CLOGS, tulips, great footballers and windmills – just some of the things which come to mind when thinking of Holland.
But it is the Netherlands’ love of cycling which has attracted interest this week, as plans emerged which could see Hounslow attempting to rival the Dutch for bike networks.
The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, unveiled plans last Thursday to double the number of cycle journeys made across the capital within a decade, by spending £913million on new cycle lanes and improved safety measures.
His vision includes creating ‘mini-Hollands’ in up to three outer London boroughs, which would receive huge investment to make roads more cycle friendly.
The phrase may conjure fanciful images of windmills popping up along the Great West Road, but it represents a serious opportunity for Hounslow to prove its commitment to cycling.
Any council can apply for a share of the £100m earmarked for outer London boroughs, with the successful candidates due to be chosen this year and work to begin in 2014.
Hounslow Council’s deputy leader, councillor Colin Ellar, said: “This looks like an interesting opportunity to build Hounslow’s reputation as a bike-friendly borough.
“We have one of the highest cycling rates in London, and if there is a chance to make Hounslow even more cycle-friendly, we will grab it with both hands.
“However, we need to look at it carefully on the details of funding and how new Dutch-style cycle lanes will dovetail with Hounslow’s historic £800m investment programme in our own road and cycle lane network.”
Hounslow became the first of Mr Johnson’s Biking Boroughs after hosting the inaugural outer London Skyride, when certain roads were open exclusively to cyclists, in 2009.
It has already invested heavily in building and improving cycle lanes across the borough, as well as providing more secure bike parking spaces.
Plans in the offing include a trial Brompton Dock cycle rental system, similar to Mr Johnson’s own ‘Boris Bike’ scheme, and a ‘moving market’ in Brentford, where traders would literally pedal their goods.
Cycle Superhighway 9, from Hounslow to Hyde Park, is due to open next year, subject to public consultation, although concerns have already been raised about the proposed width of the cycle lanes.
Should Hounslow be chosen as a mini-Holland, its town centres would be redesigned to promote cycling and make it easier and safer, cycle ‘superhubs’ would be created at train stations and there would be a marketing drive to get people to swap their cars for bikes.