Over the past century, cycling has become more and more dominant on Dutch streets. Not only for the young and the brave, but also for physical impaired. One essential element in stimulating this, is developing inclusive infrastructure which feels comfortable for all types of cyclists (e.g. less experienced cyclists, children, elderly people). But inclusive cycling infrastructure is only part of the solution. The other part? Government subsidies on tailor-made bicycles for those in need.
Subsidies like these are part of a Dutch policy vehicle focusing on so called 'target group transport'. This type of transport is a necessary addition to the list of travel options, especially for moments and distances for which no alternative exists, due to lack of ability to make use of regular public transport due to physical or mental limitations. City governments/municipalities subsidize these transport alternatives, thus reducing the costs for the users.
However, city governments vary with the allocation of this budget, allowing them to look into enabling and stimulating cycling for the target group. This is done by subsidizing the purchase of a three- or four-wheeled bicycle which give freedom to those who would otherwise be stuck to their homes.
To provide an example:
The City of Amsterdam subsidizes special bicycles such as a wheelchair bicycle, a three-wheeled bicycle and a handbike. The main requirements to get access to such a bike:
- You experience difficulties moving around outside of your home;
- You can make use of regular public transport, a regular bike or wheelchair;
- All other facilities you've got access to are not sufficient
- You are not covered by the so called 'Law Longlasting Care' (Wet Langdurige Zorg), or you are covered by this but pay for your own living costs.
The bike will remain property of the City of Amsterdam and will be paid for either directly by the city or through a personalized budget.
- When applying for transport to get access to education, you are either required be registered at high school or university and are entitled to government study grants, or are younger than 30 years of age without entitlement on government study grants.
- The reimbursement for a special bike in order to get access to work will be assigned if you experience difficulties in traveling to work due to long-term diseases or disabilities, and you can't get to work with public transport or a regular car.
By combining these subisidies with inclusive infrastructure, the Dutch succeeded in getting a modal share for people with a mobility limitation of a whopping 16%. This increases not only (the feeling of) freedom of those with mobility limitation massively, but is also reduces costs Dutch governments need to spend on special transport services in order to facilitate all their citizens. A huge win-win!