Why are Dutch children cycling less?

28th May 2022

The Spokesmen Cycling Podcast

EPISODE 298: Why are Dutch children cycling less? Ask BYCS

SPONSOR: Tern Bicycles

HOST: Carlton Reid

GUESTS: Aya Achaboun, Simón Alvarez Belon, Lucas Boer and Maud de Vries

TOPICS: BYCS, bicycle mayors and why a Dutch NGO felt the need to create a program to stop the drop in child cyclist numbers in … the Netherlands.

OTHER LINKS: DFDS ferry. Eye Cafe, Amsterdam. Tourissmo’s Chef’s bike tour of Sardinia. World Bicycle Day, June 3rd. Are cyclist numbers dropping? These official stats say not; ANWB says yes.

TRANSCRIPT:

Carlton Reid 0:09
Welcome to Episode 298 of the Spokesmen cycling podcast. This show was released on Saturday 28th of May 2022.

David Bernstein 0:22
The Spokesman cycling roundtable podcast is brought to you by Tern Bicycles. The good people at Tern are committed to building bikes that are useful enough to ride every day and dependable enough to carry the people you love. In other words, they make the kind of bikes that they want to ride. Tern has e-bikes for every type of rider. Whether you’re commuting, taking your kids to school or even caring another adult, visit www.ternbicycles.com. That’s t e r n bicycles.com to learn more.

Carlton Reid 1:00
Thanks, David. I’m Carlton Reid and welcome to the Spokesmen. This episode is 40 minutes or so with Maud de Vries, the co founder of BYCS, the Dutch NGO that recognised cyclists numbers were dropping in the Netherlands so in 2016, it created the now global Bicycle Mayors programme. Now, if you follow me on Twitter, you’ll know I’m on the road at the moment travelling to Sardinia with the help of one Tern folding bike, two ferries and five trains. I’m now in Cagliari on Tourissmo’s Chef’s bike tour of Sardinia. But the day after leaving Newcastle on a DFDS ferry North Shields, I landed in Amsterdam and met with Maud along with the coordinator of the Bicycle Mauors programme and two of the junior Mayors we met for coffee, sparkling water and iced tea at a scenic cafe, where I asked Maud to describe what we were looking at across the river.

Maud de Vries 2:16
Right now we’re looking at Central Station at the at the shared space, which is an awesome area, I think in Amsterdam, where there’s also a lot of water, you have the [ferries] taking people from the centre of Amsterdam to north. And then yeah, there’s a shared space, which has been has been working perfectly for years now. And actually they’re building another shared space and a big a very large, cycle park under the water here. I’m going to show you around later, Carlton.

And then you said there’s also going to because we’re going to the ferries going to and fro you said there’s going to be a bridge a bicycle bridge. Is that going across here?

Yeah, the bridge over the Ij, as they call it. And it’s amazing. Because also you saw the cruise ships coming here. They’re quite large. And still, they will be able to go here. So I think there has been a fight over this for a long time. Some people thought the cyclists should go under the tunnels, and some other thought it would be good to have the [ferries] and not change anything or have like the cable. Had I heard it called Yeah, the cable the cable? Exactly. Yeah. Yeah. Which would be fun, of course, as well. But now finally, they’ve taken the decision to upgrade is that gonna happen? I think he’s gonna happen in likely, let’s say three to six years, something like that.

There’s a hug amount of bicycle traffic. I mean, every single ferry is full and they go every few minutes.

Yeah, they do. And it’s an amazing ride. I liked that ride as well. But of course people just don’t want to wait. And I think that’s the reason for building that bridge. And it’s also a good connection to actually connect the North in which there they develop a lot of land right now and the city centre so I really also like the bridge a lot but but you know as it is right now it’s very enjoyable tour to go from the city centre to north.

