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An inspirational workshop on the best of Dutch cycling culture

26 April 2016

On Monday April 25 we invited all our Dutch members to come over to Brussels and show their innovations in the field of cycling at a workshop on "The best of Dutch cycling culture" with the aim to share best practices and present cutting edge bicycle projects for other cities and regions in Europe to learn from. The event was organised in the frame of the Cycling Festival Europe 2016, which was launched during the Dutch presidency of the Council of the EU, and with the support of the Dutch Cycling Embassy.

This event was a unique opportunity to hear great stories directly from the Dutch on how the Netherlands have become a leading cycling nation.

Cycling Festival Europe 2016

During the Dutch presidency of the Council of the EU, the Netherlands is offering a Cycling Festival to Europe, providing a stage to the growing cycling culture in European cities and countries.

The Festival launched on April 14th and runs through June 30th. Several activities will be organized or sponsored by the Dutch Embassies throughout capitals in Europe.

This Polis workshop was organised in partnership with the Dutch Embassy in Brussels and saw the kind partecipation of Ms. Sanne Westra of the Dutch Embassy in Berlin and project coordinator of Cycling Festival, who opened the workshop and introduced the initiative. Watch this video.

The essence of Dutch cycling culture

Then we had a series of short presentations by our Dutch members. These were some of the best cycling and mobility experts coming from all corners of the Netherlands:

  • We learnt more from John Akkerhuis about how Rotterdam - the current Polis network president - has involved cyclists in a participatory planning exercise to develop a sound bicycling plan.
  • Sjors van Duren from Province of Gelderland and Program director Velo-city 2017, explained that good cooperation between municipalities, region and other governmental bodies is key to success of cycling projects. Sjors also showed us several images of large infrastructure projects, bicycle tracks, bridges and tunnels in Arnhem Nijmegen City Region. Cyclists' paradise on earth!
  • Mariska Slots from Calllock bike sharing shared her views on current challenges of implementing bike-sharing systems in the Netherlands, and how bike-sharing systems can solve (partially) typical Dutch problems, such as bicycle parking.
  • Finding a free bicycle rack nearby train stations in the Netherlands - I'm telling you - can be a real daily challenge! Therefore, Utrecht's project of building the world's largest bicycle parking facility with around 14,000 places in total left us astonished. "And still the city expects further growth towards 2030..." said Frans Jan van Rossem, Programme manager for cycling, City of Utrecht. Watch this video.
  • Roger Heijltjes from Province North-Brabant, showed an overview of the multiple cycling projects in Brabant, including data collection of cycling trips via mobile apps, and gamification.
  • Rick Lindeman, Programme Manager “A deeper role in biking” at Rijkswaterstaat (Executive Agency of the Dutch ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment) focused on bicycling, health benefits and the role of the central government in supporting local cycling projects.
  • "Bicycling in the Netherlands is really a mainstream activity" said Hillie Talens, CROW (technology platform for transport, infrastructure and public space). "The use of the bike is so common in the Netherlands that nobody considers him- or herself as a cyclist." More recently CROW has developed bicycle streets and bicycle highways to complete the network, and renewed the design of bike lanes based on field tests and research. A new handbook for practitioners is now beign developed.
  • We also learnt more about the CycleSpace programme in the city-region of Amsterdam. The initiative aims to build a network of organizations, startups and brands to accelerate the uptake of cycling as a primary mode of urban transport internationally.
  • Last but not least! The countdown has started for the 2017 edition of the Velo-city conference which next year will be hosted by Polis member Arnhem Nijmegen on June 13-16. Cécile de Boer, EU Representative of Arnhem Nijmegen City Region here in Brussels has invited us all to the Netherlands next Summer!

To conclude, we took a family picture and had a toast to celebrate the Cycling Festival Europe in Brussels.

Family picture taken at

Photo: Family picture taken at "The best of Dutch cycling culture" workshop on April 25th, 2016 in Brussels

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