Thursday, May 5, 2011

John Kelly on bicycling and transit

Washington Post columnist John Kelly recently traveled to the Netherlands to visit his wife who is working there. He wrote about their way of getting around in today's Post, "If only D.C. commuting were this smooth - or could it be?"
What the Dutch are particularly good at is getting from one place to another. And the infrastructure that makes that possible can seem very foreign to a foreigner.

First, of course, there are the bicycles, great herds of which ebb and flow across the cities and through the countryside every day. America’s capital is gaining a reputation as a bikeable city, but it has some ways to go to match the Dutch capital. Every sizeable road in the Hague has separate bike lanes — a set in each direction. Many bike lanes are protected from traffic with curbs.

Just imagine how many problems we could solve — traffic, pollution, obesity — if cycling was as easy here as it is there. (Of course, it helps that the Netherlands is as flat as a billiard table.)

Then there’s the public transportation system in the Netherlands.

What's especially neat about the OV-Chipkaart [a universal smart trip card] is how many places you can use it. Gerben said the Netherlands is the first - and so far the only - country to use a single card for bus, tram, subway, light rail and train, across multiple jurisdictions and companies.

"And we are broadening the use outside towards public transport-related services, such as bicycle rental and taxi," he said.



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