Rome and Turin: Video diary of a cycling mission in Amsterdam

Welcome home delegates, the Immersive Study Tour organized by HANDSHAKE in Amsterdam is over (16 -20 May, 2022), the positive vibes of this most inspiring experience are vividly present in all of us, let us use them to shape a better future for Rome and Turin!

Led by ISINNOVA, 24 delegates from the two Italian cities met with local experts and peers, rode bikes in a mature cycling city, examined solutions up close and reflected on how these might be adapted or “translated” to solve problems at home. The delegations were assembled to represent the local communities, including politicians (mobility councilors), regional and metropolitan representatives, directors of mobility departments, mobility planners and engineers, representatives of commerce, hotel business and press.

A full immersion in cycling strategies, approaches, methods, tools and innovations was performed in a truly Handshake-way, using experiential learning as a means to deep seed concepts, accelerate disruptive thinking, and enhance motivation in city leaders.

5 days in which we were able to take frequent bike tours to understand, touch and feel the infrastructure and the mobility dynamics at play, speak with the makers of Amsterdam’s vision to unearth the nuances of a model whose replication can otherwise appear daunting. We travelled to Rotterdam to appreciate the strives of a city still in “transition”, where bold and relentless policies of mobility and urban regeneration have been turning a Robert Moses-like urban landscape into a truly Dutch environment. We were able to travel back in time with the Dutch Cycling Embassy telling us the inside-out of the Dutch mobility renaissance, from the 1970s to contemporary innovation, learning one of the most surprising lessons of the mission: even the best active mobility and public transport plan always goes hand in hand with a tough car plan! We finally enjoyed an inspiring keynote speech from a real bike-enthusiast, Giorgio Novello, the Italian Ambassador in the Netherlands, who wholeheartedly backed our active mobility ambitions reminding us how Italy is after all identified with many iconic cycling brands, is the second largest cycling manufacturer in the EU, and is home to many greats of the sport.

True to its name, our immersion included rain showers and flat tires, people getting lost or shouted at while trying to negotiate the written and unwritten mobility rules of the locals, but we did it fully and the Amsterdam way! Now, we can’t wait for Rome and Turin to show that it is possible to find an Italian way to make our cities better places, where space is no longer given up to cars simply because it is a relic of the past, and is instead returned to people!

Take a look at our Immersive Study Tour video diary!