A brief Amsterdam story

Back in the 70’s, the number of purchased cars increased in Amsterdam and car parking were created, although citizens were detrimental due to the lack of pedestrian areas. Even channels were dried to gain extra space for cars. Such cars increment provoked a chaos and an augmentation in crashes, thus deaths. At that time the Agenda Autoluw was created. It is the politics of reducing private cars and make it difficult the entrance of it to cities in essence.

At the beginning of the XXI century, the same city experienced a boom as it comes to new inhabitants (an increase of 16%) and bikes (a higher percentage). As a result and partly because of tourists, streets were clogged with bicycles in sidewalks. This time pedestrians were affected. In 2012, public authorities started facing such a problem. New bike parks were built, campaigns for consciousness-raising were launched and bad parked bikes were banned. Additionally, car parks were transformed into bike parks. Moreover, impressive bike parks for thousands of bicycles have been opening in the last years with special interest when close of train stations and high demanded buildings.

Fyllings Dalstum Nelen

A traditional approach when pedaling from point A to point B and there is a mountain in the middle of the path is to create a road to save it, commonly by zigzagging. Some bicycles have gears to overcome high slopes, but some others do not. In Bergen, Norway, they have built a tunnel between two neighbors of the same city (Fyllingsdalen and Mindemyren). Originally, one should pedal for 35 minutes, whereas today a cyclist can spend 10 minutes to arrive to the same destiny. This almost 3 kilometers long, 6-meter width tunnel is opened for cyclists (3.5 meters of bike line) and pedestrians. (2.5 meters). It goes by in parallel to the train line and takes advantage of the auxiliary tunnel originally built as a complement to the railway.

Apart from the obvious improvement in the sustainable mobility, it also opt for security because of all the cameras which register images 24-7. However, the tunnel is only opened from 5:30 to 23:30. Additional improvements over common tunnels for bicycles are the emergency phones and speakers throughout it. In case of emergency, ambulances and firefighters can access without problem.

The main problem architects faced when building it was the high humidity since the mountain is plenty of water and needed a drainage system to overcome it.

As far as I know, this is the second larger tunnel for bikes. The most large is called Snoqualmie in Seattle with 3.6 kilometers.

The death and live of great American cities

The death and live of great American cities is a book by Jane Jacobs. Although it was written in 1961, most of their insights still remain live today.

In the first part, she claims the necessity of maintaining vivid sidewalks because of improving pedestrian health (both physical and psychological), security (for example if a robbery happens in a street with plenty of small stores, shopkeepers will identify and face the bad guy or call the police. Lack of sidewalks reduces people on street), human relationships promote, protection (against cars and bad people since the more eyes in street, the less probable somebody could be something inconvenient like parking a car on a sidewalk), more space to sidewalks means less space for cars, thus less noise, pollution and ultimately deaths, and the opportunity to practice sport when walking or running in contrast to moving by car.

Quietly related, we have confirmed the reduction in the number of small, local stores in neighbors which are being substituted by the same multinational stores you come across in many cities or tourist apartments in the last years. This is an error since less local stores means less community and trust. At the time Jane wrote her book, it was common practice to give her house keys to the fruit seller for relatives who used her house where she was on vacations as a result of trusting him. Few people do it nowadays and we tend to be more individual and distrustful about people. However, social movements and different groups try to revert it and would be beneficial to everybody.

Wide sidewalks allow children to play on them with the approval of parents since in such sidewalks there is plenty of space and lack of cars. Parents fear children playing on pavement precisely of these dangerous one-ton or more machines, not to mention the pollution they produce. Thus, the wider a sidewalk, the better to everybody.


The Orxatona is here!

Orxatona is the Spanish Criticona based on the Critical Mass which takes place in one city every year. This time the fortunate city is Valencia. The first Criticona in Valencia took place back in 2014 and after a decade it will be again surely a great party for urban biking this year. It is a huge event from 1st to 5th May in which local and external bikers will enjoy the city, its bike infrastructure, the good mood and many more. The Orxatona offers routes, parties, a bike polo exhibition, an alley cat race, the Valencian Critical Mass support, a workshop to tune your bike, an impressive ride (the official Criticona) and the XiquiMassa (a kind of Critical Mass for families and children), among other activities.

You are more than welcomed! Are you going to miss it?