Cycling Pathways
Cycling Pathways
The Politics and Governance of Dutch Cycling Infrastructure, 1920-2020
€ 153,00 excl. VAT
Number of pages
Publication date
15.6 x 23.4 cm
Also available as
eBook PDF - € 0,00
Table of Contents
Show Table of ContentsHide Table of Contents

List of Abbreviations
List of Figures and Tables

Introducing Cycling Governance
Taking Stock of Cycling History
Locating Cycling Governance: Sources and Methods

Part I - Roots : How Commuter and Recreational Cycling Became a Dutch Public Good, 1880s-1940s

1 Citizen Power: from Bourgeois Clubs to Governance Groundbreakers
1.1 Dutch Cycling Clubs’ Unique Position in an International Context
1.2 Citizens Building Recreational Cycling Paths
1.3 Advocating Cycling as Part of Car-Centric Planning
1.4 Conclusion

2 A Contested Compromise: National Government Supports Commuter Cycling
2.1 Justifying Road Funding and the Bicycle Tax
2.2 A Polder Model for Cycling Governance
2.3 Is Cycling Infrastructure a Public Good?
2.4 Making Cycling Infrastructure the Default Norm
2.5 Governing Cycling Publicly or Privately?
2.6 Conclusion
Conclusion Part I

Part II - Divergence : How Dutch Cycling Policy and Practice Persevered, 1950s-1970s

3 A Right to Recreation: Provincial Policymakers Design Cycling Networks
3.1 Pioneering Recreational Cycling Governance in the 1940s
3.2 Pioneering Provincial Cycling Governance in Drenthe and Zuid-Holland
3.3 1960s National Subsidies for Recreational Cycling
3.4 Conclusion

4 Popular or Outdated? National Policymakers’ Ambivalence about Bicycles
4.1 Dutch Cycling’s Staying Power from an International Perspective
4.2 Ambiguities and Continuities
4.3 ANWB Expands its Role as an Expert Organization
4.4 Conclusion

5 An Accident of History: How Mopeds Boosted Dutch Cycling Infrastructure
5.1 Mopeds Widen Citizens’ Action Radius
5.2 Sharing the Cycling Path
5.3 Framing Mopeds and Cycling Paths
5.4 How Mopeds Boosted Cycling Path Construction
5.5 Conclusion
Conclusion Part II

Part III - Dutch Model : How Urban Cycling Became a National Political Demand after 1970

6 Citizen Expertise: Urban Activism Shapes Local Cycling Policy in the 1970s
6.1 Early Cycling Activism: Goals and Methods, 1965-1975
6.2 User Expertise and Cycling Infrastructure: Cyclists’ Union Activism, 1975-1985
6.3 Working with the Government: Activists and Cycling Governance
6.4 Conclusion

7 Catching Up: The State Acknowledges Urban Cycling as Public Good, 1975-1990
7.1 Expanding National Cycling Governance, 1975-1985
7.2 Frictions and Distrust: Struggles with Multi-Level Cycling Governance
7.3 Governing the Redistribution of Urban Road Space
7.4 Decentralizing Cycling Governance (Once Again), 1985-1990
7.5 Conclusion

8 Self-Evident: Mainstreaming Cycling Policy and Practice since 1990
8.1 National Government Settles on Expert Role
8.2 Provinces and Municipalities Double Down
8.3 Cyclists’ Union Professionalizes Further
8.4 Conclusion
Conclusion Part III

Explaining Dutch Cycling Success
Making the Case for Cycling Infrastructure
Turning Beliefs into Infrastructure
Contributions, Limitations, and Further Research

Appendix 1
Appendix 2
Appendix 3


Reviews and Features

"Like the best historians, Dekker shows that the bicycle’s special status was “never a foregone conclusion,” but rather the result of advocates, lob byists, politicians (at both the national and local level), and the unique Dutch system of government, all of which he deftly describes, tracking political evolutions alongside social and cultural ones (p. 22)." - Evan Friss, Technology and Culture, Volume 63, Number 3, July 2022.

Henk-Jan Dekker

Cycling Pathways

The Politics and Governance of Dutch Cycling Infrastructure, 1920-2020

In an effort to fight climate change, many cities try to boost their cycling levels. They often look towards the Dutch for guidance. However, historians have only begun to uncover how and why the Netherlands became the premier cycling country of the world. Why were Dutch cyclists so successful in their fight for a place on the road? Cycling Pathways: The Politics and Governance of Dutch Cycling Infrastructure, 1920-2020 explores the long political struggle that culminated in today’s high cycling levels. Delving into the archives, it uncovers the important role of social movements and shows in detail how these interacted with national, provincial, and urban engineers and policymakers to govern the distribution of road space and construction of cycling infrastructure. It discusses a wide range of topics, ranging from activists to engineering committees, from urban commuters to recreational cyclists and from the early 1900s to today in order to uncover the long and all-but-forgotten history of Dutch cycling governance.

Henk-Jan Dekker

Henk-Jan Dekker is a historian who received his PhD in 2021 from Eindhoven University of Technology. His research interests include the history of cycling policies in relation to culture, governance, and social movements, and the history of technology.