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Topic: Travelling and such (Read 2557 times)

Travelling and such

There's a way to share your trips, to make maps of them or whatever, but I haven't done it

https://www.cnet.com/how-to/make-interactive-maps-to-track-your-trip/
https://www.amcharts.com/visited_countries/

I haven't done it because I have not travelled much. As much as I have, I have mostly visited countries neighbouring my own, which is not too interesting. Other than that, I have visited a few penfriends privately, and I don't share that too much.

List of countries and places I visited, in random order:

Russia - Komi, Moscow, St. Peterburg, Tula, Pechory
Finland - Helsinki, Lahti, Turku
Sweden - Stockholm, Värmland
Latvia - a lot
Lithuania - Vilnius, Kaunas
Poland - Gdansk, Malbork, Warsaw, Krakow
Czech - Prague
Germany - Frankfurt
Austria - Vienna
Slovenia - Postojna, Ljubljana
Croatia - Istria, Zagreb
Romania - Cluj, Bistrita
France - Paris
UK - London
Greece - Athens
US - Florida, NYC
Costa Rica - Arenal volcano, Monteverde

Evidently few enough so that I can list them all like this.

The most obvious way of travelling is to go on a vacation or tour to a place where everybody has been, such as Canary Islands or Caribbean. So, how do you travel and where have you been? Do you prefer to rent a car, go on a guided tour, use public transportation, hike, or are you satisfied with what you see from the airplane/airport windows during and between flights? Do you travel on vacations, for business purposes, or more methodically as part of profession or way of life?

Re: Travelling and such

Reply #1
I think the extent of my foreign travel this year may have been limited to three or so trips to the Netherlands, although in reality going by e.g. Liège is a lot more foreign than the Netherlands.

I won't take the time to list places I've visited — at least not right now — but in summary:

- Benelux a lot
- former West Germany a lot
- Chicagoland quite a bit
- Italy a fair bit
- former East Germany a bunch
- northern France a bunch

The rest starts to look more like individual places and cities akin to your list. Mostly around Europe, but also a few weekend trips from Chicagoland (e.g., the Dells, Saugatuck, Holland, Detroit).

I'd normally get around by public transit or by rented car, depending on the specifics. And of course loads and loads of walking (or "hiking" if that's the word you prefer for walks in the countryside — maybe I'd agree to call a mountainwalk a hike :P).

Re: Travelling and such

Reply #2
My list of travels was exhaustive spanning my entire life. Many of the trips are recent. I have paced up lately.

I'd normally get around by public transit or by rented car, depending on the specifics. And of course loads and loads of walking (or "hiking" if that's the word you prefer for walks in the countryside — maybe I'd agree to call a mountainwalk a hike :P).
I prefer to have everything within walking distance and stay on one spot as long as possible. That failing, I take public transportation. That failing, I'd rent a bicycle or a car, but things never got this desperate yet.

There's a difference between walking and hiking. Hiking involves staying overnight somewhere else than where you were last night and walking the distance in between. Or, it involves walking in some nature park all day, carrying all your meals of the day with you. Something like that.

Re: Travelling and such

Reply #3
I prefer to have everything within walking distance and stay on one spot as long as possible. That failing, I take public transportation. That failing, I'd rent a bicycle or a car, but things never got this desperate yet.
Desperate is a funny word to use. :P In your average city a car would obviously be a worse way to get around, but on the island I'm from I'd definitely pick a bike (or perhaps a car or public transit) to get between places to walk (whether villages or nature areas).

There's a difference between walking and hiking. Hiking involves staying overnight somewhere else than where you were last night and walking the distance in between. Or, it involves walking in some nature park all day, carrying all your meals of the day with you. Something like that.
I might do the latter in the sense of taking lunch along (although not recently; think in the Ardennes, Luxembourg or the Eifel more so than around here), but am probably somewhat unlikely to do the overnight thing.

Re: Travelling and such

Reply #4
Mass tourism turned into a plague everywhere.
A matter of attitude.

