What? Use a Bike Everyday?

6 years ago

Our friend, Shiloh Ballard, foreign correspondent for The New IPO, recently posted a series of stories about her trip to the Netherlands.

Shiloh kicked of her journey of discovery in pouring rain and carrying an umbrella on her borrowed bike. The infrastructure of local communities is designed to make bicycling easier, there are curbs running alongside stairs to easily roll your bike up or down, bike parking is provided everywhere, and folks commute to work in comfort. Like a true Silicon Valley resident, Shiloh throws down the gauntlet with this challenge "Imagine if each year all of us fanatical cyclists took it upon ourselves to mentor one new non-cyclist a year…"

Cycle commuting, cycling to take the kids to school, cycling to go get groceries, ride the train or head out to dinner are so popular that the main problem facing the Dutch is where to put all those darn bikes. Now, rather than complaining about setting aside room to park hundreds of bikes, imagine if each of those were instead a car. Where would all those cars be parked? Would you build multi-story parking garages, pave over great expanses of parkland, or burrow underground? 

Apparently, in the Netherlands everyone owns and rides their bikes - everywhere! There are full bike garages to store your baby while you work, shop, or visit with friends. Shiloh comments that garages in the Netherlands are actually for cars, not the plethora of stuff that we store. I don't know about you but between the lawn furniture, barbeque grill, tools, and leftover paint I'm not sure there's room for a car in my garage. 

There are a number of things the Dutch, and other cycle friendly communities, do to encourage ditching the car. Including...

  • Bike racks that are staggered so that more bikes can be squeezed into more space by preventing handle bars from clashing. 
  • Gigantic park and ride facilities at transit stations (P&R as they call them.)
  • Efforts to clear the streets of disowned bikes.  We were told that in Amsterdam, they clear 22,000 abandoned bikes off the streets each year.
  • New commercial and residential development to include bike parking.
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