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Speeding up the mobility transition | Deodaat Boer | Cycledata

Wednesday, 20 January 2021

'Cycling makes us happy'

With the continuous growth of the population and ongoing urbanization there are numerous mobility challenges. Sustainability, safety and societal impact are amongst our daily concerns. We need to speed up the mobility transition to keep up with the fast changing global dynamics, which requires inventive approaches and better solutions. In this series we share inspiring and innovative cases from all over the world. Deodaat Boer (Cycledata) is a bicycle fan. How does he speed up the mobility transition?

A lot can be learned from thé cycling country, the Netherlands. The Dutch are outnumbered by their bicycles. 28% of all daily trips are made by bicycle, a given since the 1980s. Since the outbreak of Corona, cycling in some European cities increased by 30% (Paris ). A lot of cities even changed their infrastructure for it. Deodaat Boer is convinced cycling strengthens our bones for life and Dutch children are part of the top 5 happiest in the world because they learn to cycle at a young age. At Cycledata he contributes to better cycling infrastructure enabling governments to collect reliable and real-time data on cycling behaviour on bicycle paths.

‘Cyclists can be compared to starlings: by looking each other in the eye, they know where they are going.’

‘The bicycle offers a solution to everything. It contributes to our climate, our health, improves accessibility and social cohesion. I like to compare cyclists to starlings: they fly in a group and cross without bumping into each other. The same goes for cyclists. How come? Strong communication. We can look each other in the eye, follow movement of our body and therefore know which way we want to go. Something that is not possible with cars. This is what makes cycling so interesting.’

‘Cycling makes us happy. Dutch children can cycle to school autonomously, without the guidance of either parents or teachers. According to experts this is what ranks them among the happiest children in the world. Research showed that our brain produces dopamine (provides satisfaction and reward), serotonin (happiness hormone) and endorphins (anti-stress hormone) while cycling, which makes us generally happier. However, it does depend on where you cycle. Certain factors can make a bicycle ride quite stressful.’ ‘Take the city of Utrecht; an intersection close to the central train station is one of the busiest in the world with over 35,000 people crossing it daily. You do not see children or elderly cycling in this area, because it is so busy. We need to manage this and I look forward to contributing. Through the use of iVRI we can improve traffic flow for cyclists by giving priority over cars and offering them a green light quicker. Cycledata delivers a data detection connection to iVRI for cyclists.’

‘The use of iVRI can improve cycle flow; sometimes at the expense of the flow of car traffic.’

‘It is safer for cyclists, prevents long waiting times for traffic lights and cyclists arrive at their destination earlier. In certain situations, the improved flow on the cycle paths is at the expense of the flow of car traffic. An additional advantage is that the threshold for motorists to choose a bicycle as means of transport is getting lower and lower. The goal for the City of Utrecht, and others in Europe.’ ‘Three years ago the City of Rotterdam asked us to help collect accurate cycling data. At the time the number of cyclists was measured mostly in the same way as cars, through the use of sensors on the road. But on a cycling path during peak hours more bicycles cycle next to each other. The system can only detect one bicycle. Cycledata developed a new technology: a combination of radar and laser. This system can count over 95% of all the cyclists passing. And our clients can watch the real-time data via a personal account on our platform.’

‘The Hague, Amsterdam and Rotterdam are now our happy customers. And even Germany, Portugal and Czech Republic are interested in our products. Amsterdam will install part of it on permanent spots in the city and a smaller part temporarily in order to measure larger parts of the city.’

‘Our mobility mindset is still focussed on cars; this needs to change.’

‘Globally our country is known as the world’s cycling champion. However, our biggest challenge lies in the fact that our infrastructure and mobility mindset is still focussed on cars. Every time we take our children out on the street, we tell them to watch the cars. But when driving a car, you are never focussed on the children. Our mobility system is still around cars and we need a shift. With Cycledata I hope to contribute to change that mindset and prioritise bicycle infrastructure. Corona has speeded up our business when it comes to our detection systems. Bigger cities were not prepared to have so many cyclists at certain intersections. For example, in The Netherlands we have 700 connected iVRI systems, but only for cars and trucks. We need to change this and add cyclists too.’

‘The demand for cycling increased, especially abroad. In cities like London, Barcelona, Madrid and Berlin the lockdowns have indeed speeded up cycling levels much more. I believe, and we have seen the possibilities, in creating space through the use of flexible infrastructure. Food for thought for the future.’

‘In the Netherlands we have 37,000 kilometres of cycling paths and it is estimated one third of those are either inaccessible or too small.’

‘2021 will be a year of development of our product. We will continue to focus on detection for (bicycle) safety, health and environment, tailored to the wishes of municipalities and authorities. The last two to three years we have seen an increase in different modes of cycling. Nowadays you see cargo bikes, speed pedelecs, delivery services, electric bikes, scooters. Different bikes with variation in speed. In order to make good safety decisions and improve liveability in the city, we help municipalities gain an even better insight into bicycle traffic. In addition, we support municipalities in generating data so they become smarter. Soon the maximum speed in the cities will be 30 kilometres an hour, which will improve our road safety, but might also increase the number of cyclists. In the Netherlands we have 37,000 kilometres of cycling paths and it is estimated one third of those are either inaccessible or too small. Measuring this will only become more important.’

‘Our children grow up with a bicycle that is not their own.’

‘To me the change to a maximum speed of 30 km per hour in the city is one of the best mobility improvements. Not only will it increase improve road safety; it will increase the liveability in the city. In the short term, I think cars will become more a transport mode than an image. Owning a car will no longer exist in the cities. We will park our car in a mobility hub. Research in Barcelona showed an increase in social contacts when they got rid of the cars in the neighbourhoods . The future of mobility lies with MaaS. Our children will more and more grow up with a bicycle that is not their own and sharing bicycles will become normal. The last mile will only be done by bicycle or by foot. In addition the bicycle will play a bigger role in our health challenges. Prescribing a bicycle as remedy instead of pills will be the future. There are already experiments taking place.’

‘Another project I am proud of, is the promotion of the tricycle. According to the elderly it has a certain image, more for handicapped people. However, research showed that transferring from bicycle to tricycle extends elderly taking part in society by eight to ten years. They control their own lives and remain vital. Together with all kinds of partners and ambassadors we will organise campaigns and events in the country to promote the use of it amongst elderly who are still able to cycle.’

‘Sustainable and green mobility should be rewarded. In ten years’ time a bicycle approaching a traffic light will automatically get a green light and a car has to stop. It will become the new norm for local governments to know the exact volume and speed of all bicycles riding through the city. We will speed up the mobility transition by making data on cycling available, real-time and accurate data, in order to improve cycling routes, traffic flow and make people even happier.’

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