Creating a social biking city

How do you activate avid cyclists to contribute to municipal cycling policy?

The challenge

The Netherlands is the bicycle capital of the world. Our reputation as a cycling nation extends far beyond our borders. But in Rotterdam, cars too often dominate the roads. In 2014, Rotterdam city council decided to remedy this by encouraging more people to cycle to, and in, the city – aimed at a 10% increase in bike traffic by 2018. So, they came to us to help them get Rotterdammers involved in making the new biking policy. We placed the bar a little higher, setting ourselves this goal: How can we turn Rotterdam into the most (social) biking city in the Netherlands, and ensure that citizens and government truly co-create?

Our approach

We developed the online platform ‘Fietsfan010’ (Cyclefan010) – through a website, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, people a chance to share their ideas and help define the new biking policy. We formulated simple questions based on the bike plan’s 20 action points: ‘Where would you like to have more bike racks?’, and ‘Which traffic lights force you to wait longer than necessary?’ We received a huge response from local people. They didn’t just answer the questions – they offered tips and ideas for improvements. After an extremely successful Twitter debate in September 2015, attended by the Rotterdam city councillor for mobility, and numerous activation campaigns, the number of followers and interactions rapidly increased.

The outcome

Fietsfan010 has since become a valuable think-tank for the city. A vibrant community where the council, cycling organisations and companies, and cycling Rotterdammers talk about how to make the city more bike-friendly. The council’s biking team claims that the most valuable input they received was generated by Fietsfan010.