Hosting the BITS Final Conference was an honour
On the 16th of November Zwolle hosted the BITS Final Conference. On behalf of alderman Mrs Gerdien Rots, we would like to thank all the attendees for visiting the city and we hope that the stay was both comfortable and inspiring. For those who could not attend, we would like to share with you the words Mrs Rots shared. It also gives you an idea how the BITS pilots have landed in Zwolle.
Alderman Rots started with the words: “I am a cycling enthusiast! Together with my husband we like to go out on our road bikes and we tour through the country and around Zwolle. It is one of our favorite pastimes. As alderman, making policies about mobility, traffic and cycling in the next 4 years is close to my heart. And it is something that Zwolle fits like a glove.”
Zwolle leads the pack, even in the Netherlands.
As you may know the Netherlands is the country with the highest usage of cycling in the World. The city of Zwolle has the highest shares of bike use in the Netherlands: 49% of all movements in traffic within the city are done by bicycle. In that respect, we are the leading city in a country that is already known for its bicycles. It fits us well, because we want our city to be green and accessible. And for our people to be healthy and well. And cycling contributes to that.
The bike tour on Tuesday showed how cycling is embedded in everyday life
On Tuesday the 15th a large group of guests attended a bike ride, giving them a chance to experience the many bike paths, bike roundabouts, see how the bikes have priority and Zwolle cycling facilities like bridges and tunnels. Furthermore, we have bike streets where the car is a guest. Within 15 minutes you can reach the city centre by bike from every corner of the city. The strength of the city has been that for the past 40 years we have continuously included cycling in our urban planning and all the predecessors who were responsible for mobility have stood for this as well.
Looking for innovation
Zwolle is a firm believer that innovation can help us improve cycling. In the past 20 years we were the first city in the Netherlands with:
- The waiting time predictor: this gives the cyclist an indication of the time he has to wait before the green light comes.
- The rain sensor: the sensor gives an extra green light for the cyclist when it rains. We have now installed it in all our traffic lights.
- The bicycle roundabout: a safe solution to ensure that cyclists can cross a busy main road.
- The plastic cycle path: a pilot by a private public partnership with the province of Overijssel, which we were happy to facilitate. During the pilot, the cycle path was used by 1 million cyclists.
- The plastic bicycle: a design by a student of Windesheim University of Technology in Zwolle.
These examples show how we value innovation as part of our cycling policy. We want therefore to give a further impulse to innovation and especially the cooperation with our partners such as Cortina bike manufactering, Cycloon bike couriers, Deelfiets Nederland, Vialis and many more. We aim to open a Bicycle Innovation Centre in Zwolle in 2023 together with our partners to further strengthen the cooperation in the field of cycling.
What did BITS bring us?
So why did a city like Zwolle, where cycling is so natural, participate in the BITS project? The answer is that we are not finished with promoting cycling in this city and we believe in innovation and cooperation. As I just mentioned we are working on a policy that will hopefully increase the number of kilometers cycled by 20% within 10 years. A policy that we call Zwolle World Cycling City.
The BITS project has contributed to that goal. BITS has brought us a lot.
BITS examples in Zwolle:
When you cycle in the north of our city in the dark on the Hessenpoort industrial estate, smart lighting illuminates the bike path in front of you and turns on the light when you pass by. When you arrive at a traffic light, an app takes care of it and provides a quick green traffic light so that you can pass through it quickly. At another crossing there are cameras monitoring the situation to provide data so that we can analyze and objectify how safe or unsafe the situation is for cyclists. When you reach the city center and come across a full parking space for bicycles, a guidance system leads you to a place where you can park your bike. And in the meantime, the 'Snifferbike' sensor scans the air to provide us with pollution data so we can take measures to improve air quality or inform children and people suffering from asthma about clean alternative cycling routes. This, in a nutshell, is what BITS has brought to the city of Zwolle.
But the biggest benefit was working with you
It has brought us more. And that lies in the opportunity to work with you, our guests at the conference, with the province of Overijssel and with other citizens in Europe within the program. To learn from each other. To exchange information. To improve our network with relations both inside and outside our city who also want to promote cycling. The conference was a celebration of that cooperation. And we hope to be your host again when it comes to cycling.
The alderman closed off with these words: “Finally, let us be clear about one thing. With growing pressure on the environment, the need for more houses, today's gas prices and the general health of all of us, cycling offers a multi-level solution to many problems. It's cheap, it's healthy, it's clean, and while cycling, it clears your head and gives you inspiration. And that's my wish for the future: stay inspired and work together. Thank you for coming to Zwolle.