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Urban Cycling Institute

The bicycle accounts for a major part of the Dutch - in particular Amsterdam's - image abroad, symbolising individualism, a certain degree of anarchy, and the human dimension. Indeed, a relatively large share of daily mobility in the Netherlands, and in Amsterdam in particular, is by bike. Despite this tradition in cycling, there is surprisingly little academic research on this cycling culture, policy and behavior. The newly launched Urban Cycling Institute by the Centre for Urban Studies aims to fill this knowledge gap by conducting research on cycling and connecting it to social relevance and policy applications.

Fietsers Victoria Hotel
Photo:, photographer Schermpeter42

In cities around the world, enhancing the use of the bike is increasingly linked to sustainability, quality of life and improving health through exercise. In international policy circles and academic debates Amsterdam is often cited as an example and as a policy context for others to emulate. The city has also identified this quality as a valuable export product. Nevertheless, despite the fact that there is an extensive collection of policy papers on bicycle use and planning of cycling infrastructure, there is no consolidated scientific knowledge on this subject. This is a striking knowledge gap, both internationally as well as for the city of Amsterdam. Therefore, the UCI aims to close this knowledge gap, building on three recently completed research projects on cycling in the Netherlands. Central aims of the institute are:   

  1. Bringing together research from different disciplines to develop a synthesis of insights on the role of bicycles in the city;
  2. Examining cycling behaviour, using diverse methodologies such as geocoded (GPS) big data and participant observation;
  3. Providing a basis for international comparative urban research on cycling with Amsterdam as exceptional case (e.g. in policy terms), but also as a case where the bicycle is an integral part of everyday practices.


The UCI members are part of the Centre for Urban Studies and the Faculty of Behavioural and Social Sciences of the University of Amsterdam. For this reason, they are involved in a wide range of Bachelor and Master programmes in Geography and Urban Planning. This provides the possibility of continuous bi-directional flows of knowledge and insights between the UCI members, research and students. At the moment, the UCI hosts one additional course, a summer school 'Planning the Cycling City'. 

United Nations

The Urban Cycling Institute is part of the Centre for Urban Studies, which is recognized by the United Nations Global Compact Cities Programme as an Innovating Research Centre. The Cities Programme strives to create sustainable societies in which economic, ecological, political and cultural issues are integrated and advanced. The Urban Cycling Institute will make an important contribution to these goals.

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