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ThinkBike workshop in Stirling, UK

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From November 28th-30th, the DCE was in Stirling, Schotland to execute ThinkBike workshops with local experts on sustainable, cycling inclusive mobility.

Stirling, a city in central Schotland (UK) is a vibrant city with a population of around 40.000 inhabitants. A substaintial part of the population consists of the students studying at the University of Stirling.

Cycling 4 Everyone
The ThinkBike workshop in Stirling was part of a cycle of three ThinkBike workshops in the United Kingdom, the other two workshops took place earlier this year in London and in Cambridge. The workshops were part of the project ‘Cycling 4 Everyone’ that was funded by the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherland in London. Mrs. Tessel van Essen, Senior Commercial Attaché working on cycling, renewable energy, circular economy and sustainability at the Dutch Embassy in London was involved in the project Cycling 4 Everyone. Seeing the positive effects of more people on bikes in cities around the UK, Mrs. Van Essen is committed to making cities more bike friendly. Together with Mr. Erik Tetteroo, expert at the Dutch Cycling Embassy and Urban Planner at APPM Management Consultants, a team of Dutch cycling experts was put together to share knowledge on cycling. The team consisted of Mr. Johan Diepens, CEO at Mobycon and Mrs. Jose Oudijk, Program Coordinator at the Dutch Cycling Embassy. Mobycon is an independent research and consulting company that provides services related to managing traffic, transportation and mobility.

Why We Cycle
Documentary maker Gertjan Hulster, also joined on workshop day one to show the documentary he made with Arne Gielen. The documentary ‘Why We Cycle’ shows that to the Dutch, cycling is as normal as breathing. We don’t think about it, we just do it. Perhaps the fact that we don’t think about it, is the key to the bicycle’s success in the Netherlands. But because the Dutch do not give cycling a second thought, they don’t really know what the deeper needs of cyclists are. The documentary ‘Why We Cycle’ shows ordinary cyclists and specialists from a variety of disciplines. These conversations uncover some obvious, but even more hidden effects of cycling on people, on societies, and on the organization of cities. More information on the documentary: http://whywecycle.eu/

After being inspired by the beautiful documentary it was time for some hand-on knowledge sharing! After an introduction on the Dutch Cycling Embassy it was time to write down ambitions for future Stirling, cycling city. Mathis Wackernagel, a Swiss-born sustainability advocate, joined the session and shared his thoughts on the future of Stirling as a cycling city. Mr. Wackernagel is the President of the Global Footprint Network, an international sustainability non-profit think tank that focuses on developing and promoting metrics for sustainability. For more information, click here to visit their website: https://www.footprintnetwork.org/

The best part of ThinkBike workshops is the time when we all go out on our bicycles and experience the city firsthand! With the tour being led by experts from the Stirling Cycle Hub, we were in good hands. Stirling Cycle Hub is working towards a healthier, greener future through encouraging and supporting more people to cycle. https://www.stirlingcyclehub.org/

We used Next Bikes for our tour around Stirling. Nex Bike is the bike sharing network in Stirling. It is available in the city at various locations. The Next Bikes can be booked using the app, by phone or on line and can be returned to any official station. 

During the afternoon Johan Diepens and Erik Tetteroo hosted two expert sessions. Johan’s session on education focused on ‘self-explaining-roads’. The road should tell a story. For example, the pavement of the road can tell the driver what the maximum speed is. This will reduce the need for signage as well and will declutter cities. Also different coloured surfacing can help. In the Netherlands, the red coloured asphalt indicates a bicycle lane. https://colouredasphalt.com/
All people taking part in traffic should be able to tell straight away which part of the street is dedicated for which group of road users. When you know the function of the road and you would like to visualize the options, the program Streetsketch can be helpful to design your street.
With streets being self-explaining, education is no longer necessary. However, education can support changes in some cases.

Erik’s workshop on the ‘Role of Governance’, discussed how decision makers can help -or hinder- cycling. The group first determined arguments on WHY people should cycle (what’s in it for me / what’s in it for them). These arguments can be used to influence the influencers (the decision makers) and help gain commitment for cycling investments. We can gain support/commitment by having a good cost-benefit analysis. A social cost benefit analysis (SCBA) supports decision making. Many positive effects of cycling add up to a positive cost-benefit analysis such as prolonged life expectancy, increased productivity of employees, better health and fitness and reduced emissions.

The next morning two other parallel workshops were held. Johan shared knowledge on cycling and behavior, the soft side of the story. When we could demonstrate the freedom and independence that cycling is, it would stimulate more people to use the bike (more often). We should normalize the use of the bicycle and make the use of the car inconvenient. And can we change how people commute and what can employers and businesses do to help? The potential benefits of more cycling in Schotland were listed, as well as the pro’s, con’s, barriers and possibilities that come with cycling inclusive mobility.

The last workshop, Planning, by Erik focused on developers and planners. How can they build us streets that support cycling? Erik showed the group the relation between mobility and urbanization, the difference between a car oriented, bicycle oriented, transit oriented and hybrid oriented cities.

Would you like to have more information on ThinkBike workshops or are you seeking expert information on Dutch Cycling? Please feel free to contact us.

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