Bicycle Innovation Lab: Otto van Boggelen

‘Use modern technologies to steer speed behaviour’

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? Otto van Boggelen, program manager with the CROW bicycle council (the knowledge center for bicycle policy for Dutch governments), 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 program manager with the CROW bicycle council, the knowledge center for bicycle policy for Dutch governments. I may also call myself team leader ‘Reinforcement of knowledge and data infrastructure’ of the Tour de Force, a partnership of governments and social organisations.

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

The e-bike with limited pedal assistance up to 25 kilometers per hour is a big blessing for the Netherlands. At the start (around 2010) we saw that older women kept cycling much longer and further and could keep up beter with other cyclists. That is positive in many ways. After that the e-bike became a solution for all kinds of younger target groups who do want to cycle, but for whom the necessary effort is an obstacle. I also hear from women that the e-bike gives them a safe feeling in certain situations, because they can get away faster. Especially for longer distances, the speed pedelec is also a blessing, but there is a large chance of it becoming a curse. This also goes for amped-up e-bikes. I think we have to use modern technologies (geofencing, black box) to steer speed behaviour and make enforcement easier.

Fietsinnovatielab_Otto van Boggelen.jpg Otto van Boggelen.

What kind of bicycle do you ride?

Until recently I used a Donkey share bicycle (unfortunately no longer available in Utrecht) and a 20 year old Batavus hybrid bicycle for longer distances and holidays.

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

The vast number of bicycles and related vehicles is becoming an issue in more and more places. Sometimes with a large degree of ‘Nimby-ness’. Road authorities tackle this issue by refining the network, resulting in a spread of bicycle traffic flows. Bicycles are becoming (even) more dominant on a limited amount of busy routes, also where the design of public space is concerned. In many other places, e-bikers have to adjust more to their surroundings.

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

I especially want to watch through the lens of governments as road authorities. For this group, traffic engineering matters are often important.


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