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June 21, 2013 6:12 AM   Subscribe


 
Oh good, "high demand for bike racks in Amsterdam" is going to be the new "have to wait for healthcare in Canada" on the Big List Of Reasons We Can't Have Nice Things.
posted by DU at 6:17 AM on June 21, 2013 [38 favorites]


In Beijing, even in 2013, there are 880,000 bikes on one street.

Of course, there are also cars driving the wrong way on the sidewalk while the driver talks on two cell phones.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 6:17 AM on June 21, 2013 [10 favorites]


I read this article this morning and it seems like the normal NYT "let's start with the conclusion and headline we want and work backwards". If you have a certain number of people with a need to get somewhere daily and your infrastructure can't accomodate that then the vehicles involved are kind of arbitrary. As is pointed out in the article itself, cars would make the city uninhabitable and the city's structure isn't a good fit for efficient mass transit so... people get by how they can. There are a variety of unsexy urban planning techniques that can alleviate this and I imagine Amsterdam will get around to these.
posted by selfnoise at 6:18 AM on June 21, 2013 [9 favorites]


Trust me, don't make the tourist mistake of standing in a bicycle lane in Amsterdam. Unless you want to be roadkill, of course.
posted by tommasz at 6:20 AM on June 21, 2013 [2 favorites]


Pete Jordan (also known as Dishwasher Pete) lives in Amsterdam and wrote a book about Amsterdam and bikes and had this to say: "Today the NY Times writes about how Amsterdam is swamped by a sea of bikes. As I point out in detail in my book, many of the issues facing the city today in regard to bikes (not enough parking places for them, the effort to close the Rijksmuseum passageway to cyclists, etc.) are the same issues that the city was dealing with as far back as the 1920s and 1930s. Expect the news media to be filing these same articles about Amsterdam cycling decades into the future..."
posted by josher71 at 6:22 AM on June 21, 2013 [8 favorites]


I'll just leave this here.
posted by mhoye at 6:26 AM on June 21, 2013 [35 favorites]


"Our city is growing too fast" sounds like a problem that most places would want to have.

Fortunately, bicycles are small, which means that we can start coming up with new places to store them at a somewhat reasonable cost.
posted by schmod at 6:31 AM on June 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


In what way is this a problem with worse consequences than a sea of cars? I'm unclear on how this is anything other than scaremongering..
posted by ardgedee at 6:32 AM on June 21, 2013 [6 favorites]


The NYT always has to be in a state of restrained panic, two Pino Grises away from shaking thier head and muttering " I just dont't UNDERSTAND" in response to nothing. The actual topic doesn't really matter, the the encroaching fear that sells.
posted by The Whelk at 6:34 AM on June 21, 2013 [23 favorites]


I'm not sure where the scaremongering is in the linked article. It reads to me like the standard newspaper account of ... whatever. In this case it's too few parking spaces for Amsterdam's bikes.
posted by notyou at 6:35 AM on June 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


Eindhoven has an underground bicycle parking garage. With ramp moving walkways to get in and out. It is pretty nifty.
posted by ian1977 at 6:36 AM on June 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


In what way is this a problem with worse consequences than a sea of cars? I'm unclear on how this is anything other than scaremongering..

You won't be so smug when the bicycles rise up against us!
posted by ian1977 at 6:37 AM on June 21, 2013 [5 favorites]


I'll just leave this here.

One thing that is left out of that image is the need for the road in the first place. Another is if the 60 people walk.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 6:37 AM on June 21, 2013


Here is a youtube of the underground bike parking I mentioned.
posted by ian1977 at 6:38 AM on June 21, 2013 [3 favorites]


I'm not sure where the scaremongering is in the linked article. It reads to me like the standard newspaper account of ... whatever. In this case it's too few parking spaces for Amsterdam's bikes.

Yeah, but it's phrased in the article like "there are too many bikes" and not like "there are too few bike parking spaces."
posted by showbiz_liz at 6:40 AM on June 21, 2013 [3 favorites]


Penultimate paragraph:
Still, no one dreams of limiting bike use. Indeed, when the renowned Rijksmuseum, the city’s crown jewel, reopened in April after a 10-year, $500 million renovation, biking lobbyists celebrated a victory when guards removed barriers to a bicycle passageway through the center of the museum. The museum’s director, Wim Pijbes, had sought to eliminate the bike route and put the museum’s main entrance on the site, routing bikers around the building to protect pedestrians. But the Cyclists’ Union, backed by a petition that showed overwhelming popular support for the bike route, carried the day.
Also: Wim Pijbes.
posted by notyou at 6:42 AM on June 21, 2013 [9 favorites]


The problem of too few bike parking spaces does go hand in hand with lots of bikes, yes?
posted by notyou at 6:44 AM on June 21, 2013


If there are too few parking spaces, why not have parking stickers, like they do in Chicago?
posted by ZeusHumms at 6:46 AM on June 21, 2013


I'm seriously wondering how many words you'd have to change, other than "bike" to "car," to make it work perfectly as a description of Manhattan.
posted by Tomorrowful at 6:46 AM on June 21, 2013 [3 favorites]


I don't think it's so much scare-mongering as reassuring-of-the-status-quo. "See, there are problems no matter WHAT we do, therefore do nothing". It's the same old false-equivalance thing noise-machine journalists love so much.
posted by DU at 6:49 AM on June 21, 2013 [7 favorites]


The problem of too few bike parking spaces does go hand in hand with lots of bikes, yes?