So now tell me because we’re not here alone, but we should say where we are actually. What’s What’s this place this this beautiful little cafe we’re big a cafe, not a little cafe, big cafe,

very big cafe and it’s beautiful. It’s called the Eye film theatre. And basically it’s yeah, it’s an arthouse movie centre setup basically by the by the city of Amsterdam,

But we’re not here just me and you, Maud. So introduce around the tables, we have some bicycle mayirs here we do we do we have a course of the bikes programme but first let’s go to the bicycle mayors. So who have we got here, Maud?

we get the first bicycle mayor or junior bicycle mayor, not the first actually I have to say but Lucas, you’re the first older Junior bicycle mayor in Amsterdam because actually, we had two before Lucas already and they were a bit younger, but then we felt like it would be really good to have During your bicycle mayor that will be a bit older to also get around a bit more easy and also to be able to put a to put the kids voice on the table a bit better, you know, so and I think Lucas is doing a really great job. You have been around for for almost a year. Have you?

Lucas Boer 5:17
Yeah, a little bit more than a year now, I think since November 2020, 2020, 2020. Yeah, one and a half near years now. Yeah. Something like that. Yeah.

Maud de Vries 5:27
Yeah. And it’s been really great. So Lucas was able to work also with adults. Adults, you know, you’re another year so now almost.

Lucas Boer 5:36
January, I’m 18. So I’m okay.

Maud de Vries 5:38
I’m officially you’re an adult now

You’ll be chucked out. You’ll be you’ll be thrown out programme. To Junior.

Yeah, so definitely, we’re going to find a new No, not yet.

We have in the in the right?

and we have Aya on the right hand side. You’re pretty fresh, because I think it’s three months now that you have to do new bicycle mayor for the Hague. And I think that’s pretty amazing as well. We have a new bike mayor in The Hague, as well. And at the same moment, if you got elected as the junior bicycle, Mayor of The Hague,

so I what do you what do you do compared to what the the adult bicycle mayor does? What what are the differences?

Aya Achaboun 6:23
It’s my job to look at what the kids want and need. And I think the seniors look more at the whole picture. And I narrowed it down to just what kids want.

Maud de Vries 6:34
What do what did kids need? Generally?

Aya Achaboun 6:37
I think in my opinion, kids need free bikes, because a lot of my friends, I know they don’t go to school with a bike because they don’t have one, or there’s is broken. So I think they need bikes and safer roads, to schools.

Maud de Vries 6:56
So even here, even in this country, where you are so many light years ahead of virtually everywhere else, you’ve still got to have a junior bicycle mayor telling people, kids need these things. Why do you need this in this country?

Aya Achaboun 7:15
Well, that’s a good question I think every country has has its imperfections. And we can always move things we should always try to set.

Maud de Vries 7:28
So perfection, perfect perfection. Because we I come across here, and I’ve got to come up with a boat. And I’ve just been straight onto amazing wide bike paths. And then to think that you’re gonna be trying to improve us how can you improve that?

Well, actually, something really bad is happening in the Netherlands right now. And, and we have to talk about this. And it’s happening to the children. Because years and years now less children are getting on bikes in the Netherlands. And that’s a big problem, because we’re actually losing the cycling culture that we

Is that they’re going into scooters instead, or they’re going in cars, where were they going?

Yeah, it’s like when they’re really young, you know, the parents feel like it’s less safe for a kid to be on the bike, which is not true, but they feel like that. So that is a big problem, I think. And the second thing is also cargo bikes. So lots of parents travelling, getting cargo bikes, and they then are a bit older, when they get to learn how to ride themselves, which is maybe not a good thing. And then also still to a lot of kids, especially in the retail, parents, especially reason taking the kids to school by car, which is a problem. So we have this fight for school streets, as well as other countries. But I think in the Netherlands, it’s like in Amsterdam, 25% of the kids can’t even bike and in the Netherlands as a whole a third of all children is not cycling

So for the future that’s bad. That’s

Exactly, it’s a whole generation had that’s not cycling, and if it’s declining, yet then we’re stuck because it will if all the people then like in 10 years or 15 years from now are gonna go to work by car then what do we do? It’s not possible. So then what’s happening next week on World Bicycle Day that were with all the bicycle mayors to junior bicycle mayors, but also the Dutch bicycle mayors are going to be offering a manifesto to the ministers in the Netherlands saying you know, this has to stop because we’re really worried and so are also a lot of organisations in the Netherlands that we have been talking to about this. So it’s important I think what I as opposed to saying is to put kids voice on the table as well you know, because so many ideas on how to improve things and and maybe Aya you can talk for example about your own idea. You know, I about like kids, the so in the Netherlands we teach the kids in school, how to ride a bike, but we don’t really do that because schools don’t have the time you know, and I think that lessons we learned and now are not the most the nicest lessons. And that’s the idea that you sort of that struck us when he went to become a junior bicycle, maybe maybe you can elaborate a little bit more on that.

