Junk in the Trunk

bicycle basket
Wednesday, I showed you a bakfiets, useful for carting around kids, groceries, pets, household goods, etc. The ability to transport more than just yourself from place to place is an important part of making cycling an everyday mode of transport, rather than just a sport. Of course, if a regular bakfiets is a bit too big for your needs, you can always go with something a bit more streamlined. Plenty of space for groceries and small pets in that plastic bucket on the bike above.

However, if you’re regularly transporting large items, you might need something with a bit more storage space. Fortunately, there’s a bike for that. Who needs a truck when you’ve got the bakfiets XL!
bike transport
I’ve seen these used for a variety of purposes. Cornering might be a bit more difficult, but you can certainly fit plenty of stuff in there!

However, many of us make do with a normal bike and a regular basket up front and/or saddle bags on the back. It’s surprising just how much you can get on a regular omafiets. And for the slightly bulkier or more awkward items like brooms and storage containers? Well, just hang on to them like these women are doing.
bike transport

The Importance of Bike Lanes

Urban Utrecht
Last night, while scrolling through Twitter, I came across a post with a picture of a bike lane in New Orleans. It was a post celebrating Bike to Work Day. Great, right?

Noooooooooooooo!

As I looked more closely at the photo, I realized that the very wide bike lane was in fact meant for both bicycles and buses. Yes, buses. And it turns out the lane can also be used by cars turning right at an intersection or driveway. It seems it’s the first combo bus-and-bike lane, but that implies that there might be more in the future. I hope not.

In looking at other photos of New Orleans bike lanes, there are a few lanes that are strictly bicycle lanes, but they do stop and start and it looks like they often are right next to street parking or have no separation from regular car lanes, presenting its own issues. For proper safety, they should be more consistent and they should never combine with buses! That seems like the worst combination. Ever! Big buses and little bicycles are an accident waiting to happen.

As you’ll see in my picture above, all of the lanes in the part of Utrecht near the theater and shopping mall are strictly segregated. One of the times in life when segregation is a good thing. Bicycles have their own wide lanes on each side of the road, with plenty of space separating them from the bus/vehicle lanes.

It’s not like that on every street here, or even exactly the same on that same street as it continues. In some areas where the street narrows, there isn’t the same gap between road and cycle lane, but there is still clear/raised definition between the two areas.
Street Life
On other streets, such as Voorstraat, there’s a segregated bicycle lane in one direction, though in the other direction, bicycles share the space with cars and deal with parked cars. Not ideal, but cars generally make way for bicycles.
Voorstraat
Of course, car traffic is also discouraged in much of the city center here in Utrecht. Many roads are one way or generally limited primarily to buses. But that’s not the case everywhere, and even just outside the city center, where car traffic is heavier, you still have separate bicycle lanes to keep cyclists safe and encourage them to keep cycling along major roads.

It’s great to see bicycle lanes showing up more frequently in New Orleans, as it would be a great city to cycle in. It’s a doable size in terms of distances and terrain, especially if there were consistent lanes to speed up the trips. I do hope the city continues to add more bicycle lanes, but I hope they rethink combining them with buses and other vehicles. They really should look to other countries where cycling is more integrated to better understand how to make it safe for everyone involved.

As always, if you’re interested in learning more about Dutch cycling, check out Mark’s blog, Bicycle Dutch. He’s got plenty of details, history, and information about how it all came about and how it can and does continue to improve.

Earth Day|Bike Life

Fine-art Fiets
As today is Earth Day, what better time to celebrate the oh-so-useful bakfiets. Obviously, it’s environmentally friendly, requiring only pedal power. No fossil fuels required for daily running. More importantly, for anyone who complains about cycling not being convenient when you have to do lots of shopping, carting around kids, etc., here’s a handy solution. (Although, anyone who does complain hasn’t seen just how many people and shopping bags the average Dutch person can fit on a regular bicycle.) One day I saw a family of five and a dog on one bakfiets. It can be done.

The bakfiets is used for everything from the daily school run to moving home. Seriously! With a bit of rope and some extra hands, the bakfiets is surprisingly useful when moving just about anything, judging from some of the things I’ve seen carted around town on one, including potted trees and mattresses.

And as the one pictured here shows, you can add your own personal touch to the paint job, making it easier to find and perhaps less likely to be stolen. Plus, it just looks so much cooler than a minivan.

Two-Wheel Transport

Two-wheel Transport
I couldn’t resist the juxtaposition of the scooter and the motorcycle when I came across them near Lepelenburg Park. Both may be motorized, but they have very different associations. One putters along, while the other zooms. (Though anyone who has had a scooter zoom past them on a bike lane is likely to dispute the puttering bit. There are frequent demands to have scooters banned from bicycle lanes.)

Of the two, the scooter is the more common sight, at least in this part of town. You’ll see rows of them near restaurants that specialize in delivery, and you’ll see both young and old riding them around town.

But of course, it’s the non-motorized two-wheel transport that you’ll find most frequently, in large numbers, and never far away.
Two-wheel Transport

Bike Week

Bike vs Bike I remember visiting my grandparents in Daytona Beach during Bike Week, when hundreds, nay, thousands, of motorcyclists would invade the city, roaring up and down the streets. There was no missing their arrival! I’m not going anywhere in particular with that snippet of information. It’s more of a stream-of-consciousness thing. The memory simply popped into my head when I thought of doing a “bike week” here on my blog. In my case, Bike Week will be a series of photos of bicycles here in Utrecht that have caught my eye for one reason or another. But there will be a few motorcycles included in the pictures. For example, I enjoyed the pairing of this motorcycle and bicycle. Despite being a red BMW, it looks a bit dull in spots, whereas the bicycle looks nice and shiny. Still, it’s a nice looking motorcycle. Not all bicycles here look as shiny and nice. In fact, plenty are pretty beat up, and I’ve heard some rattle so much that they would give a motorcycle a run for its money in the noise department. So, if you like pictures of bicycles, stick around this week. If not, I’ll try to return to my usual posts of pretty streets in the sun, old buildings, and cats soon enough.