The challenge of the bicycle street: Applying collaborative governance processes while protecting user centered innovations

Matthew Bruno (Corresponding author)

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3 Citations (Scopus)
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The innovation of the bicycle street allows missing links in cycling networks to be developed in places where financial or spatial constraints present challenges to implementing separated cycling facilities. Two separate cases in the Netherlands demonstrate that when the intent is to use the innovation to resolve spatial constraints, the goal of reaching consensus between different stakeholders involved with a collaborative governance process can lead to a result in which the user practices necessary to make the innovation a success are not sufficiently protected. These cases show how collaborative governance processes in transportation planning can lead to innovations being implemented in ways that fail to support the group that they are intended to benefit. This argument is supported by drawing on two different bodies of literature: 1) collaborative governance literature that describes the movement to increase the legitimacy of government supported projects through substantial stakeholder involvement; and 2) strategic niche management literature that describes the role that established user practices play in the upscaling potential of innovations. These literatures are connected through the evaluation technique of Strategic Policy Niche Management (SPNM), which has been used to apply strategic niche management principles to innovations in transportation policy. The article uses the concept of SPNM to illustrate the need for understanding the connection between citizens in collaborative governance and users in innovation development. This relationship is illustrated by examining the history of a transportation innovation, the bicycle street, with a particular focus on how its development in Germany and Belgium as a means to provide bicycle infrastructure at low cost differs from its introduction in the Netherlands, where it has been used as a compromise solution between different user groups. The history of the bicycle street and its uses in different contexts is followed by a detailed case study on the contested implementation of a bicycle street in Eindhoven, the Netherlands. This specific case reveals what can happen when an innovative project is undertaken with a focus on consensus among potentially impacted stakeholders and does not give increased weight to the needs of the users of the innovation. The innovation may develop sufficient support to be implemented but may not be sufficiently attuned to user practices to meet the needs of its intended user group, creating an obstacle to future upscaling. The article concludes with a discussion of how adopting specific regulations for bicycle streets could resolve this issue, preventing bicycle streets from being implemented in places where other options would better serve cyclists.
Original languageEnglish
Article number100209
Number of pages13
JournalTransportation Research Interdisciplinary Perspectives
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2020


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