Aya Achaboun 10:13
So we spend a lot of our day at or at schools. And afterwards, we don’t really have enough time, or our parents don’t have enough time to teach us how to ride a bike. Correct. So I thought, why aren’t we thought this ad was cool, because we have gymnastics, physical education. But learning how to bike is a class that has given given inside of gymnastics, but it should,

Maud de Vries 10:41
is that not also because it’s expected that you’re going to be you’re gonna be a cyclist here. Because you know, the old adage of it’s, like Dutch people’s DNA. I know, it’s not quite like that. But is that the reason? It’s just so normal here? In why would we have it in school? And you’re kind of like telling them something that’s, they find? Well, why would we do that? Is that is that the reaction you get?

Aya Achaboun 11:04
Yeah, I get that. But we’re now seeing that it’s declining. So there, it should be. There should be more focused on it. Now. Because we have like modes we have already we have had this bicycle culture for so many years. But now it’s declining. And it’s a problem that is really being ignored.

Maud de Vries 11:25
And we haven’t introduced somebody here, who is at the table and is listening intently here. So you do the kind of the bikes programme you can get onto the bike system. In fact, from instead of asking mode, what were the the bikes programme is, you can tell me who you are and what the bikes programme is, and we’re gonna say it BYCS, yes. So tell me what, who are you? And what is the bike programme?

Simón Alvarez Belon 11:45
So my name is Simón, and I’m the bicycle network coordinator. So I get to coordinate and manage this really inspiring and energetic network of cycling leaders that we have now in 138. cities more or less. And also, of course, the the network of junior bicycle mayors, which is really great. It’s a network goes, yeah, a lot of people trying to bring change in the cities and make the cities healthier and more sustainable through the bicycle. But I think what’s really unique is that because we value kind of the local knowledge and their voice, they’re very, they offer solutions that are tailored to their city. And those can be shared across the network, which is Yeah, it’s really inspiring to see and, and not only are our lessons shared, but also I think there’s a really strong sense of solidarity among the the networking that keeps everyone inspired and keeps everyone working towards the same goal of 50 by 30.

Maud de Vries 12:38
And do you meet up? I mean, how do you inspire each other? How are you? Is it like a WhatsApp group? Where you’re all in? What how do you how do you talk to each other?

Simón Alvarez Belon 12:46
Yeah, well, there’s a lot of things we definitely have communication platforms on WhatsApp, where people share what they’re doing, or a lot of people ask for resources or hey, you know, Does, does anyone know how to best implement a bike share system or how to best introduce bicycle parking, for example. But also, we have regional calls, which are really, really powerful where bicycle Mayor’s, for example, in Europe or in North America will meet up and discuss maybe an initiative that they want to tackle or they just share what they’ve been working on in the last three months and lessons that they’ve learned in Latin America. For example, last year, we had a regional call where everyone there, the angle Latin America is really focused on the climate crisis, and making raising awareness about how the bicycle is zero emission transport. And so for Earth Day, through that regional call all the bicycle ministers together organised an awareness campaign. Where, yeah, on Twitter on Earth Day, they all share, you know, what a united message of why we need to hop on bikes, to save the planet. And now we have the juniors as well which, which are doing the same thing.

Maud de Vries 13:52
Perfect. And Maud, tell me where this started. Because I mean, it did start from just you know, the odd wasn’t the Dutch it was. I mean, I was there when you Yes. When you when you were appointed? I sort of asked me back, Well, you tell me when, when what I remember this, when you tell me when was this? And what was the idea behind it? Yeah, and how has it gone? How is it as a how has it worked?

So it’s 2016, I believe, when we were starting this organisation called BYCS, an NGO. And we wanted, we wanted to transform cities, and we were thinking, you know, you could do that in different ways. And one way is to sort of leverage the voice of, of the changemakers that are already there in cities, you know, and also see the effect of benefits, the benefits between global and local, so have people being there in the city 24/7 knowing everything that’s going on, you know, and then for them, being able to raise their voice in that city. You know, we thought that might be a good idea. So then we started with one bicycle mayor in Amsterdam, which was at that time, and Anna Luten

And Anna worked for Giant?

