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Developing the High-Quality Dutch Cycling Experience: Lessons from Houten
A growing recognition has addressed the benefits of cycling to both individuals and the city, accordingly arising interest globally in how to promote cycling in practice, by emulating premier experiences such as the Netherlands. Yet, this remains difficult in practice, because both the provision of cycling and cycling behaviour is grounded in place-specific context. This gap limits the understanding of subjectiveness when transferring cycling knowledge and policies, indicating that in-depth studies are immensely needed where discursive practice of practitioner’s viewpoint and cyclists’ experience are important elements to explore.Hence, using a leading exemplar in the Netherlands, the town of Houten, this study aims to examine why Houten manage to promote cycling. 18 in-depth interviews with practitioners and local cyclists are conducted as the main method to collect qualitative data. The language used by diverse actors is analysed drawn on the critical discourse analysis approach.It is proposed that first, the high-quality provision of cycling infrastructure along with related measures in Houten include 8 themes: segregated cycle network, intersection modifications, traffic calming, bike parking, integration with public transport, integration with the built environment, education and programmes, social and cultural norms. These perform as both ‘push’ and ‘pull’ measures to facilitate people cycling and discourage driving. Second, the implementation is contributed to a participatory process where the municipals, planning team, cyclist groups and residents together play active roles against the dominant car-centred narratives. Third, the high-quality provision and positive interference of governance benefit cyclists with pleasant experiences by meeting the travel need for a fast, coherent, safe and interesting journey, and the social need for mobility independence and social identity. The three aspects together gradually form a cultural identity of Houten as a bicycle city, and residents as well-behaved cyclists, hence consolidating and normalising cycling in terms of changing narratives.

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