An exploration of the Cycling Culture in Europe

02Nov09

An Exploration of the cycling Culture in Europe

This is a report I wrote titled An Exploration of the Cycling Culture in Europe. I explained my report a little more here and here, but have not placed much of the main text online. So amongst posting other cycling stuff on this site, I am going to post some excerpts from this report, adding to it some additional views of Scotland.

A quick intro…

The project began with an interest in the bicycle and how it fits into our daily lives. The Report explored the developing or existing bicycle cultures in Four European Cities; Paris, Brussels, Amsterdam and Berlin.

First question – What defines a cycling culture?

The term Cycling Culture can manifest itself in many ways, as individual subcultures related to cycling are present within many divisions of Sport and leisure cycling (BMX, Mountain Biking, Road Cycling…). However, my focus was the exploration of utility Cycling Culture within cities, where the bicycle is seen as a method of transport.

Therefore, this research covered a diverse number of issues that relate to cycling; different factors that influence people’s motivation to cycle, current cycling practices, innovations, services, differences in culture and measures taken to increase participation in cycling as an alternative method of transport.

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7 Responses to “An exploration of the Cycling Culture in Europe”

  1. Maybe you should visit Denmark as well 😉

    Personally I would love see Scotland Copenhagenized, good luck with your project.

    • 2 hazler

      Thanks. Yes I would too!

      I had hoped to visit Denmark initially when I was planning this study, but time and money constraints meant that it had to be earmarked for a second visit.

      Copenhagen is definitely on my list of places to go 🙂 But waiting seems to have worked, as I now have two friends who moved there, so that should make visiting a little easier. 🙂

  2. 4 hazler

    Thanks for the link ecohustler… It looks like an interesting post that you have there.

    ( I am a bit pushed for time now, but will certainly try to read your whole post later today. 🙂

  3. Greetings from Amsterdam!

    Why is it that Amsterdam has become the city of the bike? It’s flat yes, but the weather is against us. Did the interest in using bikes come first or was the infrastructure built as part of a city/national plan?

    And did you find out if the free “white bike” system in Amsterdam in the 1970’s had any impact? The bikes were eventually all lost, stolen or strayed, but maybe the idea got more people riding.

    Thanks for the posts,

    Richard
    http://richardtulloch.wordpress.com

  4. 6 hazler

    Hi there Richard, thanks for your comment.

    Greetings from Scotland!

    Funny that you ask about the “white Bikes” as I have just been reading today about an arts organisation in Glasgow which aims to re-create the ‘white’ bikes system in Glasgow (Scotland) next month:

    see here:
    http://www.nva.org.uk/new-projects/witte+feitsenplan+white+bike+plan-24/

    and here:
    http://www.heraldscotland.com/news/transport-environment/free-bike-plan-pits-hippies-against-light-fingered-neds-1.1016644

    I found it hard to distinguish the direct effect of the white bikes on current culture in Amsterdam, but they are clearly an important part of the history and alongside a number of other things, were something of a political statement at a time where it was important to stress the importance of bicycles to people whom could make a difference and make a visible statement to people in the city.

    (( And it is clear that the white bike concept of ‘bike sharing’ has been an inspiration for the (more technologically advanced) bike sharing schemes that have become more prevalent in the last few years. ))

    It certainly seems to be the case that the modern day bike sharing schemes are proving to be successful in creating a new public perception about cycling in cities (even if it is not all positive!) The fact is they are getting many more people thinking about bikes as a possible mode of transport, which is what in essence the white bikes (it seems) did, even if just for a short time, 40 years ago!

    I think many of the examples that I saw in Europe, where city cultures showed increased acceptance and proportions of bicycles use, were almost always due to both an increased infrastructure and a wider cultural acceptance. When cycling is not an afterthought (in infrastructure), or a faux pas (in mass culture) it makes it alot easier to be accepted by the masses.

    Amsterdam has been investing highly in the infrastructure for cycling for the last 30 years and continues to do so. Quite different to many other cities.

    (This is not to say also that it does not start with a number of highly passionate and enthusiatic cyclists and campaigners – which I encountered also – but this passion and minority groups need to be backed up by infrastructure etc to change the mass in current culture due to the level of the current car culture. )

    anyways hope thats an ok response for now, it is now past my bed time!

  5. What a great read! I like this blog very cool!


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