Well, ok, sure, but if you phrase it "too many bikes" the solution that presents itself most readily is "get rid of some bikes," rather than "make accommodations for these too-many bikes."

Basically, these days I don't trust any large NYC-based paper to give unbiased reporting on bike commuting... Citi Bike has sent the establishment into a slavering panic for some weird reason.
posted by showbiz_liz at 6:53 AM on June 21, 2013 [3 favorites]


The "there are too many bikes" phrase is used once in the linked article, more or less as a transition from discussion of Amsterdamer's fondness for their bicycles to discussion of the parking lot problem, and I think it's unfortunate that that phrase was used here to introduce the article on the Blue.

In conclusion, I blame four panels.
posted by notyou at 6:57 AM on June 21, 2013


I was hoping it would work out to something like 6.5 bikes per resident. Sigh.
posted by elizardbits at 6:57 AM on June 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


THEY'LL MAKE US RIDE BIKES, SHEEPLE! Bloomberg is evil. BEFORE YOU KNOW IT THERE WILL BE HORDES OF BIKES EVERYWHERE AND WE'LL BE COMMUNISTS! He's not one of us. He's one of them.

I'm only mildly exaggerating the level of hyperbole in that article.
posted by MuffinMan at 7:00 AM on June 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


Citi Bike has sent the establishment into a slavering panic for some weird reason

You don't understand! Bikes! On street corners! BIKES ON STREETCORNERS HORRIBLE AWFUL DIRTY FILTHY BIKES ON OUR PRISTINE ANTIQUE STREET CORNERS OH GOD IT'S THE MOST HORRIBLE EVER EVER TO HAPPEN IN THE HISTORY OF AMERICA
posted by The Whelk at 7:01 AM on June 21, 2013 [6 favorites]


THEY ARE TAKING AWAY OUR FREEDOM TO NOT LOOK AT BIKES
posted by The Whelk at 7:02 AM on June 21, 2013 [19 favorites]


Melt down all the bikes and make more SUVs! An ecofriendly solution!
posted by ian1977 at 7:04 AM on June 21, 2013 [3 favorites]


Okay but that's kind of an awesome problem to have!

I can understand the frustration of realizing that every available lock-up spot is coated in the decaying carcasses of bikes last ridden three years ago. There are several universities in the UK who have bike "storage" that best resemble the droid torture chambers from Jabba's palace-- just useless heaps padlocked into place because no one bothered to claim them at the end of term.
posted by jetlagaddict at 7:05 AM on June 21, 2013 [4 favorites]


Folding bicycles woud solve this problem handily.

When you get to your destination, you just fold it up and take it with you. Or you stick it in a shelf with a locking bar across the front. Whatever.

The "traditional" form factor of a 26" bicycle sucks. It's kind of ugly, rather ungainly, hard to move up or down stairs, is not very manoeuvrable in tight spaces. And they don't stack or pack very well at all.
posted by seanmpuckett at 7:05 AM on June 21, 2013 [2 favorites]


The actual reality of the situation is summed up in one paragraph. The rest of the article is just anti-bike hysteria:

Thomas Koorn, of Amsterdam’s Transport and Traffic Department... “We have a real parking issue,...We don’t think there’s a crisis; we want to keep it attractive,” Mr. Koorn said. He paused, then added, “You cannot imagine if all this traffic were cars.” (emphasis mine)
posted by Jakey at 7:07 AM on June 21, 2013 [2 favorites]


Unicycles would cut this problem in half OVERNIGHT.
posted by ian1977 at 7:08 AM on June 21, 2013 [35 favorites]


"This clogged stream of cyclists..." I see what they did there
posted by foleypt at 7:09 AM on June 21, 2013 [5 favorites]


When I was there with my band in 2001 it was pretty bike-heavy but we thought it was awesome. Yes, you could get killed walking in an unofficial bike path but it still seemed downright efficient and charming given the surroundings.
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 7:11 AM on June 21, 2013


If you ever visit Amsterdam, do not do it in a rented manual-transmission car (when you haven't driven manual in a year or so) and try to find your way out of the center of town at 8:00am while everyone is trying to bike to work. It will fry. your. brain.
posted by JoeZydeco at 7:11 AM on June 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


What. Evah. NYT.


