Peter Siemensma – Helping the UK to get Dutch Quality Cycle Infrastructure

London Calling

UU Geosciences alumnus Peter Siemensma is working in London, helping the UK improve conditions for cyclists. Having worked in the Netherlands after completing his Master’s degree in Urban Planning in 2007, he moved to the UK in 2014 to fulfil his dream of working and living abroad. He now works for Arcadis, a global consultancy and engineering firm headquartered in the Netherlands. In true Dutch style, he is working on projects that will make British roads safer for cyclists.  

Peter: ‘Working and living abroad had been on my to-do list for quite a while. I conducted research for my Master’s thesis in Hong Kong and my fiancée was part of an Erasmus exchange programme in the UK, so it was no surprise to our family and friends that we moved abroad again. As I had already been working for an engineering firm in the Netherlands, it made sense to continue in the infrastructure field abroad. 

Working and living abroad had been on my to-do list for quite a while.

Pieter Siemensma
UU Geosciences alumnus

Most Dutch people take high-quality cycling infrastructure for granted. We use it on a daily basis to go to school, work, shopping or just for leisure. On average, bicycles are used for over 30% of all trips in the Netherlands. Things are a bit different in the UK: currently bicycles account for less than 2% of all trips. A lack of safe roads and bicycle parking are amongst the key issues that discourage people from using a bicycle for daily trips.

Former Mayor of London Boris Johnson kicked off extensive investments in cycling infrastructure, pledging one billion pounds for cycling infrastructure over the next decade. As part of this initiative, he awarded funding to three London boroughs to make neighbourhoods more pedestrian- and bicycle-friendly in line with Dutch standards – the appropriately named ‘Mini Holland’ programme. The new Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has renewed this commitment to improving conditions for cyclists, and a growing number of other cities in the UK have followed suit. I feel that I am in London at the right time: my Dutch knowledge of cycling infrastructure combined with the Dutch heritage of Arcadis have been key to helping many local authorities throughout the UK improve their infrastructure.

I feel that I am in London at the right time.

Pieter Siemensma
UU Geosciences alumnus

By speaking at conferences and providing advice to projects, I can help local authorities in the UK improve their roads. I have found that my personal experience from the Netherlands really helps, and visual examples of high-quality Dutch cycling infrastructure are generally received with great interest. 

During these presentations and consulting assignments I often refer to my UU Bachelor’s thesis, in which I investigated the relationship between cycling infrastructure and the urban planning of the village of Houten (near Utrecht), internationally known as one of the finest examples of good cycling infrastructure.

And yes, of course I do cycle here in London as well. I live ‘within cycling distance’ from the city centre. Granted, it is yet to be as convenient as cycling in the Netherlands, but it is still an enjoyable way to get around and experience the city. London’s current efforts to improve the status quo are quite impressive, and I feel honoured to support this great development with my Dutch knowledge and experience.