Yeah. And then eventually she moved to New York as well. But it was great. She worked for Giant, but it had nothing to do with the work for Giant because basically she started because she had a fall on her bike a couple years before she became a bicycle mayor. And by then she realised, you know, instead of, you know, thinking about never going to be I’m gonna have a good fall. Yeah, somebody’s dropping. Yeah, it’s not Anna. I’m happy to say she saved. But you know, and then it wasn’t about that. But it was basically about she said, The bicycle is changing my life and actually want to do something with it to make Amsterdam, you know, fun and better, again, using the bicycle. But then yeah, some things happen in life, you know. So she moved, and then Katelijne Boerma came on in Amsterdam. And she really saw the transformation happening where she saw a lot of kids with obesity, still in Amsterdam, that road cycling, and then that was also related to the work she’s doing. So she was talking about how can we be seated and invites people and children to cycle more, you know, or to exercise more. It’s not only about cycling as an end goal, it’s a means to this end goal. And then, you know, building on that, I think in a year time, we had 11 Bicycle mayors, we organised the summit in Mexico City. And it was really awesome, because by then we start, we started to see the first results of that. And right now, the Mexican bicycle Mayor Areli Carreón, she was there at the beginning, she’s still with us. She’s transferring her role to somebody else as well. But what they have been doing is amazing, because right now, they changed a big law in Mexico, around safety, which was a big fight against the car industry as well. And finally, after years of fighting, they’ve won that. And this is something they this is a good example for multiple cities in Latin America. And they’re trying to spread that and the second thing she and her group at Decker’s and also lots of other groups are working on as well is to inspire single moms to have a bicycle, they have bicycles, electric bikes, they share with these moms, they can use that they are trained to use it for years, so they can feed the kids, they can take them to school, they can find a job somewhere and come out of poverty and also depression most of the time. So we have so many inspiring stories. For example, Satya in Bangalore, we have had a crazy explosion in India as well, where we now have I think, Simon, 47, bicycle mayor, something like that. It’s amazing. I’ll be going to India again in a week time, because it’s like, it’s really hard. What happens in India right now is that there’s a lot of air pollution, Delhi is a good example 50% of of the air pollution is caused by road transportation in Delhi, you know, what if we can take at least half of the trips, and get people out of the car. So onto the bicycles. So you know, and Satya, for example, is a good example. He inspired other bicycle mayors in India during COVID with relief riders, so what they did was use the bikes to bring goods and medication to people. And then other bicycle mayors took that on and then there was, there were a lot of volunteers working with them as well. So that’s some of the stories we get from the bicycle meyors. We’ve grown from 11 cities to 100. And what do you say? 38. Now, almost 150 Yeah, so sometimes it goes up a bit, and then it

Is the bicycle mayor programme the biggest part of BYCS?. And you won’t really do what else do you do?

Yeah. So we’re, after the success of the bicycle Mayor network, we also thought this is so strong, you know, building these movements. So we have started the citizens network last year. And that is really successful as well. What else we do is also we help organisations consulting, for example, we work with the UN and we are helping the World Bank in Latin America, set up a platform which is called PLAMOBI. That is a really good thing as well. We help we are helping organisations in India. So what we do is sort of build coalitions as well, organisations and policy institutes, companies, etc. To to go and bring the change. That’s basically what we want to be doing.

And have you found something that fit BYCS yet or is it still bikes doesn’t mean anything. It just means

it just mean but have mean? Means bikes, too, as simple as that. Yeah.

You’ve got to come up with something No, bicycles give you.

Yeah, I bet it was actually. It was a bit men by because we started off as cycle space. It was by cycle space. And then it also said BYCS, so we thought, This is really good. And it’s so short. So yeah. overdue. yours have really, I really felt like, this is so good. I really liked this. But yeah, you can say whatever you want?

And how is it funded?

