Atsma: the Netherlands helps get Rio cycling

Rio de Janeiro, host city of the Rio+20 conference, wants to make cycling and public transport a priority in order to reduce the pressure of traffic and related air pollution. With the support of the Ministry of Infrastructure & the Environment, the Dutch Cycling Embassy together with the city of Rio de Janeiro, will draw up a plan to encourage cycling and the use of public transport. Another ambition of the partnership is to expand the cycle path network in the city, which has a population in the millions, to 300-400 km by 2015. That is the aim of the public-private partnership that State Secretary Atsma (Infrastructure & the Environment) announced today during the Rio on the Meuse conference in Rotterdam.

“The Netherlands is the world’s no. 1 cycling nation and ranks among the top-5 countries in terms of road safety. Together with the Dutch cycling sector and our knowledge institutions, we are able to set a unique, inspiring example for the world’s great cities that have to cope with traffic congestion and air pollution due to the enormous growth in the numbers of cars on the road. In collaboration with the Dutch Cycling Embassy, we want to show the world how encouraging cycling can contribute to cleaner air and less traffic congestion,” explains Mr Atsma. “Making cycling a priority can reduce transport-related emissions in cities by as much as 50 percent. Moreover, it’s good for people’s health.” Mr Atsma is confident that in collaboration with the Dutch Cycling Embassy, attention for and interest in cycling and public transport can be increased worldwide, starting with Brazil/Rio. And in this way, the Netherlands can make a very practical contribution to sustainable development.

The partnership between the state and the Dutch Cycling Embassy has been entered into for a period of three years (2012-2014) with the state providing 225,000 euros. With this funding, over the coming three years the Netherlands wants to help cities across the globe to shift to sustainable mobility by making cycling and public transport a priority. The initiative with the city of Rio de Janeiro is one of the first concrete activities. Currently, with the support of the Ministry of Infrastructure & the Environment, a study is being conducted into the effects of cycling in Rio and what cycling can contribute to sustainable development. The starting point of the study is the desire of the city of Rio de Janeiro to combine cycling and rail travel, to realise cycle path networks, to develop public bicycle systems and to build cycling facilities, area by area. During the Rio+20 conference, State Secretary Atsma will present the results of the study to the Mayor of Rio de Janeiro.

The Dutch Cycling Embassy is a public-private partnership in which authorities, engineering and consultancy firms, urban development organisations, bicycle manufacturers and suppliers, and organisations focusing on bicycle parking facilities are working together.