Is Cambridge Britain’s cycling capital?

Can you make your city a cycle city? Probably the city of Cambridge, is transforming into one:

A new video from Streetfilms with the ambitious title “Cambridge: Britain’s Cycling Capital” shows how Cambridge manage to be able to demonstrate that 29% of commuters cycle to work It is important not only to notice the rising modal split but also the remarkably equal ratio between men and female cyclists. The success story of Cambridge is based in an holistic approach: expensive car parking, 20 klm/h streets, ban on the use of cars from university students, traffic lights for cyclists, bicycle parking, bicycle school for children, etc.

Χωρίς τίτλο

One of the most important measures that favored the bicycle but also improved the quality of the city center was to ban the car from it.

You can read more here.

So, “Is Cambridge Britain’s cycling capital?”

What do you think?

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How Amsterdam educated its citizens to follow the traffic rules?

What do you think?

Amsterdam is considered a cycling capital but was not always a cycling city.

The huge rise in car numbers during the ’50s and the ’60s caused a huge rise in the number of deaths on the roads. During the ’70s, in response th that, a social movement demanding safer cycling conditions for children was formed.


The social pressure and the oil crisis of 1973 “persuade” the Dutch government to invest in improving its cycling infrastructure. You can see a video here

Trying to find more things about the change of mindset towards sustainable transport, I came across a very interesting short video that shows how Amsterdam educated its citizens to stick to the traffic rules (old-school way)!


You can watch it here

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Is that what we want from our cities?

In 2012, I spotted a very “strange” joke during April fool’s day played by Philadelphia’s Mayor: he installed an “E-Lane,” a designated sidewalk space for distracted pedestrians who are walking while using their electronic devices. In 2013, Ohio State University published a research which showed that the injuries related to cell phone use for pedestrians in public areas were multiplied between 2005 and 2010 (you can find more things about the study here and here). The same year Stanford University acknowledging the danger of injury due to mobile phone use created and posted “Distracted Walking Posters” (as shown here and here). In 2014, Washington, DC and Chongqing, China also implement a lane on the pavement for distracted walkers. In Washington it was an experiment initiated by National Geographic in order to monitor crowds’ behavior but Chongqing‘s city councils truly expects pedestrians to use the “texting” lanes while using their mobile phone. Recently in the city of Antwerp, a “text walking lane” was clearly marked in pedestrian streets in the city center, as an advertisement.

All of these actions clearly show, the growing problem of people being absorbed by their mobile phone while in public. The numbers of global mobile subscriptions, as shown below by ITU, is impressive.

chart_sliderHatuka underlines how technology influences, among other aspects of our life, the spatial use of public space as new behaviors and needs emerge (Tali Hatuka, Eran Toch, 2014). De Souza e Silva and Frith reveal that due to the extended use of technological devices that allow people to bring private activities, like chatting or listening to music, in public space the traditional perception of “public” has changed (de Souza e Silva A., Frith J., 2012). Although the interaction with technology in public space does not necessary means people are becoming more isolated, texting and chatting through their mobile phones prove to be pretty dangerous.

cell_phone_related__injuries-smBut are the “text walking lane” of Chongqing the right way to handle the absorbed by technology citizens? Is creating safe conditions for being absorbed by technology, the right way to deal with this? Is having isolated pedestrians in public spaces what we want from our cities? Is that what we want from our cities?

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LA is finally getting a bike share system

What do you think?

In April 2012, it was announced that L.A. will implement an ambitious plan: to establish the nation’s second largest bike sharing system. This project was soon abandoned.

But finally, this week, it was announced that by spring 2016, Los Angeles will have  a total of 1,100 bikes in 65 stations across Downtown LA.

The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) Board that awarded the contract to Bicycle Transit Systems, Inc., announced: “Metro’s commitment to treating bikeshare as an extension of the transit system lays the foundation for Los Angeles to have one of the most equitable bikeshare systems in the country, one that is truly accessible and affordable to the communities that will benefit most.”


You can find more here

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Public participation in Piraeus City for sustainable mobility policies. A CycleCities result.

What do you think?

One of the deliverables of the CucleCities project was Piraeus’ Cycling Implementation Plan. Piraeus is an extremely dense urban area built around the Piraeus harbor, the most important port of Greece. Planning for sustainable mobility in such a densely populated urban area degraded by port’s heavy traffic and by the lack of parking space (most buildings are old and do not have parking places) is a challenge. The implementation of Piraeus sustainable mobility plan will reduce space for on-street parking and will propose changes in mobility patterns. Without public awareness and participation campaigns it is not possible to implement a sustainable mobility plan in a city with those parameters.

Public participation in the sustainable mobility plan was based on two different methods to collect views. The first method tried to collect qualitative information and interviews were used to achieve this. The second chosen method was a questionnaire because a larger sample was needed to check the findings of the first method.

Interviews conclusions

The qualitative information from the interviews was used to write the questionnaire. In that way it was not a questionnaire prepared by people who did not know local problems, but it was a questionnaire checking if some views expressed in the interviews are questions of general importance. To achieve this, interviews were prepared to be semi-structured. A wide spectrum of people were used including citizens as well as municipal employees to gain information about parameters which play a crucial role when shaping a sustainable mobility strategy in Piraeus. The type of semi-structured interview was selected, which is a flexible, open, minimum standardized and in depth conversation focused on the issues of mobility in the city of Piraeus.

