Plan Multi-actor governance

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Multi-actor governance

Multi-actor governance focuses on participation and stakeholder management. Which actors, outside the government are consulted and involved at the different stages of the project. Three broad groups of stakeholders can be distinguished besides government agencies and the end users, depending on their interests and potential role in the project. These three groups are advocates, strategic partners and resource owners.


Advocates are actors that share similar ideas and beliefs. They can act as important advocates for cycling routes. The most prominent example of such actors in most of the regions are (local) representatives of cyclists’ unions. They often support the construction of cycle highways, although local members of these organizations might sometimes oppose them.

Strategic partners

Strategic partners are actors who do not share the same ideas or beliefs, but nevertheless might have an interest in the construction of cycle highways. The question is how these actors might be convinced of the value and benefits that cycle highways might hold for them. In this respect, many regions try to involve major employers and education institutes, both during and after the construction of cycle highways.

Resource owners

Resource owners are actors with different values and interests but are important for the success of the project because they have control over important resources, such as financial resources, land ownership or legal resources. Cycle highways cannot always be planned along existing infrastructure, and this means that land needs to be acquired from private actors. In addition, because cycle highways are often planned next to important infrastructure networks (railway, canals, roads), one often needs cooperation from the managing agencies of these networks. Note that such stakeholders can also be a strategic partner. Advocate organisations frustrating the process through legal actions are resource owners. Finally, the same applies for people living in the neighbourhoods along the cycle highway because they can also delay the process by taking legal actions.

Strategies for stakeholder involvement

In the regions involved several actions and initiatives have been undertaken to secure commitment of actors that have a potential interest in the construction of bicycle highways, whilst not necessarily supporting cycling growth. Other activities were required to cooperate with actors that are important for the success of the project because they have control over important resources. Here we describe some of the most successful strategies to involve both types of actors.

Appointment of partners

In some regions representatives of cyclists’ unions are appointed as official partners in the planning process. We have not come across other types of stakeholders that have a similar role in the planning process.

Targeted approaches

In some regions targeted approaches have been developed for stakeholders that might have a stake in the construction of bicycle highways (e.g. werkgeversbenadering in Brabant, which is mandatory to receive funding from the province). Experience with such approaches show that these organizations are not easily convinced by the benefits often included in cost-benefits analyses. More is needed to ‘speak’ to these actors.

Expertise and knowledge sharing

Cooperation with infrastructure managers often requires specific knowledge and expertise, which is often not available within (smaller) municipalities. Facilitators or coordinators can play an important role here, either because they have such skills and knowledge or because they can rely on their networks, knowing who to talk to.

Participation and consultation

The involvement of the people living next to the proposed routes is important. In the Netherlands, this issue is becoming more important, partly due to the strong connotation bicycle highways have with ‘speed’, which is not helpful in such local process. This requires dedicated and targeted activities.

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