When It Comes to Cycling, Delft Wasn't Always Delft

Screen capture. Bruntlett family biking/ Streetfilms

Changing attitudes about cities and getting people out of cars takes a lot of work.

A line you often hear in every bike lane argument is that "we're not Amsterdam" or "we're not Copenhagen." But as the Cycling Professor noted, "The argument that your city is not like Amsterdam is invalid. Neither was Amsterdam; it took long, radical effort." And Clarence Eckerson Jr of Streetfilms notes, Delft wasn't always Delft. It takes a lot of work; Chris Bruntlett notes that “they did it one street at a time.”

Chris and Melissa Bruntlett have long been TreeHugger regulars (see my interview of them in Vancouver, where they used to live). Now they are living in Delft, and Clarence asks, Why Delft?

"Well, their reasons are myriad but as we biked around it became quite clear what most attracted them to Delft is that the city has really taken seriously the Dutch philosophy of giving bicyclists free movement with limited stoplights, roundabouts and maintaining through movement for people using human power to get around. In many places bikes have the default right of way, the opposite of many countries and cities where they would be required to press a beg button and wait their turn."

Gersh Kuntzman notes on Streetsblog that other cities have to learn from this.

"That’s how the revolution will start here. New Yorkers will simply get sick of roadways with 225,000 crashes per year and 61,000 injuries per year, and 200-plus deaths per year. So, no, maybe we’re not Holland yet. But why not aspire to become better than we are now? Cars are a lifestyle choice that is destroying our city. Can we just make other choices easier?"

What I loved most about this film is the way the kids roam freely around the city. Coralie and Étienne go just about anywhere with confidence and poise. It looks like a great place to be at any age.

lumber on a bike

Streetfilms/Screen capture

And who says you can't go to the lumberyard with a bike? Here is another video from Bicycle Dutch, explaining how they got their bike lanes: