THE people responsible for designing roads and the built environment have been given some ideas on how infrastructure can encourage cycling with the visit of two experts from the Netherlands.
Professor Serge Hoogendoorn, from the Delft University of Technology, and Dr Sascha Hoogendoorn-Lanser, from the Netherlands Institute for Transport Policy Analysis, spent Thursday morning riding and walking around Bendigo, observing the infrastructure in place for cyclists, pedestrians and motorists.
This was followed by a masterclass with staff from the City of Greater Bendigo and VicRoads, discussing the ways in which cycling could be supported by infrastructure.
Rob Kretschmer, treasurer of community group Bike Bendigo which organised the event, said about 60 per cent of people in Australia were interested in cycling, but many were concerned about sharing the roads with vehicles.
Despite Bendigo’s reputation as a cycling city, Mr Kretschmer said just 1.1 per cent of people in Bendigo rode to work.
Meanwhile Dr Hoogendoorn-Lanser and Professor Hoogendoorn said 26 per cent of all trips in the Netherlands were made by bike, a figure which rose significantly in the cities.
Professor Hoogendoorn said having as much vehicle and cyclist infrastructure separated as possible was important in building a more cyclist-friendly environment.
Creating environments that provided direct routes between points was also a significant factor, he said.
He said cycling infrastructure would have the additional benefit of making motorists more aware of cyclists, boosting their safety.
Dr Hoogendoorn-Lanser said much of the issue also came down to the attitudes of drivers, having noticed in Melbourne that many motorists did not appear to take cyclists into account when driving.
She said Dutch children received two years’ of education on cycling and traffic, which meant that even if they did not ride when they were older, they had an ingrained awareness of cyclists.
“You really need to get it between the ears of people that cyclists are to be considered when you’re driving your car,” Professor Hoogendoorn said.
Both experts said cycling had also been represented as a desirable mode of transport in their home country.
But they congratulated Bendigo on some of the initiatives already in place, such as Bike Bendigo’s monthly group cycle events.
City of Greater Bendigo landscape architects David Forward and Gary Blantzche were among the attendees at the event.
Mr Forward said with Australia being relatively isolated from Europe, he was interested in seeing how cycling was viewed and encouraged in places were it was not something remarkable or radical, but part of everyday life.
Mr Blantzsche said he was also interested in the issue from a personal perspective, as he enjoyed riding to work.
Professor Hoogendoorn and Dr Hoogendoorn-Lanser will also speak at a free public event on Thursday night, which will be held from 6.30pm at the La Trobe University Visual Arts Centre on View Street.
The events are an initiative of community group Bike Bendigo, with the support of La Trobe University.