Re: Travelling and such

Reply #5
I've done a few more trips meanwhile but let's talk about just one place, Milano Malpensa airport. I tried to walk there from Gallarate. It is a walkable distance as far as the mileage goes. However, walkers were blocked, first by repeated signs of "sidewalk ending":



These I was able to bypass, even though sidewalks really did end https://goo.gl/maps/ccsmteggZ6XYpSYe7

Past this point there were occasionally some zombie crossings that take the pedestrian from nowhere to nowhere, from a non-sidewalk to a non-sidewalk
https://goo.gl/maps/WMxrxkpZFKousnLa6

Eventually there was no way at all to walk further, a cars-only road (speedway) started https://goo.gl/maps/ePpgxCEcYYmrfHf47
Below this sign I tested the famous hospitality of Italians by trying, for an hour or so, to get a driver to pick me up, but to no avail. (Since when do Italians obey traffic signs?)

Later I was able to get past the point on a bus. In my opinion, given the curvature of the road, the viable traffic speeds did not justify it being a speedway. The cars-only arrangement was there not to keep pedestrians safe, but to keep them away for good.

Finally, a literal stone-throw away from the airport there's a neighbourhood called Case Nuove, a residential area that includes some hotels. This is where the bus took me. From there I tried to reach the entrance of the airport again by walking almost halfway around the airport, but entrances were carefully fenced off from every direction. Pedestrians and hikers can only reach the airport by climbing some three-meter-high fences.

Thus far the only walkable major airport in the world I know is Tallinn Airport. And it is truly comfortably walkable, with a major shopping centre a five minutes away and the city centre an hour away if you walk very slowly. These days there's a comfy airport tram available, but you can walk easily if you prefer.

All those YT urbanists talk a lot about walkable cities, but I have not seen a single one of them address the walkability of airports.

Re: Travelling and such

Reply #6
As long as you can conveniently get to the airport by tram/bus/train I don't see what difference it makes? Noise pollution-wise it seems better to have it at a slight distance.

Re: Travelling and such

Reply #7
If it makes no difference, then why go out of your way to block walkers so that there is no chance in hell? And when there is some residential neighbourhood, town or village just a stone-throw away, is there some good reason for the airport-builders to take meticulous care to prevent the people closest to the airport from using it?

Edit. It's like many famous hydroelectric projects where the power is taken to the capital or major city a hundred miles away or more, while the villages next to the station get power with a delay of half a century or simply never.

Re: Travelling and such

Reply #8
If it makes no difference, then why go out of your way to block walkers so that there is no chance in hell?
I wasn't talking about Milan Airport of course. That the airport should have proper infrastructure goes without saying. I have no idea what they're smoking over in Italy; that sounds more like something you'd find in Texas. It also goes without saying that you can stroll over from Schiphol to Hoofddorp (or to Amsterdam, but that'll probably take you 3+ hours), or from Zaventem (Brussels Airport) to, um, Zaventem (and Brussels), though I also know walking over from Brussels Airport won't be the most pleasant walk, not in line with the Netherlands.[1] Walking up to Antwerp Airport is perfectly pleasant though, unless you expect to be able to walk across the runway.

Anyway, my point was I don't see a problem with for example Schiphol being a 3 hour walk from Amsterdam given that it's only a 10-30 minute train/bus ride away. And keep in mind the airport also serves many other cities. Being more properly in Amsterdam would arguably make its location worse, geographically speaking.
See here for what parts of that might look like. But maybe there are some nicer paths to be found?

Re: Travelling and such

Reply #9
What do you urbanists think about this railway crossing?
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4CG7NGnLYFM

Posting this to the travel thread because Japan is a country I'd like to visit some day. I have not been to the geographical Asia ever at all and this year it is going to change, as I've been invited to Turkey. Which postpones Japan once again :(

Re: Travelling and such

Reply #10
It comes across as unremarkable to me, but it's possible that it's slightly tighter than even the smallest here. Here's a link to a streetview in Belgium for a crossing on a small street. Here's another one near it. And another one.

Here's a link to the Netherlands. And another showing a bike path next to the road.

Re: Travelling and such

Reply #11
But to me it looks quite remarkable. It is not a crossing of a road and railway the way all your examples are. Rather, the crossing seems to have been purpose-built to connect the roads that run parallel to the railway (apparently the residential area has emerged after the railway was built).

