Today you can meet Marc von Woudenberg, also known as Mr. Amsterdamized. The man who has once seen the burning man :) Marc runs the consultancy Amsterdamize.
Here comes our conversation when we met in Budapest, September 2012.
“I am here in Budapest because I was invited by the Embassy [the Dutch] and the Hungarian Cyclists’ Club to have a talk about the history of cycling the Netherlands and how it relates to Budapest and Hungary and how we can actually help. And it has been really interesting being here. I’ve been here before but now really in this capacity it’s very interesting.”
You mentioned marketing and communication yesterday. What do you think? Which departments at a municipality or local government need to cooperate or necessarily be involved…?
“Be involved? Well. Coming from the Netherlands and knowing history and knowing how it works now… You cannot do any marketing communication or promotion if it is not really there (all the stuff that’s needed). There are different things that are needed to make a city bicycle friendly, so in the Netherlands now after 30 years of developing most of it, it’s a combination of traffic and city planning. That’s what it is in the Netherlands. When it comes to physical changes it’s about redesigning streets. Rethinking how people move about in a city. Who could go into a city? Like big trucks or heavy traffic in general, there you need to divert traffic or redesign certain areas in the city. So where I come from there is the professional concerning traffic planning and urban planning joined together basically. It’s interactive! And based on that when actually it’s implemented it’s being promoted. Because we cannot promote cycling saying it’s a lovely thing to do when there’s no way that people can actually do it. Because that would be lying. So it’s basically a very practical cooperation between planning and promotion. So It’s all about everyday life. I told you that. We were speaking about that at the forum [on the day before] that promotion needs to be based on reality. Based on everyday life based on convenience and then we use a little humor we use, you know behavioral things like what people expect but what you actually tell them, there are different ways but there is never one thing! You can never have a silver bullet trying to change the city into a bike friendly city. There are different measures are needed. Co operations are needed. Partners are really needed. And everybody needs to be involved.”
Additionally, I need to mention Marc’s video what he did for the Dutch Cycling Embassy.
Have you ever felt that communication between politicians, advocates, city planners and department leaders faces huge barriers just because of the very different background and aspects they have? Well, I did and since that I always try to keep in mind, that it’s always the receiver who perceives the message and we shall be aware using the proper language “encryption” to keep a nice and friendly atmosphere around us.
There was an urban and mobility design conference called Pro Walk/Pro Bike: Pro Place 2012 six weeks ago in the United States. Although I have not attended the conference, I think it could be nice for all planners, advocates and other stakeholders to read this feedback letter from Bryan D. Jones (Deputy Director of Transportation Department in City of Carlsbad, USA).
I might suggest that we can focus on changing to a culture of Active Transportation by changing the language and conversations. We need to identify and LISTEN to what our allies’ and perceived enemies’ objectives are. We should not just be talking, but SHOWING how effective our alternatives are through implementation—even at a small scale—with consistency, which can build a lot of momentum. However this requires us to CONNECT PEOPLE. A title I might suggest for 2014–I heard this “connection” discussion in April Economides presentation about her team’s success in Long Beach with Bicycle Friendly Business Districts. She changed perceptions by changing the language and conversations with people that were against bikes. While her passion is green stuff, she understood the passion of many of the business owners was also “green” $tuff! She spoke with them about the pro$perity of welcoming bike riders into their business districts, and did a lot of listening to their concerns and objectives.