What are your mobility modes? How do you typically get around?
Most of my trips I do on one of my bikes - I own 5 bikes and depending on the length and type of my trip I choose one. If I work in The Hague, it’s about seven kilometers on my city bike. And if I spend a day at our office in Rotterdam, I do 25 kilometers on my racing bike. As I also often take the combination of bike and train, I use an older bike to park at the unguarded bicycle parking at the station. Besides all this, I do have a company car that I use for different trips, business as well as personal. But I drive much less than I used to do, about 20.000 kilometers annually.
You are working as the cycling policy advisor for the Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure & Environment. Can you tell me a bit more about your focus on the role of bycicle-train systems in urban regions?
Since last January, I quit the ministry, as I am now fully occupied with the Tour de Force program. The bicycle-train-system is the fastest growing multimodal solution for commuters. It is essential to get more people out of their car, and the combination helps a lot to have both the benefits of door-to-door flexible and fast access, and the speed and not congested longer distances by train. The national government encourages bike-train-system by investing extra millions in more and better bicycle parkings at stations. By the way, I wrote a thesis about this topic and developed the urban planning concept of HOD: Hybrid bike-train Oriented Development.
Almost 30 percent of the trips from A to B in the Netherlands are made by bike. Why is that? Is this due to the good infrastructure or is there also another reason?
I think that the good and safe infrastructure is one of the factors, but it is also helped by our urban planning that is based upon compact cities, and our culture that seems egalitarian and quite absent of status.
While the Netherlands are a forerunner in bicycle mobility, a great proportion of the ways is still done by car. From your perspective: how would you convince these people to get out of their car?
For those that are so car-oriented that they are willing to spend most of their travel time in traffic jams, I guess little will help to get them out of their car. But for many others I think it would be helpful to design our cities even more focused on cycling, making more space for bicycle infrastructure and enlarging the car free centers. In combination with a smarter parking policy. And also a price mechanism might help, though it still seems not very popular to our politicians.
The Dutch government now wants to increase the number of kilometers cycled by each person by 20 percent over the next ten years. How are they going to do that?
We are working on a combination of measures. In Tour de Force, we choose for an integral approach; both with different governmental tiers and other stakeholders, but also integration of disciplines. Urban planning and infrastructure planning, as well as the integration of health and active travel, climate and clean transport, in all cases cycling can be seen as a solution. When we build new infrastructure, it is combined with campaigning to actually get more people over that new cycle path.
And all this asks for large investments. Already we spend about 35 euro per capita and year. That is four to five times more than most of our neighboring countries. And we are working further on increasing budgets. To give enough way for the cyclists, we might even double the budgets in some of our cities. But it is in the end very cost-effective.
If we, for example, look at Berlin… The biking infrastructure is a lot worse compared to the Netherlands. How would you implement a Dutch–like infrastructure in a city like Berlin, where the streets are made for cars?
I should start with a few smaller neighborhoods, to make an integrated and comprehensive cycle network. It should be done everything to make sure that children can be brought to school in a safe and easy way. As far as I know there is ample space in the streets of Berlin, but most of it is granted to cars. If you radically opt for cycling, and you reduce the number of parked cars but also redesign a car lane into a two-way cycle path, you can increase the biking infrastructure quite simply.
Sharing seems to be the future. What is your view on micromobility concepts like bike sharing and scooter sharing?
I am positive about sharing, and I expect that sharing will increase in the next years. But we must implement it in a smart way. With sharing we need to think about better parking solutions; free floating systems are nice for users but should not reduce the quality of our public space. In the end it must be a solution that reduces the space that is occupied for mobility (e.g. by a shift from car to bike). But that asks for a good policy, as for instance the city of Rotterdam is now working on.
How could a ride sharing service like MOIA convince people to use this service, instead of driving their own car?
For most people the price mechanism will be the main factor. Next to that, the availability of the system is key. You don’t want to wait very long for a MOIA. And personally, the possibility to bring around some heavy goods is essential - I prefer to go cycling, but will use a car when I have some heavy loads.
Coming back to the modal split from the beginning: What would an ideal modal split look like to you and what are the biggest levers to change it?
The ideal percentages differ per situation, and I can’t give a general answer to this. It has to do with more radical choices; car in the rural areas is fine, but bike and public transport is best for inner cities. So over 50 percent of car modal share is not so much of a problem in the rural areas and smaller villages, but in our main cities I would go for over five percent of bikes - and let’s say next to that walking, then public transport and finally a few percent for car usage.
Finally: What would make you ditch your car?
To be honest; I don’t think I can do without at this moment. For 90 percent of my business trips, I already go by bike and sometimes train. And shopping is not a problem, we do also almost everything by bike. But for some of my recreational trips I think it is hard to work with only shared solutions. If you could bring me a mobility solution that enables me to take my bike, my golf bag, my skies … maybe?
Erik Teteroo has been working as a consultant since 2013 to promote and explain the role of bicycle-based mobility in the accessibility and economic development of urban areas. Since December 2018 he has been lecturing on mobility at the Hogeschool van Amsterdam.