Getting parents and children on bikes instead of cars is the basis for mobility choices
Person of the Month: Angela van der Kloof
Amongst experts, she is one of the most renowned cycling specialists in the Netherlands and internationally. We asked her about some crucial issues of cycling policy and about real life highlights on the bike.
Naviki: What was your most exciting cycling experience recently?
Angela van der Kloof: I just started to experiment with longer commuting distances on my bike. One of these was to cycle 100 km from my home in Tilburg, Netherlands, to the city of Hasselt in Belgium. I cycled to Hasselt on a Sunday, had a full day meeting on Monday, took the train to Turnhout (Belgium) on Tuesday morning and cycled home from there. It was the first time to cycle such a long distance on my own and I thoroughly enjoyed it.
Which transferable action, that effectively improved the conditions for cycling, comes to your mind spontaneously?
Creating safe school zones is the first thing that comes to mind. Children are major potential users of the bicycle, since they have many short distance trips. Getting parents and children on bikes instead of cars is not only good for their health for instance. It is good for the traffic safety of all children. Once you have children on board for cycling, you create the basis for mobility choices later in life.
In general, what are the three main measures that should be implemented in order to give cycling a significant push globally?
First of all each city and town should develop a safe, cohesive and comfortable cycling network. Secondly, traffic laws need to be adapted so that the bicycle is regarded a separate category that needs protection from motorized traffic that endangers other road users with its high mass and speed. My third point deals with the image of what a cycle, a cyclist and cycling is. We need to tell and share stories that showcase that cycles, people on bikes and the act of cycling are a range of things. It includes granny bikes, children's bikes, folding bikes, cargo bikes, duo bikes, three wheelers, bike taxis and delivery bikes with trailers. All of these can be equipped with electric assist and navigation. People of all ages and abilities, gender, ethnic or socio-economic backgrounds can ride all kinds of trips for commuting, shopping, visiting friends, fun and recreation.
Is it also necessary to make car traffic less attractive to attain a change towards cycling?
Creating an environment where driving is a less attractive and convenient option, where it is not the default, is a very strong method to improve the competitive position of cycling. How to do this technically is no rocket science. How to do it politically is the real challenge.
Thanks a lot for this interview!
About Angela van der Kloof
Angela is an experienced trainer, speaker and researcher. She is specialized in cycling planning, education, engagement, and explores the possibilities e-bikes and cargo bikes hold for transforming the ways families, businesses and cities operate. Angela has a background in Human Geography (MSc) and teaching (BEd) and works on projects at local, national and international level. Alongside her day job with Mobycon, Angela works on a PhD that focuses on the role of formal and informal cycle education within The Netherlands. It is her aim to be a source of inspiration and knowledge and create synergy between people. To her the bicycle and cycling are tools to stimulate participation and interaction in an environment that is social and accessible for all.