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Washington, DC (July 2, 2021)—Around the world, countries marvel at the Netherland’s impressive cycling culture and infrastructure while an insidious “that would never work here” attitude prevents real change from happening. But the Dutch overcame many of the same challenges as other car-clogged countries, and their story is an important model for moving the rest of the world toward a more human-scale, bike-friendly future.
In Building the Cycling City: The Dutch Blueprint for Urban Vitality (Publication Date: August 28, 2021), Melissa and Chris Bruntlett share the triumphs and challenges of the Dutch cycling story, show how some of the ideas are already being adopted in global cities, and draw out concrete lessons for other places to follow their lead. Drawing from historical context, interviews with local experts, and their own experiences riding in five Dutch cities, the Bruntletts explore topics ranging from bicycle style and parking to the relationship between cycling and public transit. Special attention is given to less well-known Dutch cities, including Utrecht and Rotterdam.
In each chapter, the book shows how North American cities are already following the Dutch example and transforming themselves to include more public spaces, safer cycling facilities, innovative bike-share schemes, and other, more inclusive mobility options. In some cases, these efforts are bolstered by collaboration with organizations such as the Dutch Cycling Embassy and PeopleForBikes, which are working to translate what has worked for decades in the Netherlands into tangible solutions for the streets of Austin, San Francisco, and countless other cities.
Uplifting stories range from the introduction of cargo bikes in Portland, OR to protected bike lanes born from tactical urbanism in Boston, MA. Other lessons include how beautiful cycling infrastructure—like Calgary’s Peace Bridge—can increase enthusiasm for cycling and pave the path forward for further investment in cycling projects. Interviews with local activists and city officials give depth to the stories and illuminate how people are adapting the Dutch model for their own city’s needs.
The stories prove that city design is not set in stone, and changing cycling culture can be done even where it seems impossible. To affect this change, political courage is needed, and citizen activism is often required. Building the Cycling City will leave readers inspired and ready to adopt and implement approaches to make their own cities better places to live, work, play, and—of course—cycle.
Melissa and Chris Bruntlett are co-founders of Modacity, a marketing and communications firm focused on inspiring healthier, happier, simpler forms of mobility through words, photography, and film. For many years, they have been developing written and visual content, including videos, with a focus on storytelling rather than relaying quantitative information. Collectively, they have written hundreds of articles based on the experiences of their family both at home in Vancouver and in cities around the world.
Founded in 1984, Island Press works to stimulate, shape, and communicate the information that is essential for solving environmental problems. Today, with more than 1,000 titles in print and some 30 new releases each year, it is the nation’s leading publisher of books on environmental issues. Island Press is driving change by moving ideas from the printed page to public discourse and practice. Island Press’s emphasis is, and will continue to be, on transforming objective information into understanding and action. For more information and further updates be sure to visit www.islandpress.org.