Welcome to (A Two-Wheeled) Paradise!
Last week, more than 400 urban innovators and city-makers gathered at Placemaking Week in Amsterdam. Our Founder/CEO, Mariela was to present, but I think she had a little too much fun at her wedding three days prior and was not well enough to attend. So we thought we'd give you a little taste of the workshop she would have presented and give you an opportunity to sign up for a virtual version on November 7th. Download a free State of Place Amsterdam report and sign up for the workshop below!
Perhaps it's for the best that our Founder didn't make it to Amsterdam...yes, she missed out on the Anne Frank Museum, the Vondelpark, and the Red Light District (come on, everyone goes there when they visit Amsterdam!)...but we wonder how at home she would have been in the City of Bikes (as you know, she's struggled to learn - shush, don't tell her we told you - it's her dirty little placemaker's secret). The rest of us here at State of Place though would have loved to have seen the famous “Fietsflat” (literal translation “Bike Flat”) in person (a and yeah, the Red Light District too!). This 3-story tall bike parking, a 2-minute walk from the Central Station (convenient!), can store over 2,500 bikes and is a literal testament to the City's adoration of bikes. For urban planners, environmentalists, and place-lovers like us, it’s the perfect place respite from which to appreciate this Two-Wheeled Paradise - especially as a pedestrian newcomer to a city where bikes reign supreme. More than 90 percent of people ride bikes in the city center - even when it rains or snows. Indeed, as a walker - moving around feels decidedly slow, especially when nine out of ten bikers are speeding by you (ahem, not yielding) and crosswalks. It's easy for pedestrians to feel a bit like traffic outcasts! ;)
These Streets are Made for Biking… BUT Don’t Forget about Pedestrians!
Amsterdam has been working on a new Comprehensive Masterplan 2040, which will restrict maximum road speeds. Its plan to reduce the number of cars in the city center will definitely make the city more pedestrian-friendly, but Amsterdam’s new vision still puts a lot of emphasis on biking, mirroring its traffic hierarchy: bikes are number one, then pedestrians, and then cars. (Mariela might flip around the first two there, but overall, developers and planners from other cities around the world should be taking notes!). While walking is on the decline in the city due to more and more people cycling, the city is working to balance this with new investments in walkability (YAY!). Can Amsterdam make walking sexy like biking? Our data geeks at State of Place are eager to help! So without further ado, here's our mini (post)view of what would have been presented during Mariela's workshop...our assessment of the Placemaking Week conference location.
Walkability at the Placemaking Week Amsterdam
The Placemaking Week's conference building, Pakhuis de Zwijger, actually borders a pedestrian-only street on the waterside. Although it sounds promising, the street is far from popular among pedestrians. Buildings are relatively high, making the walk “windy” and less appealing. We collected data on 290+ built environment features of five blocks near the building and calculated their State of Place Index and Profile to showcase the area's walkability, quality of place, and attractiveness. Scroll through the results above.
Had we focused on streets closer to the city center, we know the State of Place would certainly have been higher. Clearly there are a ton of pedestrians walking along the canals (and tourists walking in the biking lanes - a no-no and tell-tale sign you are not from Amsterdam!), enjoying this compact, vibrant city that seemingly doesn't sleep! But we wanted to show that even in Europe, even in amazing European cities like Amsterdam, there's room for improvement! State of Place can help highlight this - objectively - and help set evidenced based priorities for how to improve your streets - for both pedestrians and bicyclists!