Cities across the world can follow Amsterdam's lead.
"When I first moved to Amsterdam I saw the impact that cycling has had on this city and realised I was looking at a potential future for all cities across the world.
The audacious question I asked myself was how to bring that about sooner rather than later. I created BYCS – an agency with a moonshot philosophy at its heart – to see half of all trips in cities across the globe made on bike by 2030. It’s an ambitious goal but we’ve found that by aiming big, it forces new, unexpected and innovative ideas.
At first, we found Dutch people just rolled their eyes when we started talking about cycling. They thought it was boring – it’s so ingrained here that people don’t see what the big deal is. I eventually convinced people that they should invest in getting their story out about how we became a cycling city.
At BYCS we are developing a portfolio of innovations and world firsts to get the attention of people who don’t necessarily cycle and get them to understand how transformational cycling can be. Last year, for example, we organised the Bicycle Architecture Biennale – the first of its kind, celebrating the cutting edge and high-profile building designs that are facilitating bicycle travel, storage and safety around the world.
We’re also working with a network of bicycle change-makers. We’ve found that by taking the energy and influence of activists and pivoting them to be more intune with public policy and big decision makers, we can create an effective and passionate lobby group. By elevating these advocates, or Bicycle Mayors, into the public eye, we’ve found we can gain real momentum. They are catalysts to bring together public and private realms and a platform to uncover the massive economic, health and environmental benefits of increased cycling capacity.
Big cities in the 20th century were built to promote and support car use. This has had a negative effect on our environment and, from a psychological perspective, has disengaged us with each other and with nature. I believe we’re entering a phase in which the car will take on a lesser role.
Cities across the world need to prepare for this and enable the transformation. In Amsterdam we often frame things as pilots and then, after a period of time during which people have become accustomed to the change, these small measures become reality. It doesn’t have to be hard to instigate change."
Lee Feldman co-founded BYCS, formerly CycleSpace, in Amsterdam in a bid to share the city’s love for cycling with the world and create a global network of cycling activists. It’s Bicycle Mayor Program was created to accelerate the progress of cycling in cities and has representatives in Brazil, Australia, the USA and Mexico.
Find out more about our Campaign for Movement here.