22/11 Henk-Jan Dekker

CIRED Seminar: Henk-Jan Dekker

The Dutch and their Cycling Paths: The Politics and Governance of Dutch Cycling Infrastructure, 1920-2020.


The Netherlands is often depicted as one of the premier cycling countries in the world. However, cycling levels were high in most countries in Western Europe during the first half of the twentieth century. It is only after the 1950s that Dutch cycling enters a different trajectory, managing to survive and remain an important mode of everyday mobility. But how did this happen? Historians have just started to uncover the long history of the political struggle behind the Netherlands’ extensive cycling infrastructure. In this talk, based on extensive archival research, I explain the political process behind Dutch cycling infrastructure and the important role of social movements and their interaction with national, provincial, and urban policymakers and engineers governing mobility and cycling infrastructure. The urban revival of cycling from the 1970s onward has to be understood in the context of cycling policies initiated between 1920 and 1970. Often geared toward recreational cycling or suburban commuters and not urban cyclists, these nevertheless help us understand why cycling and cycling activism could achieve such successes in the fifty years since 1970

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