And folding bikes are popular enough that when you get off the train (from the countryside) I'd say more bikes coming off are folding than non.

The real problem is the tourists on rented bikes.
posted by infini at 7:13 AM on June 21, 2013


I can understand the frustration of realizing that every available lock-up spot is coated in the decaying carcasses of bikes last ridden three years ago.

I live in a modestly large apartment building -- ~50 units with a mix of 2 BR, 1 BR, and studios. There is a bit of a problem with (well-maintained) bicycles being locked to inappropriate railings, but this is because the building has no bike parking. Even though I don't currently own a bike, I keep asking for bike parking for residents, because it's the obvious solution
posted by GenjiandProust at 7:19 AM on June 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


The real problem here is that a lot of human beings seem to have tremendous difficulty accepting people's choices when they don't align with their own choices. Every choice has tradeoffs and shortcomings, and if someone makes the choice you make, you're quite likely to forgive them when the tradeoffs surface. If someone else makes a difference choice than you, however -- even when that choice doesn't effect you directly, such as choosing to drive an electric car -- a person is highly unlikely to be equally forgiving, and in fact often goes out of their way to invent strawmen with which to preemptively judge that person's different choice.

Human being business as usual, really.
posted by davejay at 7:20 AM on June 21, 2013 [2 favorites]


OK I have an anecdote about Dutch & bikes. Dutch guy told me that the Germans confiscated all the bicycles right after they invaded and converted them into scrap metal for tanks and stuff. Twenty years later the Dutch and the Germans are playing in the World Cup and 40 thousand drunk Dutch dudes are chanting in unison: "give us back our bicycles."

May not even be true but later I realized I forgot to ask if they were chanting in Dutch or in German or in a neutral language?
posted by bukvich at 7:20 AM on June 21, 2013 [3 favorites]




Wow, the article you guys are reading is so much more exciting than the one I get when I click on the link. Someone scrubbed all the anti-bike hysteria from the version I read and replaced it with an entirely reasonable little human interest piece which in no way suggests that replacing bikes with cars would help anyone in any way whatsoever. I wonder if some of you would be willing to quote the virulent anti-bike propaganda that the rest of you are finding--it would be interesting to read.
posted by yoink at 7:22 AM on June 21, 2013 [9 favorites]


Oh, this brings me back.

Lived for 2 months in Amsterdam during college. Being an American, when my advisor loaned me her bike so I could get to a bank before it closed, I hopped on and the first thing I did was pop a wheelie then roll down the way with my hands off the handlebars while lighting a smoke.

I thought I looked cool, but every face in the yard displayed a stern look. I know each one of them were quietly hoping something would stick in the spoke and toss me over the front on my stupid nose. It was that day I learned Dutch culture typically favors practicality, subtlety, and safety well before kickassitude.

PS - If they would have followed me a ways, they would have seen me careen off the side of a newstand because I forgot that, in absence of handlebrakes, pedaling backwards brings a sudden stop in your forward progression.
posted by Bathtub Bobsled at 7:22 AM on June 21, 2013 [10 favorites]


ts;dr: "Underground Bicycle Parking Systems in Japan ."

Japan has a neat (though kind of wacky) solution that makes the modern west seem about 100 years behind them. That's about as surprising as Americans being dicks about bikes. (not at all)
posted by MCMikeNamara at 7:24 AM on June 21, 2013 [2 favorites]


one of the biggest problems I see in Berlin is the bike stands near the subway stations are mostly clogged up with abandoned old bikes. If you cleaned them out regularly and maybe auctioned them out, you would not have such a big problem.
posted by ts;dr at 7:24 AM on June 21, 2013


"There are too many bikes. " "Few wear helmets."

What I get get out of reading this is a sense that the Dutch have a saner society than we do, at least in regards to transport. In the US--especially outisde of big cities--bicycling culture is dominated by helmeted young males in tights who ride on two weekend days a month. There, everyone rides everywhere and the idea of a helmet is absurd because there's great infrastructure & safety in numbers.
posted by aerotive at 7:25 AM on June 21, 2013 [4 favorites]


I don't understand why people want to ride bikes anyway. Whenever you need to go buy a loaf of bread, why WOULDN'T you want to take along a 4,000 lb. steel cage that holds you, an internal combustion engine, a computer and two sofas? It's like, whenever I take a bath, I ALWAYS bring a jet ski, why wouldn't I do the same on the roads?
posted by nushustu at 7:26 AM on June 21, 2013 [30 favorites]


the first thing I did was pop a wheelie then roll down the way with my hands off the handlebars while lighting a smoke.

I thought I looked cool


If that isn't cool I don't know what is.
posted by ian1977 at 7:26 AM on June 21, 2013 [3 favorites]


When I am over there I always marvel how they will have a passenger riding side-saddle on the back of the back, casually dangling their feet and texting, completely comfortable and not at all FREAKING OUT AND CLINGING FOR DEAR LIFE like I would.
posted by ian1977 at 7:28 AM on June 21, 2013 [2 favorites]


The real problem is the tourists on rented bikes.

