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Providence: The Groningen of the United States

(Well, someday).

When you fail a test, you don't sidle up to the person who got a C+ to study. You find the kid who got an A and ask him or her to get you to where you're at. So Providence should start looking at what it could be if it really put its mind to it. And Groningen is the best place to start.


There are lots of excuses for why Providence supposedly can't be a good biking city. Too hilly (Tell San Francisco). Not dense enough (Tell Portland, Oregon). Bad winters (Go talk to Minneapolis, or um, all of Scandanavia).

I like Groningen because it's indisputably the capital of biking in the world. It's the place that Dutch people think is crazy for bikes.

Groningen has some interesting comparisons to Providence:

Population
Groningen: 198,000
Providence: 185,000

Land Area:
Groningen: 30.14 square miles
Providence: 18.6 square miles (Groningen is a good 60% larger)

Population Density:
Groningen: 6,580 per square mile
Providence: 9,950 per square mile

Groningen did some pretty cool things to make itself such a biking capital, and now 50% of trips within the city, and 60% in downtown are made by bike. Providence can do that too.

Now, I know what you're thinking. All this change in the Netherlands took a very long time. But our friend at A View From the Cycle Path, David Hembrow, says that's not true. Focusing on nearby Assen, he gives us a tour.


Hembrow says that most of the major changes that Dutch cities implemented were completed by the end of the '70s, meaning it took about ten years to get most of the work done. It should be the same here, especially if we don't want our downtown to become scuba diving in the Narragansett Bay.

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1 comment:

  1. I'm with you guys 100%. American planners and engineers continue to sell us Yanks short with all kinds of sorry excuses about why it can't be done. The continued dismissal of decades of research done by others is bordering on murderous as the current designs basically force a sedentary car-dependent lifestyle in addition to the deaths that happen directly on the roads. Worse yet, new projects still continue to be trotted out that do nothing toward making things better.

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