by bifurcating into two transportation classes, but US egalitarianism occurs largely on the level of poorer people having access to the same things that richer people do, so if rich people drive, middle-class and poor people want to drive too. Then, ironically, LCF-friendly areas begin growing in popularity and property prices go up in such areas, but then middle-class/poor people see it as an opportunity to close the income gap so they can get more money to buy a new car and drive. This is because they don't really want to integrate with wealthier people, per se, only have access to whatever they have so they can drive and shop more in their own areas. I may be overgeneralizing here, but I've noticed class-differentiation and egalitarianism making transportation reform more difficult than necessary.

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Also in the video, the button cyclists can activite the traffic light with and cycling lanes are portrayed as cycling friendly infrastructure. But they're not, their car friendly infrastructure. Without the button the traffic light would be activated even if there wasn't a cyclist, so it prevents cars from having to stop and wait without necessity. Bicycle lanes seperate speeds, not vehicles, and allows cars to speed up and go much faster than the traffic that surrounds them, that's motorist friendly infrastructure. And no one wants to kill a kid on a bike, so the other 'cycling infrastructure' is helping them too.
That's a good point. I often say that about bike lanes when motorists complain that they cost more than a lane without a paved shoulder. What's left unspoken is that by leaving out the bike lanes, the motorists are just hoping to discourage people from biking so everyone just drives.

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Social democracy is becoming more an more something that has to operate between smaller margins set by international neoliberalism. And within those margins, there also has been a shift towards right wing policies. But that has little to do with cycling, the right wing has acknowledged a long a time ago that cycling is a big part of the future of transportation.
There is a certain political view that I've noticed in Europe generally, which I disagree with, where national economies/populations are privileged over global concerns and so the global economy is demonized as failing to support the anti-austerity agendas of national-social democracies. So you end up with things like migration during periods of economic growth followed by anti-migrant upsurges during recessionary periods, presumably so that migrant populations can be used as a barrier to protect national citizens from economic fluctuations. European socialism causes many US critics of transportation reforms to associate biking and transit with Europe and socialism, which works to demonize LCF for many people. It becomes hard to point out that there is nothing inherently socialist about biking or transit and, if anything, US socialism is predicated on maintaining the automotive economy. When fiscal conservatives are talking about cutting government spending and taxes, my question is why they then favor automotive infrastructure and norms that drive up taxes and business costs. Biking is cheaper than driving. Bike roads are smaller and cost less than wide lanes to accommodate motor-vehicles, especially when multiple lanes are paved to accommodate large traffic volumes.

People sometimes ask me if biking and transit are supposed to make the economy function better, then why are European economies like the Dutch so socialized. The only answer I can think of is that egalitarianism is so strong and middle-class culture expects so many privileges to be had by everyone. Although Dutch culture has a history of relatively austere living, there is this modern sense of everyone being entitled to go out and spend money, go on expensive vacations, etc. It all seems to be based on the social/egalitarian ethic that if there is the capacity to produce all these privileges economically, then it is good to do so and distribute the spoils as broadly as possible. What happened to the humble Dutch culture of austere living and conservation/saving? I suppose, though, the answer would be the same as what happened to that culture in every other area; answer WWII and postWWII industrial mass-consumerism assisted by Keynesian spending policies and other fiscal stimulus corporatism.

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Also you shouldn't assume a widespread egalitarian spirit just because getting poor kids educated is good for their productivity and there's more money to made off them. If a succesfull business man is biking on old beater it's not because he's very egalitarian, it's just practical and it shows (whether he cares or not about showing) that he can afford to live in the city where bikes get stolen and were not caring about the bike you ride as long as it has two wheels is just a 'cool' attitude. If people get kids they often move out to villages near the city so they can afford space and a garden, and it often it's a bit too far to bike, but you're not admired for not beeing able to have a drink because you have to drive back home. If you had done better in life you could have a few drinks and bike to your home nearby.
Interesting, I would never have thought about not drinking and driving as a social stigma of living too far to bike. I also don't think of egalitarianism in terms of businessmen lowering themselves but in terms of everyone expecting a higher standard of living because the national economy as a whole is viewed as wealthy. We are constantly bombarded with little hints about the wealth gap and people not getting a fair share of what is produced by the global economy. I am also shouting that austerity is better for the environment and it's not good to consume more just because you have the economic capacity to produce it. Still, for many people egalitarianism is just a rationalization for hedonism.

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Not everything is bikeable, in the countryside you really need a car to get around. And cycling certainly doesn't get the economy to a standstill as you seem to hope. It spurs the economy, and to me that's a good thing. If people can get from A to B easily they will go to C also, and spend money there. But it shifts spending from buying to own to paying for enjoyment, Bars, restaurants, exhibitions, cinema's, musea, theatres, sports etc.
Well, economic activity is a mixed bag. I've often said that shifting away from driving and extensive industrial activity could result in a more sustainable and environmentally-friendly economy, since growing demand and economic activity would result in as much development and resource use/waste. However, I don't think Dutch economic activity and development is devoid of environmental impacts, so the question is whether there is some way to further reform that activity to be more sustainable. I remember a few years ago, there was an idea about building a mountain somewhere in that area, and it was received with disdain, and rightly so considering how much environmental impact it would have; but on the other hand when you consider how much land-reclaiming is going on there anyway, it could make sense to build up instead of out; and there's certainly a case to be made for shading developments by stacking them vertically, especially when trees can grow on top of the development, e.g. if it's a mountain. Of course the energy use of lifting and moving all that dirt would be huge, and it makes you wonder if it wouldn't be better to just expand bikability beyond Dutch boundaries and for surplus population to just migrate to less busy areas. Still, there are many issues to consider with economic activity, which include how much people should devote themselves to money-making and -spending instead of free time activities; as well as how shopping causes more energy and resource waste, even if things are being recycled into new products after being discarded. Generally, there is a long history of pro-economic activity in the historically protestant culture of Northern Europe, which includes North America, and so we have a hard time thinking about the possibility that less economic activity might ultimately be better for us and the planet than more. We have been conditioned to associate money-making with goodness and happiness, when it might be the opposite more often than not.

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Old 07-27-16, 10:15 AM   #8
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Couldn't we just discuss transportation reform without limiting discussions to exclude global references?
This way we can't discuss anything at all. If you want to discuss a subject I guess you'll have to be open to other views about the subject and accept that not everybody shares all your other views, your idée-fixes and your misconceptions about countries and cultures you don't know very much about.
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Old 07-27-16, 10:35 AM   #9
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This way we can't discuss anything at all. If you want to discuss a subject I guess you'll have to be open to other views about the subject and accept that not everybody shares all your other views, your idée-fixes and your misconceptions about countries and cultures you don't know very much about.
Thanks for expanding my vocabulary; had to look up "idée-fixes", a perfect fit.
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Old 07-27-16, 11:29 AM   #10
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This way we can't discuss anything at all. If you want to discuss a subject I guess you'll have to be open to other views about the subject and accept that not everybody shares all your other views, your idée-fixes and your misconceptions about countries and cultures you don't know very much about.
Pretty much everything you're saying is suggesting competitive (ego) battles and territorialism regarding who knows whose culture better, etc. This is exactly what I want to avoid. I believe there are cultural universals and people can have discussions that include information from 'foreign' sources because nothing is really that foreign. Other people hate this because they want to prevent anyone from thinking they could ever understand anything about anywhere besides their 'own' country. I'm sorry but I just don't believe national territory and culture are that significant and I don't want to deal with people who emphasize it to the point of making everything into a territorial/authority conflict.

Dutch cities have bike roads and people and cars. Most places do. I'm not going exclude a video about Dutch infrastructure from a discussion of LCF because you or anyone else feels that there are cultural barriers causing misunderstanding. If you want to have a discussion about Dutch culture instead of LCF infrastructure generally, maybe you should start one in P&R. But please don't turn this thread into a debate about Dutch culture, cultural differences, or that sort of thing.
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Old 07-27-16, 11:32 AM   #11
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Thanks for expanding my vocabulary; had to look up "idée-fixes", a perfect fit.
I just looked it up too, thanks to your post. Apparently you see yourself as open-minded in contrast to this "idee-fixes" you seem to be siding against.
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Old 07-27-16, 05:35 PM   #12
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But please don't turn this thread into a debate about Dutch culture, cultural differences, or that sort of thing.
Since you reject discussing anything with the only person who choose to wade through your wall of words and actually has first hand experience with Dutch street configurations as shown in your OP unless he/she meets your peculiar conditions for discussion and control of subject matter, who exactly are you debating or what alleged discussion is taking place?
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Old 07-27-16, 09:09 PM   #13
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Since you reject discussing anything with the only person who choose to wade through your wall of words and actually has first hand experience with Dutch street configurations as shown in your OP unless he/she meets your peculiar conditions for discussion and control of subject matter, who exactly are you debating or what alleged discussion is taking place?
Experience with using the Dutch street configurations is a resource for the discussion. I just think it's fruitless to turn it into a discussion of cultural holism and differences between Dutch and nonDutch culture because that will not lead to any benefits for nonDutch areas that might otherwise benefit from Dutch experience with LCF infrastructure and its popular usage.

I think anyone who has experience living in these Dutch areas could give their impressions about what they think about LCF infrastructure in various places and whether there are similar configurations in Dutch areas they know of and what differences there are between comparable situations, etc. As long as the discussion doesn't turn into a debate between Dutch and nonDutch perspectives, Dutch and nonDutch ways of LCF, etc. I mean, would anyone want to listen to anyone turn any discussion into Seattle vs. Boston cycling culture or Amsterdam vs Copenhagen LCF culture, etc.? Wouldn't that just lead to stereotyping and ego-bickering?

In the recent thread posted about bike highways being built in Germany, we didn't start a discussion on German culture and whether it is conducive to people using the highway. We just looked at what other transportation options there were and considered why the bike highway might be effective and good to use or not. No cultural differentiation or collective stereotyping of people or culture was required. Nothing provokes egos like collectivism and stereotyping, so it's better to avoid cultural holism and national cultural comparisons and the like.
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Old 07-28-16, 10:05 AM   #14
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Pretty much everything you're saying is suggesting competitive (ego) battles and territorialism regarding who knows whose culture better, etc. This is exactly what I want to avoid.
I prefer to compete on a level playing field with an opponent of comparable strength. With the size and cultural dominance of the USA it's not very likely I will find that here when it comes to knowing eachothers cultures, is it? An interesting contest in bicycle use and safety is even more unlikely. So I'm not here to be competitive about it.

I presume this Fred bloke from Seattle in the video didn't go the Netherlands in a competitive spirit either, he went there with an open mind and a learning attitude. He wants to improve cycling in his City, and to improve things you'll first have to distinct between inferior and superior infrastructure, and learn from the superior. He found the superior infrastructure in an area that for the sake of communication can be conveniently described with 'The Netherlands' with 'Dutch' as it's adjective. Debating whether Dutch cycling infrastructure is superior to Seattle's seems extremely uninteresting to me, and discussing how cycling in the USA could be improved much more rewarding.

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I believe there are cultural universals and people can have discussions that include information from 'foreign' sources because nothing is really that foreign. Other people hate this because they want to prevent anyone from thinking they could ever understand anything about anywhere besides their 'own' country. I'm sorry but I just don't believe national territory and culture are that significant and I don't want to deal with people who emphasize it to the point of making everything into a territorial/authority conflict.
I believe there's a cultural universal and it is that cyclists or what could be described as a cycling community shapes it's own way of cycling, and will differ from city to city and country to country. That's what people do, they find their own typical ways, together with the people they share an area with, and those ways found collectively we call culture and they differ almost as much as people individually. Even opinions might differ. Cycling is as human as walking, it's walking speeded up by a contraption, and people do that in their own way.

City planners can be of huge importance for cycling, but the success is in the interaction between the city planning and the cycling community. I don't think that Seattle or the USA is an exception to that universal aspect of human behaviour concerning the bicycle. You might not share that view, you might not find that view interesting, you even might find the word 'interesting' too egoboosting to use, but it's my view.

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Dutch cities have bike roads and people and cars. Most places do. I'm not going exclude a video about Dutch infrastructure from a discussion of LCF because you or anyone else feels that there are cultural barriers causing misunderstanding. If you want to have a discussion about Dutch culture instead of LCF infrastructure generally, maybe you should start one in P&R. But please don't turn this thread into a debate about Dutch culture, cultural differences, or that sort of thing.
I know for a fact there are cultural differences, I believe some of them to be relevant to the subject of how to improve cycling in the USA, but I don't see barriers. Well, I see the barriers you have erected, words I'm not allowed use, views I'm not allowed to have, views on only vaguely related matters I have to share before I'm approved and give my views on the subject.

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Thanks for expanding my vocabulary; had to look up "idée-fixes", a perfect fit.
Maybe even more than I realized, as Idéfix is the original name of Obelix little dog in the Asterix comics, who starts whining every time Obelix accidentally uproots a tree.
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Old 07-28-16, 10:53 AM   #15
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Interesting side discussion. Although I think the protagonists disagree a lot less than they think they do.

One problem is that the thread title might be a bit misleading. My understanding is that, even within Holland, there are varying qualities of bike infrastructure. The infrastructure in Amsterdam is superior to some other areas and inferior to others. So a better title might be "Amsterdam Bike Structure."

Regional differences often outweigh national differences. And IMO, both ate outweighed by physical differences. If you placed an Amsterdam-style bike structure into Seattle, a different "bike culture" would arise in Seattle. Of course we'll never really know because there's no way to control the variables.

