On our 8th day, we traveled to Groningen and Assen. They are about 2 1/2 hours away from Amsterdam. The saying is that from Groningen to Amsterdam it isn’t that far, but from Amsterdam to Groningen is like traveling to another county. It is located in the far northeast corner of the Netherlands. Assen is in the province of Drenthe.
Groningen has a population of approximately 190,000 with a large component being students. Compared to Eugene, which has a population of 156,185. They are also comparable in size with Groningen (32.3 sq mi) and Eugene (40.54 sq mi) It has also been called the “World Cycling City” with 57% of all trips within the city are made by bicycle. So with such a reputation, we traveled to the meet with Jaap Valkema. During his presentation he discussed how the T structure of the A7 and the A28 and the ring road around the city centre dictate the growth of and structure of the city. Additionally their focus is on combining both Town Planning with Transportation planning to provide a better synergy for development.
The co-ordination of town planning and transportation policy led to Spatial Plans favouring the compactness of the city, access restrictions for cars to the city centre, parking management, management of the car flow, an extensive cycling network, and public participation and consultation of stakeholders.
Jaap also talked about how there needs to be a balance between all different modes of transportation. While coming from Amsterdam and Utrecht this was kind of letdown because it seemed like the city was focusing too much on cars and parking garages. However coming from Eugene, this is revolutionary…
Here are some pictures taken from Jason DeHaan’s Picasa account.
As for Assen, I really didn’t have a lot to say about the place. It didn’t really blow me away. It didn’t stand out in any way. It was what it was. But I guess that plays to the greater narrative of the Netherlands. Keeping up with National Policy will get you to at least 20% bicycle ridership in the city. There really isn’t a cycle culture…instead it is something one does to get around. I can only hope for the day where I can be the same and not labeled as something I’m not. But until that day, I’ll continue to advocate for bikes!