Showing posts with label pucher. Show all posts
Showing posts with label pucher. Show all posts

18 March 2010

Sit Up Straight, Sydney


Here's a cartoon that accompanied an article in the Sydney Morning Herald:

"Sydney will never be a bicycle-friendly city until it develops a ''second cycling culture'' which encourages relaxed European-style riding without the compulsory use of helmets, experts have warned."

John Pucher does most of the talking in the interview but renowned documentarist turned cycling blogger Mike Rubbo is quoted as well.

It's an interesting angle in the article. Mr Rubbo has gotten hold of the upright bike angle in order to differentiate what I call Citizen Cyclists from sports enthusiasts. Indeed, his blog is named Sit-Up Cycle.

In every city on the planet where cycling is mainstream transport, the majority of the people you see resemble the chap on the right, and on bikes like that. Hilly cities, flat cities, cold cities, hot cities, established bicycle-friendly cities and developing bicycle-friendly cities.

Using this bicycle design angle is fresh. It is, after all, the most popular bicycle design on the planet. Should we guess by 10 to 1? It's worked for more than a century in every country and across every topography.

The sports bike manufacturers have had free reign regarding marketing for a few decades in many countries. They may have encouraged a few people to join cycling clubs, take up recreational cycling on the weekends and maybe even inspired some cycle sport stars who we love to watch in Le Tour or the Giro. Great but hardly mainstream. Hardly re-democratizing the bicycle and re-establishing it as transport in any great numbers.

So why not focus on bicycle design in order to sell urban cycling to the masses? Upright bikes may be exotic to many in countries like Australia now, but they used to be a main feature on the urban landscape. Maybe it's time to let the 'other' bike brands have a go. The Batavus', Velorbis', Pashley's, et al. Let a whole new demographic realise that they don't have to invest in space age bicycles and all the gear. Tell them, "Um... you don't actually have to look like a 'cyclist' to ride a bike..." And pssst... it's safer sitting upright...

They couldn't do worse for selling cycling than decades of sports branding. I'll bet they'll get a lot further, a lot quicker. The results will be brilliant for society. The sports industry won't give up without a fight, of course, but a little competition never hurt. We're talking about a 'second cycling culture' after all, not a replacement cycling culture.

Although judging by many of the comments under the article, there is an uphill battle. Then again, it's the City That Hates Bikes...

13 October 2009

Inspirational John Pucher

Screengrab of John Pucher's seminar at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver
Dr John Pucher's latest paper is quite brilliant:

Infrastructure, Programs and Policies to Increase Bicycling: An International Review.

Co-authored by Jennifer Dill of Portland State University and Susan Handy of UC Davis, it highlights the efforts and results of a number of international locations who are working towards increasing cycling as transport.

I've blogged previously about a seminar with John Pucher from Simon Fraser University in Vancouver right here. It's a lengthy videocast, but well worth it.

The newest paper is impressive for it's amazing amount of scientific references. Truly a thorough work, as well an an inspirational one. It's available for download from Pucher's Rutger website, under publications.

This is from the introdution:
"Bicycling is healthy. That is the conclusion of an increasing number of scientific studies assessing the impacts of bicycling on levels of physical activity, obesity rates, cardiovascular health and morbidity.

"The combined evidence presented in these studies indicates that the health benefits of bicycling far exceed the health risks from traffic injuries, contradicting the widespread misperception that bicycling is a dangerous activity. Moreover, as bicycling levels increase, injury rates fall, making bicycling safer and providing even larger net health benefits.

"Perhaps due to the increasing evidence of the health benefits of bicycling, many government agencies and public health organizations have explicitly advocated more bicycling as a way to improve individual health as well as reduce air pollution, carbon emissions, noise, traffic dangers, and other harmful impacts of car use.
[...]
"Countries and cities with high levels of bicycling and good safety rates tend to have extensive infrastructure, as well as pro-bicycle policies and progams, while those with low bicycling rates and poor safety records generally have done much less."


Just our cup of tea. Well worth a read.

There are also some stat boxes near the end in the reference area that highlight the increasing mobility in cities choosing to embrace bicycle culture. It's not really a newsflash, but increased bicycle infrastructure reduces injury, as well as all the health and societal benefits. So let's build those cycle tracks.

Berlin
Total number of bicycle trips almost quadrupled from 1975-2001 (275% increase).
Bicycle share increased from 5% of trips in 1990 to 10% in 2007.
38% decline in serious injuries 1992-2006.

Paris
Increase in bicycle share of trips within City of Paris from 1% to 2.5% in 2007.
46% increase in bicycle trips from June to October 2007 after introduction of Vélib bicycle sharing program.

Amsterdam
Bicycle share increased from 25% of trips in 1970 to 37% in 2005.
40% decline in serious injuries, 1985-2005.

