Cabinet pushing tens of millions into getting people biking to work
More people cycling to work, a bicycle plan for children in low-income families, and investments in good parking facilities at stations and new residential areas. These are the spearheads of the new bicycle policy that State Secretary Vivianne Heijnen (Infrastructure and Water Management) will send to parliament on Tuesday. The Cabinet set aside tens of millions of euros for this.
According to the Minister, new research shows that cycling benefits the economy and employment. Heijnen wants 100,000 extra people cycling to work over the next 2.5 years. That cuts traffic and crowds in public transport. On average, cyclists also call in sick less often, she said.
"The bicycle literally and figuratively helps us move forward. Fortunately, we find that quite normal in the Netherlands, but it does not happen automatically. That is why I want to make cycling attractive for more people in the coming years, together with employers and other governments. For our accessibility, health, and clean air," Heijnen said.
From the coalition agreement, Heijnen has made 50 million euros available for further improvement of bicycle parking at the stations so that it is more attractive to cycle part of the journey to and from work. She also wants to contribute to a nationwide network of cycling routes in order to be able to cycle quickly and safely. Provinces and municipalities are already working on this.
When building new residential areas, the Cabinet also wants to look at what opportunities the bicycle offers to keep houses accessible, in addition to public transport and cars. The government will push 370 million euros into infrastructure projects involving the bicycle. It involves 21 projects across the country, including the construction of cycling routes, -tunnels, and -bridges.
There will also be an action plan to get the about 200,000 children from families living on social assistance cycling. These families can't always afford a bike. "While bicycles aren't only healthy, but also offer children and parents freedom and independence." Heijnen will elaborate on this action plan soon.
The bicycle provides many social benefits and is also a boost for our economy, the State Secretary said. New research shows that making, selling, and renting bikes creates 13,000 full-time jobs, spread over 3,350 companies in the Netherlands. In 2020, Dutch companies sold 1.2 million bicycles, of which over a million were sold abroad. The total export value of the sector was just under 2 billion euros.
Reporting by ANP and NL Times