Dutch cycling experts offer advice on road safety

Dutch cycling experts, Arie Vyfhuizen & Martyn te Lintelo in Perth city. Photo by Sharon Smith / The West Australian Newspaper
Dutch cycling experts, Arie Vyfhuizen & Martyn te Lintelo in Perth city. Photo by Sharon Smith / The West Australian Newspaper

There’s no easy answer to the problems of cycling safety in Australia, but the first order of business is a change in attitude toward cycling and cyclists.  This was the observation of Dutch experts, Arie Vijfhuizen and Martijn te Lintelo, recently visiting Australia on a national tour speaking about road safety and cycling, reports the Herald Sun.

“People don’t cycle here (in Australia) because it’s not safe,” Vijfhuizen said. He also likened cars to a “murder weapon” for cyclists, given the size and weight disparity and potential for disaster in a collision.  If cycling is going to ever become mainstream in our cities, then cyclists need to be able to ride without taking their life in their hands.

Europe is well ahead of Australia in its bike-friendly mentality, and while we laud their efforts and achievements, change is slow in the lucky country.

“In the Netherlands we raise our children riding bikes. They learn about it in primary school and then they do a practical and theoretical exam on bike safety.”

The series of Cycling Imagineering Workshops were hosted by The Australian Institute of Traffic Planning and Management Incorporated (AITPM) last month, supported by the Dutch Consulate and the Dutch Cycling Embassy. Following the Melbourne workshop, Vijfhuizen was reportedly impressed with Melburnians’ commitment to making roads safer for cyclists.  In Perth, grassroots biking and community groups are aligned with Vijhuizen’s safety message, pushing for a 70km separated ring path that would connect train stations, universities, schools, shopping centres and parks. The Sydney Workshop was attended by Monica Yee, one of our Traffic Engineers, who will share some of the lessons learned in a future guest post.

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