February 12, 2019

The Bruntlett Blueprint for Bike Life — a Vancouver Story

Today’s moving day for the Bruntletts, a foursome who have come to represent, over the past decade, Vancouver’s culture of cycling in the mainstream.

Think normal clothes, kids in cargo bikes, and families who embrace the car-free lifestyle, riding around the seawall, or along a quiet neighbourhood street— the Bruntletts have helped shape this image.

What began as writing to (and for) local media in support of transportation cycling evolved into their own media creations, through their consultancy Modacity. And by promoting and celebrating everyday, normalized cycling, and blogging, producing videos, and using social media and events to take the Vancouver cycling perspective outside our backyard, the Bruntletts also discovered the Netherlands.

So today, thanks in part to the success of their 2018 book Building the Cycling City: The Dutch Blueprint for Urban Vitality, the new life they begin is in The Netherlands itself, where bike life is truly mainstream. They’ll bring their skills, networks and message to Delft, home of the Dutch Cycling Embassy.

The Bruntlett’s move is perhaps not that different from what brought them to Vancouver in the first place. They talk about this in today’s episode, as well as how their cycling advocacy unfolded, during what can most certainly be seen as Vancouver’s first major step into mainstream bike-naissance a decade ago. We hope to see them back here before too long.

Viewpoint Vancouver Podcast
Viewpoint Vancouver Podcast
The Bruntlett Blueprint for Bike Life — a Vancouver Story

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  1. A genuine Dutch person skewers the belief that Amsterdam is a biking model Vancouver should follow:

    “Biking in Amsterdam is anarchy, and the price of emulating the Dutch way is to embrace a level of chaos that Vancouver never could or should.
    Dutch cycling culture is built on more than smooth bike lanes and giving two-wheelers to two-year-olds — it requires giving cyclists total dominance on the roads. Pedestrians are checking left-right-left because if they don’t, they’ll be run over by a bike…

    ..The newspapers are full of complaints — not from drivers wanting road space, but from citizens challenging cyclists. Op-eds abound, with titles like “Bike-terror Amsterdam: ‘Different rules apply here’” or “Amsterdam cyclists ignore the rules.” The Dutch government website has a section that lists questions like “Am I allowed to play on my phone, listen to music and make phone calls on my bike?” (yes, but that’s changing) and “Will I lose my driver’s licence if I get pulled over for biking drunk?” (no).

    So, all is not perfect in Europe’s cycling utopia, despite, or perhaps because of, the ideal infrastructure. When you build a safe bike path, bikers will come. And scooters. And e-bikes. And cargo bikes. The bike path has become its own traffic ecosystem, and with that comes familiar problems: road rage, speeding and distracted driving.,,

    1. Don’t believe everything you read.

      Amsterdam is a very old city with narrow streets interrupted by lots of canals. It was built for walking and slow carts towed by animals. At one time it was completely over-run by cars which was totally unworkable. Reducing the amount of cars by eliminating most of the parking and getting more people back onto bikes made the city function much better.

      It’s not perfect. It can be difficult to get through the more crowded areas no matter how you are travelling – although the trams have right-of-way and are reliable. Europeans in general are more forward and less overly-polite. It would be surprising if there wasn’t some animosity at times.

      But bikes don’t kill and maim the way cars do. You conveniently left out the part about the carnage that cars were imposing on their citizens before they got wise and constrained them in favour of more human transportation.