Claire Prospert of Newcastle Cycling attended the latest Hembrow Study Tour of Assen and Groningen. In order to whet your appetite for the next one, here's what she found:
First of all, I’m not a blogger and this is my first attempt at writing a piece about cycling. I’m not a cycling expert either, I’m just a simple girl who rides a bike in Newcastle and turned into an active campaigner because, above all, I believe that collectively we can change a lot for the better. I’m not doing it because I’m some kind of anti-car eco-warrior; I’m campaigning so that other people can enjoy the incredible range of benefits that everyday cycling offers.
It is not about converting people; I have tried, had some success but also failed on many fronts to get friends, family and work colleagues to get into the saddle and leave the car at home. It is, above all, about changing our urban environment and the way we are building cities. Stop building roads for cars which disconnect neighbourhoods and communities and start creating a people-friendly infrastructure where cycling facilities are provided for everybody to use and enjoy.
There are two things that really annoy and frustrate me; the first one is the general public view on cycling and the “weirdo” label that comes with someone who rides a bike in cities instead of driving a car. As a woman, in particular, cycling in the UK as a means of transport is an oddity at its best and a nonsense at its worst. The second thing is the strong belief that we cannot have what cities like Copenhagen and Amsterdam have, i.e. a quality cycling infrastructure.
Politicians have always warm words to say about cycling, but nobody has the guts to have a go at creating cyclist-friendly cities.
The Netherlands, where I spent a week for the very first time at the beginning of May 2012 have succeeded in creating a cycling nation. Dutch people are not born cyclists, they live in an environment where cycling is easy, safe and convenient. And because cycling is easy, safe and convenient, everybody cycles – newborns are being carried on bikes, toddlers ride with parents, teenagers cycle to school and groups of pensioners ride socially. It even made me wonder how wonderful it must be for the Dutch NHS to care for such a super active population.
Originally published by CEoGB http://www.cycling-embassy.org.uk/blog/2012/06/21/love-the-netherlands-go-newcastle