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C-MUS Research Seminar with George Liu, Eindhoven University of Technology, Amsterdam

Title: Practitioners’ Perspective on the Experiential Qualities of Cycle Highways


23.05.2018 kl. 09.00 - 10.30


Abstract: Cycle highways, also known as “fast cycle routes”, is an emerging concept that describes long distance high quality bicycle routes built for commuter use. The specific aims, typology, and definition of cycle highways differ across countries, and it remains unclear how cycle highways distinguish itself from other types of cycling routes. Along with providing fast, direct, and safe infrastructure, the urban design of cycle highway environments can affect the cyclists’ temporal, sensory, and social experience of movement. By interviewing practitioners, this research aims to answer two questions about cycle highways: 1) what is a cycle highway as defined by practitioners? and 2) to what extent is the cyclists’ experience considered in the design of cycle highways? This paper analyzes interviews of cycle highway practitioners from four European countries - the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, and Denmark - to reveal how considerations of the cycling experience are reflected in the design of cycle highways. Interview responses show that the concept of cycle highways skew towards a vehicular approach to infrastructure design where factors such as lane width, gradient, and priority treatments are highlighted as important aspects of good design. However, when asked to describe their own ideal cycling experiences, practitioners place importance on environmental aspects such as greenery, low noise levels, and low stress. This paper puts these interview results in context of academic and practical debates about bicycle infrastructure design: to what extent should cycle highways balance the uniform, predictable, and regulated engineering of automobile highway environments with the diverse, vibrant, and human-scale design of pedestrian environments? This juxtaposition provides opportunities for cycle highway practitioners to consider the experience and design of the environment in addition to the infrastructural elements of cycle highways, taking into account not only conventional cyclists but also the experience of people walking and people riding e-bikes, and other light wheeled vehicles.

Short Bio: George Liu is a PhD researching how ideas from urban design contribute to creating attractive environments that encourages cycling as a practical and desirable mode of daily transport. His research examines emerging conceptualizations and experiences of cycle highways from academic, practitioner, and cyclist perspectives and includes living labs, 360 degree video, and virtual reality in his research methodology. George is cross-appointed at Eindhoven University of Technology and University of Amsterdam as part of the Dutch NWO funded Smart Cycling Futures project and is a member of the Urban Cycling Institute and the Dutch Cycling Academy. 




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