Basically, we’re self funded until now, let’s say and so now we’re trying to get in a bit more partners that can also help in a different way. So now, for example, we got a nice grant to build on the junior bicycle mayor network. And I think that is really good. So in the, in the past, the work that we have been doing in consultancy, and lab stuff in the Netherlands has, you know, it really helped us enough to COVID that stop because we couldn’t organise any events, we couldn’t do that. So then it all dried up. Because the money we that comes into our house, we just spent that on the networks and all the other things. So we were a bit like, Okay, well, what are we going to do, so we had to shift the model. And now that really helped us to work and collaborate with all the amazing organisations had, like I was just talking about. So now for example, UMI which is the Rockefeller Foundation, for example, is helping us building on with a junior bicycle mayor network who doesn’t only mean they fund us, but it also means that they help us with other organisations that have done this, you know, how do you how do you do that? So we’re a small organisation, and we have we need help as well. And this is I think, the perfect way forward.

David Bernstein 21:28
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Carlton Reid 24:53
Wherever you come from so 2016 When the bicycle mayor programme started, when was BYCS founded on where How’d you get into this space? Of course, you’re Dutch. So you’re in this space naturally. But where did you come from?

Maud de Vries 25:07
Yeah, basically, it was just so I have another co founder, and he’s from Canada. And when he came here to live in Amsterdam with his family, it was basically because Amsterdam and the bike culture that we have, you know, said, I wanted to live in a city that is silence that is clean, and it’s nice and social, and people feel healthy. And he was like, Amsterdam is the perfect start. And when I met him, he was like, you know, we have to give this presents to other cities as well. And that’s basically I think that was the basic thought behind what we wanted to do. We just wanted to share the gift that Amsterdam has to give, but in a different way. We don’t think every city or every country should be like Amsterdam, or the Netherlands, you know, but there are so many opportunities. So that’s why we started off actually with the bicycle mayor, network. And you know, start it started off being a Knowledge Centre for international organisations that wanted to know more about how do I do this? What can we do? And then we started to work with other organisations as well. That’s basically where we came from. Yeah.

Carlton Reid 26:14
It’s obvious that you’re gonna go to things like Velo-city. So I’ve definitely been have interviewed you before. Yeah. And the Dublin Velo-City, in fact, and then previous bike shows. But then, of course, you also go into things like COP. So yeah, I’ve been Glasgow and the COP that’s coming up in Egypt, we are perhaps you’re going to that. So how is fitting into into a climate change agenda?

Maud de Vries 26:38
Yeah, it’s like, I think mobility is actually the largest thing we can, you know, influence on to get to the targets as quick as possible. And like in COP last year, we were talking about, you know, maybe how we should change the cars and get a battery in there. But if we talk about active transportation, I think that has that would have the the largest effect on on climate change. And it’s hard for people to see it, you know, so it’s the solution that’s already in the shed that say, you know, you can write it today. So we don’t need, we can transform all the cars that are in the world right now. And put a lithium battery inside, you know, we can’t do that. It’s just impossible, not only for climate, but also because it’s just not feasible. And this is such a feasible and human solution. We have to, we don’t have to, we should not focus on technology, we should not focus on all these other. That’s not the future. We have the future already here.

Talk about the future. We have some young people. Yeah. We’re not the future. We are the way apparently, yeah. So we are here sitting with us, I’ll come to you. How much of what you’re doing. And what you’re doing with that, with the programme has been inspired. And I’m gonna ask, the same question has been inspired by climate change, or how much of it is it’s why I like it. I like cycling, I think other people should be, you know, like cycling too. So. So try and split that into percentage terms, even

Lucas Boer 28:11
in the moment are in the past one and a half years, I didn’t really have the climates aspect as one of my points to focus on. I mean, true. It’s a very important aspect. I mean, we have a future and I want the livable world in 10, 20 years, where I can

Carlton Reid 28:29
Maud, we will still be there 10, 20 years.

Maud de Vries 28:36
We will do our best.

Lucas Boer 28:36
I don’t know. That will be strange. Yeah, I want

to wake with my bike to somewhere in a nice world that I’m in I think gets with this my primary targets. The first thing gets, I mean, it gets a toddler of five years or three years, it’s not the first thing without further think about is the climate, you know, so then it’s important to fix it.

