The Snuffelfiets: pedalling towards a better environment

There is only one means of transport more popular in the Netherlands than the car: our faithful steel steed with pedals. Together we cycle some 15 billion kilometers a year in The Netherlands. That’s more than 880 kilometres per person. If we are cycling these great distances, why not do something useful with all those trips? That’s what the inventors of the ‘Snuffelfiets’ (‘browsing cyclists’, ed.) must have been thinking.

The companies Civity and Sodaq set up the project together with the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM) and the province of Utrecht. Civity specialises in data solutions and Sodaq is an expert in the field of sensors. Lastly, RIVM takes care of the validation of the data that is collected by the Snuffelfietsers.

And this data, well, that could be anything. “There are several sensors in the device, such as humidity and temperature sensors,” Claar Schouwenaar explains. Schouwenaar works for the province of Utrecht and is the project leader for the Snuffelfiets. “These sensors can tell us something about heat islands, for example.”

Heat island effect

A heat island effect is a phenomenon whereby the temperature in urban areas is relatively high compared to surrounding rural areas. “Measurements show that the city can be up to eight degrees warmer than the countryside”, meteorologist Gert-Jan Steenveld of Wageningen University recently explained in the university magazine Resource. “But even in a city this can vary considerably from one street to the next.” Measurements from the Snuffelfietsen could therefore identify local heat islands. These could be addressed with more vegetation, for instance.

But that’s not all. “An accelerometer and a vibration meter are also included. These collect data on road surface quality,” says Schouwenaar. “So if you hit potholes or tree roots, it detects that.” This could help municipalities and road authorities in future to analyze and maintain cycle paths and other roads used by bikes. “And last but not least, sensors that are used to measure air quality, of course.”

Units handed out to 500 Snuffelaars

Meanwhile ‘Snuffelaars’ (‘browsers’, ed.) are riding around in the municipalities of Zeist, Amersfoort, Utrecht, Nieuwegein and IJsselstein. “But North Holland, South Holland and Overijssel are also interested in the project,” says Schouwenaar. “And a pilot with 50 bicycles has just been launched in Gelderland too.”

Het meetkastje, bevestigd aan een van de Snuffelfietsen. Foto: Ronald van Liempdt

The remaining devices were distributed last month. There are 550 units in total, 500 in the province of Utrecht and 50 in Gelderland. The project started a year ago as a small pilot with 10 bicycles in Zeist. Pretty soon there was a lot of enthusiasm for expanding the project. ” We then said: we are going to scale that up to 500 participants,” Schouwenaar says. “Although we’ll spread it across the entire region.”

The ultimate goal is a two-fold one, according to Schouwenaar: “On the one hand, it’s an experiment to see what we can do with the collected data. You don’t want to immediately invest a lot of money into something that might not produce the best results. But at the same time you could say that it’s also an attempt to work towards the creation of big data, which does involve a lot of people who take measurements.” After all, the more Snuffelfietsen there are riding around, the more valuable the data becomes. “Because then you will be able to determine an average from it,” Schouwenaar states. And the more data input, the more accurate the output will be.

Cheap sensors, relevant data

Schouwenaar is therefore hoping that ultimately as many municipalities and provinces as possible will want to participate. “Anyone with their own specific question or method would also be fine,” she says. “It’s a way of demonstrating that very cheap sensors provide relevant data as well, as long as you have enough of them.”

The data platform developed by Civity makes it possible to monitor measurements from the project on a daily basis. Participants can also view their own measurement results via an app. The image below depicts the data from all Snuffelfietsen in the Utrecht area on November 20th. Aside from this grid map, all the specific routes of that day can also be viewed in detail.

Levels of fine particles

So it seems that there are a lot of fine particles in the air. However, there are often days when most of the routes on the map turned out to be relatively blue too. “Yes, that’s also disappointing for lots of participants”, Schouwenaar responds. “They thought: now I’m going to show you for once and all just how disgusting the air is in my neighbourhood”, she laughs. “But it’ s not so bad after all. That’s why it’s nice that the RIVM is on board with the project. They ‘clean’ the data by correcting any anomalies with the help of their measuring stations”, Schouwenaar explains. “The RIVM also says that levels of fine particles in The Netherlands are on the whole quite okay. Therefore you will see a lot of blue routes on a regular basis.”

