This week I have guided two cycle tours in and around Utrecht. One group with policy makers and politicians from Bavaria and one with students from the university of Platteville-Wisconsin. It felt really rewarding to lead these groups to places I have written about in my posts and to show how connected everything is. Both groups were very different but equally enthusiastic. They were all fully aware that the way we do things in this country differs very much from how things are done in their own country and that different decisions lead to very different cities and towns with different opportunities when it comes to travel. The silence because of the lower numbers of cars was mentioned very often. It was a beautiful day, almost too hot, when I rode with the American students. When we passed a beach in Houten these young people instantly saw that there were mainly youngsters like themselves and children there. There was hardly a parent in sight. What they also saw were the high numbers of bicycles parked right next to the beach. The freedom of cycling in one clear and strong visual. These kids and youngsters had clearly gone to that beach on their bicycles unaccompanied and they obviously had a great time. What a great freedom to enjoy!
The Freedom of Cycling is the overall theme of Velo-City 2017, that is to start in two weeks’ time in Arnhem-Nijmegen. Cycling gives a great freedom to especially children and young people, who are not yet allowed to drive by themselves (so under the age of 18 in the Netherlands and most of Europe). I had filmed many young people going to school just a week ago and even though this is officially the ‘no-post’ week, I will share that short video here.
Many people (mainly school children) crossing Eisenhowerlaan in Eindhoven on their bicycles.
Some of the many lectures and presentations in the upcoming Velo-City conference also deal with the freedom cycling gives to children. One presentation – incidentally by the wife of one of my colleagues – is literally called “Freedom of Children”. Presenter Marieke Dubbelman lives with her family in Utrecht’s latest and largest expansion Leidsche Rijn, where I also took the students from Platteville. So it all comes nicely together here. I think it is very good to focus on children as they represent the future of cycling. If you get them cycling young they could keep the good habit for the rest of their lives. Interestingly enough that is the theme of a number of pecha kucha presentations at another Velo-City event called “Inspiring Cyclists of Tomorrow”. Lastly, one of the excursions goes to a primary school in Beuningen near Nijmegen to see the school run in action.
Back to the guided tours. The group of Bavaria stayed in Utrecht, but the group from Wisconsin cycled all the way to Houten. I made a Google Map with links to the posts about what we saw during the tour. So you can virtually cycle along.
Map of the guided tour of the students from Wisconsin.