Carlton Reid 29:03
And same question for you, Aya, but also, maybe because because because it was talked about like young kids there. When you’re talking to maybe teams, is the climate aspect, much more important to them? Is it part of what you’re talking to them about? Or again, is it is it you’ve got to keep it fun? Because the kids don’t want politics. They don’t want the future? They just want they just want fun. So how much are they again, same question, but just maybe slightly older kids?

Aya Achaboun 29:30
Well, I wasn’t really focused on the climate part either. When I saw the numbers, I was shocked because of how many kids don’t use the bike to go to school anymore and don’t use it at all. I was shocked because for me going to school with a bike changed my ability to concentrate on my work, and it just made me feel better and less tired than if I went with the trim or the bus. So I wanted to focus on that if you go with a bike, you might think oh Oh no, it takes, it takes a lot of effort and I will get tired. But at the end of the day, it makes you feel better than if you were to go with the bus or the train to school. That was what I wanted.

Carlton Reid 30:10
How old are you, Aya?

Aya Achaboun 30:11
I’m 17.

Carlton Reid 30:15
Does this programme that you’re doing? And many of them? Does it take some of the time away from your schoolwork? Or how do you how do you marry those two things, and maybe what your parents think why you’re doing this?

Aya Achaboun 30:28
Well, I was used to finding what I do. Because I have been volunteering for quite some time now. But what I really liked about bikes is any we can choose ourselves what we do when we do it, and how much time we put into it. So when I’m busy with school, I obviously don’t do a lot. I don’t think about a lot of ideas, I just focus on ways. And when I have free time, I can decide, okay, now I want I know I have time for bikes now I tried to, you know, get some ideas and make some plans. And my parents, they, they really loved it that I did this, how do I say?

Maud de Vries 31:11
You became a junior [mayor].

Aya Achaboun 31:12
Yeah, I became a junior Because they all see how important it is for us to use bikes more regularly.

Simón Alvarez Belon 31:19
It’s ust so important that they are doing the work that they’re doing to influence their peers at a young age and, you know, get cyclists that are teenagers. And I also think it’s amazing, right? We have this focus on climates. And I think a lot of teenagers do as well. But we also seen in Aya and Lucas, they have you know, very specific examples of why they want to get more people on on bikes. Aya wants to focus more on maybe, you know, this is a perspective that I would have never really come up with. So it’s wonderful to have their voices on the table to be able to learn why and how we can get people there on two wheels.

Maud de Vries 31:52
Totally. Yeah. And I think also Lucas would you came up with in so we have a green deals fiets, means cycling. And so basically, what you came up with was this timeline between for kids between zero and 20 or so when they get off on the bike and off a bike and how we could come up with interventions, you know, for that to see, you know, when you learn so what we see in the pilot that Lucas was referring to, so the two to four years old, it was it’s really funny, because they’re teaching each other actually. So instead of the parents like pushing them, I’ve been pushing my kids, you know, for half a year, I think before they could fit away themselves. But what happens in the in here is that if one kids starts to pedal, then the other ones do it as well, you know, so and I think if we were able to sort of do this in every leg, this experience is an experience for life. And I think both of you are also referring to the fact that it’s maybe not climate change or health or another angle, we’re not You’re not thinking about angles maybe all the time, or you’re just thinking about the fun or the the nice things cycling can bring to you. And I think that’s also a really good thing about cycling.

Carlton Reid 33:02
So I think people listening to this will be quite shocked. Because if they’re say listening to this in America, they would say, Well, of course that’s you’re describing our society, of course, people aren’t getting on bikes, we need to encourage them on bikes. And cars. Look at the Netherlands that everybody’s on bikes, and what you’re saying and what Lucas says it’s going to those experiences. No, even in the Netherlands, you have to encourage people, you don’t have to encourage people in cars now but go in cars. You’ve got to encourage people even in and I’m not going to bang the table here. Even in the Netherlands, you have to encourage people out, does that not say that’s an inherent weakness of the mode that you are promoting that you have to encourage them you do not have to encourage your fellow 17 year olds to get in a car they probably want to get in a car and fellow 18 year olds they probably want to get in a car because it’s I mean air quotes here the adult thing to do. So my point here is just well my jaw is on the floor. Basically that’s like I am in the Netherlands and you are telling me how difficult it is to get people on bikes and it’s like metaphorical head banging on on table that’s really shocking.