If that's the case, then there is a solution at hand: Force the bike rental companies to pay to install adequate bike parking for all the bikes they rent, in all tourist hot spots. Their customers cause the problem; they benefit monetarily from enabling their customers to cause the problem; they should pay to solve the problem. QED.

And if it is the City and not private companies renting the bikes (I'm too lazy to research that), then the City should do something ... oh, wait; they are doing something, anyway! The article indicates the city of Amsterdam is currently planning to install 38,000 new bike racks in "hot spots." How many bikes fit on a rack? Six or eight? That means there will soon be over 200,000 new bike parking spaces, strategically placed where they are most needed. That should make a big dent, if not fully resolve the problem.

Also, on preview ... underground parking might not be the best solution for a city that is at or near sea level.
posted by JimInLoganSquare at 7:28 AM on June 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


I walk.

No, really, I'd rather not say why. Its quite alright. No, really. I'll walk.
posted by infini at 7:30 AM on June 21, 2013


My university puts "Hey pls call us" tags on abandoned bikes for some probationary period, then gets rid of them.

I don't think that would scale to A-dam levels, but it works well for us, anyway.
posted by sandettie light vessel automatic at 7:30 AM on June 21, 2013


I joined CitiBike on June 10th and I still haven't gotten my membership card in the mail and all this bike talk makes me a little depressed :( All I wanna do is bicycle, bicycle, bicycle!
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 7:32 AM on June 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


First the came for our 18 wheelers and we said nothing
then they came for our autos and we said nothing
now they come for our bikes
posted by Postroad at 7:38 AM on June 21, 2013


Would the parking situation be better if there were 880,000 cars instead?
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 7:47 AM on June 21, 2013


Would the parking situation be better if there were 880,000 cars instead?

You can fit 4-6 people in a car so they are more efficient.
posted by ian1977 at 7:48 AM on June 21, 2013


Japan has a neat (though kind of wacky) solution that makes the modern west seem about 100 years behind them.

Yes, you're right, it's sad that Japan has fallen to a mere 100-year lead. The fact is that the devastating earthquake of 2007 set Japan back several hundred years to the mid-22nd century, as noted by this fine news source.
posted by The Bellman at 7:50 AM on June 21, 2013


There are several universities in the UK who have bike "storage" that best resemble the droid torture chambers from Jabba's palace-- just useless heaps padlocked into place because no one bothered to claim them at the end of term.

My university's solution to this is: at the end of every semester, there is a day by which you must have removed your bike from the university bike racks, after which they will snip the locks and auction off the bikes. As far as I'm concerned it's the perfect solution to that problem.
posted by showbiz_liz at 7:51 AM on June 21, 2013 [3 favorites]


You can fit 4-6 people in a car so they are more efficient.

I am amazed in California how unclogged the car pool lanes are. Because, I swear, 95%* of cars on the freeway, no matter how stupidly huge, carry but one person. While i understand it's possible, in theory, to fit 4-6 in a car, I don't see it happening very often.

*not an actual factual fact, just my perception.
posted by cccorlew at 7:54 AM on June 21, 2013 [2 favorites]


Whenever you need to go buy a loaf of bread, why WOULDN'T you want to take along a 4,000 lb. steel cage that holds you, an internal combustion engine, a computer and two sofas?

This makes driving sound really awesome.
posted by jeather at 7:58 AM on June 21, 2013 [9 favorites]



I can understand the frustration of realizing that every available lock-up spot is coated in the decaying carcasses of bikes last ridden three years ago. There are several universities in the UK who have bike "storage" that best resemble the droid torture chambers from Jabba's palace-- just useless heaps padlocked into place because no one bothered to claim them at the end of term.


I'm amazed the Dutch, of all people, haven't figured the two things that solve the problem.

1. Bikeshare, which obviates the need for a spare bike.

2. Regular sweeps of the bike racks, where derelict bikes are tagged for removal,
with a follow up sweep a week later, where bikes that are still tagged get removed.
posted by ocschwar at 7:59 AM on June 21, 2013


I've read the Times more or less every day since I was a freshman in high school. I've been a delivery subscriber for at least 8 of the 13 years since I moved to college.

I probably won't do it but I'm seriously considering cancelling my subscription over this nonsense.
posted by thecaddy at 8:00 AM on June 21, 2013


I joined CitiBike on June 10th and I still haven't gotten my membership card in the mail and all this bike talk makes me a little depressed :( All I wanna do is bicycle, bicycle, bicycle!

I can tell you from experience that Alta, the CitiBike contractor, is terrible at getting initial rollouts done right, but their daily operations are highly reliable. So hang in there.
posted by ocschwar at 8:04 AM on June 21, 2013


Turns out Metafilter is far more axe grindy than the NYT article. My read is that Amsterdam, like big cities everywhere, has problems with congestion, parking availability, slow and insufficient public transportation, and a love of personal mode of transport. Overall scale is different, but the dynamics are pretty recognizable to folks in cities around the globe.
posted by 2N2222 at 8:07 AM on June 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


Turns out Metafilter is far more axe grindy than the NYT article. My read is that Amsterdam, like big cities everywhere, has problems with congestion, parking availability, slow and insufficient public transportation, and a love of personal mode of transport. Overall scale is different, but the dynamics are pretty recognizable to folks in cities around the globe.

Yeah I've been to Amsterdam a half dozen times and it's a better designed, healthier, happier city than about anything we have in the USA. All the cyclists are awesome, and if you get a couple minutes outside the center it's incredibly serene.

The NYT sure is good at making you feel like you learned something though. Everyone's got problems; now I'mma go drive my SUV past miles of möbius strip malls on the way to Walmart.
posted by crayz at 8:20 AM on June 21, 2013


In what way is this a problem with worse consequences than a sea of cars? I'm unclear on how this is anything other than scaremongering..

The thing that struck me when I visited Amsterdam in March was that for all its awesomeness, it's remarkably pedestrian-unfriendly: walkers have to constantly dodge bikes and try to walk along balance-beam-width "sidewalks" that are often blocked by bicycles and scooters parked across them. I do think all the bikes come at the expense of pedestrians, to some extent.
posted by eugenen at 8:24 AM on June 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


I never had any problems in Amsterdam but it did seem to require a little more situational awareness then usual.

( No the awful thing about Amsterdam are the firecrackers thrown into> the street on New Years)
posted by The Whelk at 8:28 AM on June 21, 2013


There IS a ticket-and-remove system in place, it's just very very slow and the bikes in question have to be clearly derelict. Flat tires, missing wheels/seats/etc., the lot. But my impression was that Amsterdam solved its excess bike parking problem years ago by storing unneeded bikes in the canals. (YT link) Sometimes you'll even see people with lines and big old hooks, fishing for bikes off of bridges just for fun.
posted by 1adam12 at 8:29 AM on June 21, 2013


I wonder if some of you would be willing to quote the virulent anti-bike propaganda that the rest of you are finding--it would be interesting to read

Try here.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 8:30 AM on June 21, 2013


The thing that struck me when I visited Amsterdam in March was that for all its awesomeness, it's remarkably pedestrian-unfriendly

I haven't found this to be true at all, actually. I've been there about four times, and spend most of my time there as a pedestrian. Major roads, and most smaller roads, have bike lanes that are separate from pedestrian sidewalks. Some of the center city area is pedestrian-only - bike riders have to dismount and walk their bikes through.
posted by me & my monkey at 8:31 AM on June 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


There are too many bicycles people in Amsterdam on Earth.

FTFY
posted by yoga at 8:31 AM on June 21, 2013


There's a definitely a very assiduous don't-park-your-bike-here-or-we'll-confiscate-it system though. My bike was about 1 foot outside the marked bike park area just outside the Apple Store. When I came out 20 minutes later, the bike was gone, and it had been removed by the bicycle nazis. I had to get a lift over to the bike concentration camp, which may as well have been located on the far side of the moon, pay the fine, and cycle back into town.

There's no bike problem in Amsterdam, not really. Living in a place where most journeys are by bike, car driving is incredibly painful, and all that people have to complain about are not enough places to park the bike? Puh-lease, that's about as blissful as it gets.
posted by daveje at 8:36 AM on June 21, 2013 [2 favorites]


> The "traditional" … bicycle sucks. … they don't stack or pack very well at all.

They stack a whole lot better than cars do.
posted by scruss at 8:37 AM on June 21, 2013 [2 favorites]


Even before I clicked on the link, I thought "photo of bike rack at Centraal Station?" Bingo! It is pretty impressive when your North American idea of a bike rack is this.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 8:39 AM on June 21, 2013


mhoye: I'll just leave this here.

The first thing I noticed is that the "Car" photo was taken much closer than the other two, to exaggerate the difference...also known as "lying".
posted by Greg_Ace at 8:48 AM on June 21, 2013


Where can one park one's SUV in Amsterdam? All the beautiful parking has gone to these wretched, nigh-silent, emission-free bikes.
posted by Mister_A at 8:50 AM on June 21, 2013


As part of the never-ending helmet wars, there's often scolding about how Americans bike too fast, and how we should go slowly, like the Dutch, who don't need to wear helmets since nobody's going much more than walking speed and they're all on heavy bikes.

