Successful tour of US and Canada by Dutch bike experts
Recently Dutch bike experts have paid a visit to four cities in Canada and the US to debate and explain opportunities to increase bicycle use there. They received a warm welcome.
Toronto and Chicago had been visited in September and Washington and Miami were next in line. These so-called ThinkBike Workshops have been initiated by Fietsberaad in cooperation with the Dutch embassy in the US in order to bring together Dutch bicycle transportation experts, transportation planners, engineers as well as cyclists and discuss the various ways of making a region more bike-friendly. Other topics of discussion at the workshops included bike safety, commuting by bike, biking to school, bike parking, bikes and public transport, law enforcement, etc. In addition the Dutch bike experts took to the streets to investigate the position of cyclists in actual practice.
In Toronto for instance the Dutch team of experts reached the conclusion that simple measures would be sufficient to effect considerable improvements, for instance utilising red asphalt to make cycling routes more readily identifiable. Or separating cyclists and motorists, for instance by locating bike trails to the right of parked cars in order to prevent ‘dooring’ and to use these parked cars to insulate cyclists from traffic.
In addition a possible communication campaign to promote cycling was initiated: "This is Toronto, and this is where I bike”. It became clear that there should be an emphasis on a bike-to-school programme as well as a bike education programme in order to familiarise children with cycling from an early age.
In Chicago, too, the Dutch met an attentive audience, for instance when differences between the Dutch and American situations came up for discussion. Hans Voerknecht of Fietsberaad stated that the major ingredients of the Dutch cycling philosophy are enjoyment and safety. And that the percentage of cycling in the Netherlands is 27%, for all ages, young and old, and for all intents and purposes: work, school, shopping, etc. In Chicago a bike rate of 10% should be feasible, according to Hans.
Martijn te Lintelo from the municipality of Nijmegen discussed, among other issues, cycling highways and the importance of constructing a system of cycling routes to connect provenances and destinations of cyclists. Consultant Arjen Jaarsma demonstrated that quality of life in towns and cycling are intimately related. And finally Ruud Ditewig of the municipality of Utrecht focused mainly on the role of cycling in transportation to and from train stations and the importance of good bicycle parking facilities in that matter. In the Netherlands 40% of all rail passengers travel to the train station by bike.