Local Heart, Global Soul

September 25, 2018

Christchurch Cycling: The Path Of The Future…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

After the 2010 and 2011 Christchurch earthquakes, a webpage was put up by the Christchurch City Council where people could contribute ideas for how the “new” Christchurch would look, feel and work.

The ideas poured in in the thousands, practical, weird, wacky I think everything was there.

Of course the Council’s budget was stretched thin after the quakes so many were just too expensive but there were however a ton of very well thought out ideas, many with accompanying drawings and artwork.

These were ideas that local residents hoped would not just rejuvenate the decimated city, but also set it on the map as a new, innovative, safe, forward looking place to live and visit.

Christchurch residents wanted to not just rebuild Christchurch but to grab the opportunity to rebuild a city with improvements that were functional and practical.  Keenly interested in what was happening in my old home town, I read this public forum of ideas whilst it stood open, wondering which ideas would be implemented.

At the time it was difficult to imagine how the city close to my heart could possibly recover when it stood looking so broken, but seeing the contributions made me realise that many other people were equally concerned that somehow the “New’ Christchurch should be a the silver lining to the tragedy that had befallen the South Island’s biggest city.

Christchurch is the only large New Zealand city that is almost completely flat (the outer suburbs on the Port Hills excepted) so it was brilliant for me to see that several ideas popped up in the survey of ideas over an over and over and over again: The request for cycle paths set apart from regular road traffic and for the city to be as “Green” as possible.

My cousin told us during our 2013/14 Christmas trip that several people from the city council had come to meet with Dutch city planners and experts on cycle paths here in the Netherlands but that not much had been heard at the time about if, how, when or where cycle paths would be implemented. Many feared that there would be token gesture instead of the extensive network that was hoped for. Light rail, electric trams were other alternative ideas that were lobbied  because there are now so many people living further out from the central city and of course the completely demolished suburbs in “red zones”. (More on those in a post coming very soon).

Now, during our visit of January 2018 I was delighted to see evidence of these requested cycle paths springing up as a network in the city. I have no clue how far it all extends from the central city area but this at least is in my eyes very positive start. It also meets the “Green” request of local people whilst providing a safe way for people to commute around the city and get exercise. For the Council it would cut down on the numbers of vehicles in the central city so surely this idea would have been a no-brainer from the very start. One thing is for certain, Christchurch’s cycleways are the new healthy, green transport option, and a definite path to the future.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

December 10, 2013

A Golden Girl In Flowing Robes, And Other Quirky Bits…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

In this section of our Luxembourg City tourist bus tour, I’m focussing a bit more on the details… Regular readers will know that I can never manage to take photos without zooming in whenever quirky things, architectural details and pretty patterns catch my eye.

Today is no exception. Although I’m usually less of a fan of modern art, three quirky statues on the front lawn of a historical looking building caught my eye, as do some eccentric and bright yellow telephone boxes. (which interestingly are still “boxes” rather than the minimalist installations in The Netherlands that as a public facility are darn near impossible to find thee days.

Much to my delight, decorative towers and turrets abound (If I win the lottery I’m building a house with a tower with windows around the top to be a sun-trap reading room, yeah I know, dream on!).

I spy a very sparkly golden lady high up on a column, she holds a wreath and I’m trying to work out if she has cape that billows out around her or is she has a flowing dress, even on maximum zoom she’s hard to capture from ground level so I try several angles.

I like the colourful stripes on the local public transport buses and in yet another example of how important cycling is here I see a special cycle crossing right through the centre of a large intersection complete with it’s own cycle road markings.  Cycle lanes are everywhere, and separated from the car traffic (also done ever possible in The Netherlands too) you can see how popular cycling is by the numerous cyclists peddling by.

I was disappointed not to have had more information about some of these beautiful buildings on the tour bus commentary… but at least that didn’t diminish the visual delights.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

July 29, 2009

So… … On ya bike !

Filed under: PHOTOGRAPHY — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
Tags: , , , ,

(photo © kiwidutch)

(photo © kiwidutch)

Why do the Dutch have such an amazing love of the bicycle? Well for starters, the county is so flat that one of the national jokes translates into English: “The Netherlands is so flat: if you dropped a marble at one end of the country, it would roll to the other side ” .

As is completely normal in the majority of European towns and cities, the streets in the centers are often narrow, winding and difficult to navigate with modern day modes of transportation in large numbers. These cities took form centuries ago, horses, carriages or wagons were the largest forms of transport and most of the population got around on foot. Bricks or cobbles lined the streets and large areas reserved for things like car parks were strangely absent in the minds of the city planners of the 15th to 19th centuries.

Of course these days, cars pack the highways… in fact traffic jams are not even reported if they are less than 3 kms (1 mile) long, and traffic jams between large cities often reach more than 25kms in length.

Add to that, that not all Dutch even own a car ( they are very expensive to buy, insure and pay road taxes on and after lot are paid, the petrol /gas prices will make you weep) Therefore it’s little wonder that Public Transport in this small country of 17 million people is indeed well used.

Trams, trains and buses provide the bulk of Dutch public transport, but if you commute to you work by train for instance, how do you get quickly and easily to the station? And from your end station to your workplace?

(photo © kiwidutch)

(photo © kiwidutch)

The solution is simple: you have two bicycles.. one that you take from home to the Station, (and leave locked there for the day) and another one parked up and locked at your journey’s end waiting to take you to your work. At the end of the working day you reverse the modes of transports, so in the Netherlands it is normal every day to see literally thousands of cyclists on the move on every cities “ fietspads” (cycleways).

“Parking” at stations is 90% for cycles and about 10% for cars ( the car spaces are usually for 30 minute parking only).

No skinny lightweight racing cycles here… the bricks and cobbles will eat a ten-speed for breakfast without crewing and spit them out… no, the Dutch opt for sturdy bikes, workhorses of the morning commute, able to stand up to the bone shaking bricked streets…

I’ve started yet another photographic theme: The Dutch and their bikes…

(photo © kiwidutch)

(photo © kiwidutch)

….Some of them are painted all bright colours… personal taste? possibly…. but more likely it’s so that they can find their bike at the station in amongst the zillions…

(photo © kiwidutch)

(photo © kiwidutch)

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