Sustainable Mobility Rolls On, Dutch Style

Reports from the Field by • 09/29

Event: New Amsterdam Bike Slam Symposium: Global Trends in Sustainable Mobility
Location: Center for Architecture, 09.11.09
Speakers: Rick Bell, FAIA — Executive Director, AIANY; Eric Niehe — Ambassador, Netherlands Ministry for Foreign Affairs, and project leader, NY400; Walter Hook, Ph.D. — Executive Director, Institute for Transportation and Development Policy; Willem de Jager — Director of Sustainable Mobility, RABO Bank, Amsterdam; Paul Steely White — Executive Director, Transportation Alternatives (moderator/speaker); Heather Allen — Senior Manager for Sustainable Development, Union International Transport Public; Ruth Oldenziel — Professor, Eindhoven University of Technology; Eric van der Kooij — Spatial Planner, City of Amsterdam; Christopher O. Ward — Executive Director, Port Authority of NY and NJ; Janette Sadik-Khan — Commissioner, NYC Department of Transportation; Pieter de Haan — Traffic Psychologist, Institute for Shared Space; Herman Gelissen — Public Bicycles OV Fiets; Arjen Jaarsma — Balancia; Jeff Olson, Alta Planning; Pascal van der Noort — Velo Mondial (moderator/speaker)
Moderators: Paul Steely White — Executive Director, Transportation Alternatives; Karen Overton — Catalyst Coordinator, Partnerships for Parks, and founder, Recycle-a-Bicycle; Caroline Samponaro — Director of Bicycle Advocacy, Transportation Alternatives; Andy Clarke — Executive Director of American Bicyclists LAB; Nazli Parvizi — Commissioner, Community Assistance Unit, Mayor’s Office, NYC; Pascal van der Noort — Velo Mondial
Organizers & Sponsors: Transportation Alternatives, NYC; Velo Mondial, Amsterdam
Cosponsors: AIANY Transportation and Infrastructure Committee


Two-hundred orange bicycles were available free to the public for NY400. Later this year, most of the bikes will be donated to Recycle-A-Bicycle. The rest will be auctioned to the public, supporting a charitable cause.

Richard Koek, courtesy

The 400th anniversary of Henry Hudson’s arrival provides the occasion for Dutch-American cultural exchange — and, as diplomat Eric Niehe said, not only celebrating but also publicly investing in future relations, fostering a common cosmopolitan environment of entrepreneurship and tolerance. Along with the gifts of 200 orange bikes and a Ben van Berkel/UNStudio-designed pavilion at the Battery, plus a competition between planning/design teams to imagine ways to make New York bike-friendlier (won by Team Amsterdam’s combination of Dutch city planners and American designers), this all-day symposium gave architects, planners, public officials, scholars, and activists a chance to trade ideas about combining infrastructure, culture, and public education to build an environment that citizens gladly navigate on two wheels.

The Dutch love bicycling, but not just because their land is flat, because of some aversion to obesity, or because their practical modern design prizes qualities associated with bikes (energy efficiency, health). Like other industrial nations, the Netherlands went through a period in the mid-20th century when bike use was declining; reviving a flagging bike culture took conscious effort. From the 1970s onward, public and private officials have made a bike renaissance a priority, and today the nation has more bikes than people.

RABO Bank’s Willem de Jager reported that many leading Dutch corporations have jointly agreed to remove 10% of the cars from the rush-hour roads. Taking a bottom-up, voluntary approach and embracing alternative transportation (bikes, walking, and public transit), flexible hours, telecommuting, encouraging employees to work closer to home, and greened-up corporate vehicle fleets, these firms have not only made a dent in congestion levels costing roughly $7 billion annually in lost productivity and health expenses; they’ve become more desirable employers. Balancia’s mobility consultant Arjen Jaarsma emphasized that there is no such thing as cycling planning in isolation; it is part of an integrated approach to traffic safety, legal/regulatory mechanisms, air-quality policy, and related concerns. Sustainable mobility, Velo Mondial’s Pascal van der Noort summed up, needs a political choice for a long-term balance among “emission-rich, emission-poor, and emission-free” modes of movement. “The car with petroleum,” he said, “remains in the 20th century.”

Surprise appearances by the Port Authority’s Chris Ward and Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan ensured that local visions weren’t overshadowed by the Dutch experience: Ward ventured several ambitious predictions about ways New York’s infrastructure may adapt to a future where intellectual and cultural production, not the troubled finance industry, is likely to be the region’s chief driver of economic growth. Sadik-Khan recounted the city’s widely emulated recent achievements in transforming streets from vehicular corridors to spaces for people, earning applause from the audience by declaring, “I don’t look at biking as alternative transportation. I look at it as transportation, period.”