Ironically, even the side discussion is a little bit based on cultural differences. Europeans and Americans tend to hold differing views of the impact of cultural versus physical differences on behavior (nature vs. nurture). This issue obviously won't be settled here, but the discussion will be more fruitful if everyone tries to take into account the obvious differences in world views
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Old 07-28-16, 11:48 AM   #16
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I prefer to compete on a level playing field with an opponent of comparable strength. With the size and cultural dominance of the USA it's not very likely I will find that here when it comes to knowing eachothers cultures, is it? An interesting contest in bicycle use and safety is even more unlikely. So I'm not here to be competitive about it.
From what I've seen, Dutch culture promotes a competitive spirit toward other nations and the USA in particular. You seem to basically be echoing that attitude here by saying you'd basically like to compete as a Dutch 'team' if you could, but then you complain about the USA being to big and dominant. It's all promoting the ideas that nations have to separate people into collectives and pit them against them in competition. It doesn't have to be that way. You could just forget about collectivism and live as an individual; but are you too attached to the spirit of collectivist competition to do that? Probably, but don't keep pushing it in this thread.

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I presume this Fred bloke from Seattle in the video didn't go the Netherlands in a competitive spirit either, he went there with an open mind and a learning attitude. He wants to improve cycling in his City, and to improve things you'll first have to distinct between inferior and superior infrastructure, and learn from the superior. He found the superior infrastructure in an area that for the sake of communication can be conveniently described with 'The Netherlands' with 'Dutch' as it's adjective. Debating whether Dutch cycling infrastructure is superior to Seattle's seems extremely uninteresting to me, and discussing how cycling in the USA could be improved much more rewarding.
Something he noted, which I liked, was that the engineers designing and improving streets were unsatisfied with their own work and always looking for ways to improve it. Of course that means making it better; but the word, "superior," sounds like some kind of absolute designation. What's more, a street design that seems good might be lacking in other ways. Many of these Dutch streets look like they are overbuilt and lacking in trees/greenery. One thing that concerns me with development and land-use reform is to ensure that carbon-capture as living biomass (i.e. wood) is not in competition with human activities. But the challenge is to what extent populated areas can be reforested without roots and branches causing too much damage to built structures.

I think US areas are actually blessed by the history of auto-centric development in this way; i.e. because there is a lot more room for tree-replanting once the importance and need for it is acknowledged. I think it would be more difficult to re-integrate living trees/wood into populated Dutch areas, though there seem to be quite a lot of trees and green spaces there despite the high population density.

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I believe there's a cultural universal and it is that cyclists or what could be described as a cycling community shapes it's own way of cycling, and will differ from city to city and country to country. That's what people do, they find their own typical ways, together with the people they share an area with, and those ways found collectively we call culture and they differ almost as much as people individually. Even opinions might differ. Cycling is as human as walking, it's walking speeded up by a contraption, and people do that in their own way.
I agree with you that cycling is walking sped up mechanically, or you could say "mechanically-enhanced walking." And of course you can focus on culturally differentiating people into groups. I.e. you could visit Seattle and Boston and New York and differentiate them in terms of cultural differences. Then you could go around telling people in each city they would fit more with people in the other cities in an attempt to homogenize culture of like-mindedness to the greatest extent possible. The more you did this, the more you would end up with black-sheep being outed within various communities due to the expectation of fitting in. It would get more and more fascist. Or you could just accept diversity and expect people to interact constructively across and despite differences.

Still, none of that interests me as much as getting it across that some things go beyond respect for cultural differences. E.g. I've heard so many people say that the US is not Europe and so there will never be a culture of LCF and transportation biking that thrives and grows. The underlying idea is that if Americans submit to automotivism, then that's just the way it will be regardless of environmental consequences. That's just narrow and short-sighted. Environmentalism trumps the right to cultural autonomy/sovereignty because unsustainability is not a culturally relative concept.

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City planners can be of huge importance for cycling, but the success is in the interaction between the city planning and the cycling community. I don't think that Seattle or the USA is an exception to that universal aspect of human behaviour concerning the bicycle. You might not share that view, you might not find that view interesting, you even might find the word 'interesting' too egoboosting to use, but it's my view.
Everything is interaction so I don't really know what you're talking about here. How would you think city planners would not interact with the cycling community? Maybe what you don't realize, though, is that some people will ride a bike and get active in a community just to gain a voice to push other interests. Vehicular cycling came across this way to me when I first saw it because these people are claiming to be for transportation cycling but then they're arguing against bike lanes and basically challenging people to take the whole lane, which irritates the line of cars behind you waiting to pass, and intimidates people out of cycling unless they're totally brave. So I think there are good ideas and bad ideas about cycling and if you try to listen to a community without evaluating what is smart and what isn't, you could end up adopting some bad ideas just because 'the community' is communicating them.

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I know for a fact there are cultural differences, I believe some of them to be relevant to the subject of how to improve cycling in the USA, but I don't see barriers. Well, I see the barriers you have erected, words I'm not allowed use, views I'm not allowed to have, views on only vaguely related matters I have to share before I'm approved and give my views on the subject.
You are not prohibited from saying anything, except maybe certain words that will end up with *s in them when you post your text. There are things I think you should avoid and I'm telling you the reasons I think you should. If you don't understand my reasons, or disagree, or just want to be obstinate, you can ignore them. What's stopping you? I might just avoid responding eventually, or the discussion will derail into bickering over disagreements, as it so often does on the internet. What you're doing now is very passive aggressive, though, which is to avoid saying things I'm telling you you shouldn't, but then to complain about it on another level. If you disagree and want to give your reasons, that's one thing. But by shifting from reasoning to accusing me of exercising authority, you're shifting from a discussion of reasons to a battle over who should have authority to control whom, and that is essentially a shift from discussion to ego-competition.

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Maybe even more than I realized, as Idéfix is the original name of Obelix little dog in the Asterix comics, who starts whining every time Obelix accidentally uproots a tree.
Now you're just making a little provocative comment about uprooting trees because I say a lot about the importance of trees and reforestation? Seriously? What's your problem? Do you hate trees or do you just look for things other people find important to pick fights about?

Last edited by tandempower; 07-28-16 at 11:52 AM.
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Old 07-29-16, 05:26 AM   #17
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Originally Posted by Roody View Post
Interesting side discussion. Although I think the protagonists disagree a lot less than they think they do.

One problem is that the thread title might be a bit misleading. My understanding is that, even within Holland, there are varying qualities of bike infrastructure. The infrastructure in Amsterdam is superior to some other areas and inferior to others. So a better title might be "Amsterdam Bike Structure."

Regional differences often outweigh national differences. And IMO, both ate outweighed by physical differences. If you placed an Amsterdam-style bike structure into Seattle, a different "bike culture" would arise in Seattle. Of course we'll never really know because there's no way to control the variables.
The video actually is almost not at all about Amsterdam, when it comes to city cycling it's mostly about Groningen, which has only a quarter of the population size (800.000 vs 200.000). He probably went to Groningen because it has the most bike use, relative to the size off course, and the best infrastructure. So that title would be very misleading.

There are regional differences, but which city has the best cycling infrastructure is mostly determined by which city started working on it first. A lot of the improvements are done when regular maintenance/renewal is due, to save costs, and cities can't just raise taxes considerably to do a lot at once. So it's a very steady process of improvement that doesn't allow for an exciting contest where one city races past the others. The cities that were ahead in the 70's, are still ahead.

Groningen was first in the seventies because it was a fortress city, very compact with a lot of narrow streets, so it was the first to experience the problems with the increase of car traffic. Amsterdam is compact for other geographical reasons, so they were soon to follow. Both were left winged cities, that certainly helped but is not a factor anymore. In the nineties the right wing came to it senses, and now the consensus that cycling is a very important and desirable form of transport is almost perfect. More spatious cities like Rotterdam (600K, bombed in WWII) and The Hague (500K, chic wide lanes) are lagging behind but they are heading in the same direction at about the same pace. As is in the video, this sustainable safety plan is a national plan, and local authorities aren't allowed to just build a road and forget about the cyclists, it's not legal, a judge would throw it out and have the road rebuild.

The country side with all it's little villages and bigger towns has never had such a dramatic turning point, as it never got smothered with cars and didn't really turn away from cycling in the 50's and 60's. The children had to go to school in another village, shopping had to be done by the wife and 2 cars a family was a bit expensive back then. In the 90's it just went along with everybody else, and quite enthousiastically because the roads on the countryside took the most victims, often young ones.

So I'm afraid the regional differences in infrastructure are small and decreasing every year, as the ones ahead are nearly finished so others will catch up. The big differences start as soon as you pedal cross the border with Germany or Belgium. The biggest differences are not in the infrastructure, but in the cycling by the cyclists. Amsterdam is just a 2 hour drive from Groningen, and they are both frontrunners, but the behaviour of cyclists is different. They cycle closer together, at higher speeds, correct eachother more often and in a less polite way, and they are cycle lane oriented in the sense that they will group together on the right if there's no cycle lane, and in Groningen it's slower but cyclist tend to use the full width of the road and ride more erratic.


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Originally Posted by tandempower View Post
From what I've seen, Dutch culture promotes a competitive spirit toward other nations and the USA in particular.
No, I can't say I recognize that at all.

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You seem to basically be echoing that attitude here by saying you'd basically like to compete as a Dutch 'team' if you could, but then you complain about the USA being to big and dominant. It's all promoting the ideas that nations have to separate people into collectives and pit them against them in competition. It doesn't have to be that way. You could just forget about collectivism and live as an individual; but are you too attached to the spirit of collectivist competition to do that? Probably, but don't keep pushing it in this thread.
As I explained, I chose not to have this debate in a competitive 'national team' spirit, so I know it hasn't have to be that way. I don't see how that would contribute to the debate, and when it comes to who knows best about the other's culture, I would feel I have an unfair advantage because my exposure to American culture is far greater than the other way around. I don't mind that, that's just the way it is and there are perfectly good reasons for it.

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Something he noted, which I liked, was that the engineers designing and improving streets were unsatisfied with their own work and always looking for ways to improve it. Of course that means making it better; but the word, "superior," sounds like some kind of absolute designation.
I'm not the native speaker here, but I'm pretty sure "superior" is not absolute but relative by definition, like in 'superior to'. Maybe it's your competitiveness and national pride why this word bothers you? I'd say let's just call it like it is, it doesn't give me feelings of personal superiority or something, I had no part designing Dutch cycling infrastructure whatsoever. My contribution to Dutch cycling is limited to cycling, gentlemanlike behaviour and breaking the rules that should be changed.

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What's more, a street design that seems good might be lacking in other ways. Many of these Dutch streets look like they are overbuilt and lacking in trees/greenery. One thing that concerns me with development and land-use reform is to ensure that carbon-capture as living biomass (i.e. wood) is not in competition with human activities. But the challenge is to what extent populated areas can be reforested without roots and branches causing too much damage to built structures.
Again you seem to feel the need to say something negative about my country like you're the one into competitive nationalism. I don't mind that, you just don't come across well informed enough and cycling infrastructure and/or green space and landscaping are not the ones I'd pick if I was looking for something negative to say about the Netherlands. There are differences between municipalities, space is very limited, daylight is highly appreciated so you can't just put trees close to windows, but in general the city planners put trees anywhere they can, often on the street, as a traffic calming instrument.

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I think US areas are actually blessed by the history of auto-centric development in this way; i.e. because there is a lot more room for tree-replanting once the importance and need for it is acknowledged. I think it would be more difficult to re-integrate living trees/wood into populated Dutch areas, though there seem to be quite a lot of trees and green spaces there despite the high population density.
The country as a whole is very green, the problem is that almost all the green is planned, organized, maintained and neat, there's little room for nature doing what it does. It's hard to find a square mile without road signs, a bicycle path, wildlife that has been put there, etc, but the cities, towns, villages and hamlets are full of parks, trees, bushes, flowers, little fields and then there's the citizens who want to show off their front gardens or put plants and flowers on their balconies. The amount of green in urban area's would be described by most foreigners as abundant.

This is also a cultural difference, relevant to cycling. The whole notion of space and distances and how to handle it is different, just like Fins have a different attitude towards sunlight compared to people in Spain. I believe that any cultural difference can have an impact on cycling and a lot of them will, good or bad. The cultural difference in bikes for example, if you're on a fast bike or commute as an exercise, you will tend to go faster through traffic I presume. Individualism in cycling might also influence traffic behaviour, in the Netherlands we have very few very little hills, but strong winds, so cycling in groups close together is a normal and developped skill. Dutch cycling is dominated by upright bikes with coaster brake, so they have a better periphial view and communicate with their leg movement. To me it seems optimistic to assume that the infrastructure idea's will all work just as well without these cultural particularities and without adjustment to the local cultural differences.

Maybe it would be more useful for Americans to look at cycling infrastructure in countries that are more alike. Germany for example, they have much more space and a different attitude towards it, it's much more a car drivers country, they like their fast new flashy bikes, they wear helmets, they have hills and mountains. Their cycling infrastructure and their cycling mileage isn't as impressive, but adequate, so as inspiration it isn't as great but as an example it might be much more useful. But Germans tend to be very organized and behave orderly, so you might also look at France and Spain where interesting things concerning cycling are happening and whose cyclists are probably a bit more like the Americans. That the Netherlands has the best cycling infrastructure doesn't mean it is the best example for America, more useful examples could be found in countries that have more in common, geographically, and on the matter of cycling culture.

