This entry was posted on Tuesday, October 15th, 2013 at 2:35 pm and is filed under Bad motoring, Bicycle advocacy. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.
Groningen in the Netherlands and my hometown of Newcastle became twin cities just after the Second World War. This twinning was ratified in 1988.
Apart from both cities having lots of students there are not too many similarities between Newcastle and Groningen. In fact, the differences between the two cities are startling, especially where transport is concerned. Where Newcastle is in thrall to the car, Groningen is in thrall to the bicycle. (And to the bus).
57 percent of the journeys within Groningen are made by bicycle, something that didn’t happen by chance. As the Streetfilms video below shows, there were radical transport decisions made in the 1970s by left-leaning city politicians (albeit with 70 years of pro-cycling culture on their side). Car journeys were made longer, more difficult; bicycle journeys were made shorter and easier.
In contrast, just a few years before Groningen curbed car use Newcastle’s corrupt city politicians wanted to make their city hyper friendly to the private motor car, creating what they wanted to the “Brasilia of the North”, a reference to the brutally Modernist and car-dependent capital of Brazil.
Newcastle’s double-decker central motorway is awful enough but there were plans for even more motorways. Can Newcastle ‘Go Dutch’? The Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands is staging the ‘Love Cycling Go Dutch’ conference on November 5th. Expect fireworks.
The Streetfilms video is inspiring. Do watch it all the way through.