The Snuffelfiets: pedalling towards a better environment

There is only one means of transport more popular in the Netherlands than the car: our faithful steel steed with pedals. Together we cycle some 15 billion kilometers a year in The Netherlands. That’s more than 880 kilometres per person. If we are cycling these great distances, why not do something useful with all those trips? That’s what the inventors of the ‘Snuffelfiets’ (‘browsing cyclists’, ed.) must have been thinking.

The companies Civity and Sodaq set up the project together with the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM) and the province of Utrecht. Civity specialises in data solutions and Sodaq is an expert in the field of sensors. Lastly, RIVM takes care of the validation of the data that is collected by the Snuffelfietsers.

And this data, well, that could be anything. “There are several sensors in the device, such as humidity and temperature sensors,” Claar Schouwenaar explains. Schouwenaar works for the province of Utrecht and is the project leader for the Snuffelfiets. “These sensors can tell us something about heat islands, for example.”

Heat island effect

A heat island effect is a phenomenon whereby the temperature in urban areas is relatively high compared to surrounding rural areas. “Measurements show that the city can be up to eight degrees warmer than the countryside”, meteorologist Gert-Jan Steenveld of Wageningen University recently explained in the university magazine Resource. “But even in a city this can vary considerably from one street to the next.” Measurements from the Snuffelfietsen could therefore identify local heat islands. These could be addressed with more vegetation, for instance.

But that’s not all. “An accelerometer and a vibration meter are also included. These collect data on road surface quality,” says Schouwenaar. “So if you hit potholes or tree roots, it detects that.” This could help municipalities and road authorities in future to analyze and maintain cycle paths and other roads used by bikes. “And last but not least, sensors that are used to measure air quality, of course.”

Units handed out to 500 Snuffelaars

Meanwhile ‘Snuffelaars’ (‘browsers’, ed.) are riding around in the municipalities of Zeist, Amersfoort, Utrecht, Nieuwegein and IJsselstein. “But North Holland, South Holland and Overijssel are also interested in the project,” says Schouwenaar. “And a pilot with 50 bicycles has just been launched in Gelderland too.”

Het meetkastje, bevestigd aan een van de Snuffelfietsen. Foto: Ronald van Liempdt

The remaining devices were distributed last month. There are 550 units in total, 500 in the province of Utrecht and 50 in Gelderland. The project started a year ago as a small pilot with 10 bicycles in Zeist. Pretty soon there was a lot of enthusiasm for expanding the project. ” We then said: we are going to scale that up to 500 participants,” Schouwenaar says. “Although we’ll spread it across the entire region.”

The ultimate goal is a two-fold one, according to Schouwenaar: “On the one hand, it’s an experiment to see what we can do with the collected data. You don’t want to immediately invest a lot of money into something that might not produce the best results. But at the same time you could say that it’s also an attempt to work towards the creation of big data, which does involve a lot of people who take measurements.” After all, the more Snuffelfietsen there are riding around, the more valuable the data becomes. “Because then you will be able to determine an average from it,” Schouwenaar states. And the more data input, the more accurate the output will be.

Cheap sensors, relevant data

Schouwenaar is therefore hoping that ultimately as many municipalities and provinces as possible will want to participate. “Anyone with their own specific question or method would also be fine,” she says. “It’s a way of demonstrating that very cheap sensors provide relevant data as well, as long as you have enough of them.”

The data platform developed by Civity makes it possible to monitor measurements from the project on a daily basis. Participants can also view their own measurement results via an app. The image below depicts the data from all Snuffelfietsen in the Utrecht area on November 20th. Aside from this grid map, all the specific routes of that day can also be viewed in detail.

Levels of fine particles

So it seems that there are a lot of fine particles in the air. However, there are often days when most of the routes on the map turned out to be relatively blue too. “Yes, that’s also disappointing for lots of participants”, Schouwenaar responds. “They thought: now I’m going to show you for once and all just how disgusting the air is in my neighbourhood”, she laughs. “But it’ s not so bad after all. That’s why it’s nice that the RIVM is on board with the project. They ‘clean’ the data by correcting any anomalies with the help of their measuring stations”, Schouwenaar explains. “The RIVM also says that levels of fine particles in The Netherlands are on the whole quite okay. Therefore you will see a lot of blue routes on a regular basis.”

Nevertheless, this data is also valuable. And in any case, there are plenty of ideas to further innovate the project in the future. “We want to continue developing the device. If you really want to be able to say something about air quality in our country, it should also include a nitrogen sensor.”

New Snuffelfietser groups

And it could be made even smaller, so that the new version could be used by new groups of Snuffelfietsers. “Imagine, for example, cyclists who cycle other routes with a smaller device or perhaps a unit that’s even fully integrated into the bike frame. Or all the bicycle couriers in The Netherlands start using them”, Schouwenaar suggests. “Or – and this is really a very relevant option – working with shared bicycles, such as the OV-fiets (rental bike from the Dutch public transport provider).”

And that calls for improvements to be made to the measurement equipment. ” At present, the unit is linked to the user, who also looks after it,” says Schouwenaar. “Where shared bikes are concerned, the device should be vandal-proof.” Nevertheless, that type of an upgrade would immediately lead to a huge increase in data, which makes it an appealing option. “At the moment we are also working with the OV-fiets to see if this is feasible,” Schouwenaar concludes enthusiastically.

Millions of Snuffelaars who constantly analyze and improve the quality of our home environment with each bike ride to work or to the supermarket. In a few years’ time, that might just become a reality.

Photos: Ronald van Liempdt

Protective cycling gear: useful, but not the answer to every hazard

Was the death of cyclist Bjorg Lambrecht, last week after a crash during the Tour of Poland, a stupid accident? Should the course have been made safer? Or is there something structurally wrong with the safety of the cyclists? Riders throw themselves off the mountain tops at dizzying speeds. Pushing their shoulders forward, they pound through narrow roads in mass sprints at a speed of 70km/h. While covered in wafer-thin lycra suits that offer as much protection as a piece of wet cardboard.

A helmet has only been mandatory for professional pelotons since May 2003. The Kazakh rider Andrej Kivilev had died two months earlier in the Paris-Nice race. He had a serious fall during the second stage. A skull fracture. Just before the crash he had taken off his helmet, he found it too hot in the French sun.

