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Effectiveness of cycling policies

Comparing soft and hard cycling policies in Dutch middle size cities and their effects on cycling success

With its high cycling mode share, the Netherlands is often seen as a best practice for cycling policies. However, there is little insight into the drivers behind this phenomenon, specifically which policy interventions increased cycling rates and which did not. The knowledge gap on the effectiveness of cycling policies seriously limits the potential for learning from the Dutch experience. This research addressed this gap, by exploring the performance of Dutch cycling policies in 22 medium-sized cities since 2000. First the existing ideas regarding the effectiveness of cycling policy were reviewed. These insights structured the exploration of data from Statistics Netherlands and the Dutch Cyclists’ Union, complemented with a survey of local policymakers by means of an explorative data-mining methodology called Rough Set Analyses (RSA).

Our findings revealed that the performance of cycling policy in Dutch cities is correlated with a combination of the following success factors. First of all, the way cycling policy is implemented is important: setting measurable and verifiable goals, following through with most of the proposed policy interventions, allowing for experimental measures to be explored and showing strong leadership. Second, providing adequate cycling infrastructure and decreasing the attractiveness of car use (e.g., by increasing parking tariffs and increasing the area of paid on-street car parking) are key drivers. Finally, we found that external circumstances, such as demographic trends, influence cycling policy outcomes.

Harms, L., Bertolini, L., & Brömmelstroet, M. T. (2016). Performance of municipal cycling policies in medium-sized cities in the Netherlands since 2000. Transport Reviews36(1), 134-162.

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