We spent part of today in Groningen, where my handlebar cam captured this clip. As people were stopped by the drawbridge, a sort of “core sample” of the transportation system was evident. We can see the distribution of modes (perhaps slightly skewed, but hot damn, lookadembikez!!!) as the road opens up again.
In all, we were underwhelmed by Groningen. This city which has been called the most bicycle friendly in the world had strange twists of bicycle unfriendliness by our observations. For one, our tour guides for our ride around town both wore orange reflective vests. We haven’t seen anyone in the Netherlands ride with an orange cycling vest, let alone people working for the government and showing us around. When we asked them why they had the vests they explained “We are cycling, therefore we are vulnerable.” What?! In no country on Earth is it this safe to cycle, and part of the policy that has made it that way has been an active choice to not emphasize the risks inherent in the activity. Hence why no Dutch people wear helmets and why the government thinks that’s a great thing (I agree). These guys had it backwards in a way that seemed, hell, American. The Groningen folks also seemed to see bicycle parking as a problem in a different way than Utrecht or Amsterdam. They seemed to really feel that, on some level, the parked bikes had no place on their streets. This was more of an impression that I got from the way they explained things and the measures they have taken rather than anything explicit that was said.
But, a lot of folks ride bikes in Groningen. They count that 60% of all trips that originate in the city are made by bicycle. Globally, that comes in behind only Houten, Netherlands, a master planned community designed specifically to be bicycle-accessible. We visited Houten yesterday, and found it to be too quite, uniform, and creepy. Nice bikeways though.