Copenhagen: City of Cyclists, Part 3 of 5: We’re headed downtown to mix it up with traffic in Copenhagen. Get a good look at not only the green cycle routes across the city, but also the curb-protected roadside “cycle tracks”, the blue-painted intersection pavement guides, and bicycle-specific traffic lights. What an amazing mix they’ve accomplished, with not only a third of their commuting population bicycling in each day, but in a system so well thought out that kids and families ride through the city right along with them.
But first, saying a big hello is Bill Mould, Chief Mechanic of Spokes Etc in Alexandria, Virginia. We’ll be visiting Bill soon for some helpful coaching to keep your bike spinning strong
Copenhagen: City of Cyclists, Part 2 of 5: We meet some of the 100,000 cyclists who’ve made bicycle commuting a part of their daily lives. You’ll also get a sneak peek at a future program from John Urman in Georgetown, Washington DC. Keep an eye out for future greetings from cyclists from every side of life and around the globe
Copenhagen: City of Cyclists, Part 1 of 5: Our very first episode of A Billion Bikes, takes us to the Danish city of Copenhagen, which has one of the most advanced urban bicycling communities in the world. A full third of their city workforce commutes by bicycle! This is an excellent 5-part program of weekly episodes. But first, a brief hello from Tour de France champion Floyd Landis, and a fun open.
A great article on te rise of green in europe – a slant from the New York Times but interesting reading.
ZURICH — While American cities are synchronizing green lights to improve traffic flow and offering apps to help drivers find parking, many European cities are doing the opposite: creating environments openly hostile to cars. The methods vary, but the mission is clear — to make car use expensive and just plain miserable enough to tilt drivers toward more environmentally friendly modes of transportation.
Cities including Vienna to Munich and Copenhagen have closed vast swaths of streets to car traffic. Barcelona and Paris have had car lanes eroded bypopular bike-sharing programs. Drivers in London and Stockholm pay hefty congestion charges just for entering the heart of the city. And over the past two years, dozens of German cities have joined a national network of“environmental zones” where only cars with low carbon dioxide emissions may enter.
Likeminded cities welcome new shopping malls and apartment buildings but severely restrict the allowable number of parking spaces. On-street parking is vanishing. In recent years, even former car capitals like Munich have evolved into “walkers’ paradises,” said Lee Schipper, a senior research engineer at Stanford University who specializes in sustainable transportation.
“In the United States, there has been much more of a tendency to adapt cities to accommodate driving,” said Peder Jensen, head of the Energy and Transport Group at the European Environment Agency. “Here there has been more movement to make cities more livable for people, to get cities relatively free of cars.”
To that end, the municipal Traffic Planning Department here in Zurich has been working overtime in recent years to torment drivers. Closely spaced red lights have been added on roads into town, causing delays and angst for commuters. Pedestrian underpasses that once allowed traffic to flow freely across major intersections have been removed. Operators in the city’s ever expanding tram system can turn traffic lights in their favor as they approach, forcing cars to halt.
Around Löwenplatz, one of Zurich’s busiest squares, cars are now banned on many blocks. Where permitted, their speed is limited to a snail’s pace so that crosswalks and crossing signs can be removed entirely, giving people on foot the right to cross anywhere they like at any time.
As he stood watching a few cars inch through a mass of bicycles and pedestrians, the city’s chief traffic planner, Andy Fellmann, smiled. “Driving is a stop-and-go experience,” he said. “That’s what we like! Our goal is to reconquer public space for pedestrians, not to make it easy for drivers.”
While some American cities — notably San Francisco, which has “pedestrianized” parts of Market Street — have made similar efforts, they are still the exception in the United States, where it has been difficult to get people to imagine a life where cars are not entrenched, Dr. Schipper said.
Europe’s cities generally have stronger incentives to act. Built for the most part before the advent of cars, their narrow roads are poor at handling heavy traffic. Public transportation is generally better in Europe than in the United States, and gas often costs over $8 a gallon, contributing to driving costs that are two to three times greater per mile than in the United States, Dr. Schipper said.
What is more, European Union countries probably cannot meet a commitment under the Kyoto Protocol to reduce their carbon dioxide emissions unless they curb driving. The United States never ratified that pact.
Globally, emissions from transportation continue a relentless rise, with half of them coming from personal cars. Yet an important impulse behind Europe’s traffic reforms will be familiar to mayors in Los Angeles and Vienna alike: to make cities more inviting, with cleaner air and less traffic.
