Archive | Netherlands Trip

Licht aan! (Get Lit!)

Sometimes the parallels are just eerie. In the Netherlands a major safety campaign was under way to get cyclists to have proper lights. They even had cops handing out lights. Sound familiar?

The difference I noticed with a lot of ‘programs’ like this in the Netherlands is that they get a lot of promotion – posters, etc. We don’t seem to do promotion on the same kind of scale here.

www.flickr.com

Licht aan! portlandtransport’s Licht aan! photoset

Sometimes the parallels are just eerie. In the Netherlands a major safety campaign was under way to get cyclists to have proper lights. They even had cops handing out lights. Sound familiar?

The difference I noticed with a lot of ‘programs’ like this in the Netherlands is that they get a lot of promotion – posters, etc. We don’t seem to do promotion on the same kind of scale here.

Dutch Voice in Portland

Christine posted these comments in response to an earlier thread about our time in the Netherlands. I thought they merited their own post!

It’s interesting reading you comments about the Dutch bike and car situation in the Netherlands. I’m Dutch and recently moved to Portland.

A few comments:

You have to understand that there is one big, very basic difference in the bike infrastructure in the Netherlands and the USA, and that is the state of mind.

Everyone you’ll see driving a car in Holland has started out driving a bike as his/her only way of transportation. -EVERYONE- needs to learn to ride a bike when you’re 3-4 years old. Reason for this is that there are no school buses, no parents who drive you to school. As a 4 y.o going to pre-school you will of course sit on the back of you mom’s or dad’s bike or ride you’re own bike accompanied by one of your parents.

Most children at 6 – 7 y.o will ride their bike alone to school. I’m sure you have seen the large groups of kids when school is out, riding bikes in groups, sometimes very dangerous 3 or 4 next to each other taking up a lot of space on the road.

On the contrary to the US it’s not common in Holland to have 2 cars in a family. Most families will have 1 car that serves for transportation for long distances.

Driving permit age is 18 in Holland, until that age you either ride your bike or ride your scooter(from age 16 and you’ll need a permit too).

You’ll see a lot of young moms riding bikes with a small child on the front on a bike in a child seat, sometimes even a child on the back as well and even have 2 shopping bags with groceries on the bike.
For pics see:
http://www.dremefa.nl/

Very popular the last few years are the ‘fietskar’ (bike cart) to transport the kids, groceries, dog etc.
For pics see:
Kids: http://www.fietskarren.nl/Groepen/kinderkarren.htm
Luggage or groceries: http://www.fietskarren.nl/Groepen/bagagekarren.htm
Pets: http://www.fietskarren.nl/Groepen/hondenkarren.htm
Seats for toddlers to place in the carts: http://www.fietskarren.nl/Eind-pag/Accessoires/schelpen.htm

As you can see from the prices, they are expensive, reason for this is that they have to be extremely safe and sturdy and are subject to very strict regulations. http://www.fietskar.com/kinderkarren.htm

The first choice of transportation in Holland is a bike, cars would be second. Towns were build with a infrastructure for bikes in place from the start. Cars came later, on the contrary to the US where infrastructure of a town or city is build for cars from the start.

Holland is a very small country with a lot of people living and working(approx 18 million) if all people who are legally allowed to drive a car also would drive there would be no space to live anymore. Car pooling(sharing) is very much promoted, employers (or the tax system) only reimburse public transport as commute cost where driving your car to work would have to be paid by yourself.

Families with children, having a one salary income are still very much the norm, one of the parents will stay at home. Part-time work for parents is also very much standard, a lot of alternative ways of work sharing will be created like ‘duo-baan’ (dual-job) where you will share a job with a colleague who will work half of the full time position. All of this is heavily subsidized and promoted by the government with child day care etc, because of this it’s less common to have 2 cars simply because the budget wouldn’t allow it.

Holland did have it’s share of car industry, which ended somewhere in the 80’s. (Opel, DAF) However, it’s not the industry that decides how the country is governed and developed, on the contrary to the US, but the people, for the people. Politicians do not depend on contributions from the industry for their elections as this would only cloud the way they would govern.

So the biking situation in Holland is something that is heavily embedded in your upbringing, it’s part of your life like driving everywhere by car is embedded in the US way of life.
Unfortunately for people living on a limited income or wanting to downscale, being without a car in the US is nearly unthinkable while being without a car in Holland is a common situation and does not have to be disruptive.

