Cycling to a cycling conference

A bike ride to a bicycle congress,  to practice what you preach. Last year from Utrecht to Lisbon, this year in summer from Vienna to Ljubljana and now a trip to Velofinland in Oulu. To get there I had not chosen the simplest way. Just before the pandemic, I had been to Finland by train and ferry, to attend at the Wintercycling Congress in Joensu. The route via Copenhagen and Sweden was known, but as Velofinland is held at the beginning of the fall, it was a good opportunity to cycle partly to the conference. The choice was to avoid the Swedish railways (for obvious reasons, they don’t accept bicycles for long distance trains) and go around the Botnic Golf. Thus cycling in Norway, Sweden and Finland. A wonderful experience, where I have reported via the hashtag #noordwaarts22 (borrowed from Walter Hoogerbeets) via social media. 

Arrived in Oulu. Sign at the border of the municipality, but it is over 30 kilometers to the city centre.

Some take aways from the congress and my own experiences: 

The brave statement by Emil Renvala (Oslo), who postulated the Norwegian bicycle policy had failed. Despite the investments in bicycle infrastructure, both for the moving bicycle, and for bicycle racks at stations and other destinations. In Southern Norway it was quite right, but the objective for 10% bicycle use in the cities is not achieved. Major investments to make Norway a kind of emmenthaler cheese, with tunnels to stretch railways and in particular make even more car infrastructure, make the convenience to use the car still larger. On the other hand Oslo is quite ambitious in lifting  on-street car parking in order to make room for active mobility. Their pragmatic approach to permanent street redevelopment is very inspiring. 

Eliminated car parking creates space for on street cycling, but as always, even in Oslo, paint is not safe infrastructure.

Finland as a cycling holiday destination. The southern archipelago and the lake district in the east are known, but Lapland also lends itself because the tourist infrastructure is already available. Now focused on winter tourism, it can develop into a summer and autumn destination. A development that is also known from the Alpine countries, where winter accommodations in combination with electric bicycles have become popular destinations. The quality of Lapland is based on the space and tranquility. Something I experienced in the the north of Sweden and where the beautiful fall colors even have their own word in Finnish: Ruska. 


The Finnish cities, with a rich pitch of large green structures, so that peaceful green is always close to housing. Perhaps one of the explanatory factor why many Finns have come carefully through the coronacrisis. But also the uniformity of living environments with identical supermarkets, schools and sports facilities within walking distance. In contrast to the stronger urban quality of the Netherlands. Many people on the street, which are en route, and a larger spatial variety, which give the experience of daily bicycle movements much more richness. For me it is the question how we can value these qualities in a way that we can justify specific investments in cycling. 

Urban park in Oulu

Strong development of Tampere and Helsinki around public transport stops. In Tampere around the tram, in Helsinki around the metro, where really is designed from the pedestrian point of view. 

Densification at metro line in Helsinki, with dedicated cycleway next to the metro. Social safety might be an issue, but otherwise urbanism done right.

I return to the Netherlands with a head full impressions to continue working on making the bicycle facilities even better in the Netherlands.

Break the grid, a week of ModeShift

Last week the ModeShift festival was organized in Winnipeg for the second time. I had the honor to be the guest of managing director Anders Swanson of Winnipeg trails all week to follow this thrilling week from close by. A week with many varied activities for a varied target group that does justice to the inhabitants of this Canadian city with brutal cycling circumstances. A week that I conclude with hope and excitement for a better future for active modes in Winnipeg.dav

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The friendly competition continues

At the end of the meteorological summer, @bijnanooit closed his 10 year practical research into getting wet during his cycling commute. He started his project based upon the idea that facts must convince people and recording his experiences Would help them to get tot he idea it almost never rains. Through media coverage during short wet periods, he gradually understood his message would have little impact on changing habits in commuter traffic. He is preaching to the choir, people who have been cycling see their confirmation by his data, while the non-cyclists mainly pay attention to @bijnanooit when it rains. Nevertheless, I welcome his efforts over the years and hope his website will remain available for future use. Many small stories like his can contribute to the big story about cycling as an happy and effective means of transport. Continue reading