The UCI wanted to force riders to wear a helmet as early as 1991, but initially this didn’t work out. Riders thought the headgear was too heavy and too warm. You don’t see the riders hurtling down a mountain in a motorcycle suit for that same reason. “This, of course, would offer more safety, because the material stays intact at speeds above 100 kilometers per hour. However, it doesn’t contribute to overall performance for a bicycle,” says Tom Stamsnijder, a former pro rider who now works at DSM on sports innovations, which includes an undershirt that has been reinforced with dyneema. This sweatshirt is designed to provide Team Sunweb riders with better protection against grazes in the event of a crash, without compromising their sporting performance.

Fifteen times stronger than steel

With twelve years of experience as a professional, Stamsnijder knows better than anyone what the unpleasant consequences of a fall entail. “Your whole body is covered in burns and when you’re in bed, the blankets stick to your wounds. Recovering from these also requires a considerable amount of extra energy and you can’t afford to do without that energy, especially in a long race,” he explains.

The undershirt made with dyneema is supposed to reduce these awful consequences. Dyneema is a synthetic fiber that is fifteen times stronger than steel and is used for bulletproof vests, among other things. In a sport such as short-track skating, dyneema is used in clothing to protect athletes from being cut by skates. Riders from Team Sunweb wore the shirt in the Tour de France for the first time this summer.

dyneema underwear © DSM Craft

The use of dyneema in cycling apparel is not new, since Stamsnijder himself has already cycled with pants in which the fiber was used. The development came from DSM and Craft. “These pants ensure that you will have fewer grazes or deep wounds in the event of a fall.” Stamsnijder saw for himself the difference that this kind of fabric is able to make, when he saw two riders slam into barbed wire. One of the two riders was not wearing protective pants. “He received a lot of stitches and has been left with scars from this. The other rider (with dyneema pants) was better off. No stitches and he didn’t have to recover for as long,” he reflects.

Yet riders will often injure or graze more than just their thighs during a crash, so a protective underlay is no superfluous luxury. “We are constantly developing new products and listening to what riders need,” says Stamsnijder. ” When a crash occurs, the lower back and torso also have a hard time coping with it, that’s what we’re trying to solve.”

Weird sport

Cyclists do not want heavy and warm protective suits, it all has to be as light as possible. Stamsnijder: ” If at all possible, a summer shirt that is also comfortable when itdegrees Celsius. The dyneema fiber is interwoven in such a way that the shirt breathes. It offers protection to the shoulders, side and back. The direction of travel has been taken into account so that sweat is disposed of effectively. And dyneema is super light, it weighs next to nothing.”

Stamsnijder considers cycling an odd sport, as riders are willing to take such great risks for granted. “You know: if you fall and you break something, it’s over and out. But if you are able to get up and cycle, then you are still in the race. Riders can go quite far in this respect. Riders prefer to compromise on comfort as little as possible, because that affects their performance. How much more protection riders want, depends on how much comfort they want to sacrifice, because this shouldn’t be at the expense of performance. We’ve got to find the right balance here.”

The team has tested out the new shirt on dummies. Stamsnijder: “We dropped the dummy out of a car that was driving at 50 kilometers per hour. The top layer of the fabric disappeared, but the tough fabric underneath remained intact.”

Worse things than grazes

Bobbie Traksel, the chairperson of the Dutch Union of Professional Cyclists (VVBW), does not really have any faith in this innovation. Traksel doesn’t think that a protective base layer will solve so many problems. “I like everything that offers extra protection to riders, but when I think back to my cycling career, grazes really aren’t the worst thing that can happen to you. You flip head over heels once and your shoulder is torn open; I didn’t cycle any less because of that the next day. Besides, I don’t think you will find any riders who’ll put on a base layer when it’s forty degrees.”

According to Traksel, it would only be a real breakthrough if something was invented that could prevent broken legs or collarbones. “Or broken vertebrae; riders all wear a communication box at the back of their jersey. If they fall on their backs, things go wrong. It hasn’t been proven that it’s necessarily due to these boxes, but they should think up something for that.”

Greater safety won’t be found in the material, the chairman believes: “Most of the danger comes from obstacles on the road. Road fences, traffic lights, poles, you name it. 364 days a year they are sorely needed in traffic, but just on that one day, these obstacles make life miserable for cyclists.” Together with the British National Cyclist’s Union, Traksel submitted a protocol that allows race directors to check if their race route is safe. “Sometimes you will see a right-angled bend just 150 meters before the finish line, why? That’s asking for problems. That document clearly states what a final should look like. Things that can be checked, such as no right-angled turns within 200 meters of the finish line.” The public also needs some training, Traksel is still seeing things go wrong far too often: children who suddenly get in the way, people who step backtoo late or stray dogs. “If there is a course in Belgium, the VRT provides tips from the police to train the public a bit.”

Plenty of bike paths, but how do you prefer to cycle?

The Netherlands is the cycling country of the world. The Dutch have nothing to complain about when it comes to the construction and maintenance of bike paths. The rest of the world is also working on this. But how do cyclists experience their route? This is one of the main cornerstones of the Smart Cycling Futures research program. Researcher George Liu: “In my research I try to make a connection between the experience of cycling and new forms of infrastructure such as bicycle highways.”

His research is part of the so-called living lab in Eindhoven. The municipality, educational institutions and companies work together in this lab in order to find solutions for cycling problems. Innovation is also being worked on in this manner in Zwolle, Amsterdam and Utrecht. “In the south, we are mainly looking at ways to encourage the use of bicycle highways, for example by making signposting clearer both in apps and on roadside signs,” Hugo van de Steenhoven, coordinator of the living labs, explains. A bicycle highway is a specially designed bicycle path for a specific location. It is often separate from a road or footpath. “This largely plays a role in the actual experience of cyclists. It is important that they are easily able to understand a bicycle route and don’t have to search for it.”

He adds: “In addition, we are also looking at good intersections for bicycle highways between municipalities as well as for bicycle paths located inside of municipalities, for example in city centers. Infrastructure in rural areas is very different from that in urban areas. “For instance, many more roads converge in the city, which can lead to conflict situations and troublespots.” This is exactly what researcher Liu is responding to. “A better design of bicycle highways can avoid these kinds of troublespots and infrastructure is then much clearer for users.” Consistency is important here. “This might depend, for example, on the color of the asphalt or a certain type of signposting,” Liu explains. “The main goal is to make it as easy and safe as possible for people to get to their destination.”

