I have a new proposal for how to measure quantities of bikes. It is called the “Utrecht scale” and it is based on the “ocean of bicycles” I described several weeks ago.
I had some hopes of my own. I suggested then that we needed a new measurement for cycle parking. The “Mayne scale” would be based on how long it took to walk the length of the bike park. In the case of Utrecht, it would be top of the scale with over 8 minutes from end to end. When cyclists rule the world we will need a new vocabulary, just like eskimos were supposed to have 40 words for snow and maybe my scale could have become as established as Richter, Geiger or Beaufort. But the Mayne scale is not to be.
No. For for the international comparison of bicycle numbers only the “Utrecht scale” will do now. A scale based on oceans, seas, lakes and puddles will tell us all we need to know about numbers of parked bikes.
It was a simple phrase that started it. I wrote “In Utrecht I saw a sea of bikes. In fact no I didn’t, I saw an ocean of bikes.” And then I linked it to this picture and sent it off on social media.
The rest, as they say, is history.
By the following weekend it had made two local papers and the traffic on this blog had reached heights I could hardly have imagined even a week earlier.
We even made a news story about cycle parking making the news on the ECF web site.
But it was not only Utrecht. Since then people keep sending me their cycle parking pictures from around the world and using the phrase “sea of bicycles” whenever they meet a big quantity of bikes.
The first phase of the huge new underground cycle park in Utrecht opened this week, taking the first 2000 bikes off the streets. So as a legacy of those amazing displays of bikes that may soon be no more, and for the proud people of Utrecht who love their cycle parking here is my first attempt at the “Utrecht scale” for cycle parking.
Ocean of bicycles
Bikes as far as the eye can see. Over 20,000 bikes. Take some emergency rations before you go and look for your bike, this may take some time. Example? Utrecht!
Sea of bicycles
A concentrated mass of bikes. More than 5000 in one place. You may need a guide and some time to get in and out of here. Example? It seems to be almost any Dutch station, but increasingly Flanders including Bruges and Ghent.
Now the minimum standard for any decent cycling town is to have 1000 bikes at main hubs like universities and railway stations. An honourable mention now to Bologna, Italy which has the biggest lake of rusty old student bikes round their railway station that I have ever seen.
Every village should have a pond. Ducks on the water, somewhere for children to paddle and for animals to drink. So every small area of shops, every park, every street corner should have at least a pond of bike parking to cater for local needs. Examples? Hopefully everywhere, but Copenhagen is a perfect example of putting the parking on every corner, including cargo bikes.
A level especially created for Amsterdam. Or any other city where the bikes are not parked together in a massive body but instead flow through the streets like the waterways that run through the city.
Well you couldn’t get very wet in that could you? Just one or two bikes? Berlin – could do better!
As above, but with mountain bikes! From Whistler, where else!
Frozen puddle – Memmingen, Germany, at minus 14 degrees centigrade.
To complement the Utrecht scale I did think of some other useful phrases with a watery flavour
Tsunami of bicycles – what happens when everybody in Utrecht tries to get on their bikes at the same time.
Desert – Trying to find any evidence of bicycle life here is pretty hard.
Splash – several bikes thrown together informally, the basis for much of the cycle parking in Salzberg, Austria.
Dried up river bed – speaks for itself.
Reservoir – 700 Bixi bikes waiting for Velo-city 2012 delegates to arrive – Vancouver.
So now then readers – does this work for you? And what would your watery terms for cycling be?
To finish – my favourite watery cycling photo. I look forward to your comments!