Being purpose-built, the crossing could be whatever one wishes, such as separated lanes for all sorts of imaginable traffic, cars, bikes, pedestrians, wheelchairs, but actually it has only one lane to accommodate all traffic in both directions. This is the difference compared to modern European examples.

In Europe the idea is to have different traffic lanes for, I suppose, different speeds of traffic.[1] The question becomes: How many speeds are there? Apparently three. In Japan in residential and countryside areas there is just one. The solution is to slow cars down so that there is just one speed, and even the opposite-direction traffic isn't provided a separate lane on the same road.
Definitely so in Estonia. In practice there exists a new (ten years old or so) concept of "light traffic road" (a "bike path" in the last of your examples) which is missing in official/legal traffic code.

Re: Travelling and such

Reply #12
I don't know about Estonia, but I think you're simply describing how roads work. :P Unless otherwise specified all roads have a speed limit of 60, and that's basically all roads in the countryside. That'll be lowered to 50 or 30 depending on circumstances (i.e., where it's more built up or otherwise unsafe).

Having a separated cycle path is at the very least pleasant for any speed cars might go over 30, and on busy roads even when cars go 30.

The solution is to slow cars down so that there is just one speed, and even the opposite-direction traffic isn't provided a separate lane on the same road.
That's bog standard traffic calming, like here. If you're correct about railways crossings we just prefer people to cross railways as quickly as possible,[1] but note that in more built up areas crossings will often look more like this. :)
They're just the normal width of the road basically.

Re: Travelling and such

Reply #13
I don't know about Estonia, but I think you're simply describing how roads work. :P [...] Having a separated cycle path is at the very least pleasant for any speed cars might go over 30, and on busy roads even when cars go 30.
In one sense roads work the way traffic regulators make them work. And the regulation is successful when there is no notable glitch between the regulations and the way road users behave.

The crossing in Japan looks to me a purpose-built crossing, instead of a natural continuation of a historical road later sliced by railway. Most, if not all, the European examples we have are the latter - there used to be just the road, but then somebody built the railway. When building a crossing specially for the purpose, you'll get to see the ideas of the builders in action.

The Japanese idea is to keep it simple, and it harmonises with the way the roads around the crossing are - no special bikeways or walkways. The European idea of accomodating diverse traffic is to build more special stuff for particular kinds of road users that lobby for own rights, thus inevitably reducing space from other groups.

In my view, effective traffic planning is largely achieved by restricting just one group: Cars. What is most needed is restrictions on car purchase and taxing their usage. This automatically leaves breathing space for all other road users. This is in fact how it used to work in USSR. Getting a car was bureaucratically a very difficult, arduous and long project. As a result, even though roads were built for cars one might say, the cars on the roads were so sparse that pedestrians could walk anywhere. Something similar is in place in Japan: Before you can buy a car, you need to prove that you have a parking spot for it, and tax brackets are prohibitive for larger vehicles.

Regulating road construction for different traffic is secondary. Netherlands has gone very far in special-purpose building for bicycles. It is far more straightforward to just tax cars, if you are really into environmentalism and safety etc.

...in more built up areas crossings will often look more like this. :)
Lucky you, if in builtup areas there is an avoidance of same-level crossings. Over here there is no such tendency. Most infamously on this crossing the railway is on a mound and cars are led up to the mound to meet the train. A few years ago the crossing was heavily reconstructed for millions of euros, but the essence stayed the same - no plans to have a tunnel under the mound, no, cars must ascend the mound to meet the train. So the spending resulted essentially in just repaving. This has been so ever since the railway was built in Czarist times. In USSR it was tolerable as cars were not too many. For the last 35 years or so it has been intolerable.

Re: Travelling and such

Reply #14
In my view, effective traffic planning is largely achieved by restricting just one group: Cars. What is most needed is restrictions on car purchase and taxing their usage. This automatically leaves breathing space for all other road users. […]

Regulating road construction for different traffic is secondary. Netherlands has gone very far in special-purpose building for bicycles. It is far more straightforward to just tax cars, if you are really into environmentalism and safety etc.
With that strategic element omitted, you're simply describing exactly what the Netherlands (and to a reasonable extent also Belgium) does.