Maud de Vries 34:21
No, but it is all about the car. I have to say you know if we keep on pushing people into the cars, so what we’re doing is subsidising fuel, what we’re doing is subsidising the space where we people are parking the cars, all these things. If we keep on doing that we’re basically pushing them into a car and then being aware of like, oh, people are stuck at the highways, we need to build my highways. What is the future we want? You know, so I think the government’s are they need to make this change, you know, and that’s why it’s still hard for us to get the kids on the bike. But it should be the other way around in the Netherlands right now. They put two point Have a billion euros into this tax law helping the people that already maybe even have the money to drive a car, even if it’s expensive to still drive the car. They give them money. Why? You know, what did they do that they need this money? I’m shocked by that if we spent that two point a billion, it would mean 2800 euros per kid in the Netherlands, which is like a million kids that are not cycling. If we spend that only on kids, to give them a bike to make sure they have safe roads to handle that, then we would build on a generation, you know, that doesn’t need the car anymore, then we would build on a good city with a high quality of life. It is so easy.

Carlton Reid 35:43
Let’s let’s come back to Lucas. Because when I said there about driving and your age, and I have the same, and you that was an ironic nod you gave me it was like Yeah, yeah. So is that a problem? So on your timeline, for instance, is the world that’s the age that you know, your kid is going to basically want to, if not drive, at least want to learn to drive and watch and learn to drive into our insurance, you suddenly become Oh, I’m gonna drive all of a sudden. So is that when you think you will lose people? So you’ve done all this fantastic programme? You can’t? How old? Is it yet? 17. When you can drive in the Netherlands?

Maud de Vries 36:20
17 you can start to learn.

Carlton Reid 36:23
Yeah, okay, so 17 in the UK, but 18 across here. So you could now drive you can’t drive yet. But you can now

Lucas Boer 36:29
drive when I have a licence with I don’t have a licence. So but

Carlton Reid 36:32
is that on your timeline? That’s like, okay, 18. And we’re gonna lose so many people at 18. Not.

Lucas Boer 36:39
I mean, for me, personally, I’m not thinking about getting a driver’s licence. But there are a lot of people who are, I mean, the first step is getting a scooter at the age of 16. No, then you can go with a scooter to school. And then that’s the first point where you lose some. And then when you get 17, or 18, they start driving lessons, I think all with a car, I can go to there and there. And when people get the car, then you lose a lot of people. It’s a lot of people also feel for Uber, a car is a little bit more expensive than I thought it thought it’s an insurance, gas and the car itself. It’s not cheap. So that’s also something that’s causes people that causes people to get back from the car with a lot of people. Yeah, we lose in the car. And I also think we did some, nothing my timeline anymore. I think later, some things, something later, you get back from the car. And I mean, some hope or I think at some point, people realise this owner of that car, I don’t want to drive the car, the rest of my life, I will go by bike to my work or something. I mean, my father, he could drive to work, but it’s an Amsterdam, and then he takes the bike. The car is standing still in front of the house. So I think there’s also a point in life where we get something to the effect but that’s not really my thing to focus on because he or not juniors anymore and do it are not it is not the my top guy and so yeah, but yeah.

Carlton Reid 38:12
Okay. And Aya same same question to you that really

are you in visiting when you become a driving age do you do do envisage getting a driver’s licence? Or your peers? Also thinking about getting driving licences? Do you think you’ll lose lots of people to driving when, when they get to that magic age of 18?

Aya Achaboun 38:35
Well, almost all my friends have either started their driving lessons or are going to in the near future, and everybody’s talking about it, like going with the car to school. It’s just cool, I guess you could say for that age. So I do think we’re going to do that now going to school with like growth with a car

Carlton Reid 38:56
and have it male female, is there more of your female friends thinking that way? And maybe the guys don’t? Do you? I mean, in the UK, there’s a huge drop off of teen girls. You know, teen girls is when you lose, you know, people, you know, you can you can very much have a girl cycling up to the age of 14, and then it becomes incredibly uncool. To start and I know that from having from from teen girls, they’d come back, but for a few years for good three, four years, it was very uncommon for them to to be on a bike. How do you find that in the Netherlands? Do you find that similar?