This philosophy is well-aligned with the Netherlands’ low-key, utilitarian bike culture, which treats bikes as a matter-of-fact transport-mode choice by members of the whole population. As global bike-culture hero Gil Peñalosa (Bogotá parks commissioner and brother of mayor Enrique) has said on a number of occasions, cycling facilities are adequate only if they are safe enough for eight-year-olds and 80-year-olds. The predominantly male, risk-tolerant riders who were out in force at Sunday’s NYC Century Ride bring enormous energy to local sustainable-mobility efforts, but they cannot be the sole constituency for urban cycling infrastructure if New York is to reach Dutch levels of non-automotive mode share. We’ll need more protected lanes, practical bikes suited to moms rather than messengers, efficient and affordable bike-rental programs like the smart-card-based OV Fiets system, ample secure bike parking (the 2009 Bicycle Access Bill being a good start), and law enforcement against vehicular violence (the Dutch legal approach, several panelists mentioned, recognizes all users’ equal right to the roads and protects the most vulnerable by presuming motorists are at fault in auto-bike crashes).


Comments are closed.

New York Public Library 53rd Street Branch by TEN Arquitectos. Steele's role: Principal in Charge/Project Architect. Photo: TEN Arquitectos.
Featured Member: Andrea Steele, AIA Featured Member
Congratulations to @babkwth for winning our first-ever #ArchtoberSelects Instagram Challenge.
Field Condition Names Winners in Debut #ArchtoberSelects Instagram Challenge Reports from the Field
CLP 2017 Inaugural class: (l-r) Ayodele Yusuf, Jenna Leigh Wandishin, Daniel Horn (back row), Michael Caton, Michaela Metcalfe, Christina Hernandez, A.L. Hu, Shilpa Patel, Jack Dinning, Jessica Morris. Credit: Center for Architecture
Policy Pulse: Announcing 2017 Civic Leadership Program Class Policy Pulse
AIANY Emerging New York Architects Committee Civic Leadership Program (CLP) kick off at the Center for Architecture. Credit: Center for Architecture.
Civic Leadership Program Kicks Off At the Center for Architecture
Nike New York Headquarters by Studios Architecture and Workplace Design + Connectivity. Photos courtesy of Nike.
In the News In The News
Names in the News Names in the News
Submit your work to the 2017 AIANY COTE Awards!
New Deadlines New Deadlines
The Bier House by Kaneji Domoto, featured in "Kaneji Domoto at Frank Lloyd Wright’s Usonia,” on view through 08.26.17. Credit: Thad Russell
On View On View
Classifieds Classifieds
Public Square by FXFOWLE. Image: FXFOWLE/Driverless Future Challenge.
Driverless Future Challenge Names Winner Reports from the Field
Apartment, New York. Photo: Michael Moran.
Featured Member: Leonard Kady, AIA Featured Member
A temporal collage of the historic site by Seher Erdogan Ford.
Announcing the Recipients of the 2017 Arnold W. Brunner Grant for Architectural Research At the Center for Architecture
Hyper-Efficient Building Workshop on 06.14.17 and 06.15.17. Credit: Center for Architecture
Policy Pulse: New Hyper-Efficient Building Training Launches Policy Pulse
From left: Peter Lampen, AIA; Luke Surowiec, LEED AP; Steven Winter, FAIA; John Lee, AIA. Photo: Center for Architecture.
A Closer Look at 80×50 Initiative’s NYC Retrofit Accelerator Program At the Center for Architecture
Bartholomew Voorsanger, FAIA, Principal, Voorsanger Architects, and Alastair Gordon, Contributing Editor, Architecture and Design, Wall Street Journal. Photo: Center for Architecture.
Cocktails and Conversation with Bartholomew Voorsanger, FAIA, and Alastair Gordon At the Center for Architecture
Koray Duman, AIA, LEED AP, Founder, Büro Koray Duman. Photo: Nicholas Calcott/Surface Magazine.
Featured Member: Koray Duman, AIA, LEED AP Featured Member
Hilary Ballon (1956-2017). Courtesy of NYU Abu Dhabi.
In Memoriam: Hilary Ballon (1956-2017) In Memoriam
NYPL Mid-Manhattan Library renovation by Mecanoo and Beyer Blinder Belle.
In the News In The News
Names in the News Names in the News
Cast and Place by Team Aesop, winner of the 2017 FIGMENT City of Dreams pavilion competition.
