Cycle campaigner scouts continental success story – press release


Newcastle aspires to get more people on the bike. Yet cities rarely turn to their world class cycling neighbours such as the Netherlands for learning and expertise.

Claire Prospert from the Newcastle Cycling Campaign however self-funded a study tour to Assen and Groningen – where up to 40% of all trips are made by bike – to sample their recipe for success and see what it really is that makes Dutch people leave the car at home and joyfully jump on a bicycle instead.

Claire says: “People think that the Dutch cycle because it’s part of their culture and it’s flat. But this is only true to some extent, as the number one reason for the phenomenal levels of cycling is the extensive network of first class cycleways, within and between cities.”

Her study trip was guided by an English couple. David and Judith Hembrow emigrated to Assen with their family in 2007. People come from as far as the United States and South America to meet the Hembrows and learn about cycleways and enjoy Dutch cycling. As part of the three-day tour Claire saw new developments built for cyclists and pedestrians.

Claire explains: “People walking and cycling are clearly the top priority users for the urban designers. We also saw older neighbourhoods where solutions have been retrofitted and space was allocated to cycling. With cycleways it’s all about continuity, convenience and priority – every junction and roundabout has cycling features so that it’s easy and safe for everybody to cross a road. And there’s an extensive network of one-way streets where cyclists are allowed to ‘contra-flow’ and this even results in lower speeds! Residents are the winners! Children are playing outside!”

Katja Leyendecker, chair of the Newcastle Cycling Campaign says “Dutch cycling makes more than 40% of short journeys, compare that to the UK’s pitiful 2% where folks are still sitting in their cars in heavy traffic, looking for a parking space. It was so important for us that Newcastle City Council signed up to a cycle target of 20% by 2021 – a tenfold increase. To stand a chance of hitting this ambitious target we must build a safe cycle network. It’s been the answer in Dutch, Danish and German cities. I know it can work here too. People aren’t that different. It’s just the cycleways!”

Contact Katja Leyendecker || 07828 60 4349 ||

Hembrow cycle study tours
Newcastle Cycling Campaign
Photos can be supplied upon request
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