Photo: Gellissen

Bicycle Innovation Lab: Marco te Brömmelstroet

‘Farewell to a public space completely dominated by mobility’

The Bicycle Innovation Lab is looking for innovative solutions to improve safety on bicycle paths. A five-member jury will assess all entries. What is their role in stimulating bicycle use, and what will they be paying attention to when assessing the ideas? Marco te Brömmelstroet, professor Urban Mobility Futures at the University of Amsterdam, shares his thoughts.

Bicycle paths in Amsterdam and the rest of the Netherlands are getting increasingly crowded. A welcome development, but how do you keep it safe? Anyone with an innovative solution to improve bicycle safety on paths with bicycles with varying speeds can submit it to the Bicycle Innovation Lab until 24 February. And have a chance to win 2,000 euros, and a budget up to 45,000 euros to implement the idea.

What is your professional involvement with bicycles?

I am professor urban mobility futures and I’m researching the values of innovations in mobility and how they make different futures (im)possible. Dutch cycling culture represents a desirable future for many countries and cities. It provides the Netherlands with a special basis for alternative ideas. The bicycle offers a truly radically alternative lens for thinking about the future of mobility and our streets.

E-bike: blessing or curse, or a bit of both?

A beautiful invention which makes cycling more widely available. But unfortunately it also replaces many ‘normal’ bicycle rides, which contributes to a less sustainable and less healthy mobility system in which the problematic focus on speed is becoming more dominant.

Fietsinnovatielab_Marco te Brommelstroet_Foto.Gillissen.jpg Marco te Brömmelstroet. Photo: Gellissen.

What kind of bicycle do you ride?

Several types. Folding bike (for the bike-train combination), cargo bike (with children and large groceries), racing bike (for sports), gravel bike (for pleasure) and a men’s bike (for bike holidays and around the village).

What will the bicycle landscape in Amsterdam and the Netherlands look like in ten years? And worldwide?

I see two options. Either more of the current ‘car landscape’: fast bicycles dominate the streets, and ensure that the mobility system is more sustainable. But the traffic-related ‘divide and conquer’ logic is still dominant. Or more like a humane landscape: the intrinsic characteristics of the bicycle (‘the bicycle is something and almost nothing’) make it possible to once again use the streets for a multitude of social goals.

What will you be paying specific attention to when assessing the entries?

Whether the ideas contribute to the bicycle’s potential to help leave behind the monopoly of the traffic engineers’ way of thinking. This has made our public space completely dominated by mobility.


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