Are Global City Commuters Ready To Ditch The Car And Go Dutch?

May 18 2014, 8:20am CDT | by

Nobody does inner city commuting like the Dutch. That’s because most of them do it on bikes.

Rush hour in Amsterdam bears no resemblance to that of any other major city I can think of; instead of roads gridlocked with cars, exhaust fumes and audibly frustrated drivers, in the Dutch capital, hordes (is there a collective name for bikes?) of cyclists sweep gracefully along, making their clean, quiet, and relatively stress free way into work.

If that makes you feel a little envious ahead of your own morning motorised crawl to work, you might take some comfort from the efforts of a pair of Dutch entrepreneurs, brothers Ties and Taco Carlier, who want to let the rest of the world in on the secret of the congestion-free commute.

The pair, who had already enjoyed success developing products for their companies Strida-Europe and Dutchband BV, are pitching all their energies into making bike commuting more accessible to the global masses by designing a smart bike with sex appeal, that they believe will offer a strong alternative to status symbols like cars.

Pedal power

Launched five years ago, their company Vanmoof, produces urban-focused bikes.  Their latest model is a revamp of the iconic Dutch bicycle frame design, combined with GPS technology, which the brothers are convinced offers the perfect solution to a New York, Tokyo or even a Sao Paulo commuter.

The Vanmoof Electrified is designed purely for inner city use. Its built in GPS system can be operated via a smartphone app, and navigation aside, tackles one of the biggest bugbears for cyclists; bike theft.

“The very first Vanmoof Electrified got stolen, and was successfully retrieved by locating the bike, with the help of the GPS and the Florida Police. The original owner is riding around happily again,” says Taco Carlier, adding that the GPS is equally adept at finding bikes that become ‘lost’ at the end of the Friday night after work drinks session.

Vanmoof bikes are sold in 32 countries, through hundreds of retail outlets, as well as to customers direct, and the Electrified model is the newest; the one that its creators are most optimistic about revolutionising travel to and from work.

The Carliers’ passion is natural. People in Holland have ridden bikes for hundreds of years; even the Dutch royal family uses them.  The country’s famously flat, mainly rural geography was made for the mode of transport; while road layout in the larger cities, many built around canals, and peppered with bridges and narrow winding canal paths, make cycling one of the only practical ways of getting around.

Lost in translation?

Can the Carlier brothers vision of filling a gap in the market for an inner city bike withstand the rigours of truly sprawling, car choked metropolises such as Tokyo, New York, Los Angeles, and San Paulo?

Figures from the recently published US Census Bureau show that overall, cyclists account for just 0.6 % of all US commuters, although in Portland, Oregon, they accounted for 6.1% and in San Francisco, 3.4%.

In the UK cycling to work has flat lined, with latest figures of 2.8% unchanged in a decade.

And in Sao Paulo, South America’s largest city, with 11 million people and some of the worst rush hour traffic congestion, cycling to work is an option that comes with a high level of personal risk.

Then there are the practicalities to consider. How do you appear business-like when you arrive at work looking sweaty and dishevelled? Some employers provide shower facilities and cycle parks for cycling employees, but for most they are far not considered a priority perk.

Yet Carlier remains adamant. He says: “Of course it is difficult to compare our Dutch bicycle tradition with other markets in the world, but we use our all passion for cycling and our belief that the use of a bicycle is the smartest solution at this moment for congested cities./>/>

“Outside of the larger European cities, we are seeing a strong growth in Japan, specifically in Osaka, but also in New York, San Francisco, and Sydney, and slowly, in some Latin America capitals.”

With more than half of the world’s population living in city centres, the pressure on inner city transport is growing. Environmentally and financially, and from a personal health and fitness point of view, cycling makes good sense.

But good sense doesn’t always transcend cultural traditions, and as cost effective, stylish, high tech, and loss and theft-proof as the Vanmoof Electric may be, it could be some time before the rest of the metropolitan world goes Dutch.

 
 

Don't miss ...

 

<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/30" rel="author">Forbes</a>
Forbes is among the most trusted resources for the world's business and investment leaders, providing them the uncompromising commentary, concise analysis, relevant tools and real-time reporting they need to succeed at work, profit from investing and have fun with the rewards of winning.

