Ease, Comfort, and Joy to Create Cycling Networks for All
Cities, regions, and countries around the world are working hard to make cycling an attractive mobility option and at Mobycon, we offer inspiration, advice, and support in this field. Since the Netherlands has an extensive and high-quality nationwide cycling network, we love to show people around on field trips and study tours so they can experience it. To make cycling truly attractive to all, one of the keys to success is a good understanding of the role that ease, comfort, and experience play in people’s decision-making regarding which mode of transport they choose for which trips. When cycling is easy, comfortable, and enjoyable, it is not difficult to choose to cycle more often.
The word ease means “the absence of difficulty or effort”. It is about eliminating the mental burden during a cycling trip. People don’t want to think when they are travelling, therefore it is important to make trips simple for users. Cycling infrastructure should offer the users safety, directness, and reliability. Once on the cycle, intuitive infrastructure should guide cyclists, so they know where to ride, where to stop, and how to cross. This should be true for adults commuting to work, as well as for students, families, the elderly, and people with disabilities.
Recreational cycle path in the Dunes, in the province of ZeelandRecreational cycle path in a forest in the province of Brabant
Comfort goes a step beyond ease. It is not just about being mentally free, but is also about being physically free from pain, suffering, and restrictions. Generally, people want to minimize physical effort when travelling, optimizing their level of comfort. Although this may sound counter-intuitive for those who associate cycling with sports, endurance, and speed, for the public to pick up cycling, it must be free from physical pain and suffering.
When cycling trips in a city or region are easy and comfortable to make, people are open to enjoy the trip. Positive things to look at during the trip, offer an enjoyable experience, such as trees along the route. Birds, butterflies, and flowers in the roadside (however small), are also good examples of things that enhance the experience of a cycling trip. In other words, if cycling trips are not easy to make, users will be dissatisfied, however great the features along the route may be.
From Theory to Practice
One of the things I love about cycling in the Netherlands is the ease with which you can cycle within a city or town, as well as how connected they are to surrounding areas outside the built-up area. Once on the move, you ride on dedicated cycle lanes, shared roads with slow traffic, gravel paths through the dunes, dirt roads in the forest, and cycle paths along canals, rivers, and streams.
The connectivity of the network is further improved by numerous bridges, ferries, waterbuses, and the ability to bring your cycle on the train. This makes cycling comfortable over longer distances and in more rural areas.
Hopping on a train with the bike.Cycle paths and wayfinding in the province of Zeeland
The icing on the cake is the many historical and cultural artifacts, artworks, plants and animals, as well as marvelous views along the way. It is easy to hop off your cycle and have a look at information panels or other attractions, without the hassle of needing to park further away or wait for an exit off the highway to visit these sites. I often enjoy these kinds of trips with friends and family members of all ages, especially with my mum! The ease, comfort, and experience of cycling in the Netherlands makes this possible.
The ‘Bels Lijntje’, a former railtrack transformed into a cycle path in the 1970’s, just outside of the town of Alphen.The former ‘Bels Lijntje’ railtrack in the 1930’s, photo from an information panel next to the cycle path.
Angela van der Kloof
‘Planning, promotion and education for cycling are great tools that contribute to making places thrive, people participate and be healthy, as well as to the quality of the living environment.’