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I agree with you that cycling is walking sped up mechanically, or you could say "mechanically-enhanced walking." And of course you can focus on culturally differentiating people into groups. I.e. you could visit Seattle and Boston and New York and differentiate them in terms of cultural differences. Then you could go around telling people in each city they would fit more with people in the other cities in an attempt to homogenize culture of like-mindedness to the greatest extent possible. The more you did this, the more you would end up with black-sheep being outed within various communities due to the expectation of fitting in. It would get more and more fascist. Or you could just accept diversity and expect people to interact constructively across and despite differences.
I do accept diversity, I even acknowledge it and acknowledge it's implications for cycling infrastructure, that was my point from the beginning. I believe it's safe to assume that greater cultural differences are likely to make more difference for cycling than little cultural differences.

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Still, none of that interests me as much as getting it across that some things go beyond respect for cultural differences. E.g. I've heard so many people say that the US is not Europe and so there will never be a culture of LCF and transportation biking that thrives and grows. The underlying idea is that if Americans submit to automotivism, then that's just the way it will be regardless of environmental consequences. That's just narrow and short-sighted. Environmentalism trumps the right to cultural autonomy/sovereignty because unsustainability is not a culturally relative concept.
But again you're stubbornly holding on to assumptions about my view that aren't correct. I'm very optimistic, I believe the bicycle brings freedom in many ways and I suspect Americans will appreciate it for that. And they will appreciate all the other advantages, but cycling is by it's nature a grassroots thing that will be done by people according to their diverse local habits and culture.

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Everything is interaction so I don't really know what you're talking about here. How would you think city planners would not interact with the cycling community?
I was pointing out that city planners and there plans should be prepared to stand corrected by the cyclists, and that de cyclists evolve their cycling behaviour within the infrastructure and that this process can force infrastructure changes, or allow for desired infrastructure changes. Shared space wasn't invented by a city planner, it was introduced by cyclists who thought 'if I just cycle slowly hear, I won't bother anyone'. The same with two-way traffic for cyclists in one-way streets for cars. That's just something were cityplanners were forced to give in to the behaviour of cyclists. It's not that the city planners can just build the infrastructure after having consulted cyclists, and the cyclists will use it according to their plans, you will end up with much better cycling if you acknowledge and respect the constant dynamic of cyclists and infrastructure working together and influencing eachother.

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Maybe what you don't realize, though, is that some people will ride a bike and get active in a community just to gain a voice to push other interests. Vehicular cycling came across this way to me when I first saw it because these people are claiming to be for transportation cycling but then they're arguing against bike lanes and basically challenging people to take the whole lane, which irritates the line of cars behind you waiting to pass, and intimidates people out of cycling unless they're totally brave. So I think there are good ideas and bad ideas about cycling and if you try to listen to a community without evaluating what is smart and what isn't, you could end up adopting some bad ideas just because 'the community' is communicating them.
Most of the cycling I do is VC and that's the kind of cycling I enjoy most. But that's why in one of my first posts in this topic I made the distinction between the goal itself and how you get there. The Netherlands for example made huge progress towards VC by building a lot of cycling lanes, because cycling lanes changed the behaviour of the cyclists and motorists and helped them to reach an understanding that enabled more VC. Now in the cities it is basically VC, but with a lot of locations were the traffic is split so the cars can speed up.

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You are not prohibited from saying anything, except maybe certain words that will end up with *s in them when you post your text. There are things I think you should avoid and I'm telling you the reasons I think you should. If you don't understand my reasons, or disagree, or just want to be obstinate, you can ignore them. What's stopping you? I might just avoid responding eventually, or the discussion will derail into bickering over disagreements, as it so often does on the internet. What you're doing now is very passive aggressive, though, which is to avoid saying things I'm telling you you shouldn't, but then to complain about it on another level. If you disagree and want to give your reasons, that's one thing. But by shifting from reasoning to accusing me of exercising authority, you're shifting from a discussion of reasons to a battle over who should have authority to control whom, and that is essentially a shift from discussion to ego-competition.
I just posted in this topic to share my view on a subject I happen to know a lot about. So I never expected to be confronted with suspicion, incorrect assumptions, negativity, dogma and what seems intentional misinterpretation of my words. I'm not a native speaker so I'll happily stand corrected when I use words wrongly, but I expect people to start discussing assuming I come in peace, my intentions are good and try to interpret my words according to how I most likely would have meant them. You didn't meet that expectation at all, imo you have been nothing but hostile towards me.

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Now you're just making a little provocative comment about uprooting trees because I say a lot about the importance of trees and reforestation? Seriously? What's your problem? Do you hate trees or do you just look for things other people find important to pick fights about?
I like trees, but a remark like that would be considered by foreigners in the Netherlands as typical Dutch directness, or Dutch rudeness for those who didn't manage to get used to it. Normally I would have held back because of cultural differences, but with your views on cultural differences and universal values you probably would have wanted me to ingore those differences, so I didn't hold back.
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Old 07-29-16, 07:03 AM   #18
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Originally Posted by Stadjer View Post
The video actually is almost not at all about Amsterdam, when it comes to city cycling it's mostly about Groningen, which has only a quarter of the population size (800.000 vs 200.000). He probably went to Groningen because it has the most bike use, relative to the size off course, and the best infrastructure. So that title would be very misleading.

There are regional differences, but which city has the best cycling infrastructure is mostly determined by which city started working on it first. A lot of the improvements are done when regular maintenance/renewal is due, to save costs, and cities can't just raise taxes considerably to do a lot at once. So it's a very steady process of improvement that doesn't allow for an exciting contest where one city races past the others. The cities that were ahead in the 70's, are still ahead.

Groningen was first in the seventies because it was a fortress city, very compact with a lot of narrow streets, so it was the first to experience the problems with the increase of car traffic. Amsterdam is compact for other geographical reasons, so they were soon to follow. Both were left winged cities, that certainly helped but is not a factor anymore. In the nineties the right wing came to it senses, and now the consensus that cycling is a very important and desirable form of transport is almost perfect. More spatious cities like Rotterdam (600K, bombed in WWII) and The Hague (500K, chic wide lanes) are lagging behind but they are heading in the same direction at about the same pace. As is in the video, this sustainable safety plan is a national plan, and local authorities aren't allowed to just build a road and forget about the cyclists, it's not legal, a judge would throw it out and have the road rebuild.

The country side with all it's little villages and bigger towns has never had such a dramatic turning point, as it never got smothered with cars and didn't really turn away from cycling in the 50's and 60's. The children had to go to school in another village, shopping had to be done by the wife and 2 cars a family was a bit expensive back then. In the 90's it just went along with everybody else, and quite enthousiastically because the roads on the countryside took the most victims, often young ones.

So I'm afraid the regional differences in infrastructure are small and decreasing every year, as the ones ahead are nearly finished so others will catch up. The big differences start as soon as you pedal cross the border with Germany or Belgium. The biggest differences are not in the infrastructure, but in the cycling by the cyclists. Amsterdam is just a 2 hour drive from Groningen, and they are both frontrunners, but the behaviour of cyclists is different. They cycle closer together, at higher speeds, correct eachother more often and in a less polite way, and they are cycle lane oriented in the sense that they will group together on the right if there's no cycle lane, and in Groningen it's slower but cyclist tend to use the full width of the road and ride more erratic.
This was a nice summary of various observations. Thanks for sharing it. What I find most interesting is what you say about "The country side with all it's little villages and bigger towns has never had such a dramatic turning point, as it never got smothered with cars and didn't really turn away from cycling in the 50's and 60's." I wonder why it was that automotivism was gaining momentum in the cities but not the countryside. Was it a lack of resources to remake the countryside into sprawling suburbs as occurred in many US areas? Or were people just happy with the way things were and resistant to change? Had cycling been as popular throughout the first half of the 20th century as it became after the 1970s? How much had it faded out due to automotivism's rise and has the post-1970 resurgence made cycling more popular than it ever was in the past? or less? or about the same?

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No, I can't say I recognize that at all.
Well, no reason to create a discussion about it here. I've just noticed many Dutch criticisms directed at the US, primarily because it is seen as a powerful country and so Dutch criticism sort of quietly complains about it being bigger than normal, having shortcomings despite its wealth/power, etc. It's basically social-egalitarian normativity but on the level of nations as individuals. What I've learned about Dutch culture is that it's generally normative with egalitarian orientations, and of course this culture is also present in the US in various ways, so you can recognize how people regard each other in terms of superior/inferior qualities and critique each other in ways that push conformity. With egalitarianism, there is an idea that the biggest and stongest should do the most work for the community, so even though Dutch view themselves as separate from the US and other countries, they seem to have a view that stronger countries should do more for a global community of countries where the weaker need the help of the stronger. It's basically socialist ethics, but it's strange because there's also this complaining that the US doesn't respect cultural differences and national sovereignty, which of course is also not respected by the ethic of having a global community of sovereign nations, or the ethic of pushing that ethic on other 'sovereign' and supposedly culturally autonomous nations. But if you want to discuss these issues further, maybe we should do it in PM or P&R since the things you've said about cycling culture are far more interesting and relevant in this thread.

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As I explained, I chose not to have this debate in a competitive 'national team' spirit, so I know it hasn't have to be that way. I don't see how that would contribute to the debate, and when it comes to who knows best about the other's culture, I would feel I have an unfair advantage because my exposure to American culture is far greater than the other way around. I don't mind that, that's just the way it is and there are perfectly good reasons for it.
There's no competition. If you lived in South America somewhere and I live in North America, we could discuss our respective experiences even if they don't overlap or partially overlap or whatever. Machka has talked about Australia, where I've never been, but I can understand what she's talking about and I don't know how extensively she's toured the southern or southeastern US, but it doesn't seem to stop her from commenting on things I say, even if she sometimes has the POV that everyone lives in different areas and can't generalize to other areas. The point is that people don't have to be in competition over who knows what territory better; they can just discuss things from their POVs and sometimes they might have something to say that is interesting to others.

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I'm not the native speaker here, but I'm pretty sure "superior" is not absolute but relative by definition, like in 'superior to'. Maybe it's your competitiveness and national pride why this word bothers you? I'd say let's just call it like it is, it doesn't give me feelings of personal superiority or something, I had no part designing Dutch cycling infrastructure whatsoever. My contribution to Dutch cycling is limited to cycling, gentlemanlike behaviour and breaking the rules that should be changed.
You're right that 'superior/inferior' are relative concepts, but what I mean by absolute is 'essential,' meaning the word 'superior' is often used to designate essential superiority, which is more absolute than situational 'superiority,' which is usually just expressed with the word, 'better.' It also depends on how you use it. E.g. if I said my time in a race was better than yours, that doesn't imply that I am superior as a competitor; just that I bettered you at that particular moment. If I said that I'm a better competitor than you, 'better' would take on the same essentialist quality of 'superior.' It really has to do with whether you view people/entities in absolute terms or whether you look at situational changes as more important than essences of entities/people/nations/cultures/etc.

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Again you seem to feel the need to say something negative about my country like you're the one into competitive nationalism. I don't mind that, you just don't come across well informed enough and cycling infrastructure and/or green space and landscaping are not the ones I'd pick if I was looking for something negative to say about the Netherlands. There are differences between municipalities, space is very limited, daylight is highly appreciated so you can't just put trees close to windows, but in general the city planners put trees anywhere they can, often on the street, as a traffic calming instrument.
I do have some negativity regarding Dutch nationalism, but it's mainly just a response I learned to develop after talking with many Dutch critics of the US and other countries. Ultimately I'd prefer to just abandon the whole culture of identifying with nations, which is collectivist and competitive. I am Christian so I believe that all people everywhere are God's children and all the nations and collective identities of the world just serve to separate and egoize people. Even if you're not Christian or religious at all, you can hopefully see how it would be less negative to just view people as individuals in the world instead of viewing them all as components of national collectives that are inherently separate/different from each other and compete for territorial autonomy and global dominance in various ways.

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The country as a whole is very green, the problem is that almost all the green is planned, organized, maintained and neat, there's little room for nature doing what it does. It's hard to find a square mile without road signs, a bicycle path, wildlife that has been put there, etc, but the cities, towns, villages and hamlets are full of parks, trees, bushes, flowers, little fields and then there's the citizens who want to show off their front gardens or put plants and flowers on their balconies. The amount of green in urban area's would be described by most foreigners as abundant.
I have seen trees with trunk diameters wider than I am tall felled. Maybe the tree was sick and needed cutting but it didn't look like it to me. I have heard this said about Dutch 'nature' before, and I think it must reflect some loathing of un-manicured growth. I'm not sure what's behind that, but trees and plants are automated technologies that grow and reproduce automatically, which is part of why they are effective at what they do, which is to absorb/sequester energy/carbon, stabilize temperatures and watersheds. Because that area is so cool/cold by its latitude and wet by its position relative to runoff from Alpine region and North Sea cloud infiltration, it's hard to preach the importance of (re)forestation to shade/climate and watershed functioning; but on the other hand it is possible to wonder how much northern deforestation and industrialism is causing the de-icing of the arctic. The sun does shine through long days in the summer in the north and a lot of winter heating relies on fossil fuels and nuclear power mined/pumped up from underground. Wouldn't it be better to use the summer sun to grow biomass and then use some of that for winter heat, while allowing the majority to thrive as carbon sequestration? Or do you think the global south should serve as the carbon-sequestration farm for the global north so that northern cities can enjoy sunshine and clear all their forests to make way for development? And then in an area like Northern Europe, you have the problem that most development has been in place for centuries so to what extent can such old, dense cities be reforested anyway? Btw, while Dutch gardens and flowers can be quite lovely, they don't sequester carbon/energy the way living wood-growth does.

