Cycling for Everyone
Cycling for Everyone

UK Minister of State in the Netherlands

25 August 2022

From August 17-19th, 2022, the Dutch Cycling Embassy hosted a high-level delegation from the United Kingdom, including Minister of State at the Department for Transport Trudy Harrison, as well as members of her Active Travel team. The main aim of the visit was to learn more about making cycling inclusive for everyone.

Upon their arrival, the British delegation was invited to visit the Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management in The Hague. Dutch State Secretary Vivianne Heijnen welcomed the delegation together with her fietsteam (“bicycle team”). This meeting was kickstarted by Minister Harrison who emphasized the need to enable more woman in the UK to start cycling, and she shared being very impressed by the Dutch woman cycling with formal clothing and high heels. Both ministers declared they are looking forward to hopefully cycling together one day, while wearing high heels. Afterwards, the bicycle team of the Ministry provided the British delegation with updates concerning the Dutch cycling approach, including highlights such as the Tour de Force and the recently published report on the economic potential of cycling.

The visit at the Ministry was followed-up by a bicycle ride within the city center of The Hague on the green-and-yellow ‘Haagse stadsfiets’. Provided by one of the best local guides available, Robert van Asten, the Deputy Mayor of the City of The Hague for Mobility. Robert welcomed the group at the Koning Juliana bicycle parking nearby The Hague Centraal Station, and shared his experiences related to politics and cycling in The Hague. He also provided insights on how to deal with opposition of new bicycle plans and how to make them a success. Robert gave the group an excellent tour, not only sharing facts and figures concerning mobility, but as showing touristic highlights and providing historical background.

The next day, the group travelled from The Hague to Utrecht during rush hour, and were quite impressed by the quietness and peacefulness of the Dutch commute. When the group arrived at Utrecht Centraal, the program started right away. Erik Tetteroo (HOD works) provided the group with a very informative walking tour around and through the train station. He also spoke about the importance of the bicycle-train combination and showing the incredible bicycle parking facilities as well as the shared bike system.

Over coffee and stroopwafels, the delegation was welcomed at the Dutch Cycling Embassy headquarters. Ross Goorden (Representative and Policy Maker at the Fietsersbond) and Chris Bruntlett (Marketing and Communication Manager at the Dutch Cycling Embassy) chatted about their experiences inside and outside the Netherlands. Ross shared his perspective on the current topics the Dutch Cyclist Union is lobbying for, including reducing the number of bollards which cause unnecessary conflicts for cyclists as well as promoting cycling usage within rural areas. Chris emphasized the need of sharing the Dutch knowledge overseas, and learn from the Dutch cycling culture which developed over the past decades.

From the Dutch Cycling Embassy office, Herbert Tiemens (Policy Advisor at the City of Utrecht) toured the group by bike through the historical city center of Utrecht towards the neighbouring town Houten. This very pleasant ride was enriched by Herbert his enthusiastic stories and insightful comments concerning infrastructural changes throughout Utrecht and Houten.

On the third and final day, the group started with a walk from the central station in Rotterdam. Guided by Martin Guit (Mobility Strategist for the City of Rotterdam) and José Besselink (Urban Planner for the City of Rotterdam), they looked at the underground bicycle parking facility near the station to get inspiration for solutions to parking problems in metropolitan areas. After a look at one of the new pop-up bike parking facility in a former retail store, and a short tour of the renovated Coolsingel, the discussion continued at Hofplein, in the office of Humankind. There, led by Lior Steinberg, urban planner at Humankind, the group discussed topics such as creating more livable space in the city and the role that the bicycle can play in this.

After lunch, the group continued on to Ahoy, where they visited the very enjoyable Jeugdvakantieland 2022, where thousands of children enjoyed exercise and mobility education in recent weeks. A wonderful inspiration to take back to the UK. With a short bicycle tour from Rotterdam South, via the Maas Tunnel, to Rotterdam Central Station, the three-day study tour was concluded.

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