Nevertheless, this data is also valuable. And in any case, there are plenty of ideas to further innovate the project in the future. “We want to continue developing the device. If you really want to be able to say something about air quality in our country, it should also include a nitrogen sensor.”

New Snuffelfietser groups

And it could be made even smaller, so that the new version could be used by new groups of Snuffelfietsers. “Imagine, for example, cyclists who cycle other routes with a smaller device or perhaps a unit that’s even fully integrated into the bike frame. Or all the bicycle couriers in The Netherlands start using them”, Schouwenaar suggests. “Or – and this is really a very relevant option – working with shared bicycles, such as the OV-fiets (rental bike from the Dutch public transport provider).”

And that calls for improvements to be made to the measurement equipment. ” At present, the unit is linked to the user, who also looks after it,” says Schouwenaar. “Where shared bikes are concerned, the device should be vandal-proof.” Nevertheless, that type of an upgrade would immediately lead to a huge increase in data, which makes it an appealing option. “At the moment we are also working with the OV-fiets to see if this is feasible,” Schouwenaar concludes enthusiastically.

Millions of Snuffelaars who constantly analyze and improve the quality of our home environment with each bike ride to work or to the supermarket. In a few years’ time, that might just become a reality.

Photos: Ronald van Liempdt

Plenty of bike paths, but how do you prefer to cycle?

The Netherlands is the cycling country of the world. The Dutch have nothing to complain about when it comes to the construction and maintenance of bike paths. The rest of the world is also working on this. But how do cyclists experience their route? This is one of the main cornerstones of the Smart Cycling Futures research program. Researcher George Liu: “In my research I try to make a connection between the experience of cycling and new forms of infrastructure such as bicycle highways.”

His research is part of the so-called living lab in Eindhoven. The municipality, educational institutions and companies work together in this lab in order to find solutions for cycling problems. Innovation is also being worked on in this manner in Zwolle, Amsterdam and Utrecht. “In the south, we are mainly looking at ways to encourage the use of bicycle highways, for example by making signposting clearer both in apps and on roadside signs,” Hugo van de Steenhoven, coordinator of the living labs, explains. A bicycle highway is a specially designed bicycle path for a specific location. It is often separate from a road or footpath. “This largely plays a role in the actual experience of cyclists. It is important that they are easily able to understand a bicycle route and don’t have to search for it.”

He adds: “In addition, we are also looking at good intersections for bicycle highways between municipalities as well as for bicycle paths located inside of municipalities, for example in city centers. Infrastructure in rural areas is very different from that in urban areas. “For instance, many more roads converge in the city, which can lead to conflict situations and troublespots.” This is exactly what researcher Liu is responding to. “A better design of bicycle highways can avoid these kinds of troublespots and infrastructure is then much clearer for users.” Consistency is important here. “This might depend, for example, on the color of the asphalt or a certain type of signposting,” Liu explains. “The main goal is to make it as easy and safe as possible for people to get to their destination.”

Would you like to know more about the Smart Cycling Futures research? Then read this article: ‘The age-old bike is the transport means of the future’

European differences

This explicitly concerns the Netherlands. The situation is very different in other European countries, according to the researcher. “Basically, all countries have the same objective, namely the construction of good and safe bicycle paths,” says Liu. “But there are variables that differ per country. Which makes the quality of the bike paths different in all these countries.” For example, green waves can be configured for cyclists so that they no longer have to stop at traffic lights. Possible changes in the physical environment of a bicycle highway can also contribute to the experience of cyclists. For instance, by letting the bicycle highway run through a park instead of alongside a railway.