Aya Achaboun 39:35
I think so. Yeah. Because two years ago, we did research for a project. And we researched how many kids go to school with the bikes and with with the bike and we saw that all the boys in my year went to school with the bike. And with the girls that was like 50, 50. So that was an interesting, yeah.

Carlton Reid 39:55
So how old were they? What was that that the age group? That cohort It’s

Aya Achaboun 40:00
14 to 16.

Maud de Vries 40:03
It’s very interesting because something similar happened in your school remember, with the girls saying they felt safer. And around? Also same age, I think 14, 15 years of age.

Carlton Reid 40:13
Yeah. So that you’re you’re having the same problems that we have in the UK. So even having it in the network, again, I’m banging your head against the table, even having it in the Netherlands. That’s, that’s quite shocking. And I’m, it’s common to me, it’s like, of course that happens. But here’s like, it shouldn’t happen now, because you have all these bike paths. So how is that happening?

Maud de Vries 40:32
With the bike paths you mean? Well, yeah, we have bike paths.

Carlton Reid 40:36
you’ve got, you’ve deployed in other countries in America, in the UK, but you’ve got the things that we are clamouring for. And yet, you’re losing cyclists? How come?

Maud de Vries 40:47
I think the government is still pushing on the wrong things, you know, if we don’t make it safe for girls, let’s say 14, 15 years old, to go to, let’s say hockey or soccer at night, and come back home, you know, then they won’t cycle because the parents just tell them not to do it. For example, if they don’t learn the rules, for example, or if the car drivers don’t take notice, like what happened in your area, for example, then then people will, and girls especially they will feel afraid, and they will they will not be on the bike anymore. And that’s a terrible thing. I think. I think it’s very simple. Actually, you know, if we think about I’m not against the car, but but in a way I am against the car, because that is, you know, causing so many problems for people to get on the bike. So we should make it an easy job for people to get on the bikes. And, you know, by by designing more with the bicycle in mind, you know, that’s very important. I think.

Simón Alvarez Belon 41:44
So yeah, absolutely. Yeah, I think it’s really interesting, because, you know, you’re seeing here in the Netherlands, you have all this incredible cycling infrastructure, which we do. But I think an interesting angle that bikes takes is human infrastructure. So we’ll talk about the importance of soft factors, which is kind of what Maud was just talking about, with her examples, teaching people how to ride bikes, like, like I had talked about, or, you know, giving people free bikes, when they don’t have access to other kinds of cultural aspects that bikes really works on that are crucial. So in many places, you know, you can implement great bicycle lanes, which is a very crucial first step. But you also have to build a second culture around that to make sure that those bike things get used property. And so I think it’s not that people don’t want to go on the bicycle, but we’re also counteracting forces, you know, like Maud said, thr government from the economy that that wants to get more people on cars, and creates a car culture, we also have to create a bicycle culture. That’s what

Maud de Vries 42:41
great addition, I think that’s very important. And I think eventually, you know, building the lanes is important having the bicycle city is important, but to get to this point where you know, where you can see more cycling is human infrastructure that’s making a difference.

Carlton Reid 42:57
So what you’re saying to me and it says come up very clear in this is that the the bicycle mayor or the junior bicycle mayors programme, is is a critical component. Totally so it’s not like a cutesy add on, you know, look, we’ve got we’ve got bike little what’s going on and of course, we’ve got Junior, it’s something that’s really really important to because you will lose so many people if we don’t have the programmes that you are you two, and your and your your fellow junior bicycle mayors are, are putting in place?

Maud de Vries 43:29
Totally, we were just talking about the impact that they have when they do something and I think that’s grounds you know, so it’s not only putting the kids voice on the table, but actually making a difference.

Carlton Reid 43:40
Thanks to Aya Achaboun, Simón Alvarez Belon, Lucas Boer and Maud de Vries. This has been episode 298 of the Spokesmen cycling podcast brought to you in association with Tern Bicycle. Thanks to you for listening and watch out for the next Dutch-themed episode popping up in your feed real soon … meanwhile, get out there and ride.

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