Assen. 31 July 2014. One of many motor racing events in the city.
If any place ought to be able to demonstrate the power of a sporting legacy, it's Assen. This small city has hosted the annual motorcycle TT since 1925. A special circuit for the TT, known as "The Cathedral of motorcycling", was built just outside the city in 1955. The TT is a huge event. For a few days each year the city's population is tripled by the enormous crowds of motor-sport enthusiasts who visit to watch the racing. Every local farm becomes a camp-site, the city puts on a huge party with live music in the centre until the early hours. It's a great event !
|Assen. 1st August 2014. People cycle past the "donuts" left on the road by a Formula One racing car last night. Is this a motor racing legacy ? This is one of many excellent simultaneous green junctions in the city.|
|Assen 1st August 2014. The European Junior Cycling Tour is taking place in and around the city this week. This road is closed to normal traffic today so that the racers use it. This is fabulous, but it isn't what makes Assen attractive for everyday cycling isn't a few roads closed for a few days per year, it's the comprehensive network of cycle-paths like that on the right of the picture, which go everywhere and are open 365 days a year.|
Sports are great, but everyday cycling has nothing to do with sport. Not even with cycle-sport.
|The child on the right may decide that he likes what he sees. Perhaps he'll join a local club and start racing with those on the road. But he might also prefer football, or be more interested in reading than in any sport. Nevertheless, he's riding a bike now and will do so tomorrow as well because that's a sensible way to get around the city. Note that the car is supporting the cyclists. The road is blocked to through traffic.|
Infrastructure which is good enough to enable truly safe and convenient usage by children riding en-masse to make school trips is also safest and most convenient for those who like to ride fast.
The Dutch don't cycle because it's "in their culture", people in other countries used to cycle just as readily as the Dutch do now. These days, the Dutch cycle more than anywhere else because the infrastructure makes cycling an easier choice here than anywhere else. There's no mystery. We know what is required to enable mass cycling: Build a grid, make cycling safe, convenient and pleasant for everyone, and people will ride bikes. This applies even in a town famous for motor racing.
Funding of events
By all means host events such as large cycling races. They're a great thing to see. But they should not consume funds intended for cycling infrastructure because once the race has gone through everything will go back to normal.
More smoke and noise here, and preparations for it in our local TV coverage. The TT festival can be very amusing. A few years ago it brought a jet powered motorbike to the city centre. Oddly enough, that also brought no "legacy". I've not seen even one person riding a jet powered motorbike around the city since then.