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When we travel from A to B we are exposed to our physical environments. This can influence how we feel about our cities, especially in times when we seem to increasingly live in social and spatial bubbles. How is this for children in Dutch cities? Does travelling independently help them to know their environment better? UvA researchers launch a new project around this theme in cooperation with the NEMO Science Museum.

Teenagers bicycling through the city
Girls biking through Amsterdam (Pixabay)
Teenagers bicycling through the city
Girls biking through Amsterdam (Pixabay)

How we travel - by foot, by bike, or bus or car- has important consequences for society. The more we are exposed to social and spatial environments, the more we can experience a place, potentially trust a place and feel part of the larger whole the city actually is.

Children’s independent mobility

Children in the Netherlands have always had a relatively high level of freedom in moving around their surroundings, largely because of their bicycle. A unique phenomenon in the world. How does this level of independence in their mobility behavior influence them? Does it change their perception of the city? How rich, detailed and complete is their view of their spatial environments?

The Urban Cycling Institute, uniting UvA researchers who specialize in cycling and mobility behavior, launches a new project with the NEMO Science Museum in Amsterdam to study these questions. They will focus on how the level of independence of children’s mobility (the type of transportation they use, the routes they take and the tactics they apply) influences their understanding  of the urban environment.

Embedded research

The research will be part of the NEMO Science Museum exhibition around the Dutch bicycle culture: ‘Fantastische Fietsen’(Marvellous Bikes). UvA researcher Manuela Ferreira Torres and her team will collect surveys from parents on their kids' mobility habits, cognitive drawings from children of their routes to and from school, and a GPS-tracking survey for children who have a smartphone, comparing self-reported and revealed mobility behavior.

More about the exhibition

Because there is no country in the world where people cycle as much as in the Netherlands, the NEMO Science Museum will host the exhibition about cycling ‘Fantastische Fietsen’, during July and August 2019.  The NEMO Events Hall will be turned into a bicycle mecca with workshops for young and old. Artist Charlotte van Otterloo developed interactive installations inspired by the development of the bicycle.