To make passenger transport more sustainable, bicycles should not compete with public transport – which is mostly the case now – but rather people should take to bicycles instead of cars.
“Innovations should therefore help cyclists themselves, and not primarily improve car traffic. New bicycle parking facilities at the train station? It often sounds very nice, but if cyclists have to pay to park their bikes, that’s a different story. The purpose of such a parking facility is often to make passages clogged with bikes passable again. Very useful, but mainly for people who want to get to the station, not so much for cyclists.”
By looking at cycling behavior and travel patterns, both cyclists and the climate can be helped, Bruno emphasizes.
“For example, having children often goes hand in hand with buying a (new) car. Why is there no subsidy for buying a much more sustainable alternative such as the cargo bike? And if you want to go into town by bike with small children, where do you leave the stroller or baby carriage? Eindhoven has handled this well by making baby carriages available to young parents in the bicycle sheds. Such innovations keep people using bicycles longer. “
Respect for the granny bike
Bruno is happy to leave the question of whether the increased use of electric bicycles makes for more sustainable transportation to his colleagues. His project – part of the NWO program Smart Cycling Futures – has come to an end, but in the meantime a follow-up project has started at TU/e looking at the role of e-bikes and shared bikes. Without Bruno, he started as a postdoc at TU Delft and now finds himself in a daily cyclist traffic jam on his way to work, he adds chuckling.
But instead of seeing the bicycle as an ugly problem, Bruno says it is important to continue to appreciate the bicycle – even in the traffic jam.
“The Dutch should be more proud of their bikes; the rock-solid granny bike is a wonderful showpiece of Dutch cycling culture,” he says. In San Francisco, ‘cyclist’ is an identity, I do miss that feeling here. Good bicycle infrastructure should not be taken for granted too easily.
Unfortunately, the bicycle is still too often portrayed as a problem. Cyclists obstructing car traffic, or improperly parked shared bikes. Policy makers would do well to look more through the eyes of the cyclist.”
Title of thesis: Cycling Innovations; supervisors: Ruth Oldenziel, Frauke Behrendt and Anna Nikolaeva.