In Germany, a great deal of work is currently being done on a bicycle highway of about one hundred kilometers in length. This should connect various cities in the Ruhr area. “The concept is all about longer distances, but in some cases this is not how the road will eventually be used”, says Liu. “People often just use a small part of the bicycle highway to get to work, for example. The cycling culture in Germany is different from that of the Netherlands in his opinion. “Germans often cycle with a helmet. This is partly because their cycling behaviour is adapted to bicycle lanes on the road instead of a separate bicycle path. They also use road bikes more often as opposed to city and the traditional ‘omafiets‘.”

Sharing bike paths

The E-bike is being used more frequently in the Netherlands too. Many cities have had safe cycle paths here for years. These now need to be adapted to new developments like the electric bicycle. People want to avoid traffic jams and live healthier lives. Two reasons for seeking new and, above all, more sustainable means of transport rather than the car. These all need to use the bike paths. Increasingly more road users are using bike paths, from cargo bikes for children to Birò’s and electric scooters. “There are already many safe bike paths in the Netherlands, but there is still much more room for improvement here as well. Especially when it comes to the actual experience,” says Liu. This could be colored asphalt or nature in the surrounding area.

From technique to design

He points out that the bicycle highways were developed and built mainly from the point of view of engineers. “Consideration has been given to traffic technique, such as safety, traffic flow and costs. At the same time, the actual experience is also very important to cyclists.” In his opinion, people should be more motivated to hop on a two-wheeler.

Liu intends to concentrate on this during the follow-up to his research. “In that study, people can choose between three different routes from the center of Eindhoven to the north of the city,” he says. One of them runs alongside a motorway, another mainly through residential areas and one through nature. “I want to investigate why people choose a certain route. This data can be used in order to ensure that bicycle highways meet the needs of their users. In addition, policymakers will be able to capitalize on this when building new bicycle highways.”

Shifting the focus

Cycling is currentlly a hot topic worldwide, according to Liu. At present, he is in the US to discuss the construction and maintenance of good bicycle paths with various stakeholders. “Cities in the US are changing. Policymakers find it very interesting how cities in European countries such as Germany, Norway and Sweden are designed. Cyclists there are getting more and more space,” he explains. The researcher also notes that bicycle paths in Spain and France are being made more accessible and safer. “We need to shift the focus on bike paths from technology to design. Then the actual experience of cyclists will become more important and even more people from all over the world will get on their bikes”.

Best read: the Netherlands, land of bicycles – but what about the rest of Europe?

One heat record after another was broken this week. In order to stay cool, everyone who had air-conditioning turned the temperature down a notch or two. But that has its price. We all use about 20 percent of the world’s electricity supply in order to be able to sit comfortably at home or in the office. This includes not only air conditioners but also electric fans. The International Energy Agency, which is the source of these figures, expects that global warming will triple the amount of energy needed to cool buildings between now and 2050.

This is not insignificant, but we would not be Innovation Origins if we did not also look at solutions. One of them is Sound Energy. With their invention, this start-up from Enschede converts residual heat into cooling. And they don’t need electricity for that. (Read about how it it works here.) The only problem is that this system is quite expensive for the average consumer: 40 to 45 thousand euros. At the moment the team is working on a cheaper and less powerful version, however this system is still a while away.

Air conditioning turned off?

So, just turn off the air conditioning and read under the cool foliage of a tree about the kind of innovations that will see the light of day in the near future? We don’t know whether or not you all really did that this week en masse … But what we do know is that your sustainability is an important issue. You happily clicked on the series about batteries vs hydrogen. (Tomorrow a new column by Auke Hoekstra will undoubtedly address this topic.) But it’s not just articles on sustainable cars that are doing well, because this week you were also reading about the means of transport par excellence in the Netherlands: the bicycle.

As part of the Smart Cycling Futures study, colleges, universities, municipalities and companies are investigating innovative approaches to cycling problems in the Netherlands. As cycling is so common here, researchers have in the past done very little research as far as the two-wheeler is concerned. What to do about the bulging bicycle parking places in large cities? Or bike paths that are getting busier and busier, resulting in veritable bike traffic jams? And how can cyclists travel more effectively from one municipality to another? The participants in the study are seeking answers to these and many other questions.

