This work week went by pretty fast, I must admit. This morning my company sent out an email about the “return to the office”. Spoiler: it won’t happen before 1 September at the earliest, although we were first told that date back around Christmas last year. Kudos to them for seeing how the future would play out. The new tidbit was that any return would be optional (and at the employee’s discretion) until at least December, when that part of the policy would be reviewed again. They were also considering what a future “work from home” policy would look like post corona. Previously it was possible to work from home one day a week, so we’ll see if they extend that to two days.
In other news: T-Mobile to refund people whose Eurovision votes were not counted from nltimes.nl. Casting your vote for the winner of the Eurovision contest last month meant sending a text message to a certain number. Unfortunately for some people in the Netherlands, they received a text message hours later saying that the event had already ended and they could no longer vote, meaning that the vote was held up somewhere and thus declared invalid.
Exiting lockdown: Relaxations implemented June 5, also from nltimes.nl. Tomorrow will see step 3 of 6 of the “re-opening” plan being activated. Steps 4 and 5 will take place (together) at the end of this month, if all goes well. Step 6 is removing the restriction of wearing face masks inside and keeping 1.5 meters distance. There is no official date for when step 6 will happen yet.
And here is an article from omroepwest.nl in Dutch: Kinderen krijgen verkeersparcours in Schilderswijk dankzij ‘positieve fllitspaal’. In other words, the neighborhood put up a speed meter in the area. There was a sign explaining that motorists sticking to the posted speed limit (50km/h) would cause a small automatic donation. The total amount of funds that could be raised was 1,000 euros. That goal was reached and the neighborhood decided to spend it on a traffic course for kids so that they could learn how to safely navigate in traffic as pedestrians or cyclists. (I do think Dutch kids learn how to cycle while still in the womb. At any rate, they learn to cycle at a very young age.)
The Grote Marktstraat is a very busy shopping street in city centre of The Hague – I blog about it sometimes. It is actually somewhat contentious because the city added a lane down the middle back in 2014 when this area was re-paved. The “street” was intended for emergency vehicles or local business vehicles (re-stocking the shops), although the later is restricted to the early morning hours. The “street” is a bit lower than the rest of the area, so bikers have used it as a bike path as well. Which makes sense. On the plus side it also meant that you only had to worry about getting run over when you were crossing this “street” since bikers and vehicles would stick to this area only.
Here is a photo of the area when it was under construction back in 2014 (but after the “bike path” was finished):
Even though the lane wasn’t painted red (what usually signals that it is a bike path in the Netherlands) it was definitely used as a bike path as soon as it opened.
Flash forward to this week, when the city has decided that “yes, it is a bike path (…for now), but pedestrians still have right of way”. (Yeah right, I don’t want to risk my life seeing if that is true!)
As you can see above, the notice that pedestrians have right of way has been painted into the area where bikes ride, in at least 5 spots. It’s actually a bit of an obstacle course until the paint dries, really…
In other news: Rotterdam, The Hague announce bid to host Tour de France start from nltimes.nl. The bid would either be for 2024 or 2025. Rotterdam would host the opening stage, with an additional stage from Rotterdam to The Hague. The previous time the Netherlands hosted a few stages was back in 2015, when Utrecht was the host twice.
And Fietsers weg uit de Grote Marktstraat? Dat kan, maar gaat ten koste van parkeerplekken from omroepwest.nl. (Removing cyclists from the Grote Marktstraat? That is possible, but it will come at the cost of parking). The city has determined that it is possible to remove cyclists from the shopping area of the Grote Marktstraat, the large shopping street in The Hague’s city centre. This is because cyclists can use the parellel streets of Gedempte Gracht and Gedempte Burgwal, but 54 parking spots would need to be removed in the latter street to make sure cyclists have enough room.
Of course, the article then goes on to say that there is a possibility that cyclists can cycle tvia the Grote Markstraat before 11:30 daily, when the shops open. But that just means people won’t know the difference and will keep cycling through the area no matter the time of day. Although the city did successfully manage to ban scooters from using the Grote Markstraart so I guess anything is possible… we shall see!
This is to be expected; people are working from home more often and most people won’t be going on holiday this year. I read somewhere that some people are purchasing multiple Christmas trees so that they have one for each room. The only rule I have is that we need to wait until November before we bring out the Christmas decorations. November 1st, that is…
Amsterdam to use flowers to stop cyclists chaining bikes to bridges from theguardian.com. Like it or not, bikes do get in the way often. And one of the places you will always, always see bikes is chained to a canal bridge. The worst part? It doesn’t just spoil the view, it also leaves less room for pedestrians which means they are more likely to walk in the road.