Copenhagen
Bicycle share increased from 25% of trips in 1998 to 38% in 2005 for 40+ age group.
70% increase in total bicycle trips 1970-2006 (36% of work trips in 2006).
60% decline in serious injuries 1995-2006.

Muenster, Germany

Bicycle share increased from 29% of trips in 1982 to 35% in 2001.
One serious injury per 1.03 million bicycle trips in 2001.

Freiburg, Germany
Bicycle share increased from 15% of trips in 1982 to 27% in 2007.
204% growth in bicycle trips 1976-2007.
One serious injury per 896,000 bicycle trips in 2006.

Odense, Denmark

Bicycle share increased from 23% of trips in 1994 to 25% in 2002.
80% increase in bicycle trips 1984-2002.
29% decline in injuries 1999-2004.

Groningen, Netherlands
Stable 40% bicycle share of trips since 1990.
50% decline in serious injuries 1997-2005.

London, UK
Doubling in total number of bicycle trips from 2000 to 2008 (+99%).
Average annual growth of 17% between 2003 and 2006, after implementation of congestion charging.
75% increase in bicycle trips to school 2000-2008.
Bicyle share of all trips rose from 1.2% in 2003 to 1.6% in 2006, an increase of 43%.
12% reduction in serious bicycling injuries from 2000 to 2008.

12 October 2009

Bicycle Language in DC

DC Bicycle Infrastructure
Visiting Washington DC recently I was quite impressed to see many attempts at founding a language with which to communicate with citizens on bicycles and much of it surrounding separated bicycle infrastructure. If you were dropped blindfolded from a helicopter onto Thomas Circle or many of the nearby streets and removed the blindfold you'd be quite sure to think that you had landed in a bicycle-friendly city what with the bicycle lanes and signage.
Bike Leauge Jeff in DC
Jeff from the League of American Bicyclists showed me around on one of the days and here he is on his Brompton.

Let's forget, if we can, the details about Best Practice for design of bike lanes for a moment and just regard the many areas of the city that feature facilities for making cyclists safer, as well as the all-important bicycle-friendly communicational aspect of the graphic design universe aimed at the traffic users.

It's quite clear that on the street above bicycles are welcome and are given their own space in which to move, instead of being thrown rudely into the unfair cockfight that is traffic, like it was the middle-ages and where only testosterone-pumped, sub-cultural 'purists' choose to tread.

Such infrastructure is not in place for them, the small minority that seek to elbow out all attempts at mainstreaming bicycle culture. It is in place for the Greater Good and the hope that more citizens will take to the bicycle and that both individuals and society will reap all the benefits that follow with it.
DC Bicycle Infrastructure DC Bicycle Infrastructure
Let's forget also for a moment the fact that many of the two-wheeled citizens have yet to master the infrastructure and instead choose to dance precariously all over the shop with little regard for the motorists or pedestrians. [although after my visit to NYC, DC seemed as calm and relaxed as a Greek island village]. Signage has been produced, funds have been allocated for it and it is in place. A form of commitment to a bicycle-friendly future has been made. Which is brilliant.
DC Bicycle Infrastructure
This is all an extension of the symbolism mentioned in an earlier post about Washington DC. The importance of creating not only space but a graphic design language that cements the bicycle as an accepted, respected and equal form of transport. Beacons flashing staccato signals of light that give hope that a safe harbour is within reach before long.

The city has a daunting journey ahead of it but there are clear and present signs that it is on the right [cycle] track. My experience cycling around the city was that it was less intuitive than, say, Paris, but lightyears ahead of New York. It was actually enjoyable, whether I was on a preferred bicycle lane or not.

There was still an overwhelming number of male cyclists, which is the surest sign that much work is to be done. As Dr. John Pucher will also tell you. Although Cycle Chic exists and can blossom, given the right ingredients, along with the rest of the bicycle culture.

And it seems that things are taking a very position turn for the better, as you can read here.
DC Bicycle Infrastructure

30 May 2008

Nothing Short of Astounding - Seminar with John Pucher

Screengrab of John Pucher's seminar at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver
I was sent this today and I can only say that it is absolutely brilliant. It's an hour-long filmed seminar with legendary John Pucher at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, Canada.

I've read most of what's he has written on increasing cycling and making cycling accessible but seeing this seminar online is purely inspirational.

Now it's no secret that segregated bike infrastructure is the only way ahead for cities wishing to increase their bike culture and daily percentage of trips made by bike. There is no alternative to this common sense.

Seeing John Pucher summing everything up in one entertaining, informative and inspiring video has made my day. He highlights the experiences of many European cities and debunks many myths along the way.

See the film now. Quickly. It's wonderful.

More on John Pucher:
- Momentum Planet's interview with The Bicycle Scholar
- His homepage at Rutgers with links to his publications.