But cars will always need more space than bikes, different routes, etc. If you build for everyone, you build for cars. Period.

Quote
This is in fact how it used to work in USSR. Getting a car was bureaucratically a very difficult, arduous and long project. As a result, even though roads were built for cars one might say, the cars on the roads were so sparse that pedestrians could walk anywhere. Something similar is in place in Japan: Before you can buy a car, you need to prove that you have a parking spot for it, and tax brackets are prohibitive for larger vehicles.
However, this shows a clear difference between what we would consider an authoritarian dictatorship and a consensus-based ("democratic") society. When you build what inhabitants want you get this.[1]

So we have:
  • What the local people want
  • Many incentives and the very realistic option not to use a car
  • Some disincentives to use a car

The end result is that almost no one I know owns a car anymore, which 20 years ago they probably would've.

It's not dissimilar to what you say is the Japanese approach, with the difference that it's not a restriction written into law at the time you buy a car. But who would buy a car they couldn't park? If you randomly dumped it somewhere you'd be fined, it would be dragged off and possessed, and you might even lose your driver's license.

This is in fact how it used to work in USSR. Getting a car was bureaucratically a very difficult, arduous and long project. As a result, even though roads were built for cars one might say, the cars on the roads were so sparse that pedestrians could walk anywhere.
Note that this is also how it was in America a hundred years ago and the rich people who could afford cars invented the ludicrous concept of "jaywalking" so they could race around. So I'm hardly convinced that having a few rich and powerful as the only drivers is a good thing. Here in Belgium the rich were also notorious for making the roads unsafe back in those days.
Incidentally the new neighborhood right next to me in Antwerp is somewhat similar in many ways, although it doesn't go as far.

Re: Travelling and such

Reply #15
Most infamously on this crossing the railway
That looks exactly like how you'd imagine the Soviet Union might build things. :( I remember similar constructions from when I visited former East Germany in '94, except in typical communist fashion it wasn't just horribly designed but also full of potholes and otherwise collapsing. So this is just communist design with EU funds you say, just better asphalt? When I went again around 2000 most of that communist junk had been replaced by slightly saner West German designs, although they should've gone straight for Dutch if you ask me. ;)

But yeah, in built-up areas crossings look like I already showed, or like this or that. That last one by pure coincidence seems to be a bike street, meaning a place where cars aren't allowed to pass bikes.

Edit: btw, to give an indication of vehicle tax on cars in the Netherlands, it looks like a car at around 1500 kilo (i.e., a stupid SUV) has to pay about € 217 per 3 months. It should probably be more, but over in Germany they typically pay about a quarter because they don't take weight into account, only the engine cilinder contents. You can play around with some values here; unfortunately I didn't see a convenient table or formula.

Re: Travelling and such

Reply #16
Here's an article the start of which can be summarized as "for some incomprehensible reason someone's surprised it's cars that are loud"
https://heatmap.news/economy/tokyo-anti-car-pedestrian-paradise
Quote
Yet when I emerged from the train station in Shibuya, blinking jetlagged in the morning light after a night flight from Amsterdam, what actually caught me off guard was not the bustle but rather how quiet the city is. When you see cliched images of Tokyo, what invariably is shown are the enormous crowds of pedestrians crossing the roads, or Mount Fuji in the background of the futuristic skyline. I expected something like Los Angeles in Blade Runner, I suppose — futuristic and overwhelming. From photos, Tokyo can look almost unplanned, with neon signs everywhere and a huge variety of forms of architecture. You expect it to feel messy. What I experienced, however, was a city that felt almost like being in a futuristic village. It is utterly calm, in a way that is actually rather strange.

Quote
Since the advent of the automobile, architects and urban planners worldwide have found it almost impossible to resist building cities around roads and an assumption that most people will drive. Tokyo somehow managed not to. It rebuilt in a much more human-centric way.
Reminder that much of the Netherlands was bombed to pieces too. It's not clear to me from the article if this is actually true as written because I've seen the major improvements in Antwerp and Brussels over the past decade first-hand, comparable to what happened in the Netherlands from the '70s to the early '90s. In any case it's never too late to convert.

