Bicycle Innovation Lab: Gert-Jaap Hoekman

“Keep it simple”

The Bicycle Innovation Lab asks for ideas to improve the social safety of cyclists. A jury consisting of five professionals evaluates the entries. Gert-Jaap Hoekman, the chief editor of, is one of these jury members. What does he think of this year's theme of 'social safety', and what elements does he find important when assessing the ideas? In this article, we briefly introduce Gert-Jaap.

What is your involvement with the bicycle?

“I am regularly on the cycle path, and sometimes in and around Amsterdam. I am also a fanatic about cycling sports, and I enjoy doing this myself from time to time. While cycling, I notice that social safety is an important theme. For example, you often see large groups of cyclists passing by. These groups are not necessarily dangerous, but they can give a feeling of insecurity.”

Do you have experience with social (un)safety while cycling?

“You often see that the combination of different road users can be difficult. Cyclists, home delivery people, the elderly, and children all cycle on the same cycle path, which does not always contribute to a pleasant cycling experience for everyone. As a sports cyclist, for example, I struggle with using the bicycle bell. The bicycle bell isn't used much in traffic. So when you do use it, it often scares people or you can come across as aggressive – while you just want to warn people. I think this is an interesting subject, because how can you warn other cyclists without coming across as rude, and being interpreted wrongly?

A really fun example of promoting social safety is on a cycle path that I regularly come by, at the Amsterdam-Rhine Canal in Utrecht. There is a sign stating: 'You can whistle on this cycle path'. Whether people actually start whistling or not, I don't know. But it does make me happy when I see that sign. It contributes to a fun experience.”

What will you look for when evaluating the submissions?

“In my work, I focus a lot on innovation. During the presentations, I will therefore pay attention to whether submissions are innovative. What's important to me: keep it simple. Is a solution actually a solution? I would like to see that proper thought has been given to whether the solution really works – or how you can test it in a pilot.”

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