Two weeks ago I went with my family to London to visit my sister. She is doing a masters in Fine Arts at Goldsmiths University. Even though she has been living there for just a couple of months now, it seemed the city was all hers. Many people find London a dangerous place for cyclists*, but you can see the city is making an effort to make it more bike friendly. With a bike sharing scheme, cycle super highways and more bike lanes.
You see more and more Londoners moving around on their own bikes..
.. or on Barclays bikes. Barclays sponsors the London biking scheme (until 2015, so that name will change soon). These bikes are also called ‘Boris Bikes’, after Boris Johnson, Mayor of London who is a big supporter of promoting cycling in London. Did you know that Boris’ wedding gift for the Royal couple Kate and William was a bike and his birthday present for little Prince George was a personalised toddlers ‘Barclays bike’?
However, the credits for the start of the bike sharing scheme go to Ken Livingstone, previous Mayor of London. He announced in 2007 that he was planning to implement a cycle hire scheme modelled on the successful Vélib’ network in Paris. Today there are 10.000 Barclays bikes waiting for you!
But please, to all non-UK tourists, don’t forget to look right when crossing the street..
And yes, as everywhere, cycling is cool, and could be romantic too..it took her a while to unlock her bike. Just long enough for a last chat with her friend! Boy..friend?!
Cylistly yours, Aude
When former Paris Mayor Delanoë launched the Vélib’ bike sharing scheme in 2007, people laughed. His aim was to reduce traffic in the French capital and give the Parisians more liberty in transportation. Hence the name velib’: from the French words Vélo (bike) and Liberté (liberty). Many people thought the scheme would never work, but after a difficult start, with bikes being stolen or destroyed, it turned out to be a success. After the first five years, 138 million people had used the 23,000 rental bicycles and 31 communities on the outskirts of Paris had joined Vélib’.
(Read: the bicycles revolution in Paris five years later)
Delanoë ‘is a living liveable city legend’ says the Copenhagenize blog. And we all love Delanoë’s quote: “The fact is that cars no longer have a place in the big cities of our time”
Luckily Paris’ new mayor, socialist Anne Hidalgo, also believes firmly in the importance of bikes and other solutions to calm down traffic. She introduced P’tit Vélib’, little bikes added to the bike sharing programme for kids, she wants to double the length of bike lanes, and make more 30 km/h zones in the city.
I just went to Paris for a week, visiting my parents in law for a lovely family holiday. What did I see? Many people using Vélib’s, but also many people on their own bike. The most noticeable, though somehow quite expectable, thing is that Paris cycles chic! We knew that Parisians have style, and we are happy to see that they don’t change their style while cycling. Business man cycling in suits, ladies with high heels and hipsters with skinny jeans. That is how it should be!
To be honest, there is still a lot of car traffic in Paris. There are many places where cycle lanes suddenly stop and roundabouts where even I, as an experienced urban cyclist, didn’t dare to ride. But, thanks to a large extend to Paris’ current and former Mayor, it is going in the right direction. So keep up the good work Parisians and get on your vélo!
- Copenhagenize: http://www.copenhagenize.com/2014/02/copenhagenize-reviews-agenda-for-next.html
- International Press Service: http://www.ipsnews.net/2012/07/the-bicycle-revolution-in-paris-five-years-later/
- European Commission: http://ec.europa.eu/environment/europeangreencapital/bike-rental-scheme-for-kids/
If you really like sharing, you do not only take a bike from a bike-sharing scheme, but you also share that bike with someone else. That is bike-sharing squared!
Want to see more pictures of cycling in Nice? Check out the blogpost I wrote last year: Greetings from Nice
‘God created the world, and the Dutch created the Netherlands’, that’s what people sometimes say about our country. And indeed, it is quite difficult to find parts of the Netherlands untouched by men. But, this weekend I enjoyed the beauty of Dutch nature in national park ‘De Hoge Veluwe’. The natural beauty was amazing. The play between rain and sun caused dramatic skies, deers and hares walked through the forests and the wide heather sometimes made me think of the African savanna. But, the Dutch couldn’t help touching also this part of nature. A family built a museum in the park with famous pieces of Van Gogh, Picasso and Mondriaan. And through the park a network of cycle lanes was created to cycle around on the free white bikes that are all around the park. The Dutch just can’t help it; they ‘have’ to touch nature to make every part of the country bicycle friendly…