Pieter – Utrecht, The Netherlands
I cycle to work every day because it is faster than driving. By bike, I can be at work in 16 minutes. By car, I have to use a longer route that takes around 37 minutes. I know that the bike culture in the Netherlands is very different to, say, the USA. Here, everyone learns to cycle from a very young age. There’s an old Dutch expression: ‘You’re not made of sugar.’ It means ‘the rain won’t hurt you, so go outside and get on with things’! In Utrecht we don’t see bikes as fashion items, or a way to save the planet, they’re just a way to get from A to B. Most people don’t wear helmets, and that’s fine. Personally, though, I think things can still be improved. For example, the company where I work doesn’t provide any cycle parking with a roof, which can be annoying. And the car parks in the city centre are too cheap.
Rosa – Madrid, Spain
Madrid is the worst city in Spain for cyclists. Part of the problem is the hills, but also there is no cycling culture. There aren’t many cycle lanes and drivers aren’t used to seeing bikes. It can be scary! Did you know it’s only compulsory to wear a cycle helmet in two countries in the whole world? Anyway, in the spring, I try to cycle to work once or twice a week. But in the summer it is too hot, and I’m too worried about the traffic to cycle in the winter when the evenings are darker. Most of the time I drive to work. I tried the metro, but the tickets were quite expensive and I have free parking at work, so …. I would like Madrid to be a better cycling city. Perhaps we can close some roads during the rush hour so that only cyclists can use them.
Artem – Copenhagen, Denmark
I’m a town planner here in bike-friendly Copenhagen. Since 2016 more bikes have been entering the city centre each day than cars. In my profession, we want to keep traffic moving. In the twentieth-century, the focus was on cars: ‘How many cars can we get into the city centre?’ Now, we concentrate more on the number of people, which means we think more about bikes and public transport. For example, in Copenhagen 62% of people commute to work or school by bike and only 9% use a car. But even here, 54% of the physical space for transport is given to the car. In my opinion, the ‘look’ of cities in the future will be very different. For most people, how fast they can reach their destination is the most important thing. That’s why it’s a mistake to promote the ‘green’ benefits of cycling. But for town planners, the environment is hugely important.