Meet our speaker: Ruth Oldenziel

Ruth Oldenziel is professor at the History Division of the Technology, Innovation, and Society Group at Eindhoven University of Technology. Ruth has been an internationally recognized research leader and a prolific writer of numerous books and articles. With an international team, she just published the book ‘Cycling Cities’ about 100 years of urban policy, use, and practice in 14 European cities in 9 countries. Cycling Cities also marks the launch of a major international research program for Sustainable Urban Mobility (SUM), in which the cities of Arnhem and Nijmegen participate. Read more about the book Cycling Cities and the research program here.

Ruth and prof. Kevin J. Krizek will be the keynote speakers during the opening session on Tuesday morning. We had a quick interview with Ruth!

What will you be presenting at the conference?

I will compare and contrast the long-term development of (cycling) infrastructures in The Netherlands, which led to the current cycling climate in this country, with other countries. The Dutch cycling is both similar and unique. As a country, we have a hard time to articulate our cycling culture: for the Dutch, cycling and the freedom, that comes along with it, feel completely normal and ordinary.

What makes the Dutch cycling culture so unique?

We have different cycling cultures within just one country- from towns with low cycling rates to high rates; from utilitarian to sport cycling; from young to old people and anything in between. Anyone visiting Velo-city 2017 may experience the different cycling cities and cultures on offer that parallels with experiences at home. You could call us the living lab of the world.

What does The Freedom of Cycling mean to you?

Cycling is important to me because of its social aspects. Cycling contributes to a sustainable, livable, and healthy environment, but most of all, great flexibility. When I lived in the United States, I really missed having the choice to ride my bike. In the Netherlands, you have the choice to combine cycling seamlessly with other modes of public transportation as before-and-after transport.

What do you think of the cities Arnhem and Nijmegen?

The Arnhem-Nijmegen region is special because there is no other place in the Netherlands 3 types of cycling come together: utility, recreational, and sport cycling. Our research shows its richness. The area is located in a scenic part of the country. It is no coincidence the region organizes big cycling events that cater to all types of cycling: the start of the Giro d’Italia last year for sporting and then this year the Velo-city conference for utility cycling!

Are you looking forward to Velo-city 2017?

Yes! I think Velo-city 2017 will be the major platform for everything linked to cycling in The Netherlands. It offers access to the Netherlands as one big cycling living lab. I am also looking forward to seeing many international mayors and local presidents visiting the conference. Their involvement is a sign of our time: mayors understand that cities are closer to the experiences, needs, and desires of their citizens than nations. They have great power to shape concrete sustainable and innovative cycling infrastructures and policies.

Ruth Oldenziel just published the book 'Cycling Cities'

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