What does it take to become a cycling city?
As a solo-entrepreneur, running a classic European bicycle accessory lifestyle brand for Le Vélo Victoria, I built the brand on the idea that cycling isn't just for sport but a normal everyday activity; just as it was in the beginning. My focus is on urban cycling as a form of transportation. Over the years I’ve enjoyed not only sharing stylish ways to ride a bicycle by showing how I personally move about the city using my bicycle as my main mode of transportation, but also sharing compelling stories and interviews with people that are shaping our cities for the better and in the most creative ways.
Our website presents powerful, rarely seen images of bicycle normalcy, in a region where sport and recreational cycling reign supreme. We've been promoting a lifestyle we want to see that develops a greater sense of community and connectedness to our surroundings.
The more people buy into the idea that cycling is a normal everyday activity that millions partake in every single day the more likely we are to design urban spaces that connect people with place. I want to take people on a journey where sharing stories helps them to see how cycling can be a part of their daily lives and the first mode of transport they consider. I believe that we need to be the change we want to see.
Bicycle Mayor of Amsterdam: What does the world need more or less of? Anna Luten: "More empathy and people who think of their environment and the impact they have on it instead of only thinking of themselves. We need to stay connected to each other."
I also believe cities can learn from one another and I’m most interested in exploring urban cycling from a Dutch perspective; how they developed and fostered a cycling city (country) from a historical and current standpoint. How they use policy, infrastructure, planning, and culture within the context of urban cycling in the Netherlands.
This coming summer, 2018, I am going to The Netherlands where I will immerse myself in the Dutch lifestyle and experience true urban cycling in the city of bikes (Amsterdam) that embraces people and place. Specifically, I will be attending a 3-week program at the University of Amsterdam (waiting confirmation of acceptance). This is a graduate-level program that will unravel urban cycling from a critical and interdisciplinary perspective. Drawing on historical and current events, engage with top Dutch and international experts and leaders; as a student I’ll learn a host of essential skills that support meaningful understanding, developing and fostering of cycling cities.
My intention is to present my findings in Victoria (venue to be determined) in the fall of 2018 to our local public authorities, the general public and cycling enthusiasts alike. Learning from the world’s leading cycling city, Amsterdam, and understanding how to apply Dutch urban cycling principles and practices as a starting point of reference and the transferability to our local context, is the desired objective of this presentation.
Having meaningful discussions and sharing lessons learned at the University of Amsterdam to inspire my peers with what is achievable is a major goal and reason for attending this program.
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has”. ~ Margaret Meed
This experience will allow me to better inform my stories on urban cycling and provide you with better written articles so that you (my readers) are better informed and can go out into your own communities and begin conversations with friends, colleagues, and local authorities that help to enhance the places you live, work and play that deeply impact your health and well-being. Planning and design decisions are important, as the built environment influences how we move around a city and facilitate social interactions that help to shape our experience of a neighbourhood.
I look forward to offering this presentation where I can share what it’s like to truly be a cycling city.
Drawing on my experience I’ll also share glimpses of my life during these 3 weeks over on my social media channels to show what it’s like cycling in Amsterdam. You can connect with me here on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.
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Until next time.
"It just takes some time and the right attitude to change the way we look at our infrastructure and at cycling in general. We need to start to see [Biking] as something normal, which you can do on a daily basis." ~ Anna Luten, World's First Bicycle Mayor (Amsterdam)