Frustrated by the obstacles to urban cycling in North America, Melissa and Chris Bruntlett traveled with their two kids from Vancouver to the Netherlands in 2016 to take a deep five-week dive into places that do cycling better. Traversing cities in the Netherlands by bike, they found that cycling is not just a better way to get around; when done right, it leads to healthier, safer, more vibrant, more family-friendly communities. They wrote it all up in their new book, Building the Cycling City: The Dutch Blueprint for Urban Vitality, which provides a guide for cities and communities that want to do cycling right, and for urban cyclists and families who want to learn the keys to cycling as a way of life.
I spoke to the Bruntletts by phone earlier this month about what they’ve learned and about what cities and people in the United States and Canada can learn from the cycling lifestyle in the Netherlands. Our conversation has been lightly edited for space and flow.
Why did you decide to go to the Netherlands and start cycling like the Dutch?
Melissa: We lived so long experiencing cycling in Vancouver and telling a lot of great stories about what building cities for cycling can do. We felt that in order to really tell that story, we needed to go to the place where that is what people enjoy throughout the country and learn what has made them so successful.
Sometimes critics of cycling say it's about “yuppies,” “hipsters,” and “the creative class,” and a force for “gentrification.” But your book talks more about the role of cycling for families and in building stronger communities.
Chris: Cycling plays a tremendous role in how we now look at cities for families. If it's not safe enough for our 8-year-old son, then it's just simply not good enough. I think for far too long in North America, we've made cycling acceptable for the “fit and the brave” that are willing to suit up and get on their bikes, but there are entire segments of the population that are completely ignored.
Click here to read the full article: https://www.citylab.com/transportation/2018/09/cycling-is-key-to-safer-healthier-more-vital-cities/570139/