Last Thursday and Friday, 28th- 29th of June, cycling experts Erik Tetteroo, Willem Snel, Gwenda Zuurbier and Angela van der Kloof, represented the DCE at the Cycle City Active City conference in Manchester.
The goal of the Thursday’s workshop ‘Going Dutch: a hands-on, interactive Dutch approach to improving cycling conditions in Manchester’ was to bring a Dutch view to provide some new insights on stimulating cycling in the Manchester region. With the case of Stockport, one of the suburbs in the Greater Manchester region, over 100 participants discussed how urban planning and redesign of infrastructure can improve conditions for cycling and how campaigning will contribute to more people actually getting on their bike. After an introduction on Dutch cycling strategies based on hardware, software and orgware, they worked in different groups. Some interesting results were shown at the plenary wrap up, as the idea of building a tunnel for through traffic, or redirecting it around instead of through Stockport, allowing more and safer crossing for cyclist to connect the city centre with the train station area. Participants also took care on specific approaches for target groups as scholars and commuters as well as also schemes to stimulate people that cycle now only very rarely to go around at least once a week.
The morning plenary on Friday focused on an overview of Dutch cycling policies, planning and best practices. Erik Tetteroo (APPM) started with an introduction on recent cycling facts, stressing that cycling is so booming in The Netherlands that we even face more and more cycle traffic jams. He related mobility choices to the challenge to build over 1 million new houses, and strongly advised to make some radical choices. ‘Bet on the right horses’, which means in the rural areas car can be the best choice, but in urban areas a strong focus on public transport and cycling is needed.
More ideas on future mobility, and the chances for the bike in the city of tomorrow were presented by Willem Snel (&Morgen). The key to good cycling infrastructure is in connectivity, comfort and creating experiences. A beautiful route might be more effective than the fastest route to attract cyclist.
Gwenda Zuurbier (Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management) pointed out that the ambition of The Netherlands is to increase the number of cycling commuters with an extra 200.000 in the next four years. To achieve this, the ministry is working together with employers to help them facilitating employees with facilities, tools and financial incentives.
Finally, Angela van der Kloof (Mobycon) discussed the position of women on bikes. Gender is not so much an issue in The Netherlands anymore, as it was though at the end of the 19th century, but nowadays even more women than man ride their bike. Women tend to work closer to their homes than man, so it misquotes logical that they cycle more often. To achieve this also in the UK, Angela suggested connecting cycling with leisure rides and felinity, more trips with children (great fun!) and stress-free cycling.
After the plenary session, the discussion about implementing Dutch ideas in the UK was continued at the Dutch Cycling Embassy stand. A lot of participants came along with questions and they were provided with extra information. At the end of the conference, the city of Manchester showed their new plans for better cycling conditions, based upon -not surprising - the Dutch standards. Hopefully more UK cities are to follow this example.