Michael Kodransky, global research manager at the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy in New York, which works with cities to reduce transport emissions, said that Europe was previously “on the same trajectory as the United States, with more people wanting to own more cars.” But in the past decade, there had been “a conscious shift in thinking, and firm policy,” he said. And it is having an effect.
After two decades of car ownership, Hans Von Matt, 52, who works in the insurance industry, sold his vehicle and now gets around Zurich by tram or bicycle, using a car-sharing service for trips out of the city. Carless households have increased from 40 to 45 percent in the last decade, and car owners use their vehicles less, city statistics show.
“There were big fights over whether to close this road or not — but now it is closed, and people got used to it,” he said, alighting from his bicycle on Limmatquai, a riverside pedestrian zone lined with cafes that used to be two lanes of gridlock. Each major road closing has to be approved in a referendum.
Today 91 percent of the delegates to the Swiss Parliament take the tram to work.
Still, there is grumbling. “There are all these zones where you can only drive 20 or 30 kilometers per hour [about 12 to 18 miles an hour], which is rather stressful,” Thomas Rickli, a consultant, said as he parked his Jaguar in a lot at the edge of town. “It’s useless.”
Urban planners generally agree that a rise in car commuting is not desirable for cities anywhere.
Mr. Fellmann calculated that a person using a car took up 115 cubic meters (roughly 4,000 cubic feet) of urban space in Zurich while a pedestrian took three. “So it’s not really fair to everyone else if you take the car,” he said.
European cities also realized they could not meetincreasingly strict World Health Organization guidelinesfor fine-particulate air pollution if cars continued to reign. Many American cities are likewise in “nonattainment” of their Clean Air Act requirements, but that fact “is just accepted here,” said Mr. Kodransky of the New York-based transportation institute.
It often takes extreme measures to get people out of their cars, and providing good public transportation is a crucial first step. One novel strategy in Europe is intentionally making it harder and more costly to park. “Parking is everywhere in the United States, but it’s disappearing from the urban space in Europe,” said Mr. Kodransky, whose recent report“Europe’s Parking U-Turn” surveys the shift.
Sihl City, a new Zurich mall, is three times the size of Brooklyn’s Atlantic Mall but has only half the number of parking spaces, and as a result, 70 percent of visitors get there by public transport, Mr. Kodransky said.
In Copenhagen, Mr. Jensen, at the European Environment Agency, said that his office building had more than 150 spaces for bicycles and only one for a car, to accommodate a disabled person.
While many building codes in Europe cap the number of parking spaces in new buildings to discourage car ownership, American codes conversely tend to stipulate a minimum number. New apartment complexes built along the light rail line in Denver devote their bottom eight floors to parking, making it “too easy” to get in the car rather than take advantage of rail transit, Mr. Kodransky said.
While Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg has generated controversy in New York by “pedestrianizing” a few areas like Times Square, many European cities have already closed vast areas to car traffic. Store owners in Zurich had worried that the closings would mean a drop in business, but that fear has proved unfounded, Mr. Fellmann said, because pedestrian traffic increased 30 to 40 percent where cars were banned.
With politicians and most citizens still largely behind them, Zurich’s planners continue their traffic-taming quest, shortening the green-light periods and lengthening the red with the goal that pedestrians wait no more than 20 seconds to cross.
“We would never synchronize green lights for cars with our philosophy,” said Pio Marzolini, a city official. “When I’m in other cities, I feel like I’m always waiting to cross a street. I can’t get used to the idea that I am worth less than a car.”
£1300 frame and forks
When a steel bike for testing was mentioned I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it. I love steel bikes, I’ve owned three of my own in last few years and tested a couple more and every one has left a smile on my face. While I was doing a bit of research on Tonic’s Vanishing Point I just couldn’t get one little number out of my head – 2400g frame and fork weight. After miles and miles on carbon and alloy machines weighing a kilo under that was I finally about to ride a steel bike that wasn’t going to inspire?
Everything from Tonic Fabrication is hand made in house by the two man team Landon & Tony in Portland, Oregon. Right down to custom bending their tubing to the CNC machining of dropouts and other parts allowing full control over every detail found in one of their frames. The Vanishing Point is their first foray into the road market after cutting their teeth with jump bikes, fixed gear and then cyclocross.
