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  1. #1
    bragi bragi's Avatar
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    Short summary of Dutch bicycle infrastructure development

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XuBdf9jYj7o

    I kind of liked this video, but I'm not sure the Dutch experience has anything useful to offer to the western hemisphere. For one thing, the Dutch had a much more intact remaining bicycle culture when they tried to revive it. This also happened in the 1970's, which was a time before the "conservative" elements in western culture developed their now-infamous ability to ferociously shout down anyone who disagrees with them. The most telling moment for me was when they get to the part about the large numbers of children dying in traffic being the element that tips the scales in favor of bicycle infrastructure. In the US, this sadly would never happen. If children get injured or killed by cars, motorists are not to be blamed, and certainly not our infrastructure; instead, politicos and the media go after the horrid parents who foolishly think it might be okay to let their children ride a bike or walk somewhere.
    If you're not part of the solution, you're part of the precipitate.

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    I agree that it is problematic to attempt to sort out the many differences that could account for the differential rates of bicycle use in Northern Europe and North America. I am fascinated by the folks who constantly insist it is all about the physical infrastructure and ignore the legal structure and cultural factors.

    I know I have beaten this horse many a time here, but while the Danes and Dutch were initiating their bike culture, we had it going in Davis at a much higher rate than they have achieved. If it was all about the infrastructure, then we couldn't have done it since we had almost none. Further, since Davis has spent the last twenty five years adding enormous amounts of segregated infrastructure only to see the number of people riding bikes dramatically fall off, it sure doesn't look like building infrastructure is sufficient or even necessary to get high levels of ridership. Many people are currently trying to recreate what was once the Bike Capitol of the World. Thankfully, a few of them are taking an important first step: admitting that ridership is currently much lower than it was in the past.

    Quote Originally Posted by Robb Davis, Davis Bicycles!
    Adults who grew up in Davis will often harken back to their experience as students, noting that “everyone” biked or walked to school in the past. Most cannot recall when the trend to driving children to school took off, but most would concur that bicycling and walking are at much lower levels than in the past.
    http://www.davisenterprise.com/forum...the-data-show/

    Let's be careful of assigning the moderate success of the Dutch, Danes, Fins and Germans to the concrete, paint and signals. They have many other features that likely play larger roles like strict liability, abundant and automated traffic enforcement, social expectations of civilized behavior that are well beyond what is found in N. America, and a lack of hopelessness (near-universal access to health care, food and housing), all of which take some of the incentive to travel about in steel cocoons away from many people.

  3. #3
    Senior Member MEversbergII's Avatar
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    They also aren't ashamed of it. Outside a few hubs in the US (and maybe still within them) biking for transport makes you a poor person.

    M.

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    Quote Originally Posted by bragi View Post
    The most telling moment for me was when they get to the part about the large numbers of children dying in traffic being the element that tips the scales in favor of bicycle infrastructure. In the US, this sadly would never happen. If children get injured or killed by cars, motorists are not to be blamed, and certainly not our infrastructure; instead, politicos and the media go after the horrid parents who foolishly think it might be okay to let their children ride a bike or walk somewhere.
    There's at least a hint of an inkling of change, at least in some places. In New York City, newly elected Mayor de Blasio has made "Vision Zero," a perhaps naively ambitious plan to reduce traffic deaths in the city to zero, a centerpiece of his administration. Just what this plan looks like, and how far it will rise above just talk, remains to be seen, but it is intended to address both infrastructure and traffic enforcement issues. Indeed, already under Mayor Bloomberg, many infrastructure improvements, including pedestrian plazas, traffic calming, and street safety upgrades have already been implemented. Ten years ago, the extensive network of bike lanes and bike share now in place wasn't even conceivable.

    Traffic enforcement is still a major weak link, as most motorists who kill don't get so much as a traffic ticket, but there's a burgeoning grass roots movement protesting traffic deaths in the streets, and the Mayor is looking into stiffening traffic laws (but that's hampered in part by the city's dependence on the state legislature), and has charged the new police commissioner with reforming enforcement. What this will look like again remains to be seen.

    Of course this is not to say that New York represents the rest of America, but then it's a big, complicated place with lots of powerful, entrenched interests, where cultural and political change is far from easy and there's been plenty of backlash against the changes taking place. I'm not trying to be pollyanna and suggest a utopian sea change will happen tomorrow, but the political and social will for change is starting to appear and take root, and New York isn't the only place where this is happening. I realize that change will involve lots of local struggles, and other places look very different, but there's at least a glimmer of hope that change is possible.

