Susan Stokhof believes that the City of Victoria needs to learn from the Dutch about creating a healthy bike culture. (File contributed/ Susan Stokhof)

Susan Stokhof believes that the City of Victoria needs to learn from the Dutch about creating a healthy bike culture. (File contributed/ Susan Stokhof)

Look to the Dutch for better bike networks, says Victoria cyclist

Online bike shop owner studied cycle-based urban planning in Amsterdam

A Victoria woman says the problem with cycling in Victoria isn’t the bike lanes, it’s the whole culture and dialogue around cycling, and the solution is to look to the Dutch.

Susan Stokhof is the owner of an online bike accessory boutique, Le Velo, and recently studied bike-focused urban planning in Amsterdam. From her studies, Stokhof said the city needs to re-examine how they brand cycling.

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“I want to bring the concept of normalizing cycling to Victoria,” Stokhof said. “The city is kind of divided between people who want to ride bikes and see more bike lanes and other people who ride in cars.”

Marketing to the normal, every day cyclist is key, she added.

“Cycling is not just for sport or just to ride to work…The 90 per cent who are curious about riding a bicycle cannot see themselves dressed in spandex,” Stokhof said, “There’s a big population the city has missed as far as messaging. They have to market biking in the city as if it were a pair of Nike shoes.”

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Stokhof said during her studies she had the chance to cycle in the heart of Amsterdam, something she was extremely nervous to do because of high traffic.

“There were literally hundreds of people around me,” she said, adding almost no one wore helmets. “But it was perfectly fine because politicians are putting pedestrians and cyclists firsts, and the car is the guest.”

Stokhof added that while she loves having protected bike lanes to get around the city, Victoria’s lanes present a more narrow, North American design of an All Ages and Abilities network. Stokhof hopes the bi-directional tracks could turn into one-way tracks to flow with traffic as the cycling infrastructure grows.

“Six and eight year-old kids are not riding alone in the protected tracks because the network isn’t complete,” she said, adding that when it is done there is the potential for kids to navigate themselves to get to school.

Stokhof is scheduled to speak with City of Victoria planners at the end of October to share her experiences in Amsterdam, and show them examples of what can be done with a European influence.

On her priority list is creating a healthy liveable city, which would include closing off Government Street to cars on most hours of the day and creating more green spaces. She also believes lowering speed limits in high traffic areas is mandatory to make sure that cyclists stay safe.

“People, the soft squishy ones, should have priority on the streets,” she said.

nicole.crescenzi@vicnews.com

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