Thursday 17 November 2011

Den Bosch becomes Netherlands' "Fietsstad 2011"

Updated with a video of the celebrations!

's-Hertogenbosch (a.k.a. Den Bosch) won the honour title 'Fietsstad 2011' or 'Cycling City 2011' in the election organised by the Dutch Cyclists' Union. The expert jury was unanimous in its decision. Last August, the city had been selected as one of five nominees, which were in turn selected from a long list of 19 cities that had entered the competition.

School children with the award on the steps of city hall:
signs with the title "Cycling City 2011"
The director of the Fietsersbond (Cyclists' Union) states the following: "In recent years 's-Hertogenbosch has given cycling an enormous boost in a short time with a lot of energy, ambition, creativity and money. That is very good for a city in the South of the Netherlands where cycling levels on average are lower than in the rest of the Netherlands." The Jury was also very positive about how cycling facilities were integrated in the historical centre of the city.

The award ceremony took place at City Hall in ’s-Hertogenbosch. In their speeches the jury and the director praised the city for their efforts to stimulate cycling. From the results in the short time it was obvious to them that this was a deliberate decision by the local government. The jury found it especially good that the city listens to the wishes of the citizens, even children could give their input about the cycling facilities around their schools. In stead of trying to change behaviour of cyclists by educating and training them, Den Bosch decided to facilitate what cyclists apparently want: if they all ride agaist traffic it proves better to make the cycle path wide enough for two way traffic, rather than to try and stop them from doing it. From a mediocre cycling city Den Bosch has now become a rising star that shot up to the top of the list.

For subtitles in English click CC.

It was a fortunate coincidence that a delegation of Velo-city was also present. Today of all days they visited the city to investigate the candidacy of 's-Hertogenbosch to organise Velo-city 2013 (bidbook in English).
I have informed you about the recent very positive developments in the cycling infrastructure and climate of the city on several occasions.
When 's-Hertogenbosch was announced to be one of the nominees I made a video to support the city. One of the jury members made public that she was impressed by it. I would like to think that it helped my hometown just a little to win the title...

* There is an old Dutch children's song titled  'That (party) goes to Den Bosch'. I imagine the jury singing it all the way to Den Bosch...


  1. Hi Mark,

    the jury report can be found at

    Den Bosch has indeed received the title for the reasons you mention.

  2. Cycling city of the year in the country who celebrate cyclists as first class citizens: this has to be a "must"!
    Nice, nice video with scenes who hare just to find in "cities for peoples and not for car"...
    Thanks for your post Mark :)

  3. NRC Handelsblad had an article today claiming that the Netherlands don't do enough to make cycling safe ... (can send you a pdf if you like - David already has his copy).

  4. Great job! Your videos are so inspiring, must feel nice knowing you helped your city win the title!

  5. I didn't read the article in NRC, but I agree that there is still a lot that can be done to improve safety. That we do better than many other countries is no reason to say it's enough.
    And it's not only safety. We must beware of safety "improvements" that discourage bicycle use, like denying priority to cyclists.

  6. Hi Mark,
    I saw a video on "Fietserbond" internet side from "lekker fietsen", it feels strange to see the "guy" with the helmet!
    What was the purpose? "lekker fietsen" is that an organisation which is promoting for helmet use? or is this guy acting on his own?

  7. @Frits B thanks I have it. They placed stills from my video and state they are made by tourists amazed by Dutch cycling. Very hard for journalists to do some research nowadays, even from quality papers...

    @Michael from Norway "Lekker Fietsen" is the slogan for the promotion of the city's cycling policies. 'Lekker' can mean a whole range of things but all positive: from 'Great' to 'Lovely' and also 'nice to be'. 'Fietsen' means cycling. That guy is a local bike messenger. I see him almost every day. And he goes all the way in the bike messenger outfit. I don't know why the city hired him of all people to be the reporter and face of the promotional videos. It is different here: everybody understands he is the odd one out and we only find his over the top outfit strange or even amusing. But for foreigners who don't know about Dutch cycling it does send the wrong message. It has nothing to do with promoting helmets and apart from his outfit his videos are actually very good.

  8. Thanks Mark, I do understand better since he is bike messenger.Agree with you, his videos is very good as the others from Fietserbond internet side about cycling city of the year.
    All feature kids on bike, and however that was the theme this year, it shows that "cycling is for everyone" and that 's good signs for the coming generation.