The type of cycling I am proud to be an ambassador for

The best thing about cycling is that you have direct contact with other people. Not just eye contact, you can also talk to another road user. In Dutch rush hours it can become very crowded at certain locations. At such times and places things don’t always go right. When I filmed a busy intersection in Utrecht in the last week of August, it struck me that people already said sorry to each other when they made just the slightest mistake. I recorded at least three instances where you could actually hear people apologising for something that didn’t quite went well. Perhaps not what you would expect, especially not on that particular day. I recorded this video on the hottest day of August at almost the hottest time of the day. It was 31 degrees Celsius (87.8F). But instead of getting hot-tempered most people simply cycled on as they always do and they were generally very polite to each other. Cycling is good for a society, in so many ways!

“Sorry!” Things can sometimes go slightly wrong at the busiest intersection in Utrecht (Smakkelaarsveld). At peak times there can be 37,000 cyclists per day at this location (source: City of Utrecht). It is still a building site.
The hottest day of the month and the hottest time at that day. That's when I filmed the video in this post. And yet it was all so calm and quiet and polite!
The hottest day of the month and the hottest time at that day. That’s when I filmed the video in this post. And yet it was all so calm and quiet and polite! (Pictures KNMI)

So what’s that about being an ambassador? That cycling is good for a society is what I want to share with the world. That is what this blog and all my videos are about. Cycling is safe, healthy and good for the environment. When there is a lot of cycling there is less noise and the air quality improves. Cycling is cheap and not only for the person cycling. Building cycling infrastructure is also cheap, much cheaper than building for the car and it also takes up far less valuable space of our towns and cities. I am proud of the Dutch cycling culture and I would be happy if some of what we have could also be enjoyed by other people around the world. That is why I have given presentations all over the world; Budapest, Sydney, Saint Petersburg. The first was in cooperation with the Dutch Cycling Embassy. Last Friday this DCE celebrated its 5-year-anniversary. The DCE aims to be:

“an intermediary between the demand for Dutch cycling expertise and Dutch parties that can deliver. The Dutch Cycling Embassy is a public private network for sustainable bicycle inclusive mobility. We represent the best of Dutch Cycling: knowledge, experience and experts offered by private companies, NGO’s, research institutions, national and local governments.”

There was a small role for me in the celebrations. As a news item on the DCE website describes:

“The celebration was kicked off with a lunch and a brief speech about the achievement of DCE from the past five years.

After that, the 50th participant of DCE was welcomed, Mark Wagenbuur from Bicycle Dutch. His blogs and videos about the Dutch cycling culture are well-known, both nationally and internationally. He was also awarded to be an ambassador of Dutch Cycling Embassy, for his efforts to share the Dutch Cycling culture via blogs and videos.

The festival continued with various workshops on cycling highways and cycling behavior.”

The certificate in which I am appointed "Dutch Cycling Ambassador" by the Dutch Cycling Embassy.
The certificate in which I am appointed “Dutch Cycling Ambassador” by the director of the Dutch Cycling Embassy.

So there you have it. I have acted as a cycling ambassador since 2009, but I have now also been officially recognised to be just that. What will this mean exactly? Well, I don’t even know myself, really. I am not planning to change anything about my blog. I have made things a bit more professional. There is an official main address now: and I opened an e-mail address; You may see some of my videos used on the website of the DCE in future and I might accept an invitation to speak somewhere about cycling in the Netherlands (but I already did that anyway). What is really good for me is that I can forward many of the questions I get to the DCE. They are far better at giving a good contact for the best bicycle parking rack or a good road designer than I am able to do. I will continue to do my best to share knowledge and images about cycling in the Netherlands on this blog in a way that is easy to understand and attractive for a large audience. That I now have a ‘seal of approval’ and recognition of the official Dutch institute that does the same professionally, means a lot to me.

Cycling rush hour in the summer heat in Utrecht

16 thoughts on “The type of cycling I am proud to be an ambassador for

  1. Congratulations from me too. I am proud to be citizen of a country with such a cycling infrastructure. We already had this kind of infrastructure back in the nineties. Because, I cycled once from Deventer to Amsterdam and from Deventer to Eindhoven and back. A few times I have used (one of) your videos in my replies to people posting something concerning cycling.