How much of that is because of the traffic? Because I weighed my bike yesterday, and my bike loaded with my usual gear comes out to 42.5 lbs. I have no problem exceeding 20 mph on flattish good terrain, and I'm not in great shape and don't bike much recreationally. It's not about the bike, or even necessarily about a culture of cycling as sport rather than transportation -- it's about the lack of a hundred other cyclists in front of me at the stop light.
posted by asperity at 8:51 AM on June 21, 2013


Just to be clear - I'm not being a car apologist here. But there was really no need for the different focal length in order to get a point across; even if all three pictures had been taken at the same focal length/distance, it still would have been obvious that the cars took up more space than a bus or bicycles.
posted by Greg_Ace at 8:52 AM on June 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


You can fit 4-6 people in a car so they are more efficient.

This is a joke of some sort, yes?
posted by Mister_A at 8:53 AM on June 21, 2013


How much of that is because of the traffic?

Another part of it is expectations/norms. In my pretty-bike-friendly town, when I am on my road bike, I have few problems because I can be nimble in a way that I simply cannot be on my beast of a Dutch bike.

I find that since driver and fellow-cyclist expectations are much more formed by road-bike type responsiveness, the more stately reaction times on the Dutch bike feel a little off, even to me.

Doesn't stop me from riding it, mind. I can't carry a case of wine on the road bike.
posted by sandettie light vessel automatic at 8:56 AM on June 21, 2013


You can fit 4-6 people in a car so they are more efficient.

This is a joke of some sort, yes?


Certainly.
posted by JimInLoganSquare at 9:00 AM on June 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


My sister used to live in Amsterdam. One day when she was cycling she was hit by a car - not too badly, but enough to send her off the bike. The single thing she remembers most vividly about the incident was the crowd gathering around and shouting at the driver to the point where she thought they might cause him actual bodily harm. It's a far cry from Dublin, where she lives now, where people tend to feel you've got what you deserve if you get hit...
posted by lesbiassparrow at 9:01 AM on June 21, 2013


This is a joke of some sort, yes?

The highest sort.
posted by ian1977 at 9:18 AM on June 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


Yeah, no shit. Try parking in central Amsterdam sometime. I'm a dutch boy, and a bicyclist, though I grew up and live in the USA. Travelling to Amsterdam this past fall was like reaching Nirvana for me. Bikes everywhere, people like me, lots of people not like me and all living together happily, and awesome food. It was nice to see how people handled near accidents. If it was NYC there would be constant honking, swearing, and yelling. In Amsterdam it was simply an excuse me between bikes. Amsterdam is one of my favorite places on this planet.
posted by Eekacat at 9:24 AM on June 21, 2013 [3 favorites]


I am amazed in California how unclogged the car pool lanes are. Because, I swear, 95%* of cars on the freeway, no matter how stupidly huge, carry but one person. While i understand it's possible, in theory, to fit 4-6 in a car, I don't see it happening very often.

Having worked in insurance I can assure you that you are correct. One of the reasons insurance companies try and finagle ways to discriminate against recent immigrants is that they usually haven't yet adopted the American and Canadian norm of one car for one person and subsequently their claims are almost always larger because more people are injured in each accident (plus they are more likely to hire lawyers whereas the non-immigrants believe they know the system even when they don't).
posted by srboisvert at 9:28 AM on June 21, 2013 [4 favorites]


You can fit 4-6 people in a car so they are more efficient.

Yes, you CAN fit 4-6 people in one, but as most of that space is wasted in carrying an average of 1.59 passengers per car, then it becomes vastly less efficient.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 10:22 AM on June 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


Greg_Ace: "The first thing I noticed is that the "Car" photo was taken much closer than the other two, to exaggerate the difference...also known as "lying"."

An updated version of that photo with commentary from Jarrett Walker.

I also remember that London did a similar photo, but with a photo of a double-decker bus added in. Those things can hold a *ton* of people. (London is one of those weird, rare places that actually takes bus planning seriously, and they've got some impressive results to show for it.)
posted by schmod at 10:23 AM on June 21, 2013 [4 favorites]


average of 1.59 passengers per car

Sorry, I just realized I was reading an older data set that said 1.59 and linking to the newer 2012 report that says things are actually worse at 1.55 per car!
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 10:43 AM on June 21, 2013


I think the practical solution is the same globally: rideshare.
posted by Ogre Lawless at 11:26 AM on June 21, 2013


Huh, I would have guessed lower than 1.55.
posted by zvs at 11:44 AM on June 21, 2013


The problem with bikes around Centraal Station is simple. The station has been undergoing renovation for over a decade now for various reasons (extending the station's train capacity, general maintaince, new underground north - south metro line, removal of the bus station from the front to the back of the station, undsoweiter) which has left much less room for bikes just at a time when bike use has been increasing again. There simply is a lack of parking space anywhere near the station. The city and the railways have been trying to improve this, but it's been hard to do, due to lack of space; it's far beyond just slapping some new bike racks near the station. It doesn't help that many people just abandon their bikes there (bloody students); the council has been increasingly strict with enforcing long term parking regulations.

