As the ACT Government encourages the public to adopt European modes of transport with Canberra Walk and Ride Week in March, it has been announced that Denmark and the Netherlands will work together to inspire Canberrans to get on their bikes.
Ambassador for the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Australia, Mrs Erica Schouten, and Ambassador for Denmark in Australia, Mr Tom Helge Nørring, will assume the roles of Co-Patrons of cycling advocacy organisation Pedal Power ACT in 2017.
The Netherlands and Denmark are recognised as the top two cycling nations in the world. And while Australians have embraced riding bikes as a leisure activity, few of us ride our bikes for transport.
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In 2015, the Active Travel Office was established by the ACT Government to help change that.
The Netherlands is virtually synonymous with bike-riding, and their civic cycling infrastructure is the envy of active transport advocates worldwide.
“Cycling in the Netherlands is a way of life,” said Ambassador Schouten.
“We cycle to work, to school, to the shops, to the cinema. And we have a smart infrastructure to support this. Amsterdam, Utrecht and Eindhoven are among the 5 most bike-friendly cities in Europe, the World Economic Forum revealed last year.
“Cycling is good for your health and for the environment. I am therefore very happy to support Pedal Power and to share the Dutch cycling experience with Australia.”
Denmark is world-famous for its biking culture, and the capital Copenhagen is officially recognised as the world’s premier cycling city.
“For Danes, riding your bike is just what you do,” said Ambassador Nørring.
“I, like my fellow countrymen, grew up riding my bike to school and as I got older, I rode my bike to my workplace – the Ministry of Foreign Affairs In Copenhagen – every day.
“I wasn’t alone, 50% of Copenhageners make the morning commute on a bike, including over 60% of our politicians. 25% of families with two kids have a cargo bike to pedal their children to school.
“In November we reached a fantastic milestone with there being more bikes than cars in the City Centre of Copenhagen.
“I am really honoured to be taking up the position of Co-Patron for Pedal Power. I am hopeful that I can inspire all Canberrans to hop on their bikes – even perhaps some of the politicians here!
“It’s good for your health, it’s good for the environment and it’s actually great fun!”
John Armstrong, Executive Officer of Pedal Power ACT, is excited about the potential that the Co-Patron Ambassadors represent to Canberra.
“We have much to learn from these countries, who champion bike-riding as a social, economic and environmental good,” said Armstrong.
“The healthy rivalry that Denmark and the Netherlands have when it comes to being the top biking nation in the world is fantastic, and we are fortunate that the Ambassadors have agreed to work together to support Pedal Power ACT.
“Their expertise in all things cycling is invaluable as Canberra strives to maintain its position as the Cycling Capital of our region.”
Canberra Walk and Ride Week starts on 17 March. All Canberrans are encouraged to walk, ride and catch public transport as often as possible for any journey purpose during the week. So jump on your bike, get active and get involved.
Anne Treasure is the Communications Manager for Pedal Power ACT. She writes on bike riding in the ACT from the perspective of a lapsed bicycle rider who should be cycling more.
Photograph: Danish Ambassador to Australia Tom Nørring (left) and Dutch Ambassador to Australia Erica Schouten.