Wednesday 16 February 2011

An unremarkable morning and a pleasant evening

Explanatory captions on this video are only visible when it is viewed on a computer and not on a mobile device.

The video shows a Monday morning from a few weeks back. I made the video at around 11 in the morning, which is a very low time for cycling - especially so on a Monday morning like this one as the shops are all shut.

This is a very typical scene of what it's like when it's not rush hour.

Cycling is relaxing, not stressful. There's no need to concentrate unduly on potential dangers.

Explanatory captions on this video are only visible when it is viewed on a computer and not on a mobile device.

The next video was made on the way back from an event in the city. We rode home after midnight, separated from the light motor traffic the whole way. Again, it's relaxing, not stressful.

In the Netherlands, cycling is for everyone. It's not only for commuters, not only for confident young adults, but for everyone in all stages of their life and at all times of the day and night.

The simple ordinariness of cycling in the Netherlands is what is so special about it.

I've covered the scene of the first video twice before, once in rush hour and once demonstrating the degree of separation of cars from bikes.


Anonymous said...

The great thing about the second video is that you could have done that after downing five pints. I've sent people to cycle home from parties who were drunk as a skunk because I knew they'd be exposed to minimal motor traffic.

OldGreyBeard said...

Whereas this is so much better

It defeats me why cyclists can't accept that the Dutch know what they are doing and we would do well to take their advice.

Kevin Love said...

I am somewhat surprised to see the poles for the streetlights right next to the bike path. Around here, they are set back with the light being on an "arm" to hang back out over the path.

David Hembrow said...

Kevin, it's an optical illusion. They're a long way back from the path. Here's a photo of the same place from a different angle.

Robert Guico said...

Do you just handhold your camera when taking these videos? I'd like to create videos my own comparing and contrasting my daily commute with these.

Frits B said...

No optical illusion, in the second video the lamp poles are indeed right next to the cycle path. Which is fairly common as street lamps are often right on the kerb.
BTW, the lamps on an arm indicate that the street has "open ends" on both sides for cars, whereas ufo's on poles mean "no through traffic". I've often wondered why we take this trouble as nobody seems to take street lights as a reference.

David Hembrow said...

Rob: Yes I just hold the camera in one hand.

Frits: You're right (sorry, Kevin, if that's what you meant) !

And no, I hadn't realised there was a difference, nor that the different styles signified anything.

Paul Martin said...

I think that not needing to dedicate 90% of your concentration to avoid being killed by a car is an extremely underrated benefit of quality, connected and protected cycling infrastructure.

Great films, David. Thanks.

kfg said...

Frits & Dave - Your brain takes things as a reference that you are not aware of your brain taking as a reference.

For instance, you are likely unaware that your home has a "scent print," because your brain no longer interprets the signals as smell, but simply as a reference for "home."

So these visual cues will still affect traffic behavior even in those who don't consciously understand what they mean.

Jim Moore said...

Great videos. One teeny weeny nitpick: could you leave the captions up for about 5 seconds longer - I'm a fast reader but these vanished before I could finish reading them.

A question about mobile phone use whilst cycling. I've done this myself and while it feels safe I wonder if it just as "dangerous" as doing it as it has been shown to be while driving. I don't mean I'm going to kill someone by crashing into them on my bike as I would a do if driving a car, but whether the same human brain problem of not being able to cope with multiple tasks exists for cycling as it does for driving. Perhaps it doesn't as cycling (in the Dutch-style at least) is not as complicated as driving?

A comment on drunk cycling. My initial reaction is that I don't think it should be encouraged or seen as a positive, although I'm sure I'd be OK to cycle with a few beers in me (but doesn't everbody think this).

Cycling is more complicated than walking (it must be, surely) and drunk (usually male) pedestrians are one of the highest at-risk groups for pedestrian fatalities in road crashes, at least in Australia where I live. But perhaps the lower car speeds and driver-responsibility legislation in the Netherlands produce a different result in terms of pedestrian fatalities?

kfg said...

Jim, I was almost run into head on by a women cycling while on a cell phone. I'd be less likely to be killed, but could happen and certainly would have been injured.

As a caveat I will note that she was a "testosternal lycra lout" who tried to hold the phone between her shoulder and cheek when she saw me coming, so as to have both hands on the bars, and then steered in the direction of her cocked head.

"Cycling is more complicated than walking (it must be, surely)"

Actually, it's rather less complicated and rather safer; and stop calling me Shirley.

kfg said...

P.S. Totally off topic, and perhaps even inappropriate, but if there's one thing that might induce me to move to the Netherlands it isn't the cycling facilities; it's the long, straight blonde hair.

Maybe I just miss the 60's.

Anonymous said...

Frits: One of the cornerstones of the current government traffic safety policy (Duurzaam Veilig — Sustainable Safety) is the clear visual distinction between different roads types through a series of visual cues (as well as traditional signs and markings). Even if you don't realise it, you will adjust your behaviour based on your perception of the street. If you see things you commonly associate with residential streets, you're more likely to drive carefully.

I was a passenger in a car a few months ago when the driver turned into a housing estate and went "oh, am I even supposed to be here?" — a perfect example of how road surface/colour, lighting, curve radii and street width contribute to the right instinctive behaviour, even without installing physical traffic calming measures like chicanes, speed bumps and pinch points.

mynifesto said...

I have recently moved back to London from a few years living in Amsterdam, and one of the main things I miss (apart from nederlands spreken) is the ease of cycling.

It's fast, even on cycle paths; convenient and the deference shown by motorists is amazing. I still cycle in London, but it's a whole different ball game - I always have to ride defensively due to a lack of awareness and respect by other road users.

The picture of the guy riding in the snow did remind me though that both cycle accidents I had in Holland occured in snowy weather - coming off at high speed by RAI left me bruised for weeks. I got straight back in the saddle though!