Would you like to know more about the Smart Cycling Futures research? Then read this article: ‘The age-old bike is the transport means of the future’

European differences

This explicitly concerns the Netherlands. The situation is very different in other European countries, according to the researcher. “Basically, all countries have the same objective, namely the construction of good and safe bicycle paths,” says Liu. “But there are variables that differ per country. Which makes the quality of the bike paths different in all these countries.” For example, green waves can be configured for cyclists so that they no longer have to stop at traffic lights. Possible changes in the physical environment of a bicycle highway can also contribute to the experience of cyclists. For instance, by letting the bicycle highway run through a park instead of alongside a railway.

In Germany, a great deal of work is currently being done on a bicycle highway of about one hundred kilometers in length. This should connect various cities in the Ruhr area. “The concept is all about longer distances, but in some cases this is not how the road will eventually be used”, says Liu. “People often just use a small part of the bicycle highway to get to work, for example. The cycling culture in Germany is different from that of the Netherlands in his opinion. “Germans often cycle with a helmet. This is partly because their cycling behaviour is adapted to bicycle lanes on the road instead of a separate bicycle path. They also use road bikes more often as opposed to city and the traditional ‘omafiets‘.”

Sharing bike paths

The E-bike is being used more frequently in the Netherlands too. Many cities have had safe cycle paths here for years. These now need to be adapted to new developments like the electric bicycle. People want to avoid traffic jams and live healthier lives. Two reasons for seeking new and, above all, more sustainable means of transport rather than the car. These all need to use the bike paths. Increasingly more road users are using bike paths, from cargo bikes for children to Birò’s and electric scooters. “There are already many safe bike paths in the Netherlands, but there is still much more room for improvement here as well. Especially when it comes to the actual experience,” says Liu. This could be colored asphalt or nature in the surrounding area.

From technique to design

He points out that the bicycle highways were developed and built mainly from the point of view of engineers. “Consideration has been given to traffic technique, such as safety, traffic flow and costs. At the same time, the actual experience is also very important to cyclists.” In his opinion, people should be more motivated to hop on a two-wheeler.

Liu intends to concentrate on this during the follow-up to his research. “In that study, people can choose between three different routes from the center of Eindhoven to the north of the city,” he says. One of them runs alongside a motorway, another mainly through residential areas and one through nature. “I want to investigate why people choose a certain route. This data can be used in order to ensure that bicycle highways meet the needs of their users. In addition, policymakers will be able to capitalize on this when building new bicycle highways.”

Shifting the focus

Cycling is currentlly a hot topic worldwide, according to Liu. At present, he is in the US to discuss the construction and maintenance of good bicycle paths with various stakeholders. “Cities in the US are changing. Policymakers find it very interesting how cities in European countries such as Germany, Norway and Sweden are designed. Cyclists there are getting more and more space,” he explains. The researcher also notes that bicycle paths in Spain and France are being made more accessible and safer. “We need to shift the focus on bike paths from technology to design. Then the actual experience of cyclists will become more important and even more people from all over the world will get on their bikes”.

Best read: the Netherlands, land of bicycles – but what about the rest of Europe?

One heat record after another was broken this week. In order to stay cool, everyone who had air-conditioning turned the temperature down a notch or two. But that has its price. We all use about 20 percent of the world’s electricity supply in order to be able to sit comfortably at home or in the office. This includes not only air conditioners but also electric fans. The International Energy Agency, which is the source of these figures, expects that global warming will triple the amount of energy needed to cool buildings between now and 2050.

This is not insignificant, but we would not be Innovation Origins if we did not also look at solutions. One of them is Sound Energy. With their invention, this start-up from Enschede converts residual heat into cooling. And they don’t need electricity for that. (Read about how it it works here.) The only problem is that this system is quite expensive for the average consumer: 40 to 45 thousand euros. At the moment the team is working on a cheaper and less powerful version, however this system is still a while away.

Air conditioning turned off?

So, just turn off the air conditioning and read under the cool foliage of a tree about the kind of innovations that will see the light of day in the near future? We don’t know whether or not you all really did that this week en masse … But what we do know is that your sustainability is an important issue. You happily clicked on the series about batteries vs hydrogen. (Tomorrow a new column by Auke Hoekstra will undoubtedly address this topic.) But it’s not just articles on sustainable cars that are doing well, because this week you were also reading about the means of transport par excellence in the Netherlands: the bicycle.

As part of the Smart Cycling Futures study, colleges, universities, municipalities and companies are investigating innovative approaches to cycling problems in the Netherlands. As cycling is so common here, researchers have in the past done very little research as far as the two-wheeler is concerned. What to do about the bulging bicycle parking places in large cities? Or bike paths that are getting busier and busier, resulting in veritable bike traffic jams? And how can cyclists travel more effectively from one municipality to another? The participants in the study are seeking answers to these and many other questions.

Bron: The Benefits of Cycling 2018

More bikes than inhabitants

As the old cliché goes, The Netherlands has more bicycles than it has inhabitants. But what about bicycle usage in the rest of Europe? For example, the Dutch are said to have an average of 1.3 bicycles per inhabitant. The Netherlands is leading the list when it comes to the bicycle as the preferred mode of transport. (The Dutch use bicycles for 27 percent of their journeys.) Denmark follows with almost 20 percent. In third place is Germany, where they pick up one of those steel horses 10% of the time that they are out and about. Closely followed by Finland and Sweden, who are just under 10 per cent.

Bron: Cycling facts 2018

Berlin bikini tour

The amount of people who are hopping on their bikes is on the increase in Germany. Take Berlin for instance, where the number of cyclists has risen by about 8 percent in comparison with last year. The municipality is therefore endeavouring to make the German capital more bicycle-friendly. Yet according to the Berlin Cyclists’ Union, they have not fully succeeded in doing that quite yet. Nicolas Linck, chairman of the Cyclists’ Union, told the Dutch news service NOS that at present, riding a two-wheeler is more of a thing for young, fit and sporty people. In order to encourage the city council to make the cycle paths safe for everyone, people in swimsuits and bikini’s got on their bikes. That’s how they demonstrated how vulnerable cyclists are in German traffic.

 

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Belgium, land of bicycles?

