Cycling Culture in Amsterdam, Muenster, Osaka, and Melbourne

11th March, 2009, the day YouBike was born, being a cutting-edge milestone in Taiwan Eco-urbanism history. Youbike made cycling convenient, comfortable and safe as well with illuminating, anti-theft and EasyCard payment equipment. It was aiming to elevate the positive image as an international environmentally friendly green city, adding value to sightseeing in Taipei, improving the quality of life of the citizens and enhance their satisfaction, reducing use of motor vehicles and improve air quality and traffic environment, cultivating a trend of cycling and increase the number of cyclists and the most important, making Taipei the first and exemplar city for bike commuting in Taiwan. However, Taiwan was not the first country renting bicycles on the sidewalk. There are Amsterdam, Muenster, Osaka, Copenhagen, and Melbourne.

With over 51 per cent of the world’s population now living in cities and cities producing 75 per cent of the world’s greenhouse gases, it is increasingly clear that cities will need to pay greater attention to becoming more successful in producing liveable, sustainable and economically viable built environments. While the five factors outlined above are considered the major components for achieving liveability, they are also the key drivers for sustainability and economic viability.

In Amsterdam, most people travel by bike, and for good reason. In larger towns – with more than 10,000 inhabitants – a cyclist will on average reach his destination 10 percent faster than a car driver, according to statistics from the Nederlandse Fietsersbond (Dutch Cycling Federation). Plus it’s calmer, cheaper, you don’t have any delays or traffic jams to contend with and you get to really take in the city. Amsterdam people are well aware that cycling is the most efficient mode of transport in their city. More than sixty percent of journeys within the A10 Ring Road are taken by bike. That means 493,000 cycle trips per day. The recent increase in bicycle use has been at the expense of the car. It’s a scenario which didn’t look all that likely forty years ago. In the 1960’s wide arterial roads leading into the city centre were built. In the early 1970’s plans were developed to extend and expand this network. However, this led to large scale and violent protests, as the cycling Amsterdam people wanted to keep their city livable and safe.

Rozengracht, 4 June 1977. Thousands of cyclists take part in one of the large scale cycle protests held during the 1970’s.

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Photo: Nationaal Archief/Spaarnestad Photo/Anefo

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Main cycle network: Today the city recognises the importance of the bicycle as the most valuable part of its mobility. The Amsterdam cycle policy is based on four pillars: road safety; infrastructure; parking; education and promotion. Map: Physical Planning Department

Muenster’s bicycle network can be divided into a primary and a secondary network. The so-called primary network is a system of continuously segregated dedicated cycle ways running along main streets and traffic axes. Although the construction of the primary network was started in 1948, it has only been completed recently. The primary network has been supplemented by several measures to improve the general cycling conditions during the eighties. The secondary network complements the primary, and is a network of grid-like cycle tracks which include traffic-calming in residential areas, linkages of lacks in the prevailing network, cycle paths and connections in parks and pedestrian areas. The main functions of the secondary network are the distribution of cyclists from the central locations and the possibility to take different shortcuts thus reducing cycle times. A population of 280,000 inhabitants living in an area of 302 km2 is served by a 275 km network of segregated bike routes. These are supplemented by over 300km of agricultural routes, which are permitted for cat-traffic and stretch across the farming and forested regions of Muenster. The picture below provides a detailed view of both primary network (red marked lines) and secondary network (yellow lines and green lines) within Muenster’s municipal area. Additionally it shows where Bike & Ride(B+R) are located in that area.

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There’s something interesting in Muenster, Germany., “30 Zone”. In residential areas cycling is permitted on the streets. There segregated cycle paths do not exist since the width of roads is usually too narrow to provide sufficient space for all activities-driving, car parking, sidewalks and cycle ways. To calm down traffic within those areas, the maximum speed is restricted to 30 km/h. That is why they are usually called “30 zones”.

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Muenster did not become a bicycle friendly (fahrradfreundliche) city by accident. During World War II the city center was almost completely destroyed. In the reconstruction of the city after the war it was decided that bicycles and buses should be an important part of city traffic. For the past 50 years the city has continually worked on increasing bicycle use.

One argument those opposed to investing in bicycle lanes and paths in the United States use is that the lanes and paths will only be used during the day in good weather during the summer months. Thus, they are not worth the relatively large investment. The use of bicycles in Muenster shows that if the use of cars is discouraged and if well maintained and safe bicycle paths are provided, bicycles are used throughout the year, in inclement weather and at night. Muenster is located in north Germany where rain is common. During the winter it rains almost every day, but if one wears appropriate rain gear one stays reasonably dry. Also, the type of bicycle most commonly used in Muenster is not designed for speed or off road use. It is designed for city travel and to keep water spray off the rider. I found that typical speeds are 9 to 12 miles per hour (15 to 20 kilometers per hour).

When Taiwanese cyclists travel to Osaka, they may find it uneasy because they are restricted. Be considerate of pedestrians and local people. Under the Road Traffic Law, bicycles are defined as a vehicle. Bicyclists must follow rules and malicious violators and individuals who caused fatal accidents in violation of these rules will be strictly punished. Keep in mind that bicycles can be dangerous to pedestrians.

The following are rules for safe bicycling on and around the OU(Osaka University) campus. Cyclists should be aware that they are driving a vehicle so as to not cause annoyance to members of the general public living near OU as well as persons on campus.

