Tuesday 16 February 2010

OV Fiets in Vancouver

40% of passengers on Dutch trains arrived at the railway station by bike. This makes it impractical to allow people to all take their bikes on the trains, especially at rush hour. In this way, cycling is a victim of its own success. One of the solutions to the problem is the OV-Fiets.

The Dutch shared bike scheme, OV-Fiets, is a bit unlike most bike share schemes in that it operates with public transport. OV stands for "Openbaar Vervoer" which is Dutch for "Public Transport."

These bikes are available at 200 locations around the country, including almost all railway stations. The idea is that they are used by commuters. An annual subscription costs just €9.50 per year, and then it costs €2.85 to hire a bike for a day. This can be a maximum of 20 hours - the idea being that it is not for tourists - though virtually every railway station also has normal hire bikes available.

OV-Fiets bikes are always either under the roof of the railway station bike shop or in the possession of someone who has hired the bike. I suspect this keeps the vandalism rate well down in comparison with some other bike share schemes. However, they are also available from lockers or even "bike dispenser" vending machines at some locations.

Anyway, the video shows the 400 OV-Fiets bikes which are currently in Vancouver in Canada for the use of Dutch athletes during the winter Olympics. It's a bit odd in that people are wearing fluorescent jackets, and even helmets... but the prime minister doesn't bother even though they're compulsory.

On to the Olympics. The photo shows Sven Kremer signing a golden OV-Fiets after winning the gold medal for the 5000 m ice skating race yesterday. He set a new Olympic record time of 6:14.60.

And talking of ice-skating... It's still pretty cold here. People have been skating on the canals, and velomobiling on lakes too...

I previously covered the amusing advertising for OV-Fiets. The video is another from Mark Wagenbuur. There are also vending machines just for innertubes rather than a whole bike.


Pjotr320 said...

They're wearing a helmet because it's mandatory to wear a helmet while riding a bicycle in Vancouver. Could also be the fact for whole Beautiful British Columbia, but I'm not sure about that.


spiderleggreen said...

Nice to see bikes at the Olympics but sad to see them looking so silly, with the construction vests. They all look like mobile traffic signs. Are the vests the law or were they required because it was an event? I would be greatly worried for biking in BC if they require people to ride around, looking like that.

I also question how effective wearing extreme bright colors is in having motorists see cyclists and then avoid hitting them. Be honest, those colors aren't pleasant to look at. Once you notice them, you don't want to look again, which important because the cyclist position may change. The Christmas tree lights have the same effect on me. I just want to get past them, so I don't have these flashing lights in my face. I'm more apt to rush past, instead of waiting until there's more room.

I prefer wearing something that people can stand to look at and to have lights that get noticed but don't induce hypnosis.

David Hembrow said...

Peter: British Columbia may be beautiful, but the law is rather stupid.

Spiderleggreen: I agree about the silly vests. We do occasionally see people dressed in those when cycling here, but it's nearly always because they really do work on construction sites.

Slow Factory said...

Well... my first thought is that this actually does a big disservice to cycling in Canada (and also the USA) but then the thing with Prime Minister undermines it... perhaps. I imagine this might get buried in the whole media extravaganza of the Olympics... actually hope it does.

B.C. requires helmets but I imagine that the vests were required by the insurance company.

Aside from "dangerisation" caused by helmets and vests discussed many times in this Blog and elsewhere, I think I have an opinion similar to spiderleggreen which is that the vests are an example of what I call "hyper-illumination": The vests are unaesthetic, but more important perhaps they 1) May make other non-vested cyclists or pedestrians nearby less visible by comparison (acute effects), 2) May make drivers expect the vests and not see cyclists or peds. without them at other times (chronic) and 3) May give cyclists wearing vests the impression that they are visible to pedestrians, but they might not be if the pedestrian is not sharing their view of the cyclist with a light source.

(My apologies for clunky language, but I am still developing this idea... any researchers want to help?)

Oh dear said...

Hello, I live in Victoria, the capital of BC. These vests are actually the latest runway fashion in BC bicycle circles. They're all the rage. People just love them! They even wear them when walking the dog!

Really though, this video inadvertently highlights everything that's wrong with official attitudes toward cycling in my province. Funny that the interviewers question was, "600 people! Oh my god! Do you think they can all ride bicycles??"

Where did I leave my EU passport...

Kevin Love said...

Yes, Bizarre British Columbia requires helmets. Must be all the marijuana, which is BC's #1 agricultural product.

The people in Lotusland have a certain reputation for strange behaviour.

Still, Victoria has a reasonable bike mode share. And very few helmets. And a police force that says "we have other priorities."

Kevin Love said...

The last time I was in NL, the train station near the Holten Canadian Military Cemetary did not have a bike hire facility. I had to walk several km to get to the cemetary. Of course, those buried there could say the same.


Unknown said...

All of BC has a helmet law. I was going to move there but that was a huge turn off for me. (Too many hills/mountains didn't help much either)

As for the vests? It's part of the "look" that some want for cyclists in North America...Generally by the non-bicycling public.
There is no law that says you must wear a vest, so I'm not sure why people feel forced to wear them there.

Vests, helmets etc. are what some think you MUST have.

Mitey Miss said...

I attended the ride and -- when the volunteers tried to hand me an orange safety vest -- pointed to my own VERY orange ensemble and said, "I think I'm bright enough, don't you?!"

(see Photos_: http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=196959&id=607946958&l=e602b64a1e

Unknown said...

these bikes are cool! i live in richmond; where can i get my hands on one?

gingerbeard said...

And here is the kicker.
the Dutch wanted to donate the OV Fiets to charity, but our brilliant federal government said NO/!!! not unless you pay taxes on the bike.

They slightly relented and said ok, you can leave 25 of the 425 bikes, but you have to take the rest home.

So, a chance to improve cycling culture with FREE BIKES!!!, is tossed aside by our government because they want import takes on a charitable contribution.

I do hate our current government. And the prorogued Parliament, so this cannot even be brought up by the opposition in parliament to embarrass the government into accepting the gift.

Pippi said...

I saw a PEDESTRIAN wearing one of these vests a couple weeks ago. I tried hard not to gape at her, but wow. All the kids at the downtown skating rink were wearing helmets, too. I think that's going to be the next big push along with skiing and snowboarding. British Columbians are so into their helmets I don't dare leave mine when I bicycle to work. I'm a teacher and I don't even want to think of the talking to I'd get. As I get more visibly pregnant I'll probably wear one all the time because otherwise I'd be harassed off the road. Sorry for the rant -- you just reminded me again how frustrating helmet culture is.

Anonymous said...

Those vests are horrifying. Wow.