New Deadlines New Deadlines
Harris House site plan by Kaneji Domoto, featured in “Kaneji Domoto at Frank Lloyd Wright’s Usonia,” on view through 08.26.17. Courtesy of the Kaneji Domoto Family Archive.
On View On View
Classifieds Classifieds
Waterproofing of the facade system and roof at 540 West 26th Street for Savanna. Design Architect: Morris Adjmi. Rendering: Morris Adjmi.
Featured Member: Howard Zimmerman Elevated to AIA College of Fellows Featured Member
From left: Signe Nielsen, RLA, FASLA; Cynthia Rosenzweig; Susanne Desroches; Jeffrey Raven, FAIA, LEED BD+C; and Jee Mee Kim, AICP. Photo: Center for Architecture.
Climate Change in NYC: Bridging Science and Practice At the Center for Architecture
Courtesy of the Center for Active Design.
Policy Pulse: FitCity 2017 Lands in Queens Policy Pulse
Frank Sinatra School of the Arts, Astoria, Queens, NY. Somvanshi’s role: Associate, Project Manager and On-site Supervisor. Firm: Ennead Architects (previously Polshek Partnership). Photo: Jeff Goldberg/Esto.
Featured Member: Kalavati Somvanshi Elevated to AIA College of Fellows Featured Member
Robert Michael Kliment, FAIA. Courtesy of Kliment Halsband Architects.
Robert Michael Kliment, FAIA (1933 – 2017) In Memoriam
Museum of Modern Art  east section renovation by Diller Scofidio + Renfro in collaboration with Gensler. Credit: Iwan Baan
In the News In The News
Names in the News Names in the News
09.17.17: Call for Entries: 2017 AIANY COTE Awards
New Deadlines New Deadlines
Lurie House by Kaneji Domoto, featured in "“Kaneji Domoto at Frank Lloyd Wright’s Usonia,” opening 06.22.17. Credit: Thad Russell
On View On View
Classifieds Classifieds
New York City Police Academy by Perkins + Will. Photo: Courtesy of Perkins + Will.
Featured Member: Michael Plottel Elevated to AIA College of Fellows Featured Member
AIANY Opposes Paris Climate Accord Exit From the Desk of the President
Manhattan Districts 1/2/5 Garage and Salt Shed by Dattner Architects and WXY architecture + urban design, 2016 Building of the Day. Credit: Center for Architecture
Call for Archtober Buildings of the Day New Deadlines
Upper East Side residence by Gabellini Sheppard, New York. Photo: Paul Warchol.
Michael Gabellini, FAIA, Delivers AIANY 2017 Gil Oberfield Lecture At the Center for Architecture
AIANY representatives at AIA New York State's "Architects in Albany Advocacy Day." Credit: Center for Architecture
Policy Pulse: 2017 Architects in Albany Advocacy Day Policy Pulse
Families make collages of their dream playgrounds. Credit: Center for Architecture
Draw, Design, Build! NYU Teams Up with the Center for Architecture for Family Programming Learning by Design
Weill Hall at Cornell University, Ithica, NY. Photo: Scott Frances.
Featured Member: Renny Logan Elevated to AIA College of Fellows Featured Member
The Shed by Diller Scofidio + Renfro in collaboration with Rockwell Group.
In the News In The News
Names in the News Names in the News
New Deadlines New Deadlines
Siegel House by Kaneji Domoto, featured in “Kaneji Domoto at Frank Lloyd Wright’s Usonia,” opening 06.22.17. Credit: Thad Russell
On View On View
Classifieds Classifieds
AIANY 2017 President David Piscuskas, FAIA, at the National Summit on Design and Urban Mobility. Credit: Center for Architecture
Are We Ready for Autonomous Vehicles? From the Executive Director
Reflections at Keppel Bay in Keppel Bay, Singapore. Photo: Keppel Bay Pte Ltd.
Featured Member: Daniel Libeskind Elevated to AIA College of Fellows Featured Member
Join us for FitCity 2017! Hunter's Point South Waterfront Park by Thomas Balsley Associates and WEISS/MANFREDI. Credit: Albert Vecerka/Esto.
Policy Pulse: FitCity 2017 Policy Pulse
Speakers of "Hesitation and Constraints: Barriers to Social Research in Practice." Credit: Center for Architecture
Social Sciences, Good for Your Bottom Line and Society At the Center for Architecture
The Quad Cinema, renovated by Projects Design Associates with rebrand by Pentagram. Credit: Marion Curtis / StarPix.
In the News In The News
Names in the News Names in the News