Available as a frameset,r custom build or off the peg the options are endless We’re testing our Vanishing Point mainly as a frameset, but the build we have is available as an option too for £4100 – it does include some pretty snazzy componentry not least those Easton EC90 wheels and builds up to a complete bike weight of 8.4Kg.
It’s a beautiful looking frame with neat touches like the open ended seat and chainstay tubes blending into the, in comparison, dainty machined dropouts. My favourite part of the whole frame though has got to be the wishbone seatstay. The transition between tubes and diameters is seamless and so much more pleasing to the eye than the usual twin stays. In fact the smooth welds and black paintjob create a flowing structure throughout the frame. The oversized headtube with intergrated headset also flows nicely to both the top and down tube, with no logo or badge covering it the lines are kept clean and simple. The only quibble with the quality of the frame is the fact that the threads on the water bottle bosses weren’t cleaned out, no doubt the production models will come with cage bolts so this would be noticed before dispatch. The understated black paint looks classy but if its not to your taste custom colour options are available starting at a reasonable £95. If you want to go the full custom route things like mudguard eyelets and rack mounts can be sorted at the time of ordering as well.
Tonic’s design spec was to create a comfortable frame but fast and stiff like a track bike. The use of oversize Columbus Zona and True Temper OX Platinum tubing create the stiffness with deep section 22.2mm chainstays and 38mm diameter downtube controlling the flex from the bottom bracket area. In Tony’s own words “As for the tubing used, we select it based on Diameter, wall thickness, Butt profile and intended use (No magic formula here) . But we have always preferred the aesthetic and ride quality of large constant diameter tubes over award winning shapes and tapers.” The ride itself was somewhat compromised by the overly stiff bar, stem and seatpost choice, taking away the vibration reducing qualities of the steel but on rides of three hours or more the frame comfort shone through as I was finding my body a lot less fatigued than usual even when really pushing it.
The beefy carbon Enve forks bring a lot to the ride with good vibration reduction to match the frame but plenty stiff enough to give loads of feedback in the corners. Tonic Fabrication can supply a steel fork if you want something a bit different. Its a trimmed down version of the Suernaut steel fork. Getting the power down was fun too, when once up to speed the Vanishing Point is easy to keep there. The lightweight Easton wheel and component package our frame was supplied with balances out the frame and fork weight. Better to have the weight as a static than revolving in the case of heavy wheels. Hard acceleration and climbing showed no problems with stiffness with barely any flex felt anywhere and high speed descents were easily controlled thanks to the confident tracking of the Enve fork.
Although a frame and fork test obviously the components fitted to the frame will have a large impact on how the bike feels. As mentioned above the Easton finishing kit was so stiff it was really at odds with the frame, especially the aero bars – one of the reasons we reckoned it was fairer to test the Vanishing Point as a frameset. A swap to a more traditional bar with a bit of flex in it would help the overall comfort levels a huge amount. The Easton EC90 SL wheels, while amazing to ride giving loads of feedback and some of the best braking (in conjunction with Swisstop yellow pads) I’ve ever known are just too stiff to compliment the frame. Sram Force provided the drivetrain and gears and while not being one of my favourites gave clean shifts and stayed running quite and in alignment over the test period.
In conclusion the Vanishing Point is a great looking and riding frame and fork. Build it up with some slightly less harsh components than we had, for day long rides and getting big miles in fast its up there with the best of them. The kudos of having a bike that not many people have heard of also is a feel good factor especially with its understated looks. A great blend of speed and comfort gives the Vanishing Point a large appeal to many, if you’re after an unassuming stealth sportive bike to slot in between the MAMIL’s Pinarello’s book yourself a test ride.
Sometimes you can easily forget what a great place is like to run in. For me this is the case with Kelvingrove park – an 85 acre park in the west of the city. Kelvingrove was originally created as the West End Park in 1852 by noted English gardener Sir Joseph Paxton, Head Gardener at Chatsworth House, whose other works included The Crystal Palace in London. The Town Council had purchased the land, which formerly represented the Kelvingrove and Woodlands estates, that year for the sum of £99,569, around £8million today. The park was intended to provide for the continued expansion of the city to the west, providing relaxation and recreation opportunities for the new middle class to the west, and an escape from the rapid slumming of the city centre for those left behind.
The park when run around is around 2km a loop with a nice hill climb and decent. I had been at a friends house so had run down the river and through the botanics and down the river again to Kelvingrove – a nice little 10km loop
If in glasgow have a run here – a beautiful park that is so often overlooked.