Wow, what a thrilling week! So many cycling friends gathered for one week in the best cycling country of the world. Still a bit fuzzy and impressed by the super organization, the best meetings and great cycling and dance fun, it is hard to draw final conclusions of the conference. Was it the pure joy of sharing the best examples of happy cities and happy people? Was it the the hand over of the EU cycling strategy? Hard to say. On the other hand there are some take-aways for the Netherlands that we can count already as the legacy of Velo-City.
First of all there is a broad governmental will to invest even more and smarter in cycling in the Netherlands. Without doubts the assignation of Velo-City to the Netherlands has created an awareness that the process of a national cycling strategy had to be finished in time. The strategy was written by a broad coalition of municipalities, provinces, the National Railways, the Ministry of Transport and some other stakeholders. The writing proves policy makers are aware of the multiple solutions cycling can give to society. On the other hand, writing a general policy is one, acting and getting things done is the second part of a successful strategy. Not without reason the Dutch railway sector to launched the idea to build another 220.000 bike parking places at the train stations all over the Netherlands at Velo-City.
Another boast that Velo-City created was awareness of smart bikesharing systems in the Netherlands. Blessed with OV-fiets at almost every train station, the limits of this system are in sight (see this Dutch article) when people rent a bike for a whole day when they only make two trips of twenty minutes. It becomes impossible to supply enough OV-fietsen at the main train stations in the big cities. The international experiences of bikesharing create the notion the Dutch might introduce another bikeshare system next to OV-fiets. To create a market with local suppliers the team of Common bike worked hard to create an open platform for identifying customers of different bikeshare schemes. The system was launched at Velo-City to distribute the conference bicycles to the attendants. My impression was the system worked seamlessly, although the idea of sharing the conference bikes multiple times during the week was very limited, due to the lack of an conference app and GPS location of the bikes.
Cargo bikes and city logistics have their break trough. Utrecht started already with experiments of DHL with their Bullit and Quattrobike, and city logistics, now others identify cargo cycles as part of the solution to get rid of the massive fleet of vans that clogg the narrow shopping streets in our historic cities every day.
Some other thoughts:
- Presence of the King generated a lot of publicity for the Dutch narrative. Despite his silence on stage, his smiling appearance on a traditional coaster-brake bike was good to inform the general Dutch public about the importance of cycling in the Netherlands.
— Nieuws uit Nijmegen (@nieuwsuit024) 13 juni 2017
- Journalist Vincent Wever attended almost full conference, wrote a good story and concluded the Dutch public should be more aware of the unique cycling qualities of the Netherlands. He suggests to use the topic of Dutch cycling as a starter to meet when meeting new friends at holidays.
— Jan van der Meer (@JanvdMeer) 17 juni 2017
- The rant of Mark Treasure about the cycling circumstances in Gouda clearly indicates we cannot take cycling as a mode of transport for granted. Hope to learn more in a while how to address the unawareness of Dutch politicians of the fragile system of cycling we have created.
All in all, we can look back on a fantastic week, in which we showed the world the diversity of Dutch cycling. Happy I could contribute a little to this, and looking forward to read thoughts of foreign visitors about what they learned about Dutch cycling culture.