Bicycle Regulations:

1.Maintain safe and reasonable speeds at all times.

2.Drive on the left side of the road.

3.The following activities are nuisances as well as dangerous. Please do not: park on the road, abandon your bicycle, park for an extended period of days, ride your bicycle in parallel to others, and/or use a cell phone while riding.

4.Riding bicycles on the Handai-zaka [Osaka University Slope] is banned.

5.As with motorized vehicles, bicyclists are requested to use official gates only for entering and leaving OU campuses.

6.Riding on campus sidewalks is banned.

7.Bicycle should be parked in an orderly manner in bicycle parking lots.

8.Prevent theft of your bicycle by double-locking it and putting a sticker with your name and address on your bicycle.

9.Riding bicycles on the Toyonaka campus is prohibited.

10.Be careful not to cause annoyance to members of the general public living near OU.

More people in Melbourne are cycling than ever before. Building on the achievements of the previous bicycle plan, Bicycle Plan 2016–2020 aims to encourage more people to ride and to create a safe environment for them to do so. The Bicycle Plan 2016–2020 incorporates a comprehensive program of actions on many of Melbourne’s busy bike routes and also provides a renewed focus on local bike routes to cater for neighbourhood-scale trips, such as those to schools and shops – making it possible for cycling to become a logical and easy choice for the community. More people on bikes means a more active and healthier population who are able to enjoy a cleaner and less congested city.

Melbourne has successfully used drivers over the last 20 years to turn its central city around; significant effort is still required over the remaining metropolitan area if the region is to remain viable in the changing circumstances brought on by climate change and the retreat of the fossil-fuel economy.

It is widely recognised that cycling has many benefits – ranging from social and economic to health and environmental. This plan is the next step in helping more people to enjoy those benefits. It sets out a series of actions that will help to deliver the targets for increased participation in cycling set out in Melbourne’s Transport Strategy2. The actions in this plan also include a commitment to work with and support the Victorian Government to develop strategic cycling corridors linking central Melbourne.

As the central city has increased densities, encouraged a greater range of mixed uses, built on its local character, improved connectivity and access for pedestrians, bicycles and public transport, and developed a high-quality public realm, it has become more financially viable and started to reduce its environmental footprint. Local rates and taxes have declined by over 50 per cent. Property owners in 1996 who had to pay 13 cents in the dollar on the value of their property are now paying only 6 cents in the dollar. The City has also set an ambitious environmental target of zero emission by 2020 and replacing street lightning with longer-life and more efficient luminaires and instituting extensive street tree-planting schemes, as well as by installing passive energy collectors . It has been paying greater attention to the design of its own buildings, including the design and construction of Australia’s first new six green-star-rated commercial office building, CH2.

Melbourne’s success over the last 20 years has been due to its ability to set a clear version with ambiguous but achievable targets and then put them on the ground. Where other cities have produced high-quality implementation programme. Using a strong tradition of in-house professional skills in all aspects of administration, it has mastered the art of successful partnerships and directed the resources of other levels of government and the private sector towards its version. While working from a modest financial base, it has consistently packaged up large and ambitious projects such as Federation Square, QV, Swanston Street, Postcode 3000 and, more recently, the environmental programme. It has also successfully brought on board key partners in the financing and ongoing maintenance of these projects. It has recognized the need for quality design and delivery and the importance of remaining a leader, rather than just a manager, in the art of city making. Its projects have received over 100 awards from architects, landscape architects and planning institutes, and its views and opinions have been sought both locally and internationally.

Just as Melbourne has manage to climb the ladder of liveable, it now needs to become recognized as a leader in sustainability. As an early member of the UN Impact Cities for Climate, a partner in the Clinton Climate initiative and a champion of numerous environmental strategies . It is already well on the way to achieving leadership status: As such, Melbourne offers an important case study of how a city can take control of its destiny and plot a course for the twenty-first century.

People on bikes crossing Princes Bridge at night (Photo by William Watt)

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Although Taiwan is still a developing country, but we have potential to change and make a progress. If we try to ride a bike to work instead of driving or riding a motorcycle, the air pollution can be reduced and we can enjoy better liveable environment. The responsibility of making our city better doesn’t belong to the government, but the whole citizen, as a matter of fact, if we make our city better, it will treat us better as well. When we stand together, that’s when we are the strongest. Like the old French saying goes, “savoir faire la ville, savoir vivre la ville”, means “Know how to make the city, know how to live the city”.

 

BIBLIOGRAPHY

City of Melbourne (1987) Grids and Greenery: The Character of Inner Melbourne, Melbourne: City of Melbourne.

City of Melbourne and Gehl Architects (2005) Places for People: Melbourne 2004, Melbourne: City of Melbourne.

Darko Radovic (2009) Eco-urbanity, MPG Books Group, UK.

http://taipei.youbike.com.tw/en/f31.php

http://www.melbourne.vic.gov.au/SiteCollectionDocuments/city-of-melbourne-bicycle-plan-2016-2020.pdf

http://www.osaka-u.ac.jp/en/guide/campus/campus_prep/bicycle_rule

http://www.geo.sunysb.edu/bicycle-muenster/#transportation

http://sutp.org/files/contents/documents/resources/C_Case-Studies/GIZ_SUTP_CS_An-Example-of-Promoting-Cycling-in-Cities_EN.pdf

http://thisbigcity.net/cycling-osaka-exploring-japans-second-city-by-bike/

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