Actual bike traffic jams though are rare and only occur at natural bottlenecks like the ferries and then only for a minute or two as a ferry comes in.
posted by MartinWisse at 11:45 AM on June 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


I think it's funny that when I read the headline this morning all I could think was PLEASE TELL ME ABOUT THIS AMAZING PARADISE I WANT TO GO TO THERE
posted by photoslob at 11:54 AM on June 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


May not even be true but later I realized I forgot to ask if they were chanting in Dutch or in German or in a neutral language?

Wir wohlen unsere fahrraden zuruck (in a hideous Dutch accent; German likely not correct[1]). Yeah, that the Germans stole our bikes is a long standing national insult often dragged up when some tourist is being particularly annoying, and in football situations. It's almost as big a cliche in Holland as the Germans stealing deck chairs in hotels is in the UK.


[1] Ik ken uberhaupt maar 1 woord Duits. -- H. Finkers.
posted by MartinWisse at 11:54 AM on June 21, 2013


Underground Bicycle Parking Systems in Japan.

Underground bike parking system in Amsterdam Noord (shown with appropriate music).
posted by MartinWisse at 11:56 AM on June 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


No the awful awesome thing about Amsterdam are the firecrackers thrown into> the street on New Years

Fixed that for you. Tip for tourists who like fireworks and are in town around New Year's Eve: go to Nieuwmarkt, preferably a few hours before midnight. That's where you have the local wide boys, Chinese merchants and students all competing to show off the largest, loudest, biggest fireworks they can buy.
posted by MartinWisse at 12:02 PM on June 21, 2013


Whenever you need to go buy a loaf of bread, why WOULDN'T you want to take along a 4,000 lb. steel cage that holds you, an internal combustion engine, a computer and two sofas?

You forgot the heating / air-conditioning unit. Which is both an addition to your question and part of the answer.
posted by aught at 12:43 PM on June 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


The first thing I noticed is that the "Car" photo was taken much closer than the other two, to exaggerate the difference...also known as "lying".

Clearly; if it wasn't for that trick of perspective, everyone would be able to see that sixty people riding one bus, sixty cyclists and sixty cars actually about the same size.

So, let's correct that. Here it is, roughly to scale, and recreated in a variety of ways and contexts.

So, I can totally see how a suspicious mind might think that cars, bikes and people are all the same size. Unfortunately, that's not the case at all and also what the hell.
posted by mhoye at 12:47 PM on June 21, 2013 [6 favorites]


don't be mad at me for riding my bike in amsterdam, looking healthy sexy and skinny while you haul your suv sized ass in your nyt 'hood
posted by elpapacito at 12:50 PM on June 21, 2013


werq it gurl
posted by elizardbits at 12:51 PM on June 21, 2013


schmod, that link is good, but missed an important point:
the photo understates the space requirements of bikes compared to the other two.
The photo actually understates the longitudinal distance requirements of all three vehicle types, but the cars require wildly more space, both individually and per-passenger, than do the other forms. This is mainly due to the increased speed and therefore increased stopping distances.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 12:59 PM on June 21, 2013 [3 favorites]


Crap like this is why I tend to avoid the New York Times.
posted by telstar at 1:20 PM on June 21, 2013


Coming next in the New York Times:

Hawaii suffering from beaches, nice weather.
The Parisian plague -- a city overrun with beauty.
Yellowstone Park clogged by nature.
posted by kyrademon at 1:38 PM on June 21, 2013 [12 favorites]


I'm not sure where the scaremongering is in the linked article. It reads to me like the standard newspaper account of ... whatever.

Someone scrubbed all the anti-bike hysteria from the version I read and replaced it with an entirely reasonable little human interest piece

The thing is, as some of the earliest comments noted, the NYT does this sort of passive-aggressive thing all the time. It's especially evident in the Style section and occasionally the Magazine, where a seemingly positive story about hipsters or society weddings reveals deep-seated class and cultural resentments, but it can also be found in "news" features like this one (not quite so evident in the actual reported news, though, since that is more objectively about things than people -- unless you count Judith Miller &c.). It's a thing they have and the timing here, directly after the introduction of Citibike, is clearly going to land right in the very-nasty debate. It's a high-journalism form of trolling, in other words.

I think it's more disingenuous than genuine -- it isn't the NYT taking the position OMG BIKES so much as giving the OMG BIKES crowd kindling to burn. Or the way Republicans introduce legislation less with the hope of seeing it enacted than of seeing Democrats blow steam out of their ears. Essentially the NYT is positioning itself a little above the fray, but not above stirring the pot, to intentionally mix metaphors. Frankly, not even the Washington Post is nearly at good at playing this game (nor, of course, does it have the same readership). They tend to stir the pot by hiring obviously inexperienced right-wing bloggers. The Wall Street Journal likes to publish contrarian liberals, or just blatantly editorialize as with Rabinowitz in the first place. But the NYT likes to pretend it likes something while subtly jeering at inconsequential privilege, or engaging in deliberately sober concern trolling.