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    It seems to me the biggest reason for people riding more than driving there is the high tax on new vehicle purchases, up to 45% of list price. The lack of reliance on a domestic auto industry's sales as a driver of the national economy makes it less politically risky for legislators to make cycling a priority.

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    Sophomoric Member Roody's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CharlyAlfaRomeo View Post
    It seems to me the biggest reason for people riding more than driving there is the high tax on new vehicle purchases, up to 45% of list price. The lack of reliance on a domestic auto industry's sales as a driver of the national economy makes it less politically risky for legislators to make cycling a priority.
    The Dutch don't ride more than they drive. And their car ownership rates are not all that low compared to other countries in Northern Europe. They might be carlight compared to some countries, but the Dutch are far from carfree.

    http://data.worldbank.org/indicator/IS.VEH.NVEH.P3


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  7. #7
    rugged individualist wphamilton's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MEversbergII View Post
    They also aren't ashamed of it. Outside a few hubs in the US (and maybe still within them) biking for transport makes you a poor person.

    M.
    This is a problem that we face, that is broader than just cycling in my opinion. Our fundamental societal belief that appearing to be of limited means is shameful. I'm not sure when it happened but at some point I realized that I don't care. Of all the poor people I've known, and all the more well to do, I can find nothing at all to suggest that one group is more industrious, more moral, smarter, or generally different in any personal way from the other beyond perhaps the objects of their prejudices, and I don't object to being associated with whatever class a person chooses to. Class consciousness is a barrier to cycling, and so many other things as well.

  8. #8
    Senior Member MEversbergII's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by wphamilton View Post
    This is a problem that we face, that is broader than just cycling in my opinion. Our fundamental societal belief that appearing to be of limited means is shameful. I'm not sure when it happened but at some point I realized that I don't care. Of all the poor people I've known, and all the more well to do, I can find nothing at all to suggest that one group is more industrious, more moral, smarter, or generally different in any personal way from the other beyond perhaps the objects of their prejudices, and I don't object to being associated with whatever class a person chooses to. Class consciousness is a barrier to cycling, and so many other things as well.
    I agree, but I am still ashamed to tell people that I simply don't want a car. My direct bosses still think I'm getting one by the time I assume my full position. I'm not. Likely won't even be licensed by then. If they think that's a problem, well...guess it'll be another job, then.

    M.

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    Quote Originally Posted by CharlyAlfaRomeo View Post
    It seems to me the biggest reason for people riding more than driving there is the high tax on new vehicle purchases, up to 45% of list price. The lack of reliance on a domestic auto industry's sales as a driver of the national economy makes it less politically risky for legislators to make cycling a priority.
    Hah, its a lot more than 45% in Denmark! I'm thinking its around 180% tax. http://www.copenhagenize.com/2012/10...is-rather.html

    But as a counterpoint, Norway also taxes the piss out of cars, has super expensive and complicated driver licensing procedures, has badly undersized roads, has huge road toll fees everywhere, has no automotive industry of its own, and still the cars are very dominant. Heck, Norwegians even regard themselves as outdoors people. Then they drive to work every day.
    the lonely nihola enthusiast

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    Quote Originally Posted by wphamilton View Post
    This is a problem that we face, that is broader than just cycling in my opinion. Our fundamental societal belief that appearing to be of limited means is shameful. ... Class consciousness is a barrier to cycling, and so many other things as well.
    I have noticed that Norwegian bikers are fascinated by kitting themselves out, even for pretty mild commutes, and I imagine that it has a lot to do with asserting status, whether they admit it to themselves or not.
    the lonely nihola enthusiast

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    Quote Originally Posted by B. Carfree View Post
    I know I have beaten this horse many a time here, but while the Danes and Dutch were initiating their bike culture, we had it going in Davis at a much higher rate than they have achieved.
    I don't see how a town of 60 thousand has anything to do with Amsterdam or Copenhagen.

