Status no issue in lagging bicycle use non-native Dutch

  • Soort:Nieuws Fietsberaad
  • Datum:22-06-2010

Among people of foreign descent the bicycle does not have a lower status than car or bus/tram. The major reasons for not cycling are the feeling that traffic is dangerous and the idea that the weather is often bad.


  • This is revealed by Rik Verhoeven in his report 'Allochtonen onderweg', a Transport & Planning master’s thesis at Delft Technical University. Several studies have been conducted in the past into bicycle use of people of foreign descent, among others by SCP and Fietsberaad. These demonstrate that they, like native Dutch, are influenced by the quality of bicycle infrastructure and the competitive position of the bicycle as compared to other means of transport. Additional research by Bureau Veldkamp, KIM and Verbeek have listed which socio-cultural characteristics affect bicycle use. These reveal that the image of cycling among people of foreign descent in the Netherlands is basically negative (poor man’s vehicle), it is not a matter of course for everyone that both men and women cycle and cycling is felt to be dangerous.
    Verhoeven conducted his research in two neighbourhoods in Den Haag where 90% of the residents are of foreign descent. These neighbourhoods are located close to the town centre and possess a bicycle infrastructure, making the bicycle an alternative means of transport for short trips. One of his findings was that, there anyway, the bicycle does not have a lower status than cars or bus/tram. Witness the fact that more people of Turkish (82%), Moroccan (89%) and other non-Dutch origins (83%) than native Dutch (79%) agree with the statement ‘Successful people can credibly travel by bicycle’. Of the people of Surinamese descent 58% indicate agreement, which is no significant difference compared to native Dutch, but is remarkable in comparison with Turkish and Moroccan people.
    The most important reasons for not cycling are the feeling that traffic is dangerous and the idea that the weather is often bad (rain/wind/cold), according to the research. The most important reasons for cycling are health and speed. In addition habit and social contacts are major reasons for people of foreign descent not to prefer a bicycle. It is therefore useful to improve bicycle provisions in these neighbourhoods in Den Haag, particularly where reducing the sense of danger when cycling in traffic is concerned. It is therefore important to stimulate bicycle use by consistently awarding bicycles a safe place on the street, according to Verhoeven. In addition residents should actively be brought into contact with bicycles, preventing the development of habitual behaviour where cycling is no longer considered as a travel option.

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