The Belgians often leave their bicycles idle for this very same reason. According to figures from the Belgian Institute for Road Safety, Belgians on bicycles are actually three times more likely to be harmed while cycling than the Dutch are. This is why the government is trying to encourage bicycle use instead of cars. The Flemish government, in particular, is attempting to achieve this through a variety of subsidies, discounts or tax breaks. It has also invested in addressing, among other things, dangerous bicycle paths. Part of the money has been used to keep cars out of the inner city of Leuven, after one year this has already resulted in 32 percent more cyclists. However, current investments are not enough according to the Flemish Minister for Mobility. The budget (currently 138.5 million euros) must be increased to around 300 million euros per year in order to make all bicycle paths in Flanders safe.

Source: The Benefits of Cycling 2018

Daredevil Londoners

Cyclists are also struggling in other major European cities. Check out London cycling under the headline news, and you’ll find reports on cyclists that have been killed in collisions. Londoners (but also people from outside of the city) who are not deterred by this and still grab their bikes, may get in contact the London Cycling Campaign. This institution takes action with a view to making London a real cycling city and helps cyclists to plan routes which avoid dangerous spots.

Let’s face it, cycling is a lot healthier and better for the environment than a trip with a car. So let’s hope that European cities ( as well as American, Russian and Asian) will be able to get more people saddled up in the near future. Still haven’t seen enough bike statistics on your screen? Read more about the advantages of riding on two wheels here.

The age-old bike is the transport means of the future

More and more people are trying to live healthier and greener. The bicycle is in many respects a more interesting means of transport than a car or public transport. It is not only healthier, but also cheaper, easier to store and better for social contacts than a car is. In the future, the two-wheeler will continue to become increasingly important for these reasons. This is the starting point for the broad-based research program  Smart Cycling Futures. In this project, various universities, colleges, municipalities and companies are working together to devise innovative solutions to cycling problems.

From bicycle sharing systems, to smart bicycle parking facilities and fast cycle routes – anything that makes the use of the two-wheeler more convenient. The bicycle is an accessible means of transport and many Dutch people use it on a daily basis. In spite of this, very little research has been done on bicycles. ” It is so natural to us that we simply have not thought about it”, states Pieter van Wesemael, Professor of Urbanism and Urban Architecture at the Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e) who is also involved with the Smart Cycling Futures project.

The aim of the research is to explore and implement innovations and bicycle projects in day to day practice. “That’s why we work with living labs in cities where particular bicycle innovations are really being tested,” Van Wesemael explains. The living labs are located in the four cities where the participating educational institutes are located. We are talking about Amsterdam, Utrecht, Eindhoven and Zwolle. Various parts of the research come together in these cities. “We look at economic, policy, spatial and user-related aspects. This makes the research academically and socially relevant,” he says.

Learn from each other

All these elements are brought together in the test environments. “This is interesting as science is then able to be of immediate value to the practical side of daily life in society,” says Hugo van de Steenhoven, coordinator of the living labs. “And because you can learn from scientific expertise in practical terms,” he adds. Van Wesemael also agrees: “We are not only dealing with educational institutes in these cities, but also with municipalities, the Fietsersbond (the Dutch cyclist’s union) and companies.”

Share with each other

The approach of the living labs varies greatly per city. “People don’t run into the same problems in every city,” explains Van Wesemael. Nevertheless, most innovations could also be applied in other cities. A familiar problem is the enormous number of bicycles that no longer fit inside storage facilities. In Utrecht and Amsterdam, a separate solution is being sought for that. A bicycle sharing system is one example of this. Over the past few years, several shared bicycle systems have appeared on the market. “Still, nothing has really worked yet,” says Van de Steenhoven. “We would like to learn from these mistakes.”

In collaboration with a Danish start-up, a number of shared bicycles will be placed at stations around Utrecht Science Park, the university complex in Utrecht. “Users can use their mobile phones to unlock a bicycle,” he explains. “The company monitors who uses a bicycle and where someone goes. Fewer bikes go astray as a consequence. Aside from that, it provides interesting data on how people use a shared bike and how companies as well as the government can make the best use of this.”

Amsterdam

In Amsterdam, researchers are trying something different. “We cannot continue to build new, large bicycle parking facilities, so we have to find a solution to make better use of the existing ones,” says Van de Steenhoven. In this part, they will also examine ways of sharing regular bicycles so that bicycles won’t spend so much time standing idle in a parking space. “It is interesting to explore this, because bicycles are, of course, adjusted to the user and people often need their bicycles several times a day.” According to Van de Steenhoven, it remains to be seen what the outcome will be. In any case, it is clear that a solution must be found for the bulging bicycle parking spots.

Fast cycling routes

According to the researchers, bicycle racks are not the only problem. Bicycle paths, especially between municipalities, could also be improved. Despite the fact that the Netherlands is at the forefront in terms of the number of good and safe cycle paths, the construction of so-called fast cycling routes is a key issue in two cities. A fast cycling route between Tilburg and Waalwijk is currently being examined by the Technical University in Eindhoven. Zwolle is also responsible for part of this research. That concerns a route to Dalfsen. “In Eindhoven we mainly look at the experiences of cyclists in relation to signposting,” explains Van de Steenhoven. “Whereas it is more about a bicycle users’ expectations in Zwolle. This acts as an incentive when it comes to promoting the use of the fast cycling route.”

According to the researcher, signposting is an important element of the fast cycling route. “On the highways, routes are clearly indicated by signs along the roads. People feel comfortable with them despite the variety of navigational systems.”  The logical goal of this living lab is to develop a good signposting system for fast cycling routes. This applies both to roadside signs and to apps with which users are able to set routes.

Researchers at the TU/e are also looking at the connection of these regional fast cycling routes with bicycle paths within the municipality. “When people enter the city from one of these fast cycling routes, all they want to be able to do, is to keep on cycling at a comfortable pace,” says Van de Steenhoven. “In the city, bike paths are busier and usually narrower, so a good solution has got to be found for that.” According to Van Wesemael, this not only concerns research into the spatial layout of a city, but also the specific policy regarding the construction of bicycle paths.

The social side of cycling

A second living lab in Zwolle focuses more on the social side of cycling and on the health of residents. “A workshop has been set up in a deprived area, where people can have their bicycles repaired or even buy a cheap bicycle for not very much money,” explains Van de Steenhoven. The goal is to help residents get more exercise. “We’ll monitor whether people really benefit from this approach.” This is done through interviews with participants, amongst other things. “Similar projects in the Netherlands will then benefit from this information.”

The researchers aim to translate the results regarding the experience of cyclists into guidelines for policymakers at various levels. In their opinion, this is interesting because it concerns social and technical innovations. “The living labs also play an important role here because we do practical research. Various organizations such as the Cyclists Union are participating in this. The needs of users are also taken into account,” explains Van Wesemael. In his opinion this can be very valuable for policymakers. ” The results of the living labs can also subsequently be applied in other cities in the Netherlands and eventually throughout Europe.”

Smart Cycling Futures is part of the ‘Smart Urban Regions of the Future’ (SURF) research program and concentrates on the field of smart urban regions. This is an educational program from the departments of the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy, the Ministry of the Interior and Kingdom Relations (BZK), NWO,  Platform31, and the the Taskforce for Applied Research (NRPO-SIA). Researchers and practitioners work together in the areas of spatial planning, housing, accessibility, economy and governance in urban regions. Van de Steenhoven: “The aim of this program is to link science and practice. At the same time, it also influences the research design and research objectives. These are important aspects of Smart Cycling Futures.”

Imec’s Smart cycling outfit prevents back pain in riders

In cycling, teams constantly try to outdo each other. Not only with the most advanced use of materials, but also by improving nutrition, training methods and all kinds of other areas. That’s why Innovation Origins is looking for innovations from within the peloton in the run-up to the Tour de France. This article was produced by imec and first published in imec magazine.

Anyone who spends time regularly on a bike knows that cycling can place great strain on the lower back. To counter this, engineers and physical therapists are now joining forces to develop smart bikewear featuring integrated sensors that analyze the rider’s posture. Physios would be able to use the data from the smart jersey to gain greater insight into the back problems suffered by cyclists, while road racers wearing these outfits could monitor and adjust the way they hold their bodies constantly while they are ‘on the go’. So say goodbye to some of those cycling-related injuries!

Pieter Bauwens, Paula Veske and Tom Sterken, respectively a postdoc researcher, doctoral student and R&D engineer at CMST, an imec research group at the University of Ghent (UGent), tell us more about these sensors and the way they are incorporated into smart cycling apparel. Joke Schuermans, another postdoc researcher into physiotherapy and rehabilitation sciences at UGent, explains the link between fitness, fatigue and incorrect posture on a bicycle. But first and foremost: discover how cyclewear with sensors can make a world of difference for (amateur) cyclists.

This cycling outfit is a good example of smart clothing, which is an up-and-coming new technology that we are sure we will be hearing more of in the years to come. The American company SKIIN is forecasting three main trends in the sector for smart textiles.

How do you make electronics stretchable and washable?

Imec’s CMST lab at UGent has been working for almost 15 years now on technologies for making electronics stretchable and washable and is a global player in this field. Tom Sterken: “Huge progress has been made over the past 10 years in making chips smaller and thinner. This makes it easier for us to integrate electronic components (microprocessors, sensors, actuators) seamlessly into textiles. Typically, we work with rigid little ‘islands’ of electronics that we connect to stretchable current conductors embedded in a protective film. These conductors have a unique undulating shape that enables the film to be stretched up to twice its length without breaking the conductors. You need a great deal of know-how to connect rigid electronic components to a stretchable current conductor.”

imec
© imec

Imec’s CMST lab at UGhent makes smart garments by connecting rigid little ‘islands’ of electronics with stretchable current conductors embedded in a protective film. These conductors have a unique undulating shape that enables the film to be stretched up to twice its length without breaking the conductors.

What smart textiles can mean for cyclists

Amateur cycling has been on the rise as a hobby for years now, partly thanks to events such as the Tour de France and leading cycling stars such as Peter Sagan or Bradley Wiggins. Cycling is also a sport that can be enjoyed at any age. Typically, the age of amateur cyclists ranges from 40 to 70 or even 80. Joke Schuermans: “Often it is somewhat older people or people who are less physically fit who take up cycling. But the very posture required for cycling places great stress on the back, because the lower back adopts an unnaturally rounded or hunched shape for long period of time. This can soon lead to chronic problems. The figures confirm this: up to 80% of cyclists have to deal with lower back problems at some stage. So clearly this is a significant problem.”

Professional cyclists are properly monitored, though, and use bikes that are made exactly to their body measurements. The posture they adopt when they sit on their bikes is closely analyzed and modified. But this is not the case with recreational cyclists and many of them are forced to abandon the sport after numerous visits to their physio.

Joke Schuermans: “In the Nano4Sports project, I have been researching the relationship between movement control, fatigue and lower back problems. Often we see that when cyclists become tired as they make an extra effort on their bike, they exert more movement and stress on their back/upper body and pelvis. This is a natural phenomenon: cyclists try to keep generating the same pedal power despite the fact that their quadriceps are tired and hence they are unable to develop the power they want from the muscles in their upper legs. But this sort of compensating pattern of movement alters the position of their upper body and pelvis and so cyclists run the risk of sustaining repetitive strain injuries. The muscles in the trunk and pelvis have a natural stabilizing function and are not normally used to produce power. This also means that the underlying parts of the body are unable to cope with the mechanical load that goes with the hunching position adopted by cyclists to compensate for their weariness. But if cyclists can be given feedback about their posture while they are riding and are able to correct it, this would make the sport much more comfortable and attractive.”

In the physio’s treatment room

Post-doc researcher Joke Schuermans is now using infrared reflectors for her research that are placed at strategic locations on the body. A camera is then able to map the movements of the body riding a bike and have them analyzed by specific software.

Joke Schuermans: ‘As part of Nano4Sports, I took measurements with some 90 volunteers to gain greater insight into lower back problems among cyclists. I am particularly interested in the link between fatigue, fitness and incorrect posture on a bike. Are people who are less fit more inclined to adopt the wrong position on their bike? Will people who are fitter also find themselves in the wrong position when they become tired after a long ride? In the lab, I have them do a fatigue test in which I measure – in addition to their heart rate and wattage – their movement and hence the quality of those movements in relation to intensity and tiredness. Early results from the research show that cyclists who regularly complain of pain in their lower back when on training rides also compensate significantly more with movements in their pelvis than cyclists who are completely free of problems.”

These measurements can only be taken in a lab situation. It is not possible to use them to develop a standalone system that makes it easy for cycling enthusiasts to use during their weekly training rides.