Bron: The Benefits of Cycling 2018

More bikes than inhabitants

As the old cliché goes, The Netherlands has more bicycles than it has inhabitants. But what about bicycle usage in the rest of Europe? For example, the Dutch are said to have an average of 1.3 bicycles per inhabitant. The Netherlands is leading the list when it comes to the bicycle as the preferred mode of transport. (The Dutch use bicycles for 27 percent of their journeys.) Denmark follows with almost 20 percent. In third place is Germany, where they pick up one of those steel horses 10% of the time that they are out and about. Closely followed by Finland and Sweden, who are just under 10 per cent.

Bron: Cycling facts 2018

Berlin bikini tour

The amount of people who are hopping on their bikes is on the increase in Germany. Take Berlin for instance, where the number of cyclists has risen by about 8 percent in comparison with last year. The municipality is therefore endeavouring to make the German capital more bicycle-friendly. Yet according to the Berlin Cyclists’ Union, they have not fully succeeded in doing that quite yet. Nicolas Linck, chairman of the Cyclists’ Union, told the Dutch news service NOS that at present, riding a two-wheeler is more of a thing for young, fit and sporty people. In order to encourage the city council to make the cycle paths safe for everyone, people in swimsuits and bikini’s got on their bikes. That’s how they demonstrated how vulnerable cyclists are in German traffic.

 

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Belgium, land of bicycles?

The Belgians often leave their bicycles idle for this very same reason. According to figures from the Belgian Institute for Road Safety, Belgians on bicycles are actually three times more likely to be harmed while cycling than the Dutch are. This is why the government is trying to encourage bicycle use instead of cars. The Flemish government, in particular, is attempting to achieve this through a variety of subsidies, discounts or tax breaks. It has also invested in addressing, among other things, dangerous bicycle paths. Part of the money has been used to keep cars out of the inner city of Leuven, after one year this has already resulted in 32 percent more cyclists. However, current investments are not enough according to the Flemish Minister for Mobility. The budget (currently 138.5 million euros) must be increased to around 300 million euros per year in order to make all bicycle paths in Flanders safe.

Source: The Benefits of Cycling 2018

Daredevil Londoners

Cyclists are also struggling in other major European cities. Check out London cycling under the headline news, and you’ll find reports on cyclists that have been killed in collisions. Londoners (but also people from outside of the city) who are not deterred by this and still grab their bikes, may get in contact the London Cycling Campaign. This institution takes action with a view to making London a real cycling city and helps cyclists to plan routes which avoid dangerous spots.

Let’s face it, cycling is a lot healthier and better for the environment than a trip with a car. So let’s hope that European cities ( as well as American, Russian and Asian) will be able to get more people saddled up in the near future. Still haven’t seen enough bike statistics on your screen? Read more about the advantages of riding on two wheels here.

The age-old bike is the transport means of the future

More and more people are trying to live healthier and greener. The bicycle is in many respects a more interesting means of transport than a car or public transport. It is not only healthier, but also cheaper, easier to store and better for social contacts than a car is. In the future, the two-wheeler will continue to become increasingly important for these reasons. This is the starting point for the broad-based research program  Smart Cycling Futures. In this project, various universities, colleges, municipalities and companies are working together to devise innovative solutions to cycling problems.

From bicycle sharing systems, to smart bicycle parking facilities and fast cycle routes – anything that makes the use of the two-wheeler more convenient. The bicycle is an accessible means of transport and many Dutch people use it on a daily basis. In spite of this, very little research has been done on bicycles. ” It is so natural to us that we simply have not thought about it”, states Pieter van Wesemael, Professor of Urbanism and Urban Architecture at the Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e) who is also involved with the Smart Cycling Futures project.

The aim of the research is to explore and implement innovations and bicycle projects in day to day practice. “That’s why we work with living labs in cities where particular bicycle innovations are really being tested,” Van Wesemael explains. The living labs are located in the four cities where the participating educational institutes are located. We are talking about Amsterdam, Utrecht, Eindhoven and Zwolle. Various parts of the research come together in these cities. “We look at economic, policy, spatial and user-related aspects. This makes the research academically and socially relevant,” he says.

