Monday, May 07, 2007

Bicycle Traffic Jam: Copenhagen

Three bike posts in a row? What can I say, the weather's been great for riding. Anyway, how does Europe do it, the whole bikes-for-commuting thing? Human-centric urban planning seems to have been the driver. According to Good Magazine's excellent piece on decongestion, traffic problems in the 1970's forced many European cities to look at alternatives to cars. Additionally, mild weather (made milder by climate change in coming years?) seems to have an effect. It rarely gets hot enough to sweat in Copenhagen (summers average around 68°F (20°C). However, it does get cold, but I've found it more fun to ride in the cold than in the heat. For that, the coat guards that come standard on Dutch Opafiets make that much more sense.

So how do we do the same in America, and not just in the cool-weather Pacific Northwest and the cities of Northern California? Culture has something to do with it, along with the fact bike lanes are either unsafe or nonexistent. (Check out this Streetfilms video for lane options around the world.) I do know commuting to a meeting and beating colleagues who've decided to Metro or drive makes all the world's problems seem mildly manageable. It still strikes me as odd that Americans feel some kind of way about riding a bicycle in a suit and tie. I think it's quite dignified, practical even. Caveat-my girlfriend says I smell like the outdoors after riding, although "It's nice. I like it." This, coming from a Vera Wang fan. That's why a man needs a travel bottle of Paul Smith London, which, if the city really smelled that way it'd be even cooler.


Friday, May 04, 2007


PhlogThat settles it...this summer, a trip to Amsterdam is in order. And no, not for the reasons you'd think. I'm mainly interested in the intersection (no pun...really) of pedestrian life with bicycles, cars and trains. Not only does it seem they have interesting food and cultural quirks, but from a planning perspective, how does the Netherlands work exactly?

I know it's mostly built upon "reclaimed" land (soil, rocks etc dredged from the ocean bottom to create, along with dams and dikes and canals something called Polders). The larger question would be How exactly has engineering, both civil and social, formed and influenced their society? I mean, they gave the world wooden clogs, millions of Fietsen, picturesque windmills, tulip speculation and Dutch Disease. Can't say I'm a huge fan of the language though. Or the weather for most of the year. Nonetheless, I'm intrigued.

So, it's off to The Netherlands.

*Photo gleaned from's Phlog. This is the most awesomest photoblog on the Netherlands known to man.