  2. I’ve known that a bicycling culture is good for the social culture for a long time. It’s harder to get angry at someone when you are both cycling. Another perfect reason to replace cars with bicycles!

  3. I left a comment on your personal commute blog post (with accompanying video sped up) about three years ago. I find it interesting that there is going to be cycling workshop in my metropolitan area, in Detroit proper.

    As part of the workshop, the Dutch Cycling Embassy will be sharing their knowledge. The brief description is: “ThinkBike Detroit is a workshop combining Dutch cycling experts with Southwest Detroit communities to develop and implement bicycle paths and infrastructure. This year, the Netherlands and the Federal Highway Administration chose Milwaukee and Detroit to be recipents of the workshop to develop strategies for strong bike policy integral to reducing traffic, reducing pollution, and increasing healthier communties and bike-ridership. You’re invited to participate in this free two-day event on November 2nd and 3rd.”

  4. Congratulations Mark! I just can’t imagine where US bicycle planning would be if not for your blogging and videos. In retrospect, it’s amazing that something compelled you to film your mundane commutes and bicycle traffic in the Netherlands and share it with the world. You’ve helped push NACTO and US advocacy in general toward having higher standards. You’ve also helped put to rest arguments from VC’s and engineers as to why we can’t have separated infrastructure.

    We need State Transportation agencies to adopt CROW /Dutch bike design guides, otherwise big budget projects will continue to skimp on the bicycle facilities and give us mere paint because it’s considered acceptable in the highway design manuals.

    1. Unfortunately the US dynamics will not allow a bicycle culture. The biggest obstacles include the mindset – people in the US will drive even when they can easily cycle a short distance. This is the opposite of the European mindset.

      Then the distances, the terrain and lower population density in the US make cycling infrastructure totally impractical. Unlike The Netherlands, many people in the US live much further on average from goods and services.

  5. What a pleasure to read this blog, Mark. Thanks for the kind words! Your work is very important for both many countries all over the world as well for our own country. I am very proud of you being our first official Cycling Ambassador at the Dutch Cycling Embassy, welcome to the Team! Let’s continue this already fruitful cooperation together in the future resulting hopefully in many more people (starting) cycling and to support with designing cycling friendly cities all around the world. Thanks you again for all of your blogs, movies and objective view and we’ll meet again soon!

  6. Mark, you are bike mayor of the World. Your videos have even been on the news here. Perhaps you should set up a patreon page or something. Thanks for all your work. You have given so much to advocates all over the world.

  7. I recall Hillie Taalens, from CROW, stating to me in September of 2011 that she had never heard of the website “A View From The Cycle Path” when she and several other Dutch planners and traffic engineers were participating in a ThinkBike workshop in Los Angeles. I thought that the website by that time would have been well known in traffic engineering in the Netherlands. Mark, now the award that you have been given states that your blog and videos are known nationally and internationally. I frequently mention your blog to bicycling advocates and traffic engineers in Los Angeles.

    Click to access thinkbike-la-presentation-16-9.pdf

    To show some of the recent progression in bicycle infrastructure installations in the states, here’s a video of a recent Webinar in the U.S. about separated bike lane design. From 51:30 through 1:14:28 is a presentation by Mike Amsden, the assistant director of transportation planning for the Chicago Department of Transportation. He discusses the reasons for the types of designs used and the results in that city. Included is the protected bike lanes on Dearborn St. and towards the end he goes over a design used for a protected intersection.

    The U.S. Federal Highway Administration recently released a 16 page report of what they learned about bicycle planning and design in the Netherlands after a week long visit there in August of 2015.

  8. Well done, Mark, your award is well deserved. I love reading your blog and learning about how better practice bike infrastructure looks and works in practice.

  9. Hi Mark. Happy birth month. Not that it takes mothers a month to deliver, but you know what I mean. We should do something nice for you, find a good bottle of wine, or maybe a new bell for your handlebars, or I know, here: Without your efforts, I probably would never be the guy I am.

    And it looks like if the Dutch say sorry quite that often, apparently the Canadians didn’t leave without inserting out culture into the Netherlands in 1945. I know I say sorry instinctively like that.

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