Learn from each other

All these elements are brought together in the test environments. “This is interesting as science is then able to be of immediate value to the practical side of daily life in society,” says Hugo van de Steenhoven, coordinator of the living labs. “And because you can learn from scientific expertise in practical terms,” he adds. Van Wesemael also agrees: “We are not only dealing with educational institutes in these cities, but also with municipalities, the Fietsersbond (the Dutch cyclist’s union) and companies.”

Share with each other

The approach of the living labs varies greatly per city. “People don’t run into the same problems in every city,” explains Van Wesemael. Nevertheless, most innovations could also be applied in other cities. A familiar problem is the enormous number of bicycles that no longer fit inside storage facilities. In Utrecht and Amsterdam, a separate solution is being sought for that. A bicycle sharing system is one example of this. Over the past few years, several shared bicycle systems have appeared on the market. “Still, nothing has really worked yet,” says Van de Steenhoven. “We would like to learn from these mistakes.”

In collaboration with a Danish start-up, a number of shared bicycles will be placed at stations around Utrecht Science Park, the university complex in Utrecht. “Users can use their mobile phones to unlock a bicycle,” he explains. “The company monitors who uses a bicycle and where someone goes. Fewer bikes go astray as a consequence. Aside from that, it provides interesting data on how people use a shared bike and how companies as well as the government can make the best use of this.”

Amsterdam

In Amsterdam, researchers are trying something different. “We cannot continue to build new, large bicycle parking facilities, so we have to find a solution to make better use of the existing ones,” says Van de Steenhoven. In this part, they will also examine ways of sharing regular bicycles so that bicycles won’t spend so much time standing idle in a parking space. “It is interesting to explore this, because bicycles are, of course, adjusted to the user and people often need their bicycles several times a day.” According to Van de Steenhoven, it remains to be seen what the outcome will be. In any case, it is clear that a solution must be found for the bulging bicycle parking spots.

Fast cycling routes

According to the researchers, bicycle racks are not the only problem. Bicycle paths, especially between municipalities, could also be improved. Despite the fact that the Netherlands is at the forefront in terms of the number of good and safe cycle paths, the construction of so-called fast cycling routes is a key issue in two cities. A fast cycling route between Tilburg and Waalwijk is currently being examined by the Technical University in Eindhoven. Zwolle is also responsible for part of this research. That concerns a route to Dalfsen. “In Eindhoven we mainly look at the experiences of cyclists in relation to signposting,” explains Van de Steenhoven. “Whereas it is more about a bicycle users’ expectations in Zwolle. This acts as an incentive when it comes to promoting the use of the fast cycling route.”

According to the researcher, signposting is an important element of the fast cycling route. “On the highways, routes are clearly indicated by signs along the roads. People feel comfortable with them despite the variety of navigational systems.”  The logical goal of this living lab is to develop a good signposting system for fast cycling routes. This applies both to roadside signs and to apps with which users are able to set routes.

Researchers at the TU/e are also looking at the connection of these regional fast cycling routes with bicycle paths within the municipality. “When people enter the city from one of these fast cycling routes, all they want to be able to do, is to keep on cycling at a comfortable pace,” says Van de Steenhoven. “In the city, bike paths are busier and usually narrower, so a good solution has got to be found for that.” According to Van Wesemael, this not only concerns research into the spatial layout of a city, but also the specific policy regarding the construction of bicycle paths.

The social side of cycling

A second living lab in Zwolle focuses more on the social side of cycling and on the health of residents. “A workshop has been set up in a deprived area, where people can have their bicycles repaired or even buy a cheap bicycle for not very much money,” explains Van de Steenhoven. The goal is to help residents get more exercise. “We’ll monitor whether people really benefit from this approach.” This is done through interviews with participants, amongst other things. “Similar projects in the Netherlands will then benefit from this information.”