SQUIRREL POPULATION REBOUNDS; NUT-DEPENDENT HOMELESS FACING NUTRITION DEFICIT
posted by dhartung at 4:10 PM on June 21, 2013 [2 favorites]


The thing is, as some of the earliest comments noted, the NYT does this sort of passive-aggressive thing all the time.

This strikes me as much more "Metafilter doing its weird freak-out about hidden agendas in NYT articles" thing. Nothing in this article is saying "OMG, those crazy Dutch people preferring bikes to cars!" The article makes it perfectly clear that if everyone drove cars instead of riding bikes the situation would be much worse than it is--the "OMG bikes!" crowd have absolutely nothing to gain from citing or touting this article. All the article is doing is one of those conventional "here's a problem from a very different cultural context you wouldn't have thought about" stories. The eeeeeevil anti-bike subtext is something entirely imported by the rather over-active imaginations of certain readers.
posted by yoink at 4:59 PM on June 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


Metafilter: entirely imported by the rather over-active imaginations of certain readers
posted by panaceanot at 7:27 PM on June 21, 2013


Been thinking about this thread, and thinking about the two other things we get with helmet laws: a tool for teens to defend themselves against peer pressure, and for parents to express potential consequences that are more scary to a teen than "you'll bash your head open."

When I was old enough to drive, but only barely, I remember telling my friends they had to wear seatbelts in the car because it was the law, and there was no way in hell I was going to get a ticket for their dumbassery. They moaned and groaned, but they always put 'em on. Granted, it doesn't solve the problem in all cases, but it can help.
posted by davejay at 9:28 PM on June 21, 2013


I do think NYC is going to have to figure out good ways to accommodate the boom in cyclists. There will surely be some growing pains but with good planning it can be done well. The city will be better off for it.

The problem in NYC is too many cars.
posted by nowhere man at 6:35 AM on June 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


Been thinking about this thread, and thinking about the two other things we get with helmet laws: a tool for teens to defend themselves against peer pressure...

Dude, just take off your helmet and take a little puff. Trust me, you'll like it.
posted by nowhere man at 6:43 AM on June 22, 2013


davejay: "Been thinking about this thread, and thinking about the two other things we get with helmet laws: a tool for teens to defend themselves against peer pressure"

There's precious little evidence that helmet laws lead to any measurable improvement in safety -- but they do correlate strongly to less cycling, which coincidentally has been shown to make things considerably more dangerous for the remaining cyclists.

Helmet use in the Netherlands is in the low single-digit percentages, and yet it's statistically one of the safest places in the world to ride a bicycle. There's a lot of evidence for the "strength in numbers" argument, and one bad study made a whole lot of Americans believe helmets are some kind of panacea for bicycle safety.

Meanwhile, helmet laws give the police another arbitrary reason to accost teenagers (especially poor minorities, who are more likely to be using a bike as their primary means of transportation).

There's almost zero evidence that helmet laws are a good idea.
posted by schmod at 7:06 AM on June 22, 2013


I recently read something about this in a Dutch magazine too, but the tone was completely different, or at least that's how I remember it (sadly I don't remember where I read it). The article was about the challenge of parking all those bicycles and also how important it was to do that and not discourage cycling, because more cars would be a way bigger problem. It also talked about the enormous space taken up by parked cars in the city.

As a Dutch person, the article reads strange. This, for example: Mothers and fathers balance toddlers in spacious wooden boxes affixed to their bikes, ferrying them to school or day care. Carpenters carry tools and supplies in similar contraptions reads to me as though mothers find a wooden box somewhere and then nail it on their bicycle, and just put their kid in there, hoping it doesn't fall out (while they are "balancing" them) or otherwise gets hurt from the "contraption". That's not the case. They mean a bakfiets (link to a store that shows a few common models) and those are well designed products that are actually meant for transporting children.

Also, I don't know if this is obvious for people who just read the article, but this is really mostly not a problem in most of the country. I live in a city and I can ride my bicycle anywhere and park right in front of the central station here, and in front of every store I want to go to. It's not like the complete country is overrun by bicycles or anything like that. Complaining about "too many bicycles" really isn't a common sentiment here, and this is a country where many people do love to complain about everything.
posted by blub at 9:33 AM on June 22, 2013 [2 favorites]


the man of twists and turns: "This is mainly due to the increased speed and therefore increased stopping distances."

When traveling at the comparable speeds, most cyclists actually have longer stopping distances than cars; sometimes by a rather wide margin. (Cars usually do travel quite a bit faster, but if a car traveling 20mph slams on its brakes, a cyclist traveling 20mph directly behind it will probably end up rear-ending the car)
posted by schmod at 12:20 PM on July 2, 2013


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