Personally I don’t remember having this issue in Amsterdam but I did experience it in Utrecht. I felt like I was walking in the street at least half of the time, which definitely wasn’t fun.
Today’s photo is of the Rootz restaurant on the Grote Markt, in the heart of The Hague’s city centre:
What do I always notice first? The red and white shutters as they are very European looking. The signs at the bottom of the photo point to the entrance (ingang) and the telephone number for reservations (reserveren?). The restaurant is quite careful to say that you don’t need a reservation for the terrace and (if there is space available) you don’t need a reservation to sit in the restaurant inside. After passing all of the health questions, of course.
I’ve never ate at this Rootz, only at the Scheveningen location near the beach. Unfortunately that location closed some years back. It was a great place for beer choices, though the menu itself didn’t have a lot of options that appealed to me.
Speaking of the Grote Markt, I read an article at Omroep West: Fietsers niet meer welkom in groot deel centrum Den Haag (bicyclists won’t be welcome in a big part of The Hague’s city centre). However this change doesn’t go into effect until October and doesn’t cover the Grote Markt street itself quite yet. There’s a separate review about what to do with the largest shopping street. Starting from October, most of the smaller streets will be closed to bicyclists from 11:30 until shops close. There are still a few streets that will always welcome bicyclists, though.
The streets marked with dark blue and yellow lines will still allow bike traffic 24/7. All other streets in the shaded green area will be closed to bicyclists from 11:30 in the morning.
Blue skies all around, and we’re halfway to the weekend!
This is the old city hall of The Hague, which I have photographed a few times. The red windows are always the first thing you notice when walking past.
The dark brown building at the right of my photo has an Eat Company mural with an autumn theme, which you can just barely see. The company was changing it seasonably back in 2015-2016, but this mural was never painted over after it was added in 2016. So we’ve been stuck in autumn for the last five years almost…
Today’s news theme is apparently bikes:
Bicycle Cities Index 2019 from coya.com. Utrecht has taken the top spot on this global list. The criteria included percentage of bicycle users, safety, anti-theft measures, bicycle-related crime and road infrastructure. Go Dutchies!
France bans Dutch bike TV ad for creating ‘climate of fear’ about cars from theguardian.com. I saw the end of this commercial yesterday but didn’t think anything of it. Although I did to turn Marco and ask him “VanMoof? Who names their company VanMOOF?”. But apparently the commercial is very anti-car, including images of factories, accidents, traffic jams and flashing lights of emergency vehicles in the reflection of the car before it melts and reforms as a bike.
World’s second biggest bike garage opens in The Hague from nltimes.nl. With space for nearly 8,000 bikes! It’s found underground at The Hague’s Centraal Station. And can you guess who has the biggest bike garage in the world currently? Also the Dutchies. Utrecht – not a coincidence considering my first news point above – has a bike garage with space for 12,000 bikes (!).
Recently Marco took a photo of the bike parking outside of Hema:
This was at the start of what is normally evening rush hour, as everyone heads home from work. Normally this area would be packed with bikes, crammed so tightly together that it would then be impossible to remove your bike once you returned from your shopping trip.
The area is normally so full that it there are ‘bike coaches’ which help you park your bike. Or bike coaches that stand around all day talking with each other… one of those two is true. Although one time I did see one of the coaches help an older lady diagnose a problem with her bike, so that was nice to see.
But still: the strange times continue, with no end in the near future.
The government launched a campaign today called ‘alleen samen’ which can be translated as either ‘only together’ or ‘alone together’. Basically reminding us that we are together in this – even when we must undertake so many actions alone (article in Dutch).
Okay, I’ll admit – I don’t have a bike in the Netherlands so I am a bit biased with this post. However I was thrilled to hear that the shopping street on the Grote Markt would be closed to bikes this weekend+Monday and next weekend+Monday (article in Dutch). On a normal day it is dangerous trying to cross the street to get to the shops, but during Christmas…? Forget about it.
I’ll be honest – tourists and those not from The Hague have no clue where they should walk, which just angers cyclists even more. And I don’t think most cyclists know that there’s no official bike path on that street and that they should be adjusting their biking based on the movements of the pedestrian, and not vice versa.
If you’re interested, you can watch a time lapse of them re-doing Grote Marktstraat back in 2015. I will admit the street is much more beautiful now than it was, but the old street made it much more obvious that you were crossing a bike path.
Oh, and it’s still extremely busy in the city centre even without the cyclists!