’s-Hertogenbosch, the city I have been living in for 16 years now, is one of the five nominees.
Over the past 16 years I have seen a lot of development in the cycling infrastructure and climate of this city. Especially in recent years it went from mediocre to very good in my opinion so it will come as no surprise that I wholeheartedly support this nomination.
This election took place 3 times before. It is connected to a nationwide investigation into the cycling climate in the cities and villages of the Netherlands. Veenendaal, a small town in the centre of the Netherlands won in 2000. Groningen, 8th largest city of the Netherlands and home to a large university with many cycling students, was cycling city in 2002. In 2008 Houten was pronounced cycling city in the last competition. Interestingly enough both Houten and Groningen are nominees again this year. Together with Harderwijk (again a small town in the center of the country) and Pijnacker-Nootdorp which really is a commuter suburb of The Hague.
Tough competition, but I think ’s-Hertogenbosch does stand a good chance. From the nominees and previous winners it is the only city in the (originally catholic) South of the Netherlands. A region that strangely enough on average sees less cycling than the (originally protestant) North. The jury will put emphasis on the situation for school children. The theme for this year’s competition is ‘onderweg naar school’ which would loosely translate as ‘on our way to school’. In 30 years the average age of children starting to cycle to school on their own in the Netherlands has risen from 6 to 9 years old. Something which alarms the Cyclists’ Union. The city that best makes it possible for children to cycle to school on their own will have a good chance to win this year’s title.
’s-Hertogenbosch has put forward two examples of how they make cycling to school safer and more attractive. A primary school with a new side entrance and a new two way cycle path makes it possible for the school children to avoid contact with cars on the street altogether. A secondary school on the city’s busy circular road got a cycling bridge over that road so crossing it became much safer. The cycle paths around that school all became bi-directional. This makes crossing the road unnecessary for many children. Good examples of what a council can do to improve cycling conditions around schools.
I have put together a video to support the nomination of the city of ’s-Hertogenbosch.