First a few general things:
- The students on the trip were (are) incredible. They were together a very filled eight days, often starting at 7:30am and ending around 2am that evening (I would leave them around 11:30pm when dinner finished). They were engaging, responsible, funny, inclusive, committed, and just great. In our 13 students, I think five different disciplines were present and the discussions were awesome. They are all posing on the Amsterdam sculpture in the picture above.
- We all agreed that it makes no sense to begin a conversation in the US by saying "In the Netherlands...", yet we all deeply felt that people in the Netherlands seem to have gotten it right. We visited a variety of places that each had their own approaches, but overall we all felt it would be hard to argue with organizing urban spaces to be so easy and logical for all people to move around by bike.
- I was asked what the bike culture was like in Amsterdam. I didn't see one. I just saw people biking - men in business suits, women in nice dresses, students, tourists, and everything in between. No gear, no helmets, no fancy bikes. Separate bike paths for the most part. No stop signs. And very little anger. People need to share space in a city and it seemed to all flow well. Yes, no stop signs. Thing about doing that on all neighborhood streets where you live - what do you think would actually happen if all the stop signs were removed? Chaos with collisions or organized chaos without? We've observed that human beings seem to have a desire not to want to crash into things, so removing stop signs seems to actually improve the flow of everybody (bikes, pedestrians, and vehicles!).
- In each city we visited, we were greeted and showed around by a traffic engineer. It was difficult for me to imagine the same being done in any US city, where our traffic engineers have received no training on bicycle transportation and have very little personal experience with it. For some reason, we have declared the car to be the default mode of transportation and the one we train our professionals on, and any other mode of transportation is a deviation from the norm. I'm curious where the document that dictates this universal training is that says transportation = cars.
Keeping on the bike parking theme, here is another facility - in Houten - that was just completed directly under the train station. Completely filled with bikes, legitimate space treating people on bikes as real, legitimate people. Nicely modeled by Rithy.
There is talk about the EMU (student union) on campus at the University of Oregon is going to be completely re-done and may include a car park in the center of campus. What if it did two things: 1) provided this type of bicycle parking integrated into it (10,000 spaces?); and 2) eliminated all other campus car parking so that we no longer stored metal boxes for hours on end on the most important and valuable campus land?