- Spatial and social variations in cycling patterns in a mature cycling country: exploring differences and trends
- Journal of Transport & Health
- Volume | Issue number
- 1 | 4
- Pages (from-to)
- Document type
- Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences (FMG)
- Amsterdam Institute for Social Science Research (AISSR)
Despite the Netherlands’ position as a premier cycling country (mainly due to its high cycling mode share), there is scarce insight into the variations of bicycle use between different spatial and social contexts as well as changes and trends over time. This gap severely limits the understanding of the context-specific aspects of cycling trends and hinders the development of effective policies to promote cycling. In order to fill this gap, this paper explores the spatial and social differentiation of cycling patterns and trends in the Netherlands.
First, an overview of the known spatial and social drivers of mobility behaviour in general, and of cycling behaviour in particular, is provided. Next, these insights are used to structure the analysis of data from the Dutch National Travel Survey (NTS). Mobility diaries allowed us to distinguish trends in mobility behaviour across different spatial contexts and social groups.
Our findings revealed three important spatial and social differences in cycling patterns and trends. First, the spatial redistribution of the population towards urban areas (‘re-urbanisation’) has led to increasing aggregated cycling volumes in urban areas, and falling rates in rural areas. Second, the general mode share of cycling is mainly sensitive to changes in the composition of the population, especially elderly persons (higher rates) and immigrants (lower rates). Third, although per capita changes are minor, cycling shares among young adults living in urban areas and elderly baby boomers are growing.
The results emphasizes the need for a differentiated approach to promoting cycling and developing policies that can respond to location- and group-specific threats and opportunities. An awareness of these spatial- and social differences is especially important when cycling is used as policy intervention for public health; some groups and places are likely to profit, while others might remain immune. Additional research is needed to further clarify the drivers behind the observed trends and to fine-tune the intervention strategies.
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