 

blog comments powered by Disqus

Latest stories

IPad Air Giveaway 2014 is Online
IPad Air Giveaway 2014 is Online
Our sister site I4U News is giving away a brand new iPad Air or if you can wait an iPad Air 2. This is an $499 value.
 
 
Your Parent Or Kid Moved In: Are You Covered?
A record 57 million Americans now live in multigenerational family households — double the number in 1980, according to a new Pew Research Center study. And I bet many of them have the wrong homeowner’s or renters...
 
 
Pandora Looks to Challenge Terrestrial Radio's Dominance in Cars
Pandora Media is one of the largest Internet radio providers in the U.S. with more than 75 million active users. While the company’s active user count has increased at a robust pace historically, it is likely to slow...
 
 
Are General Manager Salaries About To Skyrocket? Will There Be A Front Office Salary Cap?
Are General Manager Salaries About To Skyrocket? Will There Be A Front Office Salary Cap?
It’s January 2026. New York Yankees owner Hal Steinbrenner gets out of his driverless car and triumphantly marches before the gathered press to introduce his prized new free agent. It’s a record-breaking contract—over...
 
 
 

Latest from the Network

Pakistan facing over 6,000 MW power shortfall
Islamabad, Sep 20 (IANS) Pakistan is facing an electricity shortfall of over 6,000 MW, with many parts of Punjab province witnessing outages of 20 hours a day. Un-announced load shedding in small and rural cities of...
Read more on Business Balla
 
New Zealand opposition leader concedes defeat in elections
Wellington, Sep 20 (IANS) David Cunliffe, leader of New Zealand's main opposition Labour Party Saturday, conceded defeat in the general election. Cunliffe said in a televised address to party faithful that he had...
Read more on Politics Balla
 
Xi's Asia trip new chapter for China's diplomacy: Minister
Beijing, Sep 20 (IANS) Chinese President Xi Jinping's state visits to India, Sri Lanka, the Maldives and Tajikistan opened a new chapter for China's neighbourhood diplomacy, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said at...
Read more on Politics Balla
 
Asian Games: Indian hoopsters thrash Palestine
Incheon, Sep 20 (IANS) Indian men's basketball team registered a facile 89-49 win over Palestine in their opening Group B match of the 17th Asian Games at the Hwaseong Sports Complex Gymnasium here Saturday. In a...
Read more on Sport Balla
 
Men spikers win, women lose at Asiad
Incheon, Sep 20 (IANS) The Indian men's volleyball team got off to a brilliant start by notching up a 3-1 win over Hong Kong in their opening Group C game at the Asian Games here Saturday. Playing at the Ansan...
Read more on Sport Balla
 
West Indies top ICC Women's Championship table
Dubai, Sep 20 (IANS) The West Indies moved to the top of the ICC Women's Championship table after beating New Zealand 4-0 in the just-concluded bilateral One-Day International (ODI) series with left-arm spinner Anisa...
Read more on Sport Balla
 
Pakistani plane carrying 47 people grounded after bird hit
Islamabad, Sep 20 (IANS) A Lahore-bound Pakistani flight carrying 47 passengers had to be grounded here Saturday when it was hit by a bird shortly after taking off. The incident occurred with Pakistan International...
Read more on Politics Balla
 
BJP leaders discuss Tamil issues with Rajapaksa in Colombo
Colombo, Sep 20 (IANS) A wide range of issues, particularly relating to ethnic Tamils of Sri Lanka, came up for discussion during a meeting of senior BJP leaders Muralidhar Rao and Vijay Jolly with Sri Lankan President...
Read more on Politics Balla
 
Pakistan to get 160 IED-resistant vehicles from US
Islamabad, Sep 20 (IANS) The US government will give 160 Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicles, and spare and repair parts worth 198 million dollars to Pakistan, a media report said Saturday. The US State...
Read more on Politics Balla
 
Indian track cyclists fail to qualify (Roundup)
Incheon, Sep 20 (IANS) Indian track cyclists - both men's and women's teams - failed to qualify for their sprint finals at the Incheon International Velodrome in the 17th Asian Games here Saturday. In the men's...
Read more on Sport Balla