French “Dutchy” sharing cycling knowledge in France
Cycling experts Simon Fessard (Mobycon) and Wolter te Riele (Berenschot), participated in the conference “19èmes rencontres des Départements et Régions Cyclables“, a French cycling congress including all levels of government officials. The conference took place on the 24th and 25th of September, in the city of Valence, France. They attended on behalf of both their respective companies and The Dutch Cycling Embassy, a public-private network which works to share Dutch urban planning and mobility knowledge internationally.
The conference was run by the NGO “Départements et Régions Cyclables”, and brought together an audience of government officials to work towards developing solutions across the borders for recreational and everyday cycling. The well-know French journalist, Olivier Razemon, moderated the discussions. Olivier Razemon publishes his articles on the website of “Le Monde” and has a good understanding of successes and issues of cycling in France. Olivier travels a lot, including in the Netherlands, and helps dismantle cultural distances across the borders.
Simon and Wolter presented a plenary lecture as an introduction to the conference. Through this lecture they directed the focus towards proving facts and principles that support the Dutch cycling customs, rather than attributing the success to habits and traditions. A myriad of good ingredients from the Netherlands can be mentioned when it comes to enabling cycling abroad: cyclists are categorized with pedestrians, not vehicles; cycling policy is handled holistically by the municipalities with other forms of mobility, rather than negotiated by cycle specialists; car parking policy is handled by municipalities; and coherent planning processes help develop linked mobility systems. The experience from the Netherlands demonstrates that what matters primarily is that these ingredients are skillfully orchestrated.
We are enthusiastic about attending the conference and being involved in follow up debates. Based on shared knowledge of both contexts (France/Netherlands), we can support the creation of relevant solutions to help enable cycling in French cities.
Of course, design for bicycling will play a major role in the way French cities will retrofit.
Dutch knowledge has taught us cyclists can be classified along with pedestrians as “humans” first, and thereafter as “mobilities”, which helps to create a holistic and sustainable perspective in traffic planning and design.
For more information about what makes the Netherlands a paradise for bicycles join the Study Tour we are planning on November 25-27, 2015 - for French people such as officials, planners, designers or advocates. Registration is now open!