Feel free to ask me anything you want about the biking in Holland. I, like many other kids rode my bike to school all the way through University, rode my bike with child in front and shopping bags and cartons with milk on the back, in rain, snow and ice storms. ;-) Raised a bike riding child. So I think I qualify as an experienced bike person ;-)

I must say that living in Portland now I feel seriously limited in my movements, I’m not free to go anywhere, anytime I like to as it’s not safe to ride my (Dutch) bike here and we only have one car at the moment that my husband needs to commute to his job and to be honest, doing my shopping on my bike would get me strange looks from others ;-)

Freight Perspectives from Amsterdam

While in the Netherlands we had two different conversations about freight. The first was with Amsterdam city planners and is the focus of this post. The second was with a freight forwarder and a representative of the Holland International Distribution Council (a trade association) and will be covered in a later post.

In the dense urban environment in Amsterdam, planners have a number of goals for freight distribution:

– improve accessibility be reducing the number of vehicles
– reduce ‘delivery nuisance’ for residents and road users
– increase loading rates
– reduce vehicle kilometers (and therefore fuel use)
– net neutral effect on economic health

Some of the techniques for doing this:

– Require vehicles be at least 80% loaded before starting delivery trips
– Limit length of delivery vehicles to 10 meters
– Create age and environmental standards for vehicles

They report that it’s working, without negative impacts on the economy.

Amsterdam is developing additional concepts to streamline urban deliveries:

– A “city box”, a container that is one-third the size of a standard container, but can be bundled in triplets as a standard container for rail or sea shipments
– Neighborhood package delivery stations, where you can securely retrieve your package, avoiding the need for a delivery directly to your door
– Programs to cluster deliveries for nearby retailers (e.g., the drugstore and the hardware store get a consolidated delivery, avoiding extra delivery trips)

More on Bike Parking in the Netherlands

We’re back in Portland and going over our notes and photos, which will surely prove a rich source of posts for many weeks to come.

One theme we’ve already discussed is the prevalence of bike parking in the Netherlands. Here are some very concrete (pun intended) examples from the town of Apeldoorn.

There is an eerie parallel. Here at home, a densifying urban environment means we convert surface lots (for autos) to structures, in the best case underground structures. Well, exactly the same thing is happening in the Netherlands, but for bike parking.

www.flickr.com

Bike Parking in Apeldoorn portlandtransport’s Bike Parking in Apeldoorn photoset

We’re back in Portland and going over our notes and photos, which will surely prove a rich source of posts for many weeks to come.

One theme we’ve already discussed is the prevalence of bike parking in the Netherlands. Here are some very concrete (pun intended) examples from the town of Apeldoorn.

There is an eerie parallel. Here at home, a densifying urban environment means we convert surface lots (for autos) to structures, in the best case underground structures. Well, exactly the same thing is happening in the Netherlands, but for bike parking.

Pictured here is new underground bike parking under construction at the Apeldoorn rail station (that’s Portland Bike Coordinator Roger Geller snapping a picture, and Apeldoorn’s Bike Coordinator explaining the project). Parking will be one Euro per day.

In the center of Apeldoorn we encountered what is probably the most beautiful bike parking structure I’ve ever seen. It’s a very striking two story building (including a translucent glass wall on one side) with two-level bike parking.

One level is on the ground, the other over your head. There is a very clever mechanism that drops from the ceiling. You then attach two hooks – show here – to your bike, and then your bike is hoisted up to the ceiling! And parking here is free!

Our bike racks here in Portland feel so prosaic now…

Lessons from the Netherlands: Fare Policy

Riding trams in the Netherlands this week, I have been struck by the number of ways to buy a fare:

1) On most trains in Amsterdam there is a conduction in a booth selling tickets. I am told that conductors were only recently added back to trains, in part to make customers feel more secure.

2) Lacking a conductor, you either buy your ticket from the driver or from a fare machine, which is just as dumbfounding as the one found on Portland’s streetcars.

3) 24-hour and 72-hour passes are available if you’re going to be doing a lot of riding.

4) In Rotterdam, they are about to replace this system with a stored-value card that you swipe on entry and again on exit. This is presented as a way to prevent fare evaders (who are also associated with problematic behavior on the car). A side benefit is getting a better understanding of route usage and transfers, leading to better service planning. However, since the cards are identified to an individual user, the local government has also gone to great pains to assure citizens that their individual movement will not be tracked…

5) There is a national fare card, called a “strippen cart” (strip card) that has multiple sections that can be validated. It can be used in multiple cities and is sold at a slight discount. If you are taking a longer trip, you have to validate multiple strips on the ticket.

The fare for a one-zone trip in Amsterdam is Euro 1.60, a bit more than TriMet’s all-zone fare. It’s only good for an hour, compared to TriMet’s 1 hour, 45 minutes. So we don’t have too bad a deal in Portland comparatively.

I am told that tram operations are funded 50% from the farebox and 50% by subsidy from the national government (we could only wish!). I have heard numbers for capital subsidy from the national government of 80% to 95%.

Portland Transport is packing up and getting ready to head home. I don’t know if I’ll get another post out before we board the plane, but you can definitely count on more in coming weeks as we go through our notes and photos when we get home!