A city in the Netherlands that already has the world’s highest modal share for cycling – a whopping 60 per cent – is to spend an astonishing €85 euro per head of population in each of the next five years to improve conditions further for people who get around by bike.
In total, Groningen, which has a population of some 200,000 people, plans to spend €85 million euro on cycling during the period as part of its Cycling Strategy 2015-2025.
The money, which comes from municipal, regional and federal budgets, “reflects what we think every city should be doing,” says European Cycling Federation (ECF) health policy officer, Dr Randy Rzewnicki.
So where will the expenditure go? Well, in its report on the city’s cycling strategy last year, the ECF outlined some key areas of Groningen’s policy when it comes to two-wheeled transport.
Those include that new developments must take account of their impact on cycling from the outset – for instance, a planned revamp of the city’s main railway station will include a tunnel for cyclists, as well as 5,000 additional bike parking spaces.
Then there’s cash for undertaking repairs to existing infrastructure, with cyclists able to notify the council of any defects that need remedying via an app.
And while the city’s network of cycle routes would be the envy of urban bike riders anywhere else on the planet – take a look at the Streetfilms video below – it is identifying, and acting upon, shortcomings in its existing provision, such as unsafe crossings, or places where more bike parking is needed.
For cyclists in the UK, where the £10 per person per year minimum spend that campaigners have been lobbying for seems an increasingly distant prospect - the amount of money being committed in Groningen is almost unthinkable.
Yet while the issue of setting money aside for improving facilities for cyclists and getting more people to take to two wheels remains heavily politicised in the UK, the measures in Groningen have unanimous cross-party support.
But then again, they’ve already seen the benefits that previous investment in cycling facilities has brought about.
To find out more, visit the Groningen Cycling City website.
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.