    Quote Originally Posted by B. Carfree View Post
    ... the moderate success of the Dutch, Danes, Fins and Germans ...
    I don't really know what to say... but we have some pretty major perspective differences here.
    the lonely nihola enthusiast

  12. #12
    Been Around Awhile I-Like-To-Bike's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by trike_guy View Post
    I don't see how a town of 60 thousand has anything to do with Amsterdam or Copenhagen.
    Especially when it was a one industry town dominated by college age students. I'd be interested in reading any references that document the alleged super high bicycle rates of Davis, CA of its golden bicycle years.
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    Senior Member Ekdog's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by I-Like-To-Bike View Post
    I'd be interested in reading any references that document the alleged super high bicycle rates of Davis, CA of its golden bicycle years.
    According to this, "Davis... had a bicycle 'mode share,' of 24% in the 1990 census."
    Gimme that car-free living!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ekdog View Post
    According to this, "Davis... had a bicycle 'mode share,' of 24% in the 1990 census."
    I suppose that's not a bad score at all, just its easier to do that in a small place than a big place. Big places have density... but also distance.
    the lonely nihola enthusiast

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    Senior Member MEversbergII's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by trike_guy View Post
    Hah, its a lot more than 45% in Denmark! I'm thinking its around 180% tax..
    I don't understand how that works. I am sorry for my garbage American education. Does this mean a 60,000 kroner car will actually cost 108,000 kroner?

    M.

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    Been Around Awhile I-Like-To-Bike's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ekdog View Post
    According to this, "Davis... had a bicycle 'mode share,' of 24% in the 1990 census."
    Hardly seems to support BCarfree's beaten horse that, "but while the Danes and Dutch were initiating their bike culture, we had it going in Davis at a much higher rate than they have achieved."

    As trike_guy and I have already pointed out, a relatively fair weather, small town dominated by a college campus and college age students and little else, is not comparable to a large city or country with people of all ages, occupational, wealth and family status, and multiple destinations at greater distance from each other.

  17. #17
    Senior Member Ekdog's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by I-Like-To-Bike View Post
    Hardly seems to support BCarfree's beaten horse that, "but while the Danes and Dutch were initiating their bike culture, we had it going in Davis at a much higher rate than they have achieved."

    As trike_guy and I have already pointed out, a relatively fair weather, small town dominated by a college campus and college age students and little else, is not comparable to a large city or country with people of all ages, occupational, wealth and family status, and multiple destinations at greater distance from each other.
    I share your doubts about the comparison that was made with the Danes and the Dutch. I was responding to post number twelve, in which you said you were "interested in reading any references that document the alleged super high bicycle rates of Davis, CA of its golden bicycle years." A mode share of 24% is nothing to sneeze at, even in a university town.
    Gimme that car-free living!

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    Quote Originally Posted by MEversbergII View Post
    I don't understand how that works. I am sorry for my garbage American education. Does this mean a 60,000 kroner car will actually cost 108,000 kroner?
    It means many cars cost 3x the price they do in the US. However the tax is lower for smaller cars. I'm not sure of the details in Norway, but it seems the penalty is based more on engine size or fuel efficiency, and there may be no particular tax reduction for small cars. So in Norway, small cars are more expensive than Denmark, but cars with higher trim levels tend to be priced lower than in Denmark. In either country, its not very funny to try and import a full-sized American SUV or pickup. But some have done it!

    Both countries have a tax reduction for vehicles intended to carry things rather than people (two or three seats and a cargo area). A fairly large number of people use this "loophole" to drive around SUVs with the rear seats removed at a substantial price reduction. Luxury branded SUV "vans".
    the lonely nihola enthusiast

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    Been Around Awhile I-Like-To-Bike's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ekdog View Post
    I share your doubts about the comparison that was made with the Danes and the Dutch. I was responding to post number twelve, in which you said you were "interested in reading any references that document the alleged super high bicycle rates of Davis, CA of its golden bicycle years." A mode share of 24% is nothing to sneeze at, even in a university town.
    Oh I agree Davis' numbers were and still are impressive by comparison with almost any other location in the U.S. to include other college campus towns.

    B. Carfree has posted numerous times on BF about some fantastically high %'s back in the good old days before the installation of dreaded bike lanes in the 60's or before (far better than the Dutch or Danes) and I am still wondering what his reference is other than a foggy memory.

  20. #20
    Sophomoric Member Roody's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by I-Like-To-Bike View Post
    Oh I agree Davis' numbers were and still are impressive by comparison with almost any other location in the U.S. to include other college campus towns.

    B. Carfree has posted numerous times on BF about some fantastically high %'s back in the good old days before the installation of dreaded bike lanes in the 60's or before (far better than the Dutch or Danes) and I am still wondering what his reference is other than a foggy memory.
    How come he needs a reference and you don't?


