On the Study Tours we pack into three days as much as possible of what took us many years to learn. Perhaps it's not surprising that people sometimes look a bit shell-shocked by the end of the tour as it can be quite hard to take it in. Feedback is always welcome, and happily it usually demonstrates very well that participants on the tour have understood what they saw. Today we were lucky enough to receive feedback from two different people.
Michel from Norway sent us this wonderful video made by Ingvild Stensrud and Herman Andreassen, two of the Norwegian students who came on a tour in March. I don't understand Norwegian, and there are no English subtitles, but it's a very watchable video which demonstrates much of what they saw on the tour:
The second item came from Claire Prospert of the Newcastle Cycling Campaign. Claire has written a wonderful and detailed blog-post for the Cycling Embassy of Great Britain which is both a review of the tour in May as well as being extremely thorough and informative in itself. Please read her post.
The following video is one of several shot on the tour which you can find on Claire's youtube channel. This video catches the first thing that everyone saw on the the first day, before the tour had even started - the full spectrum of Dutch cycling from a velomobile to a school trip heading out of the city went by right outside the door of the accommodation on a street which used to be the main route for cars into Assen from the South but now is a much more friendly space:
During the May Study Tour we came across three different groups of children from three different schools. While it would be quite exceptional elsewhere, this isn't an unusual sight at all in the Netherlands (read other blog posts about school trips by bike). This brings us back to what is one of the most important things with regard to campaigning for a high cycling modal share: you have to start with children, and indeed that is what the Dutch did.
Why come on a tour ?
Our blog, as well as others that we link to on the right, go to some effort to explain how things work in the Netherlands. There are also books on the subject, and many people refer to Google Maps. All of these things give an impression, however there is really no substitute for seeing it yourself.
When in the Netherlands, there is much to see, and it is very easy it is to miss things or to misunderstand the context or usage. I know from personal experience that on first visiting the country it is easy to ride past important infrastructure without noticing it at all - the ease of cycling in the Netherlands makes it very easy to take the reason for that ease for granted. What's more, very few Dutch people who have "always" been surrounded by the infrastructure realise that it is exceptional. People's memories are short and they don't necessarily recall how things used to be.
For these reasons, it is helpful to be on a tour which specifically takes in so many interesting features as possible, and on which there are explanations of why these things are interesting. Because you benefit from our years of experience on a three day tour, this saves a lot of time. We're native English speakers and understand the different contexts of cycling in both English speaking countries and the Netherlands. This is what is unique about our study tours and why people find them to be so informative.
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