Dutch Cycling Presentation at Metro

Presentation on Dutch use of the bicycle as transportation, at Metro – 8/29

Wednesday, August 29th
Noon – 1 pm
Metro, 600 NE Grand Ave., Portland

Loek Hesemans is a Senior Policy Officer for The Netherlands Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport. His presentation, “Cycling in The Netherlands,” will explore some of the political and cultural influences that have made the bicycle a dominant mode of transportation in that country and some of the challenges that derive from that.

Mr. Hesemans is in North America on a study tour as part of his course work for a Masters degree in Public Administration through the Netherlands School of Public Administration and Simon Fraser University. He has just spent several weeks in Vancouver, B.C. studying bicycle policy and culture and is doing similar work here in Portland. His presentation will also touch on his findings from both North American cities and compare them to The Netherlands.

Local photographer Laura Domela will add to the presentation with work from her book “Fietsen,” a visual study of cycling in Amsterdam.

11 responses to “Dutch Cycling Presentation at Metro”

  1. Darn, I can’t be there because I’m in … the Netherlands! The bike / pedestrian culture here is simply amazing, even for a Portlander. I’d love to hear his presentation — any chance you can post a recording or transcript here?

  2. This sounds great. We are planning a 2 week ride in The Netherlands for this coming year, yet,
    we will be out of town for the event on the 29th.
    Are there other presentations or information from him available elsewhere?

  3. The Dutch Bicycle Master Plan from the Ministry of Transport, 1999, is very instructive. When The Netherlands was investing heavily in roads in the 60’s and 70’s (like everywhere else), the percentage of trips by bike was falling very steeply. It was only when the Dutch realized that all trips could not be accommodated by private motor vehicles and began investing in bike facilities, that the decline reversed and bike trips increase. The popularity of bikes in The Netherlands doesn’t have so much to do with being Dutch as with how resources are spent. I hope Sam Adams is listening.

  4. I haven’t done the research, but my week (so far) of riding here in Utrecht and a far flung suburb bears out what Lenny wrote above. The separated bike/ped/motorbike lanes paralleling virtually every car street here make walking, riding, and wheelchair using so comfortable that you WANT to avoid taking cars. The Dutch have clearly invested a lot of resources in these paths, signals (just for bikes and peds), and other bike friendly features, and the results are obvious: bikes are everywhere, and it’s not just Lycra clad 20 somethings; it’s elderly couples, young parents (with babies in bike baskets — yikes!), teens, business types in suits… everyone. It’s been even rainier here than Portland all week, so it’s not just summer soldiers riding.

    Sure, some of these lanes have come at the expense of street parking or car lanes, but the huge numbers of users — even in suburbs 9 miles from the city, next to farmland — makes it worth it. When there’s that level of safety and convenience, combined with compact cities and lots of public transport (which we already have in Portland), people (not just bike geeks) will get out of their cars.

    Sure hope someone records the presentation; I’d love to find out how the Dutch did it, although Jeff Mapes’ excellent Oregonian story a year or so ago did provide a good short history. That story showed Sam Adams in Holland doing the research, so presumably he got the message. The tough question is: will he or any other Portland politico be willing to advocate replacing some car lanes or car parking with separated bike/ped paths, if there’s no other way to create the extra space?

  5. OK, Brett, small world time. Would you be staying on the edge of De Meern house swapping your condo by PSU?

  6. OK, we are the dutch bicyclists having a great time in Portland. We’re not biking here but love MAXX. Biking in the states seems like suicide to us without the bike paths. If Portland had bikepaths it would be the perfect world city. Good health care and bike paths…that’s all we need.

  7. … and one more month of sunshine per year. And streetcars everywhere. Wait, I think Chris is working on that one.
    The fact that even Dutch riders feel a bit intimidated by even Portland’s system shows (as Lenny noted above) that it’s not anything about national character or culture that makes Americans prefer cars and Dutch prefer bikes– it’s the infrastructure, or lack thereof, that dictates choices. If we had such extensive separated paths in Portland, I’m certain we’d see a surge in biking and a reduction in gridlock, gasoline buying, greenhouse gases, obesity etc.
    Enjoy cycling in Portland; the city bike map shows some car-free cycle routes. Feel free to borrow my helmet!

  8. Personal impressions of four things which differentiate biking in NW Europe from biking in NW US:

    1. It’s very, very flat – especially Holland and Denmark.
    2. Cyclists are well separated from motor vehicles on all but the least used streets and roads.
    3. Cyclists obey the law.
    4. Cyclists almost never wear helmets.

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