The Takoma Park city council are such geeks! We’ll bet that right now they are checking out the storm drains, street-lamps, recycling programs, and budget processes of whatever city, town, or village they are vacationing in.
Unfortunately geekdom is contagious. Your Gilbert found himself turning his relaxing holiday into a bike-lane and traffic-calming fact-finding mission.
So, we’re submitting our travel expenses to the city, along with the following report.
Dear City Council,
Attached is a list of receipts for travel, meals, lodging, court costs, and other expenses.
The following report will aid the city in its quest for a Sustainable, Livable Community, and Engaged, Responsive, and Service-Oriented Government*.
So, you want to make Takoma Park more bike-able, with less automobile traffic, and more traffic calming? Check out the Netherlands!
The Netherlands? More like “the Peddlelands!” There are more bikes than cars in view at any given time in that country. Amsterdam has the world’s biggest bicycle parking garage – able to accommodate 7000 bikes. More stolen bicycles are dredged out of Netherlands canals daily than are owned in all of Takoma Park**.
It is a bicyclist’s paradise, which has physical and psychological effects. Lives spent pedal-pumping are fit ones. Finding an obese Netherlander is difficult – almost everyone is skinny. In addition, gay marriage being legal in the Netherlands, it is obvious that decades of bike-riding have also made the Dutch easy-going and equanimous.
Ahem, . . . what a fine example of a Sustainable, Livable Community with an Engaged, Responsive, and Service-Oriented Government.”*
How, then, can we make Takoma Park more like Utrecht? Your Gilbert has a plan!
1) Get priorities straight. Bikes, public transport, cars – in that order. Put the bike lanes where people want to go – to and through the hearts of shopping districts and other popular destinations. Turn a quarter or a third of road-width over to bike lanes and bike parking. Wherever the most cars drive through town now – that’s where the bike lanes go. Here, bikes are shunted off to less-traveled streets and back-routes that skirt shopping areas, etc.
2) Make the lanes more distinct. In the Netherlands the bike lanes are distinguished from the car lanes and sidewalk in various ways, not just painting a white line down the street as we do here. They use median strips or dividers, different materials and colors. In some places bike, pedestrian, and car lanes are at slightly different heights.
3) Bike lanes should have their own stop signs and other signage, and In heavy traffic areas, traffic lights.
4) Integrate bike lanes and bus lanes/stops into road design, For instance at big intersections the bike lane doglegs to the center line (in front of cars) so bikes can cross the intersection to make a left turn.
5) Get rid of the speed bumps – we didn’t see ONE in the Netherlands. You want traffic calming? Turn half of every avenue, street, and lane to bicycles and scooters.
6) If you MUST have speed bumps, replace with speed lumps. We spotted some in London, UK. These are the same height as speed bumps, but placed in a row across a road. The spaces between allow bicycles, other two-wheeled vehicles, and emergency vehicles with wider wheelbase to pass. They have a gentler rise so they don’t pack the same shock that many Takoma Park speed bumps do. They can be made of plastic material instead of asphalt. Or speed bumps can be refashioned into lumps.
7) Flatten out all the hills. They don’t allow hills in the Netherlands, it would be bad for bicycle riding.
8 ) Ditch all those fancy bikes with the gears, handlebar brakes, racing handlebars, etc. Get good ol’ 1- or 3-speed bikes with coaster-brakes. Ditch the bike helmets, too.
9) Toss the clunky helmets and neon-bright clothing. They make you look like a nervous norvis. And don’t wear those spandex bike pants and the rest of the bicycling clown-suit. Make bicycling into a normal activity done by normal people in normal clothing. Puh-leeze!
*Buzz words from the city’s Strategic Plan, dutifully quoted in every grant, budget, and aid request. We know how to play this game!
** We made that statistic up, but we bet it’s true.