Lower back pain during training bike rides

This figure shows that people who regularly complain of lower back pain during training rides (Injury Group) make left-to-right movements of their pelvis to a far greater extent (statistically significant difference with p-value of p = 0.001) than cyclists who never experience problems on their bike.

Of course, there are all sorts of consumer products on the market that claim to measure your posture on a bike. For example, there is the German company LEOMO, which provides a system that costs around €1000. But the feedback it provides is fairly complex. Joke Schuermans: “In actual fact, what we need to do is aim to create a very simple system – a smart cyclist’s tunic would be ideal – that takes accurate measurements and sends them to you on your smartphone or bike computer. The interface can be as uncomplicated as a red and green bar that changes colour according to how good your posture on the bike is. That way, cyclists become more aware of their posture and can avoid suffering from chronic problems.”

A prototype of a smart cyclist’s outfit

Imec research group CMST, which is also working on the Nano4Sports project, was given the task of developing just such a tunic. Pieter Bauwens: “We used off-the-shelf motion sensors (Bosch BNO055) that measure movements in the X, Y and Z direction. These were positioned at the lower back vertebrae L1, L3, L5 and S1. We also placed 2 sensors on the side to measure movements of the pelvis. The sensor node was adjusted so that it could exchange information with at least 8 other nodes. And all of the nodes were connected with a central microprocessor with Bluetooth functionality that sent the data wirelessly to a smartphone or sports watch. CMST’s flex-stretch technology, as described above, was used for the connections on the clothes.”

imec
The first prototype of the smart cycling suit hides 6 sensors under the textile that measure movement in the X, Y and Z directions. A central module with battery is located at the bottom of the back and can easily be clicked in and out, e.g. for washing. © imec

Paula Veske: “We use a 25µm-thick layer of thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) to protect the electronics and incorporate them into the cyclist’s jersey. First, a TPU layer is laminated on the fabric using a heat press (170°C and 4 bar for 20 seconds). This makes the TPU softer and so it adheres to the material. The electronics module is then applied to the TPU layer. Finally, everything is covered with a TPU-laminated piece of fabric before being treated with the heat press again. Because the battery cannot be laminated at the same time (due to the high temperatures involved), a central module with a battery is soldered to the whole thing afterwards. If the system were ever to come on to the market, this central module would probably take the form of a clickable box that can easily be clicked on and off the smart cyclist’s tunic. Being able to do that is also important for washing the shirt and recharging the battery.”

Of course, this is still at the prototype stage. Further tests will enable the physical therapist to check whether the readings are as reliable as they are with the standard system. Once that is done, CMST will go looking for companies that want to market a smart cycling tunic of this kind.

Also for the office

Physio Joke Schuermans is already enthusiastic about it: “Wireless sensors will mean huge progress for our research into movement and exercise. At the moment we can already use wireless sensors for muscle tension tests (EMG) in which the sportsperson runs on a treadmill. These types of measurements were impossible previously using wired sensors.

In the world of cycling, almost no research has been conducted yet into movement for the prevention of injuries, apart from posture and movement analysis connected to a dynamic bike-fit procedure. So there are still lots of things we need to find out about making sport healthier and more enjoyable. Having a tape with wireless motion sensors that we can attach to the back would be a major step forward. But cyclists also need to remain aware of their posture on a bike outside the lab – and for that, a smart cycling tunic is a perfect solution.”

“Comparable technology can also be of use in other forms of clothing: in a sports outfit for doing abdominal and back muscle exercises correctly, or in everyday clothes for keeping an eye on our posture when we sit for long hours at the office,” concludes Joke Schuermans.

In this article, we only talk about one of the applications being developed as part of Nano4Sports. Project Nano4Sports is funded by the Interreg V Flanders-Netherlands program, the cross-border cooperation program with financial support from the European Regional Development Fund.

Innovations inside the peloton: Does Jumbo-Visma have any new gadgets for the Tour?

Next Saturday the Tour de France will get off to a start in Brussels. The first 200 km is a level race, an excellent opportunity for sprinters. How do cycling teams ensure behind the scenes that sprinters arrive at the start one hundred percent fit? And will riders get any new gadgets that give them that extra boost? At Team Jumbo-Visma, sprinter Dylan Groenewegen made no secret of his dream: he’s intent on Saturday’s yellow jersey. Last year he won two stages in the tour, and already he has been the first to cross the finish line ten times during this season.

In cycling, teams constantly try to outdo each other. Not only by using the most advanced equipment, but also by improving nutrition, training methods and in all kinds of other areas. That’s why Innovation Origins is looking for innovations inside the peloton in the run-up to the Tour de France. Here is the first of these stories.

Mathieu Heijboer is the head of performance within Team Jumbo-Visma and is responsible for everything concerning the race preparation process. From planning training schedules and altitude routes, to which tyres will be on the wheels. Heijboer was asked whether new scientific insight has led to a different approach this year. “Last year was a successful tour, that preparation has been a blueprint for this year. So in that respect, not a great deal has changed.”

Preparation

However, the support staff of the cycling team did look at last year’s data and drew lessons from it: “Last year Groenewegen wasn’t quite fit enough during the first few days of the race. On the basis of that information, we have adapted his training so that – as we see it – he will be fit when he arrives at the start on Saturday. And there are also a few minor differences for the other ranked riders. But that should be the case; this tour has a lot of races above 2000 meters, much more than last year. This means that riders have to increase their altitude practice so that their bodies can get used to these conditions.”

 “The time constraints were enormous, we insisted on taking that time trial bike with us on the tour. In hindsight, you might slap yourself in the face. We first looked into where things could go wrong, but soon came to the conclusion that we simply hadn’t taken enough time to test and adjust the bike properly. This is very important, especially for a time trial bike. Now we know better.” Mathieu Heijboer, Jumbo-Visma.

Groenewegen is thus starting in top form. But what about his equipment? “We can’t just change parts. We have to request this from the UCI and they have to assess it all before we can use it in a race. That is why many of us work together with our stock partners. We let them know what riders need. Then a manufacturer will develop it and look at what is feasible within the rules. But the manufacturers themselves also work on improving their products. The great thing is that we as a cycling team are able to provide a lot of input. As a result, we are constantly contributing to innovation.”

