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Can we copy the Dutch?

Can we copy the Dutch?

Friday 26 June 2020

Can we copy the Dutch?

With efforts to promote active travel continuing, the Guernsey Bicycle Group is hosting a live webinar with a Dutch expert who will explain how his country became known for being so cycle-friendly.

Next Wednesday, Chris Bruntlett of the Dutch Cycling Embassy will be discussing some of the 'lessons that other communities have learned'.

The GBG said it wants to use the webinar to explore some of the 'practical solutions to some of the challenges Guernsey faces' to 'inspire the community as the island looks to strengthen its cycling infrastructure as well as benefit from some of the lessons other communities have learnt over the years'.

Sam Field, Chairman of GBG, said the recent lockdown showed people will cycle if they feel able to.

"Guernsey experienced fantastic walking and cycling conditions over the last couple of months, with more islanders than ever before taking to the roads on foot and bicycles.

Sam Field

Pictured: Sam Field is a long-time campaigner for better cycling infrastructure and cycle safety. 

"We had our first real taste of what life could be like if we could all walk and cycle in safety with ease, and we all enjoyed it. Many people want to maintain that lifestyle, but we need to consider how to make that dream a reality.

"Around the world, countries marvel at the Netherlands' impressive cycling culture and infrastructure and there is much to be learnt from how the Dutch overcame many of the same challenges that Guernsey faces."

The GBG has launched a petition calling for a dedicated, safe walking and cycling framework to form part of the 'revive and thrive' recovery strategy. The group says the signatures on it so far show there is support for their ideas and also that data released by Traffic and Highway Services based on walking and cycling statistics during the lockdown further prove 'there is an opportunity for islanders to break their reliance on cars, reduce congestion and keep pollution levels down'.

Deputy Lindsay de Sausmarez, a member of the Committee for the Environment & Infrastructure, is a keen cyclist herself and hopes more people will continue cycling now life is getting busier again.

"The more people that ride a bike to get from A to B in Guernsey, the more we will see reductions in our carbon emissions, air pollution and congestion. 

"We’ll also see improvements in road safety, car parking availability, and a whole range of health conditions that can be prevented or improved by physical activity. It’s been really encouraging to see so many more people travelling by bike since lockdown, but we know there’s an even greater number who would like to but don’t feel safe or welcome on our roads."

Deputy de Sausmarez has used a 'cycle train' to take her children to and from school in the weeks post-lockdown.

She and other parents who have made the switch to bikes contributed to a claimed 25% increase in the number of students getting to school by 'active travel' compared to data already held by the States. 

A survey carried out between Monday 15 and Wednesday 17 June, found that 39% of students in years 6, 8, and 10 were using active travel to get to school - up from 31% during the sample period used for the 2016 Young People’s survey. That number increased in the afternoons, as 43% were travelling home by walking or cycling.

Primary schools saw the most active travel taking place with 41% of pupils travelling to school actively, and 45% travelling home actively.

The Health Improvement Commission will be conducting another survey next month to get a wider sample of statistics to compare.

cycling bike active travel Rollo de Sausmarez

Pictured: Rollo de Sausmarez of the Guernsey Bicycle Group and students, heading to school by 'cycle train' last week.

Deputy de Sausmarez thinks Guernsey can capitalise on the recent interest in active travel by following the Dutch example.

"I’ve been following Chris Bruntlett’s work for several years now so was delighted to hear about this event. It’s a great opportunity for us to see how different places have tackled problems like ours, and explore what might work for us here in Guernsey."

Mr Bruntlett is the Marketing and Communication Manager at the Dutch Cycling Embassy. The embassy is a public-private network for sustainable bicycle-inclusive mobility and members share their experiences with other jurisdictions with the aim of encouraging more communities around the world to experience the advantages of cycling. 

The live webinar is free to attend and will be presented on Zoom at 13:00 on Wednesday 1 July.

It's been sponsored by Deloitte, and Director Sally Rochester said as a company it wants to encourage cycling too.

"We have an opportunity to maintain one of the positive aspects of the recent pandemic which saw local car usage drop considerably. 

"More people than ever before are cycling to school or work, and we hope that by facilitating this discussion, we can uncover ways to maintain a reduction in air pollution and carbon emissions, which benefits both our environment and our health."

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