[Edit: later on it talks about how there was no money for roads and they sucked all around, so it's definitely plausible in that context.]

Quote
For one thing, cars are far more enthusiastically inspected than in America or most of Europe. Cars must be checked by officials every two years to ensure that they are still compliant, and have not been modified.
Er, hold on, every two years isn't standard everywhere?

Quote
But unlike America, the idea of making them free never seemed to cross politicians’ minds, probably because Japan in the postwar era was not the world’s richest country. Capital was not freely available. To build the roads, the national government formed corporations such as the Shuto Kōsoku-dōro Kabushiki-gaisha, or Metropolitan Expressway Company, which was formed in greater Tokyo in 1959.
Just a quick note that I've experienced more tollways in America than anywhere else including France and Italy.

Quote
What that meant was that, from the beginning, roads did not have an unfair advantage in their competition with other forms of transport.
This though, is awesome.


Re: Travelling and such

Reply #17
But cars will always need more space than bikes, different routes, etc. If you build for everyone, you build for cars. Period.
Tanks require more space than cars. Missile vehicles require more space than tanks. Airplanes require more space than all the aforementioned combined. Why not worry about them? There's not much reason to worry about them because they are ultrarare in street traffic.

The same way, the car problem can be reduced by making them rare in traffic. Making traffic uncomfortable for cars (à la hollandaise) is one way of regulating the density of car traffic. Unortunately this also messes up traffic for all bigger vehicles, such as delivery trucks and buses.[1]

In my opinion, restricting availability of vehicles through price controls, purchase permits and other means is a perfectly legitimate alternative measure to keep the density of cars under check. Do you remember the times when even bicycles had to have licence plates? Not that I want to go back to those times, but just pointing out that this is a legitimate way to regulate what is in traffic and what is not.

Edit: The article you found explains quite exhaustively the car situation in Japan. In addition to car inspection and taxation measures (and the fact that parking regulations effectively amount to imposing a car purchase permit), the street design - not specifically designed for cars, thus essentially for anyone who can pass them - has not ended up car-friendly contrary to your thesis:

According to Sorensen’s research, 35 percent of Japanese streets are not actually wide enough for a car to travel down them. More remarkably still, 86 percent are not wide enough for a car to be able to stop without blocking the traffic behind it.

This is an average street in Japan
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=14qkV3K5tPs

Obviously, bad things would follow when trying to build bicycle lanes à la hollandaise there. Best leave it as it is: For everyone.

The railway crossing I discovered earlier above follows the same idea. Straight up it's visible that the crossing is not wide enough for cars to swipe aside smaller traffic. And below the surface is the fact that cars are not too numerous, their numbers are under control.

A solution would be to assign different streets for different traffic, e.g. customers enter the shop through the front door on the pedestrian street, delivery trucks approach the back door on vehicle street, and customers from a distance are expected to park (or get off the bus) on the vehicle street and walk to the pedestrian street. The problem is that many cities do not have such a convenient street system available. Many small businesses have just one door.

Re: Travelling and such

Reply #18


Making traffic uncomfortable for cars (à la hollandaise)
Driving is much worse in every other country. The Netherlands is the best country as a driver by a surprisingly large margin.

 
Do you remember the times when even bicycles had to have licence plates?
Another example of weird authoritarian Soviet power abuse?

Here license plates were introduced in 1898 for cars because cars are dangerous.

There was some bike registration during the German occupation because if in their view you didn't need it they could use it for the war effort.

 

Re: Travelling and such

Reply #19
The Netherlands is the best country as a driver by a surprisingly large margin.
Sure, if you like to drive slow, stop at every crossing and watch out for pedestrians and bicyclists constantly. I personally like to be able to drive at a constant speed only looking ahead of me, not to the side or behind. Since it's increasingly hard to do this, I do not drive at all for more than a decade now. (And it's no biggy. I only acquired a car just after the turn of the century. I exclusively used public transit and bicycles last century and it is no problem for me to continue with it this century.)

There was some bike registration during the German occupation because if in their view you didn't need it they could use it for the war effort.
Yep, this is what I mean. To be able to move faster than the speed of walking was recognised as a strategic resource. Therefore means that enabled faster speeds, such as bicycles and horses, were regulated.