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Serge Hoogendoorn visits Australia

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Known for his research on urban traffic and transportation, professor Serge Hoogendoorn of Delft University of Technology recently visited Australia.

He made the visit together with his wife, Sascha Hoogendoorn-Lanser, who works for the Netherlands Institute for Transport Policy Analysis (KIM). The trip was supported by the Australian Cycling Promotion Fund, which is already planning another delegation to the Netherlands around Velo-City next year.

Over a period of five weeks, they gave several keynote speeches and workshops, and they shared experiences and knowledge regarding urban mobility in Australian cities Sydney, Canberra and Bendigo, in particular focusing on active mode mobility (pedestrians and cyclists). Their main finding: cities are very car-oriented and in many cases quite pedestrian- and cyclist-unfriendly. “Despite of this, there is much interest in active mode mobility. On the contrary to the Netherlands, not from an accessibility, but more from a health perspective.”, mr. Hoogendoorn says. 

Ms. Hoogendoorn-Lanser provided for content and statistics on walking and cycling in The Netherlands, and the policy making efforts to stimulate this behavior. She notices a difference in approach: “In Holland, these efforts are often part of a greater mobility program. Stimulation efforts run mainly through employers. In Australia, people are stimulated to using bicycles by taking them on cycling trips. However, Minister Fitzgerald of the Canberra government really liked the Dutch approach”, she says.

According to mr. Hoogendoorn, it seems as if cycling and walking both have little priority in the planning or operations of the transport network. “Illustrative are the long waiting times at pedestrian traffic lights and the absence of pedestrian- and cyclist-friendly infrastructure, in particular outside the inner-city. Australian people perceive cycling in their city as unsafe and uncomfortable. And because of their low numbers, car drivers are not used to them. The obligation to wear a helmet also doesn’t help getting people to start cycling”, he says.

He continues: "In addition to the last argument, there is the overall image issue. Many Australians see cycling as a thing that the so-called MAMILs (Middle Aged Men in Lycra) do. Although often being cycling enthusiasts, they unintentionally contribute to the image of cycling as a sport instead of a fun, healthy and practical way to get from A to B. These are just some of the causes for the low mode share of cycling, which is around 2% only. I really think there are opportunities for increasing this, because a lot of trips are less than seven kilometers long. Such distances can perfectly be covered by (e)-bike.”

There are possibilities for future co-operation, says mr. Hoogendoorn: “We are currently reviewing the possibilities for setting up a data collection project in Canberra, similar to our Fietstelweek. The topic of Smart Cities also provides for an interesting area of discussion.”

For more information about the active mode mobility programme, please visit www.allegro-erc.nl

Main picture: Serge Hoogendoorn (third from the left) and Sascha Hoogendoorn-Lanser (second from the right)

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