The main conclusions drawn from the interviews are the following:

  • There is strong support for the creation of cycle routes mainly along Pireaus main road network, along the coastline (outside the port) and along the port.
  • Residents hesitate to bike due to safety reasons, health problems or practical difficulties (traffic conditions, lack of balance, inability to find safe parking near the house, knee problem, rise of the crime in the evening). This means that an integrated cycle policy should combine the construction of cycle infrastructure with other parallel measures.
  • Piraeus residents travel often without a car (by foot, train or bus). Lack of parking space makes car use inappropriate for short trips or for trips to the city center of Piraeus or to the city center of Athens.
  • There is strong support for measures in favor of the pedestrian (improvement of pavement surface, pavement enlargement, freeing of barriers).
  • Interviewees complained about the lack of enforcement of the illegal on-street parking which causes significant traffic problems.
  • There is a parking problem throughout the municipality, considerably aggravated by visitors (employees in companies, visitors of hospitals, visitors of the coastal zone). The parking problem also involves motorcycles.
  • Interviewees complained about the bus service (operational speed and frequency).

On-line questionnaire conclusions

After the interviews had been taken an on-line questionnaire was prepared based on their conclusions. It was sent by e-mail to residents and social organizations of Piraeus.

The target of the on-line questionnaire was to collect the widest spectrum of resident’s views. To achieve this, a “social map” of Piraeus was constructed. It presented Piraeus neighborhoods and social organization or citizens acting inside them.

On-line survey conclusions are consistent with interviews’ conclusions.

Most residents stated that they are not satisfied with the way they travel inside Piraeus.

diagram 1

Diagram 1: Residents’ satisfaction when travelling inside the Municipality of Piraeus 

The construction of bicycle infrastructure was valued as the most important project by the residents who answered the questionnaire. This was in line with interviews’ conclusion. Interviewees stated that bicycle infrastructure construction and public space improvement in favor of pedestrians are mobility measures they would agree with (Diagram 2).

Moreover consistent with the interviews’ conclusions residents view as very positive all sustainable mobility projects. Only tram construction was not valued high (Table 1).

Table 1: Views towards sustainable mobility projects. 5 means «I agree definitely», 1 means «I definitely disagree».

N Min Max Mean S
I value tram construction in Pireaus as positive 179 1 5 2,96 1,44
I value metro construction in Pireaus as positive 181 1 5 4,54 ,78
I would like to use a bicycle to make my trips 178 1 5 4,38 ,93
I would like to walk more in the city 176 1 5 4,48 ,71
I would like to see pulic spaces of my cities upgraded even if it means that on-street car parking is reduced 177 1 5 4,32 1,05
I would prefer more sustainable mobility solutions in Pireaus than car traffic 185 1 5 4,52 ,88

Diagram 2: Projects of high importance valued by car users (Ν= 66) (not answered by 26). «1» is the most important, «2» is second most important and «3» third most important.

diagram 2


Politicians, who are in charge to implement sustainable mobility projects, often hesitate, because they think that if they implement policies that target car users – most voters lie on this group -, they will not gain public opinion.

Public participation procedure in Piraeus city shows that society is nowadays ready to accept a change in mobility policy. Bicycle is chosen as a transport mode by many people and it gains respect. Residents of the wider Athens metropolitan area (which includes Piraeus city) use often public transport modes, because car use in its densely built urban centers is not the optimum solution. Residents demand when they are on the roads wide pavements to walk safely.  They complain when using car about illegal parking that degrades traffic capacity of main roads.

That means that active residents of Greek cities could be in favor of car restriction policies. Politicians who try to implement those policies can probably attract voters. Due to the densely populated Greek urban environment and the lack of free space the implementation of those policies is a challenge. Politicians must seek to find supporters and make them partners otherwise negative voices will dominate, which will make politicians sceptic.

The way to achieve this is a generous and lasting public participation procedure dominated by open dialogue and collaboration. Changing urban environment is a difficult task and social actors shaping the whole picture must participate.

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Is This The World’s Best Bike-Share Bike?

What do you think?

The Danish capital has reinvented bike sharing. Its new fleet of electric,Wi-Fi-connected bikes are designed to get more non-cyclists to ride. “When [the city and partners] began a process of upgrading the existing bike-share system, they took a look at systems in cities like Paris, London, Berlin, Amsterdam, and Barcelona,” says Torben Aagaard, CEO and co-founder of Gobike, the company supplying the new bike. “They wanted to have a system that was even better than all the existing examples they could see.” The new bikes, which began rolling out earlier this year, aren’t cheap to make, but each detail is designed to lower the barrier to ride. A theft-proof tablet attached to the handlebars offers navigation (far easier than trying to read a tiny smartphone screen), and has built-in links to the rest of the city’s transportation system. If you want to check train times and get directions to a particular station, you push a button. The new system launched in March with 250 bikes, and will grow to over 1,800 by next year. Gobike is planning similar systems in Barcelona. Read on here.


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Glowing ‘smart cycle lanes’ are pitched to UK

What do you think?

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