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    bragi bragi's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by B. Carfree View Post
    I agree that it is problematic to attempt to sort out the many differences that could account for the differential rates of bicycle use in Northern Europe and North America. I am fascinated by the folks who constantly insist it is all about the physical infrastructure and ignore the legal structure and cultural factors.

    I know I have beaten this horse many a time here, but while the Danes and Dutch were initiating their bike culture, we had it going in Davis at a much higher rate than they have achieved. If it was all about the infrastructure, then we couldn't have done it since we had almost none. Further, since Davis has spent the last twenty five years adding enormous amounts of segregated infrastructure only to see the number of people riding bikes dramatically fall off, it sure doesn't look like building infrastructure is sufficient or even necessary to get high levels of ridership. Many people are currently trying to recreate what was once the Bike Capitol of the World. Thankfully, a few of them are taking an important first step: admitting that ridership is currently much lower than it was in the past.


    http://www.davisenterprise.com/forum...the-data-show/

    Let's be careful of assigning the moderate success of the Dutch, Danes, Fins and Germans to the concrete, paint and signals. They have many other features that likely play larger roles like strict liability, abundant and automated traffic enforcement, social expectations of civilized behavior that are well beyond what is found in N. America, and a lack of hopelessness (near-universal access to health care, food and housing), all of which take some of the incentive to travel about in steel cocoons away from many people.
    It's helmets. Once helmets are introduced into any bicycling environment, ridership drops off. Regardless of their effectiveness or lack thereof (which should NOT be discussed here), it's plain that people are turned off by them. Let Australia be a warning to everyone.
    If you're not part of the solution, you're part of the precipitate.

  22. #22
    Senior Member MEversbergII's Avatar
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    My helmet doesn't keep me off my bike so I'm afraid I don't follow.

    M.

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    Quote Originally Posted by bragi View Post
    It's helmets. Once helmets are introduced into any bicycling environment, ridership drops off. Regardless of their effectiveness or lack thereof (which should NOT be discussed here), it's plain that people are turned off by them. Let Australia be a warning to everyone.
    That may well have been a part of the fall off in cycling that started in the mid-late-'80s. During the years when ridership was significantly higher than driving, there were not only very few helmets in use (other than on training rides), there were no helmet laws. However, it wasn't until 1994 that CA expanded its helmet law to minors over the age of five. By then, we had long since entered the bicycling dark ages in Davis. That doesn't mean that there was no impact from the initial helmet law for children age five and under which was passed in 1986. It could well be that the mere existence of such a law created the impression that cycling is too dangerous for children and that such a perception was sufficient to negatively impact the number of people willing to ride.

  24. #24
    Senior Member wahoonc's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MEversbergII View Post
    My helmet doesn't keep me off my bike so I'm afraid I don't follow.

    M.
    When helmets become MANDATORY cycling drops off. A prime example would be some of the bike shares requiring a helmet, not exactly something that everybody carries around with them on a whim. I ride both with and without a helmet, but if I were forced to wear one there are many times I would not be riding.

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    Quote Originally Posted by bragi View Post
    If children get injured or killed by cars, motorists are not to be blamed, and certainly not our infrastructure; instead, politicos and the media go after the horrid parents who foolishly think it might be okay to let their children ride a bike or walk somewhere.
    Sad but true. The culture in the U.S. has changed since I was a boy (in the '60s and '70s). And I'm glad I grew up when I did. If I weren't sleeping or eating or doing chores then I was outside. And usually not in the yard. I roamed Tybee Island, visiting with friends, playing games, hanging out at the beach. And I love it.

    Now I get frequent glimpses of home life for children in my world and it is so different. The children stay indoors and mostly play video games or other inactive pasttimes. They don't go anywhere alone, and they've been taught to fear that.

    I loved my childhood like it was. I'm so glad I grew up when I did.

    We lived in a big three story house that used to be officers quarters during the civil war. One of my favorite memories is a big oak tree in the yard that hung over the house. My bedroom was in the attic. Late at night I would sometimes climb out on the roof, hop onto a branch of that tree, make my way to the ground and go exploring (unbeknownst to my parents of course). I think most children today would be terrified of such freedom (I descended the tree to avoid being detected descending the stairs inside).
    Last edited by Walter S; 03-01-14 at 04:51 PM.

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