When I posted on Facebook that I would spend my holidays in Australia this year, I soon received a message from someone of the city of Sydney. “Would it be possible for you to do a talk?” “I could certainly do that!” was my answer. Sydney was not part of my tour of Australia in March 2017 and I love to do my work as an ambassador, so why not do a talk now, on my holidays?
This year’s tour was a big one. I had been to Australia with my mother two times before, in 2008 and 2013, to visit her (now deceased) aunt and many cousins, who almost all have children and grandchildren themselves now. The number of my relatives in Australia goes in the dozens. This time my sister and her two adult children also came along. Via Hongkong the five of us made a tour of Queensland (Cairns, Townsville, Charters Towers and Brisbane) and for the final days of our holiday we flew to Sydney.
The city of Sydney had kindly organised a night in Customs House near the Harbour Bridge and the Opera House. I was the only speaker at this free event. We had a very interesting crowd and I was genuinely surprised to see almost half the hands go up when I asked who had visited the Netherlands already.
In my presentation I show a bit of history to explain how and why the Netherlands has come to what it is now. Some of that history is globally similar and therefore I also added some historical images of Sydney. Last year’s trip to Australia had also given me the opportunity to see a lot of good Australian examples of (cycle) infrastructure. I used some of those in this presentation, that I adapted especially for this one event. To again share some of those examples with a larger audience I now made a short video about the trip that includes some of my presentation.
The reception in Sydney was very warm. I cannot thank Fiona Campbell and Mark Ames representing the city of Sydney enough for having me and for organising this event. Thanks also to the many people who came to see me. I was very pleased to see the consul-general for the Netherlands in Sydney who told me he had enjoyed my talk very much. Many people were really enthusiastic, before the talk already, but fortunately also after they’d seen it. I tried to make clear that I think the time to look around for examples is over now. For Sydney and for so many other cities in the world. Stop looking around, start acting. In the case of Sydney the city is already acting, and in a good way. I sincerely hope the Cycling Action Plan, that is now in its conceptual stage, will soon become visible in the streets of Sydney, because I think that it would change the city for the better.
My video about my recent presentation in Sydney, Australia.