From January 16-18, the Dutch Cycling Embassy organized a ThinkBike Workshop in the City of Montreuil, one of the suburbs of Paris in France. The workshop focused mainly on technical expertise, by guiding local city planners in developing safe cycling infrastructure following the Dutch design principles.
The first day started with an introduction of the different participants. The Dutch experts present are Stefan Bendiks and Clement Gay of Artgineering and Bas Govers of Goudappel. The core team comprises people from different departments at the city of Montreuil but also people from neighbouring cities such as Pantin. Also present are people from the group of cities and the people from the ‘département’ and from the greater region Ile-de-France.
The morning was dedicated to a presentation of demographic and socio-economic data of the city and neighbouring areas and then a presentation of the objectives and first actions taken as part of the city bicycle plan (‘Plan vélo’).
Then, the whole group started the bicycle tour of the city to visit different places where the city has already taken action to improve cycling and also to see the different study cases that will be discussed during the following days.
The bicycle tour resumed in the afternoon which was the opportunity to visit areas farther away from the city centre. We stopped at other study cases which were the opportunity to understand the ongoing changes for these areas (the arrival of a new tramway line for example) and start discussion on the approach from the Dutch in similar cases.
The end of the day was dedicated to a discussion of what was discovered during the day and the approach for the next following days.
In the evening, the cycling community and the larger public gathered at a community theatre to watch the movie ‘Why we cycle’. 250 people came to the projection of the movie. After the movie, members of the audience asked questions to the experts on different aspects of the bicycle and bicycle planning in the Netherlands.
The second and third day of the ThinkBike Workshop in Montreuil were used to work on study cases from the streets of the city.
On the morning of the second day our experts Stefan Bendiks (Artgineering) and Bas Govers (Goudappel Coffeng) presented different aspects of the philosophy used in the Netherlands to plan for the bicycle. They stressed that planning and design for safer cycling is actually not an end in itself but used as a broader agenda to make the population healthier, but also the city more accessible, less polluted and economically competitive. Stefan explained these objectives on the example of the city of Groningen for example.
Bas then presented more concepts and once more stressed that the Dutch tend to think more holistically rather than just thinking about cycling infrastructure. To illustrate this point, he presented the plan of Utrecht in which the city was divided in 3 zones based on their function and the current build environment. This organisation helped forming the traffic plan and the bicycle plan and the design of bicycle infrastructure.
The afternoon of the second day and the third day were spent working on specific study cases from Montreuil. All the study cases were street intersections with the exception of one case, which was the study of a street alongside which the future tramway line will run. People where divided in smaller groups to work on the design of safer intersections for cyclists. The designs that had been drawn were then discussed with the entire group and enrichedd with the insights of Stefan and Bas.
During the third and final day, the discussions moved from only considering individual intersections to thinking about the complete street network of the city and the connections with the neighbouring cities.
Overall, the whole workshop was a great event to share the experience of Dutch planners and designers on designing for inclusive cycling but also to understand the current context and constraints with which French planners have to work with.
The city of Montreuil has already done great things to make cycling easier and to make the city more enjoyable. We hope that this workshop will have given them even more ideas about how to move forward and inspired the people who took part in the event.
"Dutchified intersection (Well, the cycle lanes are blue!) #ThinkBikeWorkshop Montreuil"