Cycling for Everyone
Cycling for Everyone

South Korean Study Visit at the DCE Office

27 February 2023

On the 27th of February 2023, the DCE was pleased to welcome a group of delegates from South Korea. Arriving from a study visit in Paris the day before, the group comprised of members of the National and Jeollabuk-Do Provincial assemblies, Jeonju and Gwangju city council, a consultant and a bike activist. Our opening presentation at the DCE office was the starting point for the group’s 3-day visit to the Netherlands.


Shelley kicked off the meeting by familiarizing the delegates with the DCE and its network of partners and experts. Next, she gave a pitch for investing in cycling, highlighting sustainability, health and social benefits and how biking fits into the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN. Shelley then provided the group with some background on the remarkably dense Dutch network of bike infrastructure and the historical and contemporary activism and policies that contribute to its development and maintenance. To close her portion of the presentation, Shelley emphasized that in Dutch culture “cycling is for everyone” from “wielrenners” to “fietsers.”


Next, one of DCE’s longtime expert partners and urban planner Rob van der Bijl took to the stage. He provided his insights on how the South Korean delegates might change their cities from car-oriented to cycle-oriented. His five key points were: embracing pragmatism; reframing the mobility system to an inclusive combination of walking, cycling and public transport; focusing on sustainable urban mobility planning; engaging and empowering citizens; and careful assessment of the city in question.


After a short break with coffee, tea, and (of course) stroopwafels, Shelley and Rob answered some of the delegates’ questions from the presentation. One city council member was interested in understanding how to navigate inclusivity for elderly and disabled folks and what role e-bikes play in addressing this issue. Shelley and Rob provided an overview of the different types of e-bikes and how some are useful for enhancing accessibility. Rob believes we are currently witnessing an e-bike revolution. Other delegates sought advice on how to foster cycling social movements in South Korea and how to improve their campaigns for expanding bike ridership.  Shelley provided a structural tip, suggesting the development of a larger vision, 10-year strategic plan, and action plans for the short term. Rob reiterated the need for pragmatism, encouraging the delegates to focus on promoting the positives of cycling such as health and environmental benefits rather than fighting cars.


The meeting concluded with the visitors generously offering some beautiful gifts they brought from Korea and some group photos. The delegates also presented a flag stating “A delegation from Korea asks you (Paris, Utrecht, Houten, Amsterdam, Munster): Do you think a bicycle is sufficient as [a] vehicle?” To which Rob and Shelley answered with a resounding “Yes!”

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