The researchers aim to translate the results regarding the experience of cyclists into guidelines for policymakers at various levels. In their opinion, this is interesting because it concerns social and technical innovations. “The living labs also play an important role here because we do practical research. Various organizations such as the Cyclists Union are participating in this. The needs of users are also taken into account,” explains Van Wesemael. In his opinion this can be very valuable for policymakers. ” The results of the living labs can also subsequently be applied in other cities in the Netherlands and eventually throughout Europe.”

Smart Cycling Futures is part of the ‘Smart Urban Regions of the Future’ (SURF) research program and concentrates on the field of smart urban regions. This is an educational program from the departments of the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy, the Ministry of the Interior and Kingdom Relations (BZK), NWO,  Platform31, and the the Taskforce for Applied Research (NRPO-SIA). Researchers and practitioners work together in the areas of spatial planning, housing, accessibility, economy and governance in urban regions. Van de Steenhoven: “The aim of this program is to link science and practice. At the same time, it also influences the research design and research objectives. These are important aspects of Smart Cycling Futures.”

DDW is also the Dutch Bike Expo

In the surroundings of bicycleafe Velosoof on the NRE grounds, you can find the latest developments in cycling during DDW. From mass production to handmade, from electric to old-fashioned peddle-your-own-way and from race sample to seniors bike. It’s all there during the Dutch Bike Expo, composed by yksi design.

“We started this exhibition in 2008″, says Leonne Cuppen, curator of the exhibition. It was really an exhibition on the move, especially for Dutch embassies abroad. We have been from Tunis to Bratislava, really everywhere. As Dutch people we are known abroad as real cyclists, that’s a cliché, but okay. We wanted to show that cycling is much more than just a means of transport with two wheels.”

The technology is developing at such a rapid pace that we actually have to hold a new exhibition every six months. Everything we see now can have a successor in a few months’ time.Leonne Cuppen, Yksi ontwerp

Since its inception, the exhibition has been constantly updated with the latest developments. Because, according to Cuppen, things are going incredibly fast. Who could have predicted a few years ago that pedelecs would be used in so many different ways? The technology is developing at such a rapid pace that we actually have to hold a new exhibition every six months. Everything we see now can has a successor in a few months’ time.

Futuristische Gazelle connected fiets

Cuppen points to a top-notch Gazelle, called concept n1. The construction is a bit like a vehicle from the sci-fi film Thron. It has a silent electric motor that can support up to 45km/h. The bike is equipped with a smartphone holder, which you are always connected to. “You can view routes, receive warnings in case of traffic congestion or roadworks. With a special button in the handle, you can answer phone calls, but – from a safety point of view – only if you are not driving faster than 5 km/h. I cannot imagine that people are willing to take action on this, let alone be seen to be part of it. Fortunately, this is only a concept version and this futuristic space scooter is nowhere to be sold.” But according to Cuppen, these kinds of bikes – equipped with the latest technological gadgets – are going to come. “It is already possible to lock the bike with an app, or even with a fingerprint scanner on the bicycle. The electric motors are also getting better and quieter. Whatever else helps: people accept electric driving more and more.”

 

Tjeerd Veenhoven’s Carbon Strand Bike

The exhibition not only includes bikes with the latest technological gadgets, but also arty bikes such as the Carbon Beach Bike by Tjeerd Veenhoven. He collected old bicycle parts and made a whole with carbon fiber and epoxy. The bike that is shown is a second version, made with chrome parts that are no longer made because of the polluting production process. This bike is also held together by several wires of carbon. “Carbon is not such a very difficult material, but because of the different ways of weaving, it provides a weight vs. strength advantage. This makes it high-tech. In my project, it is more intended as a problem-solving material, not as something high tech. It is more of an exploration. For do you imagine that in this way you can produce wheelchairs in developing countries? There is only 8 euro of carbon in this bike.”

