From the 13 till 28 of March 2015 two cycling experts of the Dutch Cycling Embassy are in Australia and they visit Adelaide, Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane to share their knowlegde of about cycling and infrastructure. The Dutch government in Australia wants to show Western Australia that cycling is not only a sport for men in lycra, but also an easy mode of transport and economically profitable, as 100 Dutchies all dressed up in orange are joining the Telethon Freeway Bike Hike for Asthma in Perth. Cycling has not yet fully infiltrated into Australian culture. We read about bike-related accidents, complaints about the lack of cycle lanes, and road-rage aimed at cyclists. It is difficult to change such prevalent ideas about infrastructure. The Netherlands has overcome such difficulties in their transformation of becoming the world’s number one cycling country. It has more bicycles than citizens and the total amount of cycle lanes is about 35.000 km. The Consulate-General has been actively promoting cycling in Sydney. Consul-General Willem Cosijn feels there are many possibilities for Australian cities: “It’s all about creating the right mix of transport, in which cars, trains and bicycles are all treated equally. This has been proven to be economically profitable. In the Netherlands, for the short distance, we prefer our bicycles. We use bikes as an extension of public transport. For example, all our public transport stations have bicycle racks that fit hundreds of bikes. Therefore we make it very easy for people to not use their cars for transport.” To help Australia become more cycle friendly, the Consulate-General organised the Influentials Program in September 2014, in which an Australian delegation of lawmakers, directors and managers from the transport- and planning sector visited the Netherlands to experience the Dutch cycling culture. They focused on Dutch infrastructural design and lawmaking, and of course, cycled themselves as well. The Australian influentials presented their findings of this trip at a large cycling seminar in Sydney. Aletta Koster of the Dutch Cycling Embassy discussed the possibilities for Australia to become a cycling nation. “In the 1970s, the Netherlands was in a similar stage as Australia is today. We had to overcome many obstacles on our way to becoming a bicycle-loving country. We want to prevent that the Australians make the same mistakes as we did in becoming the biggest cycling nation in the world. Finding the balance between promoting the cycling culture and implementing a coherent infrastructure is key.” said Koster. The Dutch cycling experience was put into practice with the Spring Cycle in Sydney. On 19 October 2014, the famous Harbour Bridge was the stage for quite an extraordinary scene. 200 Dutch cyclists, all wearing orange, joined the Spring Cycle. This year, a group of Australian policy makers will visit the Netherlands again to learn more about the Dutch cycling governance. At the same time, experts of the Dutch Cycling Embassy are attending BikeWeek in Perth and after that they will also visit Adelaide, Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane to share their knowledge about cycling and infrastructure. With the Telethon Freeway Bike Hike for Asthma in Perth, the Consulate-General is setting its first step to expanding “the Dutch way of cycling” across Australia. An orange peloton of 100 Dutchies will show Perth that cycling is healthy and fun. Former Olympian Henk Vogels Sr. is also joining Team Orange. Because of his Dutch roots, he has been cycling since he was a little kid. He participated at the Olympic Games of Tokyo in 1964 on behalf Australia and received an Order of Australia medal in 2007.
A Work Visit was held with several Dutch cycling experts to review the Local Bike Routes of Perth. This was done from the 13th to the 28th of March 2015.