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This is also a cultural difference, relevant to cycling. The whole notion of space and distances and how to handle it is different, just like Fins have a different attitude towards sunlight compared to people in Spain. I believe that any cultural difference can have an impact on cycling and a lot of them will, good or bad. The cultural difference in bikes for example, if you're on a fast bike or commute as an exercise, you will tend to go faster through traffic I presume. Individualism in cycling might also influence traffic behaviour, in the Netherlands we have very few very little hills, but strong winds, so cycling in groups close together is a normal and developped skill. Dutch cycling is dominated by upright bikes with coaster brake, so they have a better periphial view and communicate with their leg movement. To me it seems optimistic to assume that the infrastructure idea's will all work just as well without these cultural particularities and without adjustment to the local cultural differences.
It's hard for me to say when 'cultural differences' should be respected and when they are unscientific superstitions that should be reconsidered. I can only deal with any belief in and of itself. Idk exactly what you're talking about regarding Finnish vs. Spanish views of the sun, but I know that the sun is a fusion reactor sending energy to Earth in certain quantities and certain wavelengths with certain effects and these effects do not depend on how they are viewed and interpreted culturally. It's just a question of figuring out what exactly is really happening, and not worshiping what any traditional culture thinks about it. It's not that I don't have an anthropological background that causes me to respect and be interested in various cultural views; but that I've learned that if you allow yourself to get mesmerized by cultural charm, it distracts you from the ultimate goal, which is to do the best you can for present and future generations by not allowing traditions and other cultural idiosyncrasies to rationalize doing harm instead of good.

As for Dutch cyclists using upright coaster brake bikes, yes I'm familiar with that but just because a relative homogeneity evolves doesn't mean you have to integrate all its nuances effects into your overall attitude toward infrastructure considerations. For instance, what if US city planners decided to cater to higher-speed recreational cyclists only in their infrastructure investments? If they did that, it would not be conducive to getting kids, older people, and less experienced riders out using bikes for local trips to reduce traffic congestion. But then if all the infrastructure was devoted to that and not higher-speed recreational cycling on arterial roads, there would not be paved shoulders and that would cause more conflicts between cycling and driving on arterial roads where crashes could be very dangerous. So I think it's better to just design cycling infrastructure to fit general usage and then if specific problems are occurring in specific areas, you can tweak infrastructure to remedy the problems.

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Maybe it would be more useful for Americans to look at cycling infrastructure in countries that are more alike. Germany for example, they have much more space and a different attitude towards it, it's much more a car drivers country, they like their fast new flashy bikes, they wear helmets, they have hills and mountains. Their cycling infrastructure and their cycling mileage isn't as impressive, but adequate, so as inspiration it isn't as great but as an example it might be much more useful. But Germans tend to be very organized and behave orderly, so you might also look at France and Spain where interesting things concerning cycling are happening and whose cyclists are probably a bit more like the Americans. That the Netherlands has the best cycling infrastructure doesn't mean it is the best example for America, more useful examples could be found in countries that have more in common, geographically, and on the matter of cycling culture.
Here again I am noticing something I've seen in the past, which is Dutch wanting to differentiate as much as possible from the US, as if it would be some kind of tragedy if the two countries would have any convergent trends. Like I said before, I think differentiation from the US forms a strong part of the cultural inspiration for Dutch life, or maybe differentiation from other countries in general. Dutch will emphasize cultural differences from Germany and France, because those are also viewed as dominant countries. Dutch wants national uniqueness and autonomy and so it actively seeks to differentiate and separate from other dominant countries in order to maintain its own national dominance within. I dislike all these hegemonic politics, so I am very sensitive and critical when I think someone is saying something rooted in them.

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I do accept diversity, I even acknowledge it and acknowledge it's implications for cycling infrastructure, that was my point from the beginning. I believe it's safe to assume that greater cultural differences are likely to make more difference for cycling than little cultural differences.
But I'm talking about internal diversity, not diversity across a range of homogenized collectives. You can talk about stereotypes of how different nationalities behave only if there is some homogeneity within each cultural group. If diversity is the defining principle of every group, then what is group identity/culture? There is none. There are just individual differences and similarities.

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But again you're stubbornly holding on to assumptions about my view that aren't correct. I'm very optimistic, I believe the bicycle brings freedom in many ways and I suspect Americans will appreciate it for that. And they will appreciate all the other advantages, but cycling is by it's nature a grassroots thing that will be done by people according to their diverse local habits and culture.
Right, but even when it's not 'a grassroots thing,' it still should be facilitated and stimulated by infrastructure reform, because the alternative is persistent growth of automotive sprawl and driving-dependence, which make growth harmful and unsustainable.

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I was pointing out that city planners and there plans should be prepared to stand corrected by the cyclists, and that de cyclists evolve their cycling behaviour within the infrastructure and that this process can force infrastructure changes, or allow for desired infrastructure changes. Shared space wasn't invented by a city planner, it was introduced by cyclists who thought 'if I just cycle slowly hear, I won't bother anyone'. The same with two-way traffic for cyclists in one-way streets for cars. That's just something were cityplanners were forced to give in to the behaviour of cyclists. It's not that the city planners can just build the infrastructure after having consulted cyclists, and the cyclists will use it according to their plans, you will end up with much better cycling if you acknowledge and respect the constant dynamic of cyclists and infrastructure working together and influencing eachother.
I would call this democracy. People have different ways of participating in democratic discussion. Sometimes they talk and listen, but other times they just do and watch. To me it just seems logical to have two-way bike traffic, but not on bike lanes on two-way streets. On many multi-use paths, people automatically go in both directions, even though only some are striped and signed to prescribe it. I recently heard that people can get pretty upset on German bike paths if pedestrians are walking in them, but multi-use paths I have seen allow pedestrians, roller-bladers, skateboarders, etc. and cyclists just have to shout ahead to get clearance or slow down to pass. It was quite irritating for me the other day to slow down for what seemed like an entire family gathering where no one even noticed me riding up and parted to form a hole for me to ride through; so I had to basically stop and say, "excuse me" to get through. That was irritating because I had good momentum in my ride, but it wasn't the end of the world and I accelerated up to speed again in no time.

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Most of the cycling I do is VC and that's the kind of cycling I enjoy most. But that's why in one of my first posts in this topic I made the distinction between the goal itself and how you get there. The Netherlands for example made huge progress towards VC by building a lot of cycling lanes, because cycling lanes changed the behaviour of the cyclists and motorists and helped them to reach an understanding that enabled more VC. Now in the cities it is basically VC, but with a lot of locations were the traffic is split so the cars can speed up.
Bike lanes basically split the traffic so cars don't have to slow down as long as they stay left of the line. I don't mind cycling to the right in wide lanes because I notice cars don't have to swerve to pass me, which I'm afraid could cause an accident with another car in the other lane. Some roads just need lower speed limits, I think, but when motorists expect to drive faster than bikes, a vehicular cyclist forces them to slow down and that seems dangerous to me, especially on multi-lane roads where motorists will start trying to change lanes before slowing down, which divides their attention between the lane they're trying to move over into and the cyclist in front of them they need to avoid running into.

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I just posted in this topic to share my view on a subject I happen to know a lot about. So I never expected to be confronted with suspicion, incorrect assumptions, negativity, dogma and what seems intentional misinterpretation of my words. I'm not a native speaker so I'll happily stand corrected when I use words wrongly, but I expect people to start discussing assuming I come in peace, my intentions are good and try to interpret my words according to how I most likely would have meant them. You didn't meet that expectation at all, imo you have been nothing but hostile towards me.
Sorry it feels like nothing but hostility. It has nothing do with your writing, which is indistinguishable from any other writing in this forum. I've also appreciated many of your insights, which are clearly based on more thorough experience. I have resisted some aspects of your thinking, which I believe are rooted in negative thought traditions, many of which I associate with Dutch/European collectivism and other culturally-engrained thought-styles. I don't know to what extent these are conscious or sub-conscious, but because I've spent a lot of time talking with Europeans and studying European writing (as well as US academic writing that is culturally connected with it), I am sensitive to these kinds of biases and patterns. Sorry if it felt like I was attacking you personally. I take you at your word that you are a gentleman and maybe some of the cultural/thought-style patterns I find offensive seem just normal to you, the way I accept certain things about southern US culture that I know come across as fascist to people who aren't familiar with them. Unfortunately, we live in a world/species whose mind naturally cultivates various forms of negativity and bias that affects certain others negatively and other others less negatively. It's easy to just expect people to bugger off when they get offended, but I don't believe in that because I think everyone has a right to be wherever they find themselves without getting pushed away by others.

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I like trees, but a remark like that would be considered by foreigners in the Netherlands as typical Dutch directness, or Dutch rudeness for those who didn't manage to get used to it. Normally I would have held back because of cultural differences, but with your views on cultural differences and universal values you probably would have wanted me to ignore those differences, so I didn't hold back.
No, I appreciate directness and honesty. That is the best stereotype about Dutch culture, imo. Fortunately, there is also directness and honesty in US culture in various ways. I think it comes down to individual courage. It may also have to do with developing an awareness that dealing with a potentially painful honest statement is ultimately less painful that having the same statement tiptoed around and implied but not said directly. Unfortunately there are those who want to maximize pain on others, so they will do the tiptoeing and implying and relish in watching their target squirm with discomfort. This is S/M, imo, and I'm just seeking to have constructive discussion with emotional neutrality and avoidance of ego-drama to the extent that is possible.
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Old 07-30-16, 04:34 AM   #19
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This was a nice summary of various observations. Thanks for sharing it. What I find most interesting is what you say about "The country side with all it's little villages and bigger towns has never had such a dramatic turning point, as it never got smothered with cars and didn't really turn away from cycling in the 50's and 60's." I wonder why it was that automotivism was gaining momentum in the cities but not the countryside. Was it a lack of resources to remake the countryside into sprawling suburbs as occurred in many US areas? Or were people just happy with the way things were and resistant to change? Had cycling been as popular throughout the first half of the 20th century as it became after the 1970s? How much had it faded out due to automotivism's rise and has the post-1970 resurgence made cycling more popular than it ever was in the past? or less? or about the same?
No, cars were very much liked in the countryside, even more because it allowed people to go places, in the city you don't need to cover much distance to experience new things. In the 50's people got their folding chairs and tables out and went to the highway to watch the car traffic for a whole day. And motorcycles, and mopeds for the teenagers, and still they all get their drivers licence at 18 alltough it will set them back 1800 euro's if they learn fast, because they need it. There also a lot of wreck racing, dirt bike races and tractor pulling going on, a lot of car tuning and customization, the Dukes of Hazard were probably more popular there than in the cities, it's safe to say they've always had more of a car culture.

But in the countryside it didn't get in the way of cycling very much. The bicycle gave people in the countryside the freedom to get outside their village regularly, also the young, the old and the ones that couldn't afford a car or whose husband took it to work. The infrastructure was already there, because of another cultural thing, the Dutch tendency to organize in voluntary associations. The cyclists started one in the 1880's, just like there are ten thousands VA's for practically any sport, hobby or interest in any location , and this one grew very big, and in cooperation with the government it made a lot of existing paths more suitable for cycling, and created new ones. Cycling grew pretty big in the early 1900's, it bit more than anywhere else probably, because of the flatness of the country (gears weren't available in the beginning) and the short distances. I was born in a village and grew up in a town in a rural area in 70's and 80's and cycling has always been there, and I wasn't aware of any turnaround or revolution, we all just cycled. I cycled 3 miles to school since I was 9 or 10, if we had a school weekend camping with the whole class we went on bike, 2 by 2 in a peloton, luggage on the rack, teacher cycling up front and a 3 hour ride to the woods. When I was 12 I went to high school, and there were a lot of kids who came cycling every morning from a village 15 miles away. It was just normal, no one was brought by car. So there was certainly a turning point in the seventies, and cycling was in decline, but the turning point came when mass cycling was still substantial.

Suburbs have never been an ideal here. People want to live in city centres or in villages, the edge of a city is a good compromise for families, but village life is enjoyed. Often people who have worked and lived on different continents return to the village their grandparents were born just because they want to live there, or a different village, or peopel who have been living in cities all their life decide it's time to live in a village when they are about 40. A village is generally not seen as something you have to escape from if you can, it's pretty normal to leave it for af few years, for example to study in a city, and return.

