Last week, a team of Dutch experts led a series of Think Bike workshops in four U.S. cities, including San Francisco, to help advocates and planners design the bike infrastructure of the future. Cities across the globe continue to look to the Netherlands for inspiration, and guidance, and that demand is being embraced by a unique organization known as the Dutch Cycling Embassy.
The embassy is comprised of bike ambassadors from non-profits, private companies, bike manufacturers and local and national governments in the Netherlands. It recently released a new video that beautifully tells the story of how the bicycle became a part of everyday life in the Netherlands. It’s an inspirational seven minutes by Marc van Woudenberg and a must-see for elected officials and planners in the U.S.
The goal of the embassy, which has also launched a new website, is to “to support, facilitate, contribute to and inspire international cycling projects and policies helping countries, cities and its people to move forward in a safe and healthy way.”
As the video illustrates so well, cycling has always been popular in the Netherlands, but there was a time when cars ruled and the transformation to bike-friendly streets didn’t happen overnight. As the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition’s Leah Shahum pointed out in her timely Streetsblog essay last week, “the arc that we are on in San Francisco right now is surprisingly akin to that of Amsterdam 40 years ago when engaged citizens led by passionate advocates convinced local leaders to solidly commit to making bicycling the easiest and most favored way to get around the city.”
In addition to the video, you can download this great brochure [pdf] from the embassy, which has a lot of important and fun facts about bicycling in the Netherlands, “where 16 million inhabitants own 18 million bicycles.”