How cycling can make for a better society

Of course, we already know that cycling is awesome. And not just for your health. By studying Rotterdam South, whose population cycles the least in the Netherlands, Morgan Geile found it can also help people to fully participate in society. Why? Because it provides access to all kinds of opportunities – work, study, and social life.

In her thesis for the master’s program in Renewable Engineering and Management at the University of Freiburg, Germany, Morgan Geile focused on ‘transport poverty’: if you don’t have or can’t afford accessible and adequate transportation, it’s harder to find work, engage in social activities, or go to school. That’s where bicycles come in. They’re a cheap, practical, clean, healthy, accessible, and sometimes faster, mode of urban transport than other vehicles. They can enhance social engagement and make neighbourhoods more ‘liveable’.

Thieves and Safety
Still, there are certain areas – like Rotterdam South – that cycle less than others, even though the infrastructure is present. Geile asked the people in that neighbourhood why. Although they agreed that cycling is a cheap, green, and healthy option for transportation, they were reluctant to change their lifestyle and cycle more. Major reason: fear about personal safety. Bike theft, having your kids cycle alone at night, the behaviour of other traffic – in short the human factor – they considered more problematic than poor infrastructure.

Good Advice
Based on her research, Geile offered Rotterdam some recommendations. For example: more (secure) parking, lighting, and better separation from cars. Also, stricter ticketing for dangerous or fast drivers, revising the policy that allows motorised scooters to share cycling paths, and overnight security guards and camera surveillance for bike parking areas.

Morgan Geile (University of Freiburg) conducted her research in cooperation with Dutch Research Institute for Transitions (DRIFT), Erasmus University Rotterdam.

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