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Well, no reason to create a discussion about it here. I've just noticed many Dutch criticisms directed at the US, primarily because it is seen as a powerful country and so Dutch criticism sort of quietly complains about it being bigger than normal, having shortcomings despite its wealth/power, etc. It's basically social-egalitarian normativity but on the level of nations as individuals. What I've learned about Dutch culture is that it's generally normative with egalitarian orientations, and of course this culture is also present in the US in various ways, so you can recognize how people regard each other in terms of superior/inferior qualities and critique each other in ways that push conformity. With egalitarianism, there is an idea that the biggest and stongest should do the most work for the community, so even though Dutch view themselves as separate from the US and other countries, they seem to have a view that stronger countries should do more for a global community of countries where the weaker need the help of the stronger. It's basically socialist ethics, but it's strange because there's also this complaining that the US doesn't respect cultural differences and national sovereignty, which of course is also not respected by the ethic of having a global community of sovereign nations, or the ethic of pushing that ethic on other 'sovereign' and supposedly culturally autonomous nations. But if you want to discuss these issues further, maybe we should do it in PM or P&R since the things you've said about cycling culture are far more interesting and relevant in this thread.
You seem the one to be very eager to discuss that, it's not me who is going on about cultural issues that are not related to cycling. I don't know about egalitarianism, in general you could say the Dutch don't admire people for things they didn't achieve themselves, like beeing born into wealth. We like winners but not with too much too much of a head start, everybody should get an education and quite a fair chance, but you've got to take it yourself. And if your daddy is rich but your brains are average, you're not getting into university but you'll have to settle for a lower level of education.The egalitarianism of everybody to the same high school at the same level is not ours. When it comes to bigger countries having to help smaller ones, I believe most Dutch would be happy if the American government just stopped using it's economic and military power to mess things up. But I believe most Dutch see the government as just one of many aspects of American culture as they are quite familiar with it.

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There's no competition. If you lived in South America somewhere and I live in North America, we could discuss our respective experiences even if they don't overlap or partially overlap or whatever. Machka has talked about Australia, where I've never been, but I can understand what she's talking about and I don't know how extensively she's toured the southern or southeastern US, but it doesn't seem to stop her from commenting on things I say, even if she sometimes has the POV that everyone lives in different areas and can't generalize to other areas. The point is that people don't have to be in competition over who knows what territory better; they can just discuss things from their POVs and sometimes they might have something to say that is interesting to others.
Maybe if I was in discussion with a Dane, we could debate cycling infrastructure in a competitive us against them kind of way, like bragging about who has the best. That might even be a fruitful debate in a kind of socratic way. We might also be able to compete on knowledge about eachothers culture, as Danes are as much exposed to Dutch culture as the other way around. But I don't really see the point of beating around the bush, Dutch people don't go to the USA to learn about cycling infrastructure, competition is to find out who is better, but if you already know, you don't compete. Between us that's same when it comes to knowledge about eachoters culture, I don't feel like competing. I just want to acknowledge facts, it's not my ego that is in the way.

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You're right that 'superior/inferior' are relative concepts, but what I mean by absolute is 'essential,' meaning the word 'superior' is often used to designate essential superiority, which is more absolute than situational 'superiority,' which is usually just expressed with the word, 'better.' It also depends on how you use it. E.g. if I said my time in a race was better than yours, that doesn't imply that I am superior as a competitor; just that I bettered you at that particular moment. If I said that I'm a better competitor than you, 'better' would take on the same essentialist quality of 'superior.' It really has to do with whether you view people/entities in absolute terms or whether you look at situational changes as more important than essences of entities/people/nations/cultures/etc.
No, if you don't mind the facts and don't mix them up with feelings of national pride or something, it's not an issue. Car driving is superior in Germany compared to the Netherlands, they're better drivers, they have better roads, and they make and have better cars. There, I said it, it didn't hurt, it has nothing to do with my ego. It just makes driving in Germany nicer and maybe we can learn from them to improve car driving here.

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I do have some negativity regarding Dutch nationalism, but it's mainly just a response I learned to develop after talking with many Dutch critics of the US and other countries. Ultimately I'd prefer to just abandon the whole culture of identifying with nations, which is collectivist and competitive. I am Christian so I believe that all people everywhere are God's children and all the nations and collective identities of the world just serve to separate and egoize people. Even if you're not Christian or religious at all, you can hopefully see how it would be less negative to just view people as individuals in the world instead of viewing them all as components of national collectives that are inherently separate/different from each other and compete for territorial autonomy and global dominance in various ways.
I'm an atheist, I'm not out there to offend christians, but I refuse to beeing told which words not to use or views to have by them claiming to be offended. Beeing offended is just as much a choice as to offend. So we'll probably disagree about who made the forests, but we can agree that I didn't make them so I don't have the right to destroy them.

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I have seen trees with trunk diameters wider than I am tall felled. Maybe the tree was sick and needed cutting but it didn't look like it to me. I have heard this said about Dutch 'nature' before, and I think it must reflect some loathing of un-manicured growth. I'm not sure what's behind that, but trees and plants are automated technologies that grow and reproduce automatically, which is part of why they are effective at what they do, which is to absorb/sequester energy/carbon, stabilize temperatures and watersheds. Because that area is so cool/cold by its latitude and wet by its position relative to runoff from Alpine region and North Sea cloud infiltration, it's hard to preach the importance of (re)forestation to shade/climate and watershed functioning; but on the other hand it is possible to wonder how much northern deforestation and industrialism is causing the de-icing of the arctic. The sun does shine through long days in the summer in the north and a lot of winter heating relies on fossil fuels and nuclear power mined/pumped up from underground. Wouldn't it be better to use the summer sun to grow biomass and then use some of that for winter heat, while allowing the majority to thrive as carbon sequestration? Or do you think the global south should serve as the carbon-sequestration farm for the global north so that northern cities can enjoy sunshine and clear all their forests to make way for development? And then in an area like Northern Europe, you have the problem that most development has been in place for centuries so to what extent can such old, dense cities be reforested anyway? Btw, while Dutch gardens and flowers can be quite lovely, they don't sequester carbon/energy the way living wood-growth does.
Imo biomass is just an unnecessary complicated way to use solar energy, with a lot of unwanted emissions, and fossil fuels is just very old solar energy that is used all at once, which is the problem. Woods should be left alone as much as possible, because if you destroy it you can't just get a new one. But I don't believe that cycling or reforestation will do very much about global warming. Cycling is important for nice liveable cities in a time of urbanisation. For global warming issues we better take a look at Germany, because they are really getting on with sustainable energy.

But I don't think you got the space issue, the idea that land is so scarce you've got to make it out of sea is typical for a certain culture. Americans get scared of the stairs here, because they are steep and narrow to save space. You can buy a big car, but you can't use just any parking space, and might have to avoid some streets. Suburs can't sprawl out in the countryside, because the countryside is already taken. There's not just city planning, the whole of the country is planned like that, every square meter has a purpose assigned to it, including the not so great outdoors. Forest are very well protected, but they are man made, some hundreds of years old, but still man made, there are a lot of very expensive wildlife crossings to keep the deer and boars migrating and prevent inbreeding. There's a tidal area close by, Unesco protected etc, but you can't sail there without a view on some signs of civilization, the sky at night is very unimpressive, because there is light pollution everywhere and you won't see many stars. So it's a country that was the first to notice when new inventions like the car take too much space, but many cities in the world experience simular problems and many more will experience them in the future.

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It's hard for me to say when 'cultural differences' should be respected and when they are unscientific superstitions that should be reconsidered.
There was already knowledge before there was science. If the sun disappears for most of the winter like in Finland, you better enjoy it and use when it's there. Scarcity or abundance of sunlight, water, space etc. does change behaviour. People behave in certain ways because of local circumstances, and if they do that together over a certain time, it influences or even becomes culture.

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As for Dutch cyclists using upright coaster brake bikes, yes I'm familiar with that but just because a relative homogeneity evolves doesn't mean you have to integrate all its nuances effects into your overall attitude toward infrastructure considerations. For instance, what if US city planners decided to cater to higher-speed recreational cyclists only in their infrastructure investments? If they did that, it would not be conducive to getting kids, older people, and less experienced riders out using bikes for local trips to reduce traffic congestion. But then if all the infrastructure was devoted to that and not higher-speed recreational cycling on arterial roads, there would not be paved shoulders and that would cause more conflicts between cycling and driving on arterial roads where crashes could be very dangerous. So I think it's better to just design cycling infrastructure to fit general usage and then if specific problems are occurring in specific areas, you can tweak infrastructure to remedy the problems.
There are universal transcultural habits like the fact that people don't want to commute for more than one hour. It's been like that since the middle ages, when people got faster, they went further to go to work. If you live in a country where space is abundant, commuting by bicycle is more of an issue because it's likely the distance is greater. That might be solved by going faster, but that has implications for infrastructure. Just as other cultural things can be of importance. Will Americans cycle elbow to elbow, front wheel to rear wheel? Will they make the traffic flow with non verbal communication? Cycling is social behaviour, and that differs from location to location, I'm optimistic Americans will find their own way of mass cycling, but I don't thing it will be much like the Dutch way. It might be much better, if the infrastructure fits the social behaviour.


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Here again I am noticing something I've seen in the past, which is Dutch wanting to differentiate as much as possible from the US, as if it would be some kind of tragedy if the two countries would have any convergent trends. Like I said before, I think differentiation from the US forms a strong part of the cultural inspiration for Dutch life, or maybe differentiation from other countries in general. Dutch will emphasize cultural differences from Germany and France, because those are also viewed as dominant countries.
No, they will stumble upon cultural differences. In North-West Europe you don't have to travel far to encounter considerable cultural differences, that distance can be biked within an hour, at least from my starting point. Lots of the communities on the countryside are much older than modern transportation, including the bicycle, and for centuries only had cultural interaction with the neigbouring communities and sometimes cities. They've done things their own way for centuries, with their own habits, languages and dialects. There are already significant cultural differences within the borders, and cross the border they suddenly are even bigger. Most Dutch don't really speak French and English among French is only quite recently getting better, so sometimes the young ones can even communicate. A lot of people from the West of the Netherlands don't speak German either. I've been in France and Germany a lot, I have friends there, but I'm educated, I'm open minded and I acknowledge cultural differences, that's why it works, you can't just take that for granted. Of course Dutch people will emphasize that there are cultural differences if you are ignoring them just because you have no idea, it's hard work just to get along with the French and the Germans, it's fun work but you have to prepared to be amazed, surprised and learn an adapt every single day. To take that for granted because you don't have that kind of cultural difference within the next 2000 miles is quite etnocentric and rude. Again you're ignoring the influence of your culture and it's relation to distances and space on your thinking.

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Dutch wants national uniqueness and autonomy and so it actively seeks to differentiate and separate from other dominant countries in order to maintain its own national dominance within. I dislike all these hegemonic politics, so I am very sensitive and critical when I think someone is saying something rooted in them.
Maybe you just don't understand what it means to be rooted. There is something with the smaller country vs. the bigger country, the size influences how people see the international relations between the two, but Belgium is a smaller country and if I cross the border with them, I stumble upon cultural differences too. The national uniqueness is just there, you can't escape it or ignore it, we'll just have to accept it and work with it. You could say that international orientation is part of the Dutch national identity and pride, but that pride concerns the skill to handle cultural differences, not to act like they don't exist. So when I went cycling in Germany, I had to adapt to their cycling.

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But I'm talking about internal diversity, not diversity across a range of homogenized collectives. You can talk about stereotypes of how different nationalities behave only if there is some homogeneity within each cultural group. If diversity is the defining principle of every group, then what is group identity/culture? There is none. There are just individual differences and similarities.
No, people are diverse and individual, but so are groups of people. If you seperate a group of people, by distance, travelling time or borders, they will do things differently from another group of diverse people. The fact that individuals differ makes that groups of people differ. Stereotypes help to handle those differences, it's just important not to forget that they are just stereotypes and they tell very little about individuals.

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Right, but even when it's not 'a grassroots thing,' it still should be facilitated and stimulated by infrastructure reform, because the alternative is persistent growth of automotive sprawl and driving-dependence, which make growth harmful and unsustainable.
Yes, but how? I don't know, but I'm sure you'll have to connect to local cycling culture and let it develop.

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I would call this democracy. People have different ways of participating in democratic discussion. Sometimes they talk and listen, but other times they just do and watch. To me it just seems logical to have two-way bike traffic, but not on bike lanes on two-way streets.
For city planners that wasn't logical, especially in streets that were to narrow to have one car and two bikes side by side, or in streets to narrow to have just one bike beside a car. But they had to concede, cyclists and motorist will work it out themselves.

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On many multi-use paths, people automatically go in both directions, even though only some are striped and signed to prescribe it. I recently heard that people can get pretty upset on German bike paths if pedestrians are walking in them, but multi-use paths I have seen allow pedestrians, roller-bladers, skateboarders, etc. and cyclists just have to shout ahead to get clearance or slow down to pass. It was quite irritating for me the other day to slow down for what seemed like an entire family gathering where no one even noticed me riding up and parted to form a hole for me to ride through; so I had to basically stop and say, "excuse me" to get through. That was irritating because I had good momentum in my ride, but it wasn't the end of the world and I accelerated up to speed again in no time.
That's where the numbers come in. If you have bigger distances and a lower density of cyclists, the bicycle path or lane will be empty most of the time, and pedestrians and motorists will treat it differently. The flow of bicycle traffic as a lot to do with keeping momentum, those coaster brakes help, as a glimpse at the leg movement tells everybody what they are about to do. A pedestrian is at a crossing waiting, the cyclist stops pedaling and puts the feet in the position to brake, and the pedestrian knows he is been seen and given precedence, while other cyclists behind also know that. The pedestrian crosses, and the cyclist just rides on and passes the pedestrian in the back while he's crossing, without breaking the momentum. Cyclists can give precedence without stopping or slowing down much, but this requires communication and trust. If the pedestrian hesitates and stands still before or on the crossing, there's a problem and the flow of the cycle traffic is gone. Of course is perfectly possible to have communication like that without coaster brakes and even without upright view, but it doesn't help and it will take time to develop, while it's very important to mass cycling.

So you don't have a bell on your bike. Maybe it has something to do with cultural differences and individualism, but appearently you don't want to take any responsibility for uniformity in communication between cyclists and other road users to make that communication more effective.