Custom-made contact points

According to Heijboer, in recent years it has become more and more common for contact points – saddle, handlebars, pedals and shoes – to be made entirely to measure for riders in pelotons. “They spend long days on the bike, good posture makes them use the right muscles. If you are riding in the wrong way, you tend to compensate with other muscles,” explains Heijboer. By paying attention to customized contact points, riders are able to ride more comfortably, stay fit longer and prevent injuries. Together with FSA (one of their material partners), Jumbo and the Eindhoven University of Technology, the team developed for this tour a customized time trial for Steven Kruiswijk – one of the team’s ranked men. Lighter and more aerodynamic than the previous model, the handlebars provide more support and comfort, precisely calibrated for Kruiswijk. “You have to take your time with this, test everything thoroughly. Everything that Steven touches on his handlebars, has been based on his body. We made a handlebar like this for Roglic from the Giro peloton. This way of designing is becoming more and more common for pelotons.”

Ideas for product innovations do not always come from a manufacturer or a team, as according to Heijboer, there are plenty of riders who come up with their own ideas or have very specific requests: “Tony Martin, one of our best time trial riders, moves a great deal on his saddle during time trials. He came up with a solution himself and stuck a piece of sandpaper on his saddle to prevent him from sliding,” remembers Heijboer. But because this is not allowed under UCI regulations, Jumbo-Visma sent Martin’s saddle – with the sandpaper – to Fizik, their saddle supplier.

  “Ideas that the guys come up with themselves are often the best, they can feel exactly what they need or where there is still room for improvement.” Mathieu Heijboer, Jumbo-Visma.

Fizik set to work and subsequently a prototype of the saddle has been registered with the UCI and approved for the Tour. “Soon there will be Tony Martin saddles for sale,” says Heijboer. But it doesn’t stop there: “We continued on with this and asked AGU (the cycling apparel manufacturer) to make a similar piece for the time trial suit. This makes the suit fit even better on the saddle. Ideas that cyclists come up with themselves are often the best, they can feel exactly what they need or where there is still room for improvement.” The new saddle and time trial suit will be ready in time for the Tour and should help Tony Martin to achieve a faster time trial.

Doesn’t always go well

But new material does not always work out better. In 2014 Jumbo-Visma (then still Belkin) had problems with Bianchi’s time trial bike. The rear wheel was so close to the frame and the brake, that it stalled when a lot of power was used. At the same time, the riders also complained that the bike was not rigid enough. “The time constraints were enormous, we insisted on taking that time trial bike with us on the tour. In hindsight, we might knock our heads against the wall. We first looked into where things could go wrong, but soon came to the conclusion that we simply hadn’t taken enough time to test and adjust the bike properly. This is very important, especially with a time trial bike. Now we know better.”

“The bike had a false start. Since then we have been working with Bianchi to improve and adapt the model based on input from cyclists. Sometimes you have to take two steps back before you can take three steps forward. Now we have one of the most aerodynamic time trial bikes out there. We hope to win the 10th time trial of the season soon. That says it all, doesn’t it?”

After Zwolle, a plastic cycling path for Giethoorn as well

plastic fietspad Giethoorn

The Dutch city of Giethoorn is building the second plastic bike path of the country. The first one was constructed in neighbouring Zwolle in September.  The cycle path in Giethoorn is 30 metres long and is situated along the N334 provincial road. The PlasticRoad is a modular, circular and climate-proof road based on recycled plastic. The concept is by KWS, Wavin and Total.

With the clicking together of two building elements, Overijssel’s representative Bert Boerman and alderman Marcel Scheringa of the Steenwijkerland municipality, together with the team of PlasticRoad, have carried out the first construction operation. In just a few hours the PlasticRoad elements were laid this morning. In the coming days, the PlasticRoad team will work on finishing the cycle path, such as the verge and the connection to the existing tile pavement. After the weekend the bike path will reopen. As in Zwolle, this pilot also contains as much recycled plastic as 218,000 plastic cups or 500,000 plastic bottle caps.

Overijssel now has two PlasticRoad cycle paths, one in Zwolle and one in Giethoorn. “The province stimulates entrepreneurs with innovative and sustainable ideas and thus contributes to a circular economy”, says Bert Boerman. “By making a cycle path available in our province, the new PlasticRoad concept can be tested in practice for technical and economic feasibility. This will bring innovation a little further.”

The biggest difference with Zwolle is the subsidence-sensitive subsoil in and around Giethoorn. The soil is compressed by pressure and load and can, therefore, cause problems in, for example, the construction of infrastructure. “In Giethoorn we can test the advantages of the low weight of the PlasticRoad elements in relation to these settlements”, says Marcel Jager of Wavin.

The pilots in Zwolle and Giethoorn will be monitored for the next five years in order to ultimately get the product ready for the market. Last night, the PlasticRoad received the Cobouw Award for the best product of 2018.

plastic bike path Giethoorn

Your brains think better when cycling or running

Gehirn denkt bei Bewegung besser

What is the best way to increase your thinking power? Simply by running or cycling. This is the result of a recent study by the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität in Munich.

In order to document the increased brain activity during movement, the method of electroencephalography (EEG) was applied in an extensive study. During the study phase, people had to solve tasks that claimed their visual working memory. They either walked on the treadmill or pedalled. Others remained calmly standing or sitting. The astonishing result: As soon as the test persons started to move, the working memory performance was better.

Exercise increases memory performance

The data measured by electroencephalography show that the brain was able to process information in the working memory more efficiently during movement. Even when standing, better brain performance could be achieved. The worst results were achieved while sitting. Obviously, the human brain functions best during movement.

The researchers Gordon Dodwell, Dr. Thomas Töllner and Professor Hermann J. Müller of the Chair of General and Experimental Psychology of the LMU assume that the results will influence further research on working memory. “Our results indicate that our brain functions best when we actively move,” says Thomas Töllner. Until now, research has mainly been carried out with sedentary subjects.

The worst results were achieved while sitting

What does this mean for the working world?

The results of the study could have an enormous impact on the world of work. Provided, of course, that the findings are implemented consistently. Then at least working at a standing desk could be more effective than sitting. So far, this form of work in the offices does not seem to be established at least yet. But how movement and work could be brought together remains to be explored. Perhaps digitized voice applications would be a possibility, the researchers suggest.

