Category Archives: Advocacy

Mobility Education

Back in December 2012 the Federal Ministry of Transport, Building and Urban Development introduced the new German National Cycling Plan 2020 (pdf – in German!). The main theme of the new Plan, which builds off the National Cycling Plan 2002-2012, is the collective advancement of bicycle transportation among all levels of government including advocacy groups on both the national and local level. One of the key areas the Plan focuses on is Continue reading

Activist Profile: Fietsersbond

In the spring of 2010 I had the pleasure of interviewing Govert de With from the Fietsersbond (Cyclist’s Union) Amsterdam. The Cyclist’s Union is a nation-wide bicycle advocacy organization in the Netherlands which got its start in the mid 70’s (if I’m reading my notes from almost three years ago correctly), growing out of the car-free Sundays which were mandated during the oil crisis. According to their website there are currently about 35,000 members nation-wide and, at the time of my interview, about 4,500 in Amsterdam. Member recruiting is taken care of by the national office using Continue reading

Does Germany Have All the Answers?

The European Cyclists’ Federation (ECF) has an article from the beginning of January that I’d like to highlight. The article is entitled “Cycling Solutions: Why Germany Has All The Answers” and while I think that may be a bit of an exaggeration, Germany really is an interesting case study for U.S. cycling advocates and transportation planners. Buehler, Pucher, Merom und Bauman (2011) compared active travel (pdf) in the United States and Germany. In their introduction they list off a number of reasons why the comparison is so appropriate: market economies, democratic systems of government, high rates of auto ownership, similar proportions of licensed drivers and, importantly, similar design and timing of travel surveys. The general conclusion of their research was Continue reading

Mobility and Transportation Planning Goals

One of the basic tenets of any transportation network is to provide mobility, yet there seems to be very little consensus as to what this (word) means. One issue in the U.S. is that historical political and planning decisions have led to a predominantly vehicular culture, favoring a uni-modal, auto-centric transportation network.  Mobility, therefore, is often used synonymously with auto-mobility, leading to a misunderstanding of a transportation system’s purpose, even among transportation professionals.

Mobility is generally defined as the potential for movement or change in location of people and goods (Handy, 2002; Litman, 2011). This definition is absent of any mention of mode, yet traditional mobility measurements include car ownership rates, vehicle miles traveled or congestion levels, all of which focus solely on the automobile.

Unfortunately, though providing a definition of mobility and simultaneously acknowledging the term’s association with auto-mobility, Litman and other experts ultimately fail to challenge this pervasive misunderstanding. Continue reading

Activist Profile: VCD

Verkehrsclub Deutschland : Transportation Club of Germany

The VCD (german) is the ecological alternative to Germany’s version of AAA. So if AAA represents primarily the traditional automotive interests, then the VCD advocates for the interests of not only bicycle commuters, mass transit riders and pedestrians but also ecologically conscious drivers. What I find impressive about the VCD is how organized they are. They’re a Germany-wide organization with local subgroups who are active in front of city hall as well as within the political system. Continue reading