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Bike lanes basically split the traffic so cars don't have to slow down as long as they stay left of the line. I don't mind cycling to the right in wide lanes because I notice cars don't have to swerve to pass me, which I'm afraid could cause an accident with another car in the other lane. Some roads just need lower speed limits, I think, but when motorists expect to drive faster than bikes, a vehicular cyclist forces them to slow down and that seems dangerous to me, especially on multi-lane roads where motorists will start trying to change lanes before slowing down, which divides their attention between the lane they're trying to move over into and the cyclist in front of them they need to avoid running into.
Having to slown down for a cyclist shouldn't be dangerous. But if you have to cover greater distances speed is nice, both for motorists and cyclists. Maybe you could split on speed more than on vehicle, and you put the slow cyclist together with the pedestrians and the faster together with the cars. I don't know, but you can't have kids cycling on cycling lanes and people passing them with 25mph on their CF racers.

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Sorry it feels like nothing but hostility. It has nothing do with your writing, which is indistinguishable from any other writing in this forum. I've also appreciated many of your insights, which are clearly based on more thorough experience. I have resisted some aspects of your thinking, which I believe are rooted in negative thought traditions, many of which I associate with Dutch/European collectivism and other culturally-engrained thought-styles. I don't know to what extent these are conscious or sub-conscious, but because I've spent a lot of time talking with Europeans and studying European writing (as well as US academic writing that is culturally connected with it), I am sensitive to these kinds of biases and patterns. Sorry if it felt like I was attacking you personally. I take you at your word that you are a gentleman and maybe some of the cultural/thought-style patterns I find offensive seem just normal to you, the way I accept certain things about southern US culture that I know come across as fascist to people who aren't familiar with them. Unfortunately, we live in a world/species whose mind naturally cultivates various forms of negativity and bias that affects certain others negatively and other others less negatively. It's easy to just expect people to bugger off when they get offended, but I don't believe in that because I think everyone has a right to be wherever they find themselves without getting pushed away by others.
I'm not easily offended I don't really mind a personal attack, I can defend myself. It's the assumption that I'm negative and pessimistic because of feelings of national superiority and the fact that you are holding on to that assumption stubbornly. That makes that I have to explain what I'm not believing before I can get to what I am believing, that annoyed me because I want to make some progress in the debate and I don't like to have words and views put into my mouth.

If you only want to see individuals and ignore social behaviour in more or less defined groups, there's a lot you can't do. You can't make a plan like 'sustainable safety' work if you don't point out an area with a group of people in it where it's implemented. You have to define a group to be able to do things togehter with that group, whether it's a local community, a nation or non local international groups. It there weren't cultural differences of any importance, I could just bike across the border to Belgium and Germany and find the same infrastructure and cycling there, while chatting with them in my own language.

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No, I appreciate directness and honesty. That is the best stereotype about Dutch culture, imo. Fortunately, there is also directness and honesty in US culture in various ways. I think it comes down to individual courage. It may also have to do with developing an awareness that dealing with a potentially painful honest statement is ultimately less painful that having the same statement tiptoed around and implied but not said directly. Unfortunately there are those who want to maximize pain on others, so they will do the tiptoeing and implying and relish in watching their target squirm with discomfort. This is S/M, imo, and I'm just seeking to have constructive discussion with emotional neutrality and avoidance of ego-drama to the extent that is possible.
I'd suggest you take you own views into the discussion instead of putting them over and around the discussion, in my experience that's much more constructive.
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Old 07-30-16, 09:35 AM   #20
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No, cars were very much liked in the countryside, even more because it allowed people to go places, in the city you don't need to cover much distance to experience new things. In the 50's people got their folding chairs and tables out and went to the highway to watch the car traffic for a whole day. And motorcycles, and mopeds for the teenagers, and still they all get their drivers licence at 18 alltough it will set them back 1800 euro's if they learn fast, because they need it. There also a lot of wreck racing, dirt bike races and tractor pulling going on, a lot of car tuning and customization, the Dukes of Hazard were probably more popular there than in the cities, it's safe to say they've always had more of a car culture.

But in the countryside it didn't get in the way of cycling very much. The bicycle gave people in the countryside the freedom to get outside their village regularly, also the young, the old and the ones that couldn't afford a car or whose husband took it to work. The infrastructure was already there, because of another cultural thing, the Dutch tendency to organize in voluntary associations. The cyclists started one in the 1880's, just like there are ten thousands VA's for practically any sport, hobby or interest in any location , and this one grew very big, and in cooperation with the government it made a lot of existing paths more suitable for cycling, and created new ones. Cycling grew pretty big in the early 1900's, it bit more than anywhere else probably, because of the flatness of the country (gears weren't available in the beginning) and the short distances. I was born in a village and grew up in a town in a rural area in 70's and 80's and cycling has always been there, and I wasn't aware of any turnaround or revolution, we all just cycled. I cycled 3 miles to school since I was 9 or 10, if we had a school weekend camping with the whole class we went on bike, 2 by 2 in a peloton, luggage on the rack, teacher cycling up front and a 3 hour ride to the woods. When I was 12 I went to high school, and there were a lot of kids who came cycling every morning from a village 15 miles away. It was just normal, no one was brought by car. So there was certainly a turning point in the seventies, and cycling was in decline, but the turning point came when mass cycling was still substantial.
It sounds like there's no ego/territorial-dominance competition between transportation-cycling and driving; and also no subtle one by, for example, saying things like "they're not in competition because one is simply superior to the other." A lot of resistance/backlash against pro-LCF reforms contain competitive/superiority ideas, such as calling bikes "19th century tech," (i.e. backward/antiquated) or talking about the speed/comfort/etc. of cars as if that beats out biking and renders transportation cycling untenably inferior.

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Suburbs have never been an ideal here. People want to live in city centres or in villages, the edge of a city is a good compromise for families, but village life is enjoyed. Often people who have worked and lived on different continents return to the village their grandparents were born just because they want to live there, or a different village, or peopel who have been living in cities all their life decide it's time to live in a village when they are about 40. A village is generally not seen as something you have to escape from if you can, it's pretty normal to leave it for af few years, for example to study in a city, and return.
This may be because of historically established land-uses. I think New England is also partial to city centers and towns. Florida and many other areas have developed mostly following the advent of interstate highways, so cities, towns, and suburbs all sort of developed simultaneoulsly, though suburbs by definition are due to outward growth of cities and towns, which grew outward within a automotive paradigm. What fascinates me nowadays is that I will go to an area that I once found exclusively driving-dependent because driving was so dominant and it seemed so sprawling, but then I'll take some long walks and bike rides (after mapping it) and find that the distances are manageable and bikeable/walkable. More than anything, I think there are class-based assumptions about driving, biking/walking, and transit where driving is just something certain people do and biking/walking/transit are for other kinds of people, though that is changing as car-free living is seen increasingly as something healthy and fun that is good for the environment and reducing/avoiding traffic-congestion.(maybe should be re-termed "trips without driving (twd?)").

In short, I think going out with a car was seen as a privilege of economic success and people viewed it as pathetic to have to go out without driving. But now people are starting to realize there are good reasons to go out car-free and it's not just about lacking a car to drive.

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You seem the one to be very eager to discuss that, it's not me who is going on about cultural issues that are not related to cycling. I don't know about egalitarianism, in general you could say the Dutch don't admire people for things they didn't achieve themselves, like beeing born into wealth. We like winners but not with too much too much of a head start, everybody should get an education and quite a fair chance, but you've got to take it yourself. And if your daddy is rich but your brains are average, you're not getting into university but you'll have to settle for a lower level of education.The egalitarianism of everybody to the same high school at the same level is not ours. When it comes to bigger countries having to help smaller ones, I believe most Dutch would be happy if the American government just stopped using it's economic and military power to mess things up. But I believe most Dutch see the government as just one of many aspects of American culture as they are quite familiar with it.
Well, I'll just let you have the last word on this budding politics/culture discussion because I don't want the thread moved to P&R. Suffice it to say I don't agree with many of the assumptions behind things you say, but these assumptions are also present in ideas about egalitarianism/meritocracy within US politics and they are similarly problematic on this side of the Atlantic, though perhaps not as dominant . . . yet.

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Maybe if I was in discussion with a Dane, we could debate cycling infrastructure in a competitive us against them kind of way, like bragging about who has the best. That might even be a fruitful debate in a kind of socratic way. We might also be able to compete on knowledge about eachothers culture, as Danes are as much exposed to Dutch culture as the other way around. But I don't really see the point of beating around the bush, Dutch people don't go to the USA to learn about cycling infrastructure, competition is to find out who is better, but if you already know, you don't compete. Between us that's same when it comes to knowledge about eachoters culture, I don't feel like competing. I just want to acknowledge facts, it's not my ego that is in the way.
The way I look at it, there is one world and I see no reason why anyone shouldn't contribute to the betterment of any part of it. If we are all God's children and we are all attempting to steward this creation for the good of all our brothers and sisters, why would it matter what national borders are asserted, or where people live, were born, etc.? Those are all just worldly logics for dividing and controlling people for the sake of various interests.

I see Dutch cities as being fairly advanced in terms of cycling infrastructure and having adopted cycling popularly as a rational option for transportation for many trips. If non-Dutch people look at Dutch cities and shrug and say, "we're not Dutch," that is no excuse imo because Dutch cyclists don't ride bikes because it's a 'Dutch' thing to do but because it makes sense, and if they do, it's a silly reason just as doing anything else because of national/ethnic tradition is not as good as doing it for rational reasons.

In terms of what you are calling the socratic aspects of competition, I see what you mean in theory; but in practice I see discussions going off on nonsensical tangents due to competition dominating the minds of the participants instead of logic and reason. E.g. you could be discussing cycling with this other person and suddenly they're talking about child care in Copenhagen because they feel inferior in cycling and so they are grasping at straws to find something inferior about Dutch social institutions. Cooperative discussions are better because you can just look at cycling in any city and ask what its strengths and weaknesses are, how it can be improved, and what sources of ideas and experiences you can draw on. This may include your personal experiences in various places or knowledge you've gained from the internet about someplace you've never been. Taking the collective/place identification and ego-competition out of it averts all the sidetracking into debates over who has authority to say or know what based on who they are and what their personal status is relative to the places/people/things they're talking about.

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No, if you don't mind the facts and don't mix them up with feelings of national pride or something, it's not an issue. Car driving is superior in Germany compared to the Netherlands, they're better drivers, they have better roads, and they make and have better cars. There, I said it, it didn't hurt, it has nothing to do with my ego. It just makes driving in Germany nicer and maybe we can learn from them to improve car driving here.
You haven't said anything about your feelings toward driving or Germany but hopefully you realize that many people will claim neutrality in this way but quietly think that NL is superior to Germany precisely because bicycles are more of a concern than cars and driving. It's sort of like person who cares more about what they wear for clothes than how big the wheels/rims on their car are, but they don't broadcast how ridiculous they find the person who has 20" rims and instead just say that the person is superior to them in rims, while they are superior in clothing/fashion. There's still competition and emotional feelings about what is good culture and bad culture, but there's an apprehension to express the feelings for fear of being criticized or brought into conflict. This is different than really not caring about clothes vs. rims, or NL vs. Germany.

As I said, I don't care about NL, Germany, France, USA, Canada, etc. because to me these are just cages and stamps put on human beings who are all essentially brothers and sisters. National sovereignty and autonomy means nothing more to me than a means to various ends, and if it could be eliminated without crime and human-trafficking/slavery/economic-exploitation taking over, I would say eliminate it. I have never been to Seattle or Copenhagen, but I can say that I am equally happy both cities seem to have succeeded with popularizing cycling and if I could help think of ways to promote positive reforms in any other cities/areas I would do so without regard for national identities and borders. I do not see this as disrespecting sovereignty or otherwise stepping on toes, because I believe in freedom and democracy, which mean reasoning with people rather than coercing them with various applications of force and other tactics. You may say that the US military, businesses, etc. do apply force and use other tactics, but my response would be that they are not the only ones and I think there are also plenty of global interests/investors who are using various coercive tactics within the US and elsewhere to pursue their interests non-democratically and without respect for fundamental freedoms.

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I'm an atheist, I'm not out there to offend christians, but I refuse to beeing told which words not to use or views to have by them claiming to be offended. Beeing offended is just as much a choice as to offend. So we'll probably disagree about who made the forests, but we can agree that I didn't make them so I don't have the right to destroy them.
One thing that really turned me on to Christianity was when I realized that external authority is trumped by independent authority through Holy Spirit. Jesus said, "before Abraham was, I am" in response to questioning of his authority, and so what he's saying by extension is that it doesn't matter what anyone says you have to do, think, believe, etc. ultimately because you have to decide based on your conscience what you believe is right (i.e. in the spirit of holiness, hence "Holy Spirit") and so while I think you should give consideration to what offends others, I think you ultimately have to decide what to think and say on considerations of what is right and wrong beyond what others want or find offensive.

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Imo biomass is just an unnecessary complicated way to use solar energy, with a lot of unwanted emissions, and fossil fuels is just very old solar energy that is used all at once, which is the problem. Woods should be left alone as much as possible, because if you destroy it you can't just get a new one. But I don't believe that cycling or reforestation will do very much about global warming. Cycling is important for nice liveable cities in a time of urbanisation. For global warming issues we better take a look at Germany, because they are really getting on with sustainable energy.
Biomass is the most widespread form of carbon-sequestration on the planet. Iceland recently did some pumping of carbonated water underground and got it to harden into rocks, but why would that be a reason for dismissing the carbon-capture of living wood growth in trees and other organisms? Trees grow roots underground, which bury carbon, where it often doesn't decay and gradually gets compressed into coal/fossil-fuel, as you say. I don't think science has done enough to trace the natural function of buried biomass-energy, which I think is not all naturally returning to the surface. I think the core may be fueled at least in part by biomass transfers of stored solar energy from the surface, and I think industrialism failed to consider that possibility when it started moving underground energy to the surface with the assumption that doing so would ultimately be harmless.

Reforestation re-establishes the relationship between Earth's surface and its energy/water/carbon cycles. It's simply a fact that Earth's ecosystems have always survived by allowing water to naturally filter up through living organisms that absorb and channel energy in ways that avert immediate energy-release as waste heat. The more dead matter you have absorbing sunlight and emitting convection currents into the atmosphere, the higher the ratio of evaporation to other energy-expressions becomes, which also means the ratio of energy to condensation and precipitation must grow, which means more turbulent rainfalls, flooding, weathering, erosion, etc.

Renewable energy sources like solar and wind may help transition us away from mining underground energy, but ultimately we will have to also consider the levels of waste-heat these technologies release into the atmosphere. No energy source can be expanded limitlessly without causing more evaporation, which in turns blankets heat (since water vapor is a greenhouse gas) and leads to more weathering and erosion. Biomass growth can channel some additional heat into less-destructive expressions (e.g. trees and plants grow faster at warmer temperatures) but they also dry up and burn or simply die and decay into CO2 and desert if they are pushed to hard with heat; so using living biomass as a hedge against energy-imbalance isn't a total solution. Ultimately we're going to have to recognize the fundamental importance of reducing usage (conservation) and cycling and LCF are parts of that in various ways, including their ability to foster reforestation and forest-intact development.

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But I don't think you got the space issue, the idea that land is so scarce you've got to make it out of sea is typical for a certain culture. Americans get scared of the stairs here, because they are steep and narrow to save space. You can buy a big car, but you can't use just any parking space, and might have to avoid some streets. Suburs can't sprawl out in the countryside, because the countryside is already taken. There's not just city planning, the whole of the country is planned like that, every square meter has a purpose assigned to it, including the not so great outdoors. Forest are very well protected, but they are man made, some hundreds of years old, but still man made, there are a lot of very expensive wildlife crossings to keep the deer and boars migrating and prevent inbreeding. There's a tidal area close by, Unesco protected etc, but you can't sail there without a view on some signs of civilization, the sky at night is very unimpressive, because there is light pollution everywhere and you won't see many stars. So it's a country that was the first to notice when new inventions like the car take too much space, but many cities in the world experience simular problems and many more will experience them in the future.
All logical, but I think there is insufficient recognition of how effectively/efficiently nature utilizes space. Naturally trees/forested areas fill in overhead space with canopy because limbs and branches grow toward available sunlight. Likewise, roots seek out moisture and absorb it into roots, trunks, and branches which protects it against either evaporating or flowing too fast through aquifers out to sea. You talk about wildlife corridors, but why can't wildlife migrate freely through inhabited areas? Will they be hit by cars, trucks, buses, trains, etc.? Are there traditions of suppressing animal life within inhabited areas because of the hygiene problems they bring? Is it possible that modern hygiene and medicine can mitigate the risks of having urban wildlife? Many Dutch buildings seem to be built in rows without any gaps between for wildlife to move through. Is this a necessity for space-management and energy-efficiency? Could viaducts for animals be created through rows of buildings so animals can move more freely?

What about treed roofs? Obviously this is a huge challenge for all buildings/roofs, not just Dutch buildings. As I mentioned, a few years ago there was a proposal to build a mountain somewhere along the North Sea coast, somewhat like the areas of reclaimed sea-land, but the idea was to keep building upward and have inhabited areas within the mountain (caves?) as well as recreational activities. This would involve ridiculous amounts of energy, but would it be worth it? And could it be done in a way that new developments could be gradually stacked on top of existing developments without collapse being a risk? If so, could treed/forested land be grown on top of such developments, which absorb carbon, provide natural watershed, and allow wildlife and other (human) surface life to flourish?

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There was already knowledge before there was science. If the sun disappears for most of the winter like in Finland, you better enjoy it and use when it's there. Scarcity or abundance of sunlight, water, space etc. does change behaviour. People behave in certain ways because of local circumstances, and if they do that together over a certain time, it influences or even becomes culture.
Enjoying something when it's there is a philosophy that has the risk of sacrificing better uses than enjoyment. I usually find that if something good is done, even if it involves some (non-detrimental) sacrifice, enjoyment results regardless, even if that enjoyment is just happiness in the absence of something else sacrificed.

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There are universal transcultural habits like the fact that people don't want to commute for more than one hour. It's been like that since the middle ages, when people got faster, they went further to go to work. If you live in a country where space is abundant, commuting by bicycle is more of an issue because it's likely the distance is greater. That might be solved by going faster, but that has implications for infrastructure. Just as other cultural things can be of importance. Will Americans cycle elbow to elbow, front wheel to rear wheel? Will they make the traffic flow with non verbal communication? Cycling is social behaviour, and that differs from location to location, I'm optimistic Americans will find their own way of mass cycling, but I don't thing it will be much like the Dutch way. It might be much better, if the infrastructure fits the social behaviour.
How could any system ever evolve without social behavior complementing it? If humans are involved, they're either going to destroy the evolving system, destroy each other, or behave socially in a way that doesn't lead to destruction.

The hour commute point is something I hadn't considered. I'm not sure it's a very useful point, though, because it's an average and many people would prefer shorter commutes while others will commute longer than an hour for more money, to be part of a project they really want to participate in, etc. A big problem in driving-dependency/sprawl reform is that businesses and people will expect commuting to occur over distances too long to bike or non accessible by transit; but then they will say that people are free to seek other opportunities, so it obfuscates the economic-pressures that coerce people into driving and away from LCF. And as the cynics on this web forum will tell you, many people aren't even interested in LCF in the first place because driving-dependent economics is simply a paradigmatic mandate in their minds.

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No, they will stumble upon cultural differences. In North-West Europe you don't have to travel far to encounter considerable cultural differences, that distance can be biked within an hour, at least from my starting point. Lots of the communities on the countryside are much older than modern transportation, including the bicycle, and for centuries only had cultural interaction with the neigbouring communities and sometimes cities. They've done things their own way for centuries, with their own habits, languages and dialects. There are already significant cultural differences within the borders, and cross the border they suddenly are even bigger. Most Dutch don't really speak French and English among French is only quite recently getting better, so sometimes the young ones can even communicate. A lot of people from the West of the Netherlands don't speak German either. I've been in France and Germany a lot, I have friends there, but I'm educated, I'm open minded and I acknowledge cultural differences, that's why it works, you can't just take that for granted. Of course Dutch people will emphasize that there are cultural differences if you are ignoring them just because you have no idea, it's hard work just to get along with the French and the Germans, it's fun work but you have to prepared to be amazed, surprised and learn an adapt every single day. To take that for granted because you don't have that kind of cultural difference within the next 2000 miles is quite etnocentric and rude. Again you're ignoring the influence of your culture and it's relation to distances and space on your thinking.
If you study culture thoroughly enough, you will realize that cultural differences are aesthetically relative according to what is considered a more or less significant difference. With language differences, for example, there are differences in how you say or write communications but other similarities are masked, such as common economic institutions such as banks, investment-based economies, governmental laws, courts, etc. I.e. while Europeans are focused on nuances that differentiate one legal or political system from another, those difference might not be any more significant than the difference between brands of soda with same fundamental ingredients. Sure Coke might have a little more or less sugar, acid, or color than Pepsi, but they are basically the same thing. Connoisseurs put effort into focussing on an amplifying aesthetic nuances and distinctions and in many ways I think this is what's going on with European national/ethnic distinctions. They are amplifying distinctions for the sake of building up a sense of cultural robustness, and then marketing the robustness and diversity both to citizens, for the sake of promoting hegemonic pride and thus cooperation with national interests, as well as to non-citizens for promoting tourism and submission to migration controls, which are utilized to hedge against economic cycles/recessions, accomplish work undesirable for citizens, boost demand for business/GDP, and re-channel GDP to citizens when migrants leave due to anti-migration projects and/or border-renewals such as Brexit, which also reduces inflationary pressures and housing supply-pressures. In short, as you say regarding space-management, human cultural perception is managed for the sake of achieving social-economic goals.

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Maybe you just don't understand what it means to be rooted. There is something with the smaller country vs. the bigger country, the size influences how people see the international relations between the two, but Belgium is a smaller country and if I cross the border with them, I stumble upon cultural differences too. The national uniqueness is just there, you can't escape it or ignore it, we'll just have to accept it and work with it. You could say that international orientation is part of the Dutch national identity and pride, but that pride concerns the skill to handle cultural differences, not to act like they don't exist. So when I went cycling in Germany, I had to adapt to their cycling.
I do think there are benefits to being 'rooted,' or rather I see problems with having to travel long distances to visit family members, etc. I think culture is what you make of it, and its aesthetically relative. I can go to another city in the region and focus on how different things are despite common language, products, etc. Or I could focus on the fact that I can get clean water, most of the same products, communicate with people, etc. You may encounter Flemish when you go to Flanders, but is it really that different from encountering some rural dialect of southern US English when going between cities in the same region? Likewise, you will say that French and German are completely different languages, and I agree that the learning curve for communicating in a more foreign language/dialect is steeper and thus more of a barrier to interaction, but even when you speak the language perfectly, there will be barriers based on feelings of national territorialism, which are outlawed as discrimination by US law, but which are also enshrined by national laws in various ways.

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No, people are diverse and individual, but so are groups of people. If you seperate a group of people, by distance, travelling time or borders, they will do things differently from another group of diverse people. The fact that individuals differ makes that groups of people differ. Stereotypes help to handle those differences, it's just important not to forget that they are just stereotypes and they tell very little about individuals.
It is good to understand human behavior and why conformity happens and what other options there are. Independent thought/behavior/action are possible but group dynamics rely on blatant and subtle forms of bullying people for 'deviation' from social expectations. The origins of the sociological discipline are rooted in writings about this by people like Emile Durkheim. People seek power for various reasons in various ways, and the aesthetics of culture are not separate from this. Pierre Bourdieu wrote in the 80s a lot about taste and while he didn't directly address the aesthetic relativity of ethno-cultural identities and perceived differences, it is a natural implication of his work. Anyway, I think I've sufficiently explained why all this game of stereotyping and identity/culture differentiation is a power/ego/territorialism trip, but I doubt you or anyone else who loves it will abandon it for that reason. Power brings privilege, and few people are willing to sacrifice either for the sake of peace of goodwill.

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So you don't have a bell on your bike. Maybe it has something to do with cultural differences and individualism, but appearently you don't want to take any responsibility for uniformity in communication between cyclists and other road users to make that communication more effective.
I was once taught to tell people which side you're going to pass them on by saying, "on your left," or "on your right." Often people get confused and move in the direction you say, or two people just part to either side of the path, etc. I don't mind a bell alerting me to the presence of a cyclist, and I've even become able to differentiate between short double horn toots from motorists saying hello and long blasts meant to admonish me for being on the road, which some motorists consider to be theirs exclusively.

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Having to slown down for a cyclist shouldn't be dangerous. But if you have to cover greater distances speed is nice, both for motorists and cyclists. Maybe you could split on speed more than on vehicle, and you put the slow cyclist together with the pedestrians and the faster together with the cars. I don't know, but you can't have kids cycling on cycling lanes and people passing them with 25mph on their CF racers.
When there is another driving lane a motorists can use to pass a cyclist taking the lane, they will start looking to see if they can change lanes without slowing down because they're thinking if they move over fast enough, they won't have to give up any speed/momentum before they get around the cyclist. That's a dangerous splitting of attention between the cyclist they're closing in on and the lane they're trying to change into.

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I'm not easily offended I don't really mind a personal attack, I can defend myself. It's the assumption that I'm negative and pessimistic because of feelings of national superiority and the fact that you are holding on to that assumption stubbornly. That makes that I have to explain what I'm not believing before I can get to what I am believing, that annoyed me because I want to make some progress in the debate and I don't like to have words and views put into my mouth.
Personal attack derails constructive discussion. People who don't want to have constructive discussions use all sorts of tactics to derail them.

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If you only want to see individuals and ignore social behaviour in more or less defined groups, there's a lot you can't do. You can't make a plan like 'sustainable safety' work if you don't point out an area with a group of people in it where it's implemented. You have to define a group to be able to do things togehter with that group, whether it's a local community, a nation or non local international groups. It there weren't cultural differences of any importance, I could just bike across the border to Belgium and Germany and find the same infrastructure and cycling there, while chatting with them in my own language.
And this is part of the reason why individuals keep subjugating themselves to group tactics and treating others as little more than a representative/part of a group. This is the basic logic of war, i.e. "you are just a pawn in my struggle against your group so I don't really care about you as an individual because groups are more significant in my/our pursuit of interests."

