Noiseless city

On 19 januari 2016, in infrastructuur, by Zef Hemel

Seen and heard in Amsterdam on sunday 17 january 2016:


So the number of bikes in Amsterdam is at least 800.000. It means that 63 per cent of the Amsterdammers is riding a bike on a daily base. In the modal split, more than 32 per cent is biking, compared to 22 per cent using a car, and 16 per cent going with public transport. What does this mean? It means a noiseless city in the first place. The inhabitants of Amsterdam are almost not aware of it, but if you come from abroad you surely will notice that you almost do not hear any cars in the streets in Amsterdam. Many people, but no noise! You only hear friendly bells ringing, and electric trams moving. It seems almost impossible, no, it’s unique. Amsterdam is truly a silent city. What a quality of life!  No one should be complaining about the traffic. No? Well, there’s only one thing worth lamenting. Could we get rid of those horrible scooters? There are too many of them. They are really poisoning the Amsterdam atmosphere.

Because we all love biking, we meet our friends and acquaintances almost on a daily base, seeing them passing by, greeting them, not forgetting to telephone them afterwards, sending them an email. How are you? I saw you on your bike and we said hello, but shouldn’t we meet? Yes why not? Or we jump from our bikes and start a spontaneous conversation in the middle of the crowd. If we all would have traveled by car, this would never have happened. We would drive in our capsules, seeing nothing, meeting no other person, listening to the music on the radio, feeling bored, killing time. Just imagine, all those commuters in their cars, and we, bikers in Amsterdam, feeling free, being happy, greeting our friends every day. A ballet of bikes. Pure poetry. It makes us think Amsterdam is a village, which it is not. And I love those pictures of Ed van der Elsken from the sixties. Only men biking. I almost forgot: women were absent in public space. Have a look:

Tagged with:

Delicious liquorice

On 28 augustus 2015, in infrastructuur, internationaal, by Zef Hemel

Read on CityMetric on 1 July 2015:

There is a fierce debate going on in Great Britain about the future of its London airports. BAA wants to expand the capacity of Heathrow, west of London. The mayor of London, Mr. Johnson, is favoring the building of a new hub on an artificial island in the Thames estuary in the east: a four-runway airport, called ‘Boris Island’. This Thames hub was added to the list of possibilities by the national Airports Commission in 2014. Tom Forth published an analysis on the website of CityMetric, defending another option: Amsterdam airport. Forth gave “six very big reasons to think that Heathrow isn’t the UK’s hub airport at all.” It’s a great read, illustrated with convincing maps. What are his reasons? 1. You can’t get a train to Heathrow from any UK city other than London. 2. you can fly from Heathrow to only seven other UK cities, 3. Manchester is better connected, “but there’s an airport that easily beats them both.” Which one? Amsterdam airport, good for 24 connections to British airports. “They speak great English, the liquorice is delicious, the airport is efficient, and you can buy tulip bulbs and cheese while you wait for a connection.”

4. Mr. Forth even found data on international flight connections. In a huge majority of cases, the best option was a flight via Schiphol. 5. True, the cheapest flights for citizens of the UK is Heathrow, but Manchester, he found, is only a bit more expensive and, surprising, half of the flights from Manchester go via Schiphol, 6. and Norwich, he added, gives the fastest connection to the world, but that is thanks to the fact that it is the closest airport to Amsterdam. Forth, who is from Leeds, used all these arguments and data to make clear that subsidizing Heathrow is unfair, his aim was not to come up with the proposal to accept Amsterdam airport as a major hub, also for British passengers. And yes, Heathrow is a London hub, not a national hub. And Schiphol is an international hub, not an Amsterdam hub. By the way, the alternative of Schiphol would have helped the Airports Commission. But: again a national debate, not an urban one.

Tagged with: