Friday, August 2, 2013

Video Looking at Cycling in Amsterdam vs NYTimes Depiction

I don't think of Amsterdam's cycling environment as a model for what American cities might aspire to as far as integrating cycling is concerned because after all, let's be realistic - there are just too many differences. Nevertheless it can be interesting to think about the extent of cycling infrastructure there and the use of bicycles for routine trips that Americans typically use cars for and what can be learned, if only piecemeal.

Bicycles in Amsterdam
Bicycles in Amsterdam, from Flickr user Scott Rettberg

Lately the NYTimes has had much more extensive coverage of cycling related issues than usual - this is (one assumes) partially a result of the new bikeshare system that New York City has started (that turns out to be hugely successful, but that's a separate conversation). As is often the case, NYTimes coverage is a little peculiar, looking for some "angle." (During the recent Tour de France one of the longest articles about the race in the NYTimes was about the switch to English from French as "the language" of the Tour. Not about the race per se, and not about doping.)

Notwithstanding the apparent growing popularity of cycling represented by the use of the new NYC bikeshare system and other indicators, the NYTimes in effect argued for caution with an article that suggests that "a sea of bikes swamps their capital." Uh oh!! The Video producer "Streetfilms" has done a video response. (I found reference to this on the Seattle Bike Blog.

Are there really too many bikes in Amsterdam? from Streetfilms on Vimeo.

One of the comments for the video points out that the depictions in this video of central Amsterdam make cycling there look particularly chaotic and gives links to other video, on YouTube, of different locales in the Netherlands where there is plenty of cycling but it doesn't look quite so intimidating (to American eyes, at least).

The video has a number of different soundbite length interviews with different folks - one of them is Pete Jordan, the author of "In the City of Bikes" that I read (and reviewed) recently.

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