 

Someone who does offer his bike is Jord Alma, he wanted to develop a bicycle that consisted of one whole. He started with aluminum but soon ended up in wood. “One tube of aluminum would soon tear, the corners are quite sharp. Wood is, of course, an incredibly machinable material. The veneer was my preference, you can build it up in layers and bend in all directions.” Alma assures us that it is a labour-intensive process, he needs up to 100 hours with one copy. For extra stiffness, he adds carbon fiber between the layers of wood. When asked why the bike is not completely made of wood, he starts laughing: “Look at the sandwich bike, there you have a super angular front fork, it fits well in that model. But when I build such a fork in my bike, it detracts from the tight lines.” Alma says a tighter, narrow fork is also not possible, a fork receives all the bumps in the road and must, therefore, be able to withstand a lot of resistance. For the next model Alma wants to see if he can integrate lighting into the wood. “That it shines through it, just like you sometimes see it with wall clocks.”

The Dutch Bike Expo has not only parked bicycles on the NRE grounds but also in the Klokgebouw and on the Torenallee, there are several bicycles.

VeloVillage: Go Cycling

In a weekly column, alternately written by Lucien Engelen, Maarten Steinbuch, Carlo van de Weijer, Daan Kersten and Tessie Hartjes, E52 tries to find out what the future will look like. All five contributors are all working on technologies that can provide solutions to the problems of our time. This Sunday, it‘s Carlo van de Weijer’s turn.

Here are all the prior editions of [TOMORROW IS GOOD]

This week the VeloCity conference took place in Nijmegen, the world’s largest conference around the bicycle as a means of transport for urban areas. The bicycle is hot, and its popularity will grow further in the coming years. Smart Mobility at its best. There is a growing number of benefits attached to the bicycle that are hard to beat in any future scenario. The most important:

Cost-effective: Facilitating bicycle traffic comes free for the government, as opposed to a public transport system which always costs at least 20 to 30 cents per passenger kilometer government fee to run. Yes, bicycle paths and bicycle parking cost money (about 4 cents per passenger mileage), but there’s a benefit in saved social costs: for every mile you cycle, you’ll save the government 5 to 10 cents of saved medical cost.

Corridor Capacity: The performance of a transport network is often measured in corridor capacity: how many people can you transport in one direction per 2-3m wide corridor: Well-occupied cars reach a maximum of 3,000 people, trains, trams or buses stop at 10-15,000 passengers per hour. The metro is the champion with 40-50,000 passengers, but its huge costs are not justifiable in cities with more than half a million inhabitants. Bikes can transport up to 15000 people per hour per direction over such a corridor, which makes him a champion after the metro.

A bicycle is friendlier for the street view than any alternative; Among other things, our reptile brain responds much more positive to its human proportions compared to large vehicle masses.

An unexpected phenomenon that improves cycling quality recently: the weather. And I’m not talking about climate change, but the much more reliable forecasts. In the past, you looked at the sky and chose your safe weatherproof car if some dark clouds appeared. Nowadays you can be fairly sure of whether it rains a day ahead. And even in rain, you can often predict the necessary gap in the rain showers to get home dry.

 

“It is nice to find out that the major beneficiaries of increased cycling use will not only be the big cities.”Carlo van de Weijer,

But one of the most significant phenomena of recent years is that the range of a bicycle increases rapidly. Partly due to better infrastructure but even more by electrically supported bicycles. Many research has shown that humans are happiest with a 20-25 minute commute. Nothing more, nothing less. In that given time, people tend to choose the bicycle up to 5 kilometers of commuting range. But with an electric bicycle that drives 25 km/h or even one that drives 45 km/h, this number rises to 10 or even 20 kilometers. And doing so, a factor 10 more destinations can be reached (that range works quadratic).

20 kilometer is already close to the range that is necessary for a healthy “Daily Urban System”, the area in which a person can reach his or her required regular activities. Especially if you live in a polycentric mosaic metropolis like Brabant (we still owe that to the Catholics, see this document by BrabantKennis – in Dutch – page 22/23). It is therefore nice to find out that the suspected major beneficiaries of the increased cycling use will not only be the big cities, but also the smaller cities and villages, where cycling is exceeding the car already, Goudappel recently showed in a study (in Dutch).

Therefore, the term VeloCity may not be the best name. VeloVillage also sounds much better.