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Exclusive report from Amsterdam

Posted by Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) on November 2nd, 2005 at 2:17 pm

[This post is from BikePortland.org international correspondent, Jessica Roberts of the BTA. She's in Amsterdam with a delegation of Portland bike advocates. More info on their trip can be found here.]

Hello, friendly Portland cyclists! We're here looking at bicycling programs and infrastructure, meeting with many bicycle professionals--planners, education specialists, consultants, and safety experts. Here's a taste of some of the extraordinary things we've seen so far:

  • A city in the north of the Netherlands, Groningen, where 50% of trips are made by bike!
  • Bike racks in front of every house in some neighborhoods
  • Special bridges all over the place for bikes and pedestrians
  • Bike parking under, in and around a train station in Utrecht, as far as the eye can see. They're building a new high-security bike parking garage under the train station to house 15,000 bikes, and they still don't think that will be enough

It's amazing! If you love bikes, being here feels like going to heaven! Take care, more reports to come!

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  • nate November 2, 2005 at 11:45 pm

    The Netherlands is bike nirvana. Another radical thing there is a national park north of Arnhem. If the team there has time, it might be worth their time to check out. Once you enter the park there are hundreds of funky white bikes parked at stations throughout the park. You can grab one anywhere and start riding an awesome network of thin paved trails throughout the park, you can then leave the bike off at one of the many stations. It would be lame to steal them because they are obvoiusly from the park. This could be a very feasible and fun idea to implement in forest park. It could get people enjoying nature, and perhaps discovering the joy of biking for the first time.

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  • Aaron Tarfman November 6, 2005 at 3:33 pm

    Putting white bikes in Forest Park? Sounds just like the yellow bikes program which a large number of people worked hard on.
    Unfortunately enough scoundrels abused the system that these people didn't feel their time was well spent.
    Twas a great shame.

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  • nate November 6, 2005 at 7:41 pm

    The thing about the white bikes in this Dutch park was this: They were extremely unique inasmuch as they had one big downtube and were designated just for the park. So if you saw somebody riding it around town, it was obvious that it was stolen, even if it was repainted. The yellow bike program, to my knowledge, was not a specialized bike, it was just any ol' bike painted yellow.
    In essence, it is similar to shopping carts at Winco. Yes people steal them, but hey - we all know where you got that shopping cart pal.

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  • Jessica Roberts November 7, 2005 at 8:13 am

    They have abandoned the White Bike program, concluding that it didn't work even though the bikes were special and couldn't be canibalized for other bikes. People trashed them and stole them, just like with Portland's well-intentioned but failed Yellow Bikes program. I say, if it can't work in Amsterdam it can't work here; better to spend our energy and time on other programs.

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  • nate November 7, 2005 at 12:53 pm

    Wow, no kidding. Im saddened to hear that. Maybe the other programs we can spend energy on is a bike path system through parks? Then someone can simply rent bikes at park entrances once the infrastructure is there. I can only dream about one day riding to the coast from Portland on a bike path through the forest. Nature is all the more beautiful when you don't have to worry about getting mowed over on HWY 26. The thin paved trail system through these parks is what so impressed me. Not to mention the segregated bike path (fietspad) systems throughout all of the Netherlands. It is basically our interstate highways system for bikes.

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  • Micon November 27, 2005 at 5:48 am

    Don't worry, there are still, and probably always will be free white bikes in the national park. The white bike program Jessica is referring to is a plan to distribute free bikes in the city of Amsterdam. This originated in the sixties (ofcourse) and has been tried and failed many times since. I believe they have finally given up on that by now.
    Take a look at this: http://www.hogeveluwe.nl/page.asp?id=109

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  • Annika February 18, 2006 at 1:02 pm

    As Micon said, the white bikes program began in the sixities, originating actually in Amsterdam. The yellow, red, green ,etc bike programs which exist around the world and throughout the states today all take their inspiration from the original white bikes program from the days of y'ore. There are still many sities throughout Europe who are working to establish functional public transportation options by means of bicycles. Most successful programs are funded by companies who use advertising to subsidize the manufacturing and mainting of the bikes. The most promising I've found is based in Vienna, Austria.

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