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I'd suggest you take you own views into the discussion instead of putting them over and around the discussion, in my experience that's much more constructive.
Then I would have to compete by asserting my views more strongly than the other person with differing views. It's better to explain the reasons I have for supporting some ideas over others and then, when people reject those reasons and choose to base their thoughts on other ideas that have ethical problems, I can deal with them as the bible says to deal with unrepentant sinners, "as gentiles/heathens and tax-collectors," i.e. we are supposed to 'turn the other cheek,' but we're also not supposed to submit to evil/temptation. So we try to reach people with reason, but if they're obstinate, you just have to part ways and hope they might come to their senses by some other route.
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Old 07-30-16, 11:11 AM   #21
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Reclaimed Polder land starting out with a Blank piece of earth .. the back gates of Houses opened up to The bike path
which was a direct route .

out the front door to the car , you drove through a Maze of Cul-de-Sacs and roundabouts
and traffic calming features.
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Old 07-30-16, 07:37 PM   #22
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Originally Posted by tandempower View Post
Machka has talked about Australia, where I've never been, but I can understand what she's talking about and I don't know how extensively she's toured the southern or southeastern US, but it doesn't seem to stop her from commenting on things I say, even if she sometimes has the POV that everyone lives in different areas and can't generalize to other areas.

From what I've read, you understand some of what I'm talking about, but not all. The reason for that is that we all live in different areas, and different areas are different for different reasons.

The climate is different.
The culture is different.
The terrain is different.
The way our governments work is different.

Just as one small example ... it gets rather chilly, wet, frosty and icy where I live. And it is very hilly. Where there are trees right next to the road, there's shade which retains the wet, frosty, and icy conditions and makes for slippery and dangerous driving and cycling. Therefore, I'm not all that enthusiastic about planting trees next to the road. But in your part of the world, I presume you find it hot much of the time and you want the shade. So maybe it is appropriate to plant a few more trees where you are.


BTW - I have been to the southern and southeastern USA, and have cycled there, and my brother lives there.


Have you been to The Netherlands?
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Old 07-31-16, 07:26 AM   #23
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From what I've read, you understand some of what I'm talking about, but not all. The reason for that is that we all live in different areas, and different areas are different for different reasons.
IDK what "different areas are for different reasons" means? Are you saying that reasoning itself is culturally relative? If so, I disagree. I used to believe in that but I gave it up when I discovered science and objective reality. There are different cultural traditions, but ultimately wrong is wrong and right is right. Two plus two equal four even if someone says deux et deux sont pas quatre. Culture isn't totally free to determine its own truths and prerogatives, only how to express true truths and valid reasoning.

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The climate is different.
The culture is different.
The terrain is different.
The way our governments work is different.
Differences are relative and how they are expressed often creates aesthetic semblance of difference where there isn't really any. One example I can think of is how Dutch critics of US culture sometimes say that US people are obsessed with freedom while Dutch understand the need for social cooperation; and yet in Dutch there is an idea of tolerance and allowing people to have their own values, which is essentially the same liberal value, only expressed differently. Because of narrow understandings of culture, many cultural differences are thought to be differences when they are just commonalities expressed in different ways.

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Just as one small example ... it gets rather chilly, wet, frosty and icy where I live. And it is very hilly. Where there are trees right next to the road, there's shade which retains the wet, frosty, and icy conditions and makes for slippery and dangerous driving and cycling. Therefore, I'm not all that enthusiastic about planting trees next to the road. But in your part of the world, I presume you find it hot much of the time and you want the shade. So maybe it is appropriate to plant a few more trees where you are.
If (a) tree(s) cause a paved road/path to be slippery, either because of frost or leaves/slime that builds up, there are solutions, including trimming back the tree(s), but my main point is to attenuate people to the broader importance of trees and how the planet has gradually fallen into a risk of climate change, water shortages, and ecosystem endangerment. Human population has grown significantly, so whereas humans used to be able to just clear out acres and even miles of forest and replace it with cities and airports and all these built and paved structures that are easier to maintain with the trees gone, now we are starting to notice that forest works best when it is as widespread and dense as possible. Transpiration of trees and plants evaporates ground water/moisture, so if this evaporated moisture just blows away instead of condensing in cooler areas of the canopy downwind, its value may well be lost. So the best thing humans can do at this point is try to incorporate tree canopy and the ecological growth it fosters into human developments so that we don't have to restrict human development as much for the sake of preserving healthy functioning of planetary forests and ecologies.

But does this mean you would just have to endure shade everywhere it's cold or frost and slimy leaves on every paved road and path? Not necessarily, but the point is to put some effort into coming up with solutions that minimize impact. There might be pavement textures, for example, that prevent frost or slime from being as slippery, and reduce the need to salt pavement, etc. There might be tree varieties that will do well along a certain road/path whose leaves fall so that they allow sunlight to pentrate through to the ground in colder months. Such solutions still allow carbon to be sequestered in living/growing wood, but mitigate the kinds of negative consequences you mention. All I'm really saying is don't just come up with negative reasoning to dismiss the importance of trees and living biomass growth that sequesters carbon and performs other important ecological functions for all life forms, including humans.

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BTW - I have been to the southern and southeastern USA, and have cycled there, and my brother lives there.
Is there anywhere you haven't been?

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Have you been to The Netherlands?
I did tour Europe when I was younger, though as you know I don't really like getting into personal stories because it can lead to debates over how long you spent somewhere, etc. as a form of territorial conflict over who has more authority to speak about a given area/people/culture. In case you haven't noticed, I don't appreciate battles over territorial authority. There are global discourses about sovereignty, national autonomy, local autonomy, confederatism, etc. that all amount to fancy ways of saying, "this is my business and it's none of your business and you don't know what you're talking about and I do." That's not a fruitful attitude toward collaboration. In a globalized world where anyone can communicate with anyone else via internet, it shouldn't be that hard for people to collaborate to identify and solve problems wherever. Of course there are aspects of every situation that are better understood by someone who is more familiar or experienced with the situation, but sometimes culture impairs people's understanding of a local situation more than it helps. Someone unfamiliar can look at the situation and see through all the nonsense that has cropped up through a stalemate based on culturally narrowed POVs. Authorities within a given area often hate this because the stalemate is working to their benefit, but why should anyone win power by stalemate? Shouldn't everyone submit to reason and if authorities aren't being reasonable, shouldn't they be required to change or defer authority to someone else who is reasonable? This question is a bit moot, because obviously if someone wants to hold power unreasonably, they're not going to reason that they should hand over power to someone more reasonable. And so we deal with despotism everywhere to some degree or other in various ways.
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Old 07-31-16, 08:24 AM   #24
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Originally Posted by Machka View Post
From what I've read, you understand some of what I'm talking about, but not all. The reason for that is that we all live in different areas, and different areas are different for different reasons.

The climate is different.
The culture is different.
The terrain is different.
The way our governments work is different.

Just as one small example ... it gets rather chilly, wet, frosty and icy where I live. And it is very hilly. Where there are trees right next to the road, there's shade which retains the wet, frosty, and icy conditions and makes for slippery and dangerous driving and cycling. Therefore, I'm not all that enthusiastic about planting trees next to the road. But in your part of the world, I presume you find it hot much of the time and you want the shade. So maybe it is appropriate to plant a few more trees where you are.


BTW - I have been to the southern and southeastern USA, and have cycled there, and my brother lives there.


Have you been to The Netherlands?
I agree. I'm happy to give background information, but I really don't want to make this about the influence of Dutch culture on Dutch cycling, for me it's about any cultural influence on cycling and mass cycling in particular. I've experienced mass cycling since I was 4 and the training wheels came off, in rural area's and in cities, in the last 20 years I've seen the cars retreat, infrastructure improved, cycling behaviour change, motorists and cyclists develop much more of an understanding, and infrastructure adapted to that change in behaviour. Throught that experience and those observations I hold a firm belief that cyclists anywhere will shape their own cycling in their own way anywhere, simply because of the universal values that come with wheels and pedals.

I believe anyone who has experienced mass cycling over years, whether that is in the Danish countryside, China, Berlin or Seville will acknowledge it's autonomous dynamic and cultural influences. Dutch cycling is an extreme example of how things can be for cycling, but I'd say use it an eye-opener, but don't keep staring at it. Have a look elsewhere to, you might find solutions that are less amazing but far more useful for your own specific conditions and culture.

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Originally Posted by fietsbob View Post
Reclaimed Polder land starting out with a Blank piece of earth .. the back gates of Houses opened up to The bike path
which was a direct route .

out the front door to the car , you drove through a Maze of Cul-de-Sacs and roundabouts
and traffic calming features.
In the video Fred from Seattle is talking about a supermarket in the City centre where he didn't find any place to park the car. Actually there is a underground car park under that supermarket. But you have to sneak in from the rear, next to the outdoor parking lot for the hotel next to the supermarket, through some unimpressive back alleys which are hardly used by pedestrians and cyclists. The beautiful facades shouldn't be spoiled by cars, but at the ugly rear they are tolerated.

Btw, the business model for the underground parking lot is most likely not to accomodate grocery shoppers, but to accomodate people who visit the city by car to do other shopping, and who can be made extra money off when they do a quick grocery shopping when they return the car to get home.

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You haven't said anything about your feelings toward driving or Germany but hopefully you realize that many people will claim neutrality in this way but quietly think that NL is superior to Germany precisely because bicycles are more of a concern than cars and driving.
I encounter a lot of German drivers here visiting, often they're a bit clumsy handling the cycling traffic in Groningen and choosing the wrong streets to drive in, but they tend to be courteous, careful and let themselves be corrected politely.

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You talk about wildlife corridors, but why can't wildlife migrate freely through inhabited areas? Will they be hit by cars, trucks, buses, trains, etc.? Are there traditions of suppressing animal life within inhabited areas because of the hygiene problems they bring? Is it possible that modern hygiene and medicine can mitigate the risks of having urban wildlife? Many Dutch buildings seem to be built in rows without any gaps between for wildlife to move through. Is this a necessity for space-management and energy-efficiency? Could viaducts for animals be created through rows of buildings so animals can move more freely?
The wildlife viaducts are over and under highways, these are often wide bridges with 'forest' on them, much more expensive than bridges for car or train traffic. Wildlife tends to avoid humans, and humans don't like wild boars messing up their gardens and killing their offspring and dogs. It's not like there's one little village in a huge forests, there are protected forests, and there's the country side with it networks of villages with fenced farm land, waterways, and bicycle paths of course. The forests with substantial wildlife in it have very restricted access, because otherwise there would be too many people on too little space to make life possible for wildlife.

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What about treed roofs? Obviously this is a huge challenge for all buildings/roofs, not just Dutch buildings.
Every autumn there's one or more storms blowing some branches off or uprooting trees, so I guess we really don't want to have those falling down from rooftops. We might need to wear helmets when cycling, and that ain't gonna happen.

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You may encounter Flemish when you go to Flanders, but is it really that different from encountering some rural dialect of southern US English when going between cities in the same region?
Which of the seven main Flemish dialects do you have in mind? They are all subdivided in local dialects but I can't hear the difference because I don't have an idea what they're saying. To encounter a rural dialect I have problems understanding but that I can manage I only have to bike half an hour. We have what we call 'general civilized Dutch' and the Belgians share that with their own accent and small differences, and almost all Dutch and Belgians will speak that, with or without a heavy accent, but a lot them speak a different dialect or language in their hometown. You'r really underestemating the density of diversity, for cultural differences you'll have to catch a plane I can jump on my bike.

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Likewise, you will say that French and German are completely different languages, and I agree that the learning curve for communicating in a more foreign language/dialect is steeper and thus more of a barrier to interaction, but even when you speak the language perfectly, there will be barriers based on feelings of national territorialism, which are outlawed as discrimination by US law, but which are also enshrined by national laws in various ways.
Those barriers have nothing to do with feelings of national territorialism. If I'd pretend cultural differences weren't of any importance like you do, I'd not be able to be in contact with any French without offending and insulting them within 2 minutes. 1 on 1 contact with Belgians works if you're concentrating and they are not speaking a dialect but I'll have to listen through the accent, but joining a conversation is a lot more difficult but will get better after a day or two. But I can't just speak my normal Dutch without causing some offensive or embarassing misunderstandings. Languages, as the primary expression of culture, are full of translations that only work partially and 'false friends', words that look like they are the equivalent, but have an embarassingly different meaning. I can't afford your ignorance concerning cultural differences, not even within my own country and it's not just the language that requires attention.

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I was once taught to tell people which side you're going to pass them on by saying, "on your left," or "on your right." Often people get confused and move in the direction you say, or two people just part to either side of the path, etc. I don't mind a bell alerting me to the presence of a cyclist, and I've even become able to differentiate between short double horn toots from motorists saying hello and long blasts meant to admonish me for being on the road, which some motorists consider to be theirs exclusively.
I, I, me, me. The question was about taking individual responsability for a collective issue.
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Old 07-31-16, 08:26 AM   #25
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There might be tree varieties that will do well along a certain road/path whose leaves fall so that they allow sunlight to pentrate through to the ground in colder months.
Native trees here are evergreen.



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Is there anywhere you haven't been?
A few places. But I have travelled a lot. As you can see in the link below, I've cycled in 33 US states, but I've visited 39 US states. And I've visited a couple other countries, but haven't had the opportunity to cycle in them yet.

Where have you ridden??

This year we're just staying in Australia ... but have visited several areas, and will visit more in the upcoming months.


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I did tour Europe when I was younger ...
And The Netherlands? Have you been there ... cycled there? Do you have first-hand knowledge of dutch street design?

The way I see it, you're arguing with someone who lives in The Netherlands about their own country. It would be like someone who has never been to Australia insisting that there are crocodiles in Victoria or that Australia is an entirely flat desert.
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