Team of Dutch engineers visit Aylesbury to review the town's cycling network

The NeWBies from Witteveen+Bos with the Aylesbury garden town team
The NeWBies from Witteveen+Bos with the Aylesbury garden town team

A team of young engineers from the Netherlands toured Aylesbury's cycling routes during a visit to the town on November 16 and 17.

The fifty strong group from engineering consultancy firm Witteveen+Bos spent two days in Aylesbury reviewing the 'gemstone routes' and overall cycling provision.

The team presented their findings to the Aylesbury garden town programme team and their input will contribute to the town's masterplan which aims to set out the vision for Aylesbury for the next 30+ years.

Aylesbury was awarded garden town status in 2017, with one of the aims to create an environment where cycling is a more attractive mode of travel.

Most of the employees at Witteveen+Bos use their bikes to get to work in the Netherlands and were surprised to see that in Aylesbury, things are different.

Mariska Overkleeft, part of the team of new recruits, who are known as NeWBies said: “In the Netherlands people are more used to seeing bikes on the road and there’s more space for them, the routes are better with cyclists taking priority at road crossings and traffic lights.”

Her colleague Coen Pennings added: “In the UK you feel more like you are a guest on the roads, whereas in the Netherlands you have the same rights as motorists.

"You start cycling when you are very young and even the Prime Minister cycles to work!”

The team of foreign visitors came up with a wide range of solutions on how to make cycling more popular in the town, including bicycle lockers, park and bike schemes for commuters and even introducing ‘squareabouts’ which provide a safer way for pedestrians and cyclists to cross a road intersection in the Netherlands.

Tracey Aldworth, chair of the Aylesbury garden town programme delivery team helped judge the presentations given by the teams from Witteveen+Bos and was very impressed.

She said: “It’s been hugely valuable to have the input of our Dutch colleagues.

"They have spoken to people living in Aylesbury during their visit and found that although many people have bikes, they’re often propped up in the shed or garage not being used.

"We have so many facilities in the town that can be easily connected by bicycle and we have seen many new ways in which we can make this viable.”

Cllr Bill Chapple OBE, a member of the Aylesbury garden town programme's delivery board added: “The NeWBies have come up with some tremendous ideas that we could be doing in the future and I am looking forward to sharing their insight with the board, as we look to improve the cycling provision for the town through the masterplan that’s being developed.

"We have a great opportunity to make a difference to the way people travel in Aylesbury.”

A draft masterplan for the garden town will go to public consultation next spring, with a final version due to be finalised by next summer.