- Associated Press - Saturday, June 6, 2015

BOULDER, Colo. (AP) - The last time he visited the Netherlands, University of Colorado professor Kevin Krizek was provided with three separate bikes to use during his stay.

“There was one bike they provided for me at the train station, another bike at the university and another bike that the hotel provided for me,” he said. “So I found myself responsible and using for different purposes all these three different bikes. It’s just wild. That’s just how things are done there.”

That wildness for bikes is why Krizek will be spending a lot more time in the country as a visiting professor of cycling at Radboud University in Nijmegen, Netherlands.

The American outsider is being asked to study why the Dutch have such a fondness for bikes, a question that many U.S. municipalities would also love to have answered.

His appointment began in January and continues for the next three years. He’ll travel to the European country roughly three times a year for about a week at a time.

In the meantime, he’ll continue his teaching and research locally as a professor of transport for the environmental design and environmental studies programs on the Boulder campus.

Though everyone in the Netherlands is familiar with bikes, research into why and how the country successfully integrated cycling into the daily lives of its citizens is non-existent, Krizek said.

That’s where he comes in.

Krizek said he expects to bring a “fresh perspective” to something that many Dutch citizens and leaders take for granted - he likened his research to someone studying an everyday object, like a vacuum cleaner, in the U.S.

“The Dutch know about cycling like a fish knows about the water in which it swims,” he said. “They only know that this should and has been an important part of their transportation system historically.”

In a press release, his Dutch colleague Karel Martens agreed, adding that academic knowledge about cycling in his country is “limited.”

“We believe we know everything about cycling, and of course there is a great deal of know-how in the Netherlands but the know-how lies with consultants, local government officials and focus groups. Truly academic knowledge is limited,” according to the press release.

Krizek said he plans to look at the relationship between public transportation and cycling in the Netherlands, what the large number of bikes means for storage and parking and what impact electric bikes could have on commuters, among other research topics.

He’ll also be looking into the so-called fast cycling routes, or routes that prioritize cyclists and connect different towns and cities.

“What are the markets for those fast cycling routes, which ones should be built and in what order? How far are people willing to bike?” he said.

Krizek, who regularly commutes by bike and frequently rides recreationally and competitively, said he also wants to learn which pieces of cycling culture in the Netherlands can be exported elsewhere.

“The Dutch are renowned for having a very rich and vibrant cycling culture,” he said. “And in the U.S., many cities are aiming to make more of cycling. They want to increase cycling as part of their transportation portfolio. So naturally it makes sense to learn from the places that have supposedly figured it out.”

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Information from: Daily Camera, http://www.dailycamera.com/

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