The multi-sector dimension of governance addresses the way in which different policy sectors or domains are integrated and connected to cycle infrastructure provision policies. This might involve integration and synergies with other transport policies and spatial planning policies, but also more distant policy fields like health, economic development and climate mitigation.
The most important policy domain to which cycle highways have been connected in the Netherlands, is the field of car transport. Many cycle highways have received funding from national congestion reduction programmes because it was shown that cycle highways help in reducing the number of cars on the road. Attempts to connect the construction of cycle highways to existing infrastructure maintenance and improvement programmes, however, proves to be more difficult due to the different organisational and planning arrangements. One of the reasons for cycle highway’s success is probably their status as stand-alone projects. They are successfully realised precisely for the fact that they are not part of regular infrastructure improvement activities.
For an overview of the connection between public transport and bicycle highways, go to the intermodality section.
In most regions, the planning of cycle highways is connected to spatial planning policies. In some, they are even part of area developments (i.e. large urban expansion and infrastructure projects). However, because such developments are more area specific, only parts of the routes can be integrated with such projects (including project finance).
Other policy domains
Cycle highways are often connected to other policy domains such as health, economic development (labour market), climate mitigation and pollution. In Northern Ireland, for example, health has been the main issue motivating investments in cycling infrastructure. However such links are mainly established discursively in policy documents and reports (see next section), and it is has proven more difficult to promote actual integration with these sectors in terms of organizational and financial arrangements.
In the regions involved several actions and initiatives have been undertaken to link and integrate different policy sectors or domains are to cycle infrastructure provision policies. Here we describe some of the most successful strategies.
Framing of bicycle highways
Advocates in the Netherlands have been successful in connecting bicycle highways to car transport policies because they adopted its discourse. This not only pertains to the use of the ‘bicycle highway’ alone, which also seems to strike a chord with politicians in the German regions. In order to convince the car transport world, advocates also had to adapt the language and terms used in this sector (e.g. travel time delay/savings, peak avoidance, behavioral change). It should be noted that the adoption of this language has also caused problems later in the process. Bicycle highways now have a connotation with speed and for this reason people living in or near streets that will be converted to bicycle highways, regularly oppose these developments because they fear their environment will become more unsafe and congested. So, a term or discourse that might be very successful in some settings might actually be counterproductive in others. In response, other terms are now increasingly used at the local level in the Netherlands to denote cycle highways, such as ‘fietsstraat’ and ‘doorfietsroute’. In addition, bicycle highways are more or less successfully attached to other frames, such as healthy living environments, vital cities and freedom of cycling.
Strategic use of data on cycling
Successful integration often entails the use of similar language or discourse, but also requires the availability of detailed and specific data that are regarded as reliable and trustworthy. This might be data about the number of users of bicycle highways (before and after construction), but also data about cycling in more general (gps, count data). Interestingly, it seems that bicycle highways have also contributed to making such data more widely available (see fietstelweken in Flanders and the Netherlands). These data help to make estimates about the numbers of cyclists that will use the route and consequently the reduction in cars on major routes. Such projections can prove to be crucial in convincing policy makers of the wider benefits of bicycle highways. Because it is methodologically difficult to establish what would have happened in the absence of a bicycle highway, data about its use might also deter the construction of new routes, because no noticeable impact can be shown for existing routes.
Strategic use of decision support models
Several models have been developed that help to show the benefits of bicycle highways for other policy domains. These models have gradually improved, partially due to the increase in quality and quantity of cycling data. Two categories of models can be distinguished in this respect. The first types are traffic models that can show the impact of new investments on cycle and car use. Such models often use gravitational approaches to estimate future traffic and are calibrated using count data or gps data. These models are often used to shows the benefits for car transport policies. The second type of models are cost-benefit analyses, which evaluate the wider impacts of cycling schemes on health, worker productivity and the environment. These models can be very important in convincing politicians or policy makers about the added values of cycling routes. Until now, they have been less successful in speaking to the sectors and stakeholders (e.g. insurance companies or employers) which might experience the benefits.