Successful pilot bicycle coaches in Maastricht

Improperly parked bicycles are not just a blight on the urban landscape of Maastricht, but also pose a serious threat to road safety, especially in the neighbourhood of Wyck and the areas surrounding the main railway station. Although an underground bicycle parking facility was opened in the area last year, the number of errantly-parked vehicles has not decreased. It’s a challenge that DTV Consultants were eager to take on.

Governments, employers, and mobility service providers have joined forces under the banner of Accessible Maastricht (“Maastricht Bereikbaar”) in order to devise safe, accessible and sustainable transport systems and to create a healthy living and working environment. In cooperation with the municipality of Maastricht, DTV Consultants came up with several pilot projects to address these issues. In September 2018, the municipality launched a campaign that focuses on effecting behavioural change by employing so-called bicycle coaches.

DTV Consultants was asked to use its knowledge of training practices, behaviour management skills, cycling, and traffic research to prepare, implement and evaluate the pilot project, which aimed to gain insight into the following three categories.

  • Measuring the effectiveness and impact of the pilot project
  • Identifying behavioural characteristics
  • Effecting lasting behavioural change

What do bicycle coaches do?

The bicycle coaches, who relied on voluntary cooperation and had no power of enforcement, were deployed on the station square, the Wycker Brugstraat, and the Rechtstraat. In order to facilitate and encourage the desired behaviour, they set out to engage with errant parkers and cyclists in a constructive manner and to inform them of safe, sustainable practices.

A three-step approach

The bicycle coaches were deployed as part of a three-step approach – which also included launching a public awareness campaign and implementing enforcement strategies – to solving the issues plaguing the station and its surrounding areas. Following the promotional campaign to advertise the pilot project, the coaches were sent to the station square where they would tactfully inform cyclists of their responsibilities. The pilot project was concluded by rigorously removing bicycles deemed abandoned or improperly parked.

Campaign evaluation

Quantitative surveys and censuses were conducted to evaluate the effectiveness of the campaign. An examination of the counts demonstrated the campaign’s impact on the amount of (improperly) parked bicycles, while the surveys offered an insight into the behavioural characteristics of errant parkers. The images below show which characteristics emerged from these surveys.

The bicycle coaches were also asked to complete a debrief form, and the results of this evaluation provided several important insights. The pilot project led to a decrease of 458 errantly parked bicycles. The measurements, which were analysed with a two-day interval between assessments, are illustrated below. The results of the analysis also indicate that the awareness campaign has had a significant effect on public support of enforcement activities.

Factors that play an important role in the success of bicycle coaching are:

  1. The presence of adequate bicycle parking facilities
  2. Information about the bicycle parking facilities in the nearby area.
  3. Public information about enforcement actions

The pilot project yielded better results in the areas surrounding the station than it did in the other locations. This can be explained by the fact that the area surrounding the station offers ample parking facilities and is subject to various on-site inspections by enforcement officers.

Insight and empathy

Jelle Ummels, mobility expert at Accessible Maastricht (“Maastricht Bereikbaar”): “The municipality of Maastricht tasked us with incentivising the use of its underground bicycle parking facilities and developing a solution to the bicycle-littered square. They impressed us from the outset with their professional approach and attention to detail. Our programme office, Maastricht Bereikbaar, launched a search for a partner capable of helping us meet this challenge. Eventually, we landed on DTV Consultants, whose dedicated and determined efforts have made a valuable contribution to this project. The company’s expertise and its staff’s professionalism, insightfulness, and human empathy have helped us navigate this particularly challenging and sensitive case, which required facilitating orderly and safe parking practices in a city where visitors, residents, students, entrepreneurs, and professionals have no other choice but to share a highly limited amount of space. DTV Consultants has made a demonstrable strategic and tactical contribution to this project in the form of a clear and concise summative assessment.

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