Photo: Pexels

Grilling bike – biking to grill

Grill von Knistergrill

The barbecue season can never start early enough. Moreover, since the temperatures this November are more like spring fever than a shivering winter mood, there might still be one or two barbecue evenings left. If you prefer to go out into the countryside, you don’t need to be on your way to the next barbecue site with lots of equipment. Rather, the complete grill equipment – from the charcoal grill up to the ingredients – everything fits into the grill-to-go of the resident of Munich Start-up Knistergrill. Extra convenient: it is perfectly optimised for cycling – with a specially developed transport device. Easy to mount on almost any conventional cycling handlebar.

Knistergrill-Gründerin Carolin_Kunert
Carolin Kunert

Since her childhood, founder Carolin Kunert has wanted a barbecue to be used in the forest. But she soon found out there was nothing suitable to solve the transport problem of a barbecue in the city. In 2015, she took up the idea while studying industrial design in Munich. She built the first prototype. However, the barbecue she built was much too heavy and was mounted on the luggage rack.

During a semester abroad in Denmark, a new team came up with the brilliant idea to move it from back to front. The grill now found its place on the bicycle handlebar. This system was so popular with the jury of the Startup Weekend competition that Kunert and her team won first prize. Back in Germany, however, the international team lost cohesion. “It’s hard to start a company if the co-founders don’t all live in the same place,” explains founder Carolin Kunert. But with the help of friends and relatives, she took the plunge into self-employment in 2017 – at the age of 22.

The idea of Knistergrill – crackling grills – is as simple as it is good. The clue about the idea is that the portable grill can be attached to the handlebars without screws. And if the size of the grill is not enough for you, you can simply double the size. According to Knistergrill, up to nine outdoor eaters can then be satisfied.

In order to bring the idea to production maturity, Kunert launched a Kickstarter campaign in May 2018. A proud 17,167 euros from 155 supporters came together. Production started in June 2018 in Germany and Poland. The founder attaches particular importance to the high quality of her product and short transport distances. The Knistergrill is available in three versions – Knister Original, – Small and – Premium for €90,00. The crackling charcoal can be ordered at the same time.

Photos: Knistergrill

High-tech cycling in new wind tunnel TU/e

Windtunnel wind tunnel

No windows on the outside, only bricks and in the middle a big red door that gives access to this new building on the TU/e campus. It’s a bit like a powerhouse, but much bigger.

Once entered Ventur – that is the name of the new TU/e building – the huge steel construction immediately stands out, on the far right a steel square as high as the ceiling, which runs down funnel-shaped and turns into glass. These big windows – nine in total – continue all the way to the back of the hall, approximately 27 meters. There the steel tunnel continues and makes a turn in order to make a loop.

Wind tunnel
No idea where we’ve ended up today? E52 gets a tour by Bert Blocken, professor of aerodynamics, in ‘his’ new wind tunnel on the Technical University in Eindhoven. The tunnel will be officially opened in December. The whole process took over three years from the moment of the first drawings, Blocken is happy that the tunnel is finally here: “As a university, you have to keep investing in new facilities, new research methods arise all the time and we cannot remain behind. Not only for education but also to be able to keep doing good research ourselves. To keep facilities up to standard or renew them is becoming more and more difficult with cuts that the university has been dealing with for years. Because of this, we don’t only lose prestigious – national as well as European – research projects, but the quality of education also comes under pressure. So the TU/e choosing this investment was an important decision.”

“I unfortunately have to turn down VWO 6 students who are working on their profile piece, for this, running the tunnel is really too expensive, but I understand why they are giving it a try. Because who wouldn’t want to do tests in this environment?”Bert Blocken, Professor aerodynamics

Unique
According to Blocken, this atmospheric boundary layer tunnel is unique in this world. “There are many more powerful tunnels, we’re definitely not the most powerful with wind speeds of 35m/s. But the unique thing about this test facility is in three different aspects: there are very few tunnels of this type that reach a length of 27 meters, this makes it possible to simulate large expansive wind farms – on scale – or test with complete cycling teams. To enable these tests with teams, we developed our own force sensors in which the bikes can be placed. The exceptional thing is that we can freely move them around and change the order. The force sensor works just like a bathroom scale, but this time it’s not the vertical force that’s being measured, but the horizontal force. This fully flexible system is, to our knowledge, unique in this world.”

Blocken takes a step back and points out the concrete floor where two long gutters run parallel to the tunnel: “Here will be the rails for the Doppler measuring system that has yet to be brought into position.  It’s a class-4 laser for extremely accurate speed measurements with more than 1000 measurements per second. With this system, we can measure through the wind tunnel glass along the side, the bottom and the top. This will also give us more complete measurement.”

Now it also becomes clear why there are no windows in the building because when such a laser shines into your eyes, you can become blind immediately. The windows in the flat roof can be closed with a special screen. “We want to guarantee absolute safety, of course, that is why no light may escape, especially during laser measurements. The glass of the nine adjustable windows is also extra thick in order to withstand the forces of the wind. Nobody may use the tunnel alone, there need to be well-trained technicians at all times.”

Most wind tunnels expose objects to a uniform air flow – “Comparable to the situation in the air.” – The wind tunnel that will be opened next month simulates the airflow just above the earth’s surface, the so-called atmospheric boundary layer. “This makes it possible to measure wind effects around buildings, for example, we consider the correct turbulence characteristics and wind gusts, just like the wind in reality never blows at a constant speed.”

Because the construction is built in a closed loop, less energy is needed to maintain the wind speed. “The energy of the wind flow is largely reused, so the energy consumption of the four fans that start the air flow is many times lower than in a tunnel that is not circular.” When he hears the question about how much they save, he laughs: “Well, in order to determine an exact number, I still have to make calculations. I do intend to calculate it once.”

Ambitious
The parts of the tunnel were produced in East Germany at Windtunnel24.  The costs for the tunnel and the measurement equipment add up to about 1.35 million euros. “That’s a very sharp price. Colleagues in other countries came to 6 million euros for a tunnel with these specifications. The reason for the sharp price is because the company works in a region where labor costs are relatively low, but especially because they wanted to show that they could handle these sort of large and ambitious assignments, and they did really well.” Blocken thinks in a market-oriented way, after two years he wants to be able to match the revenues with the annual costs, to then earn back the investment of the university. “My ambition is to break even regarding depreciation charges and costs.”

For this the Engineering Faculty makes the test facilities and employees available to commercial parties. These can be cycle teams who want to find the best set up for a team time trial, for example, sportswear manufacturers who want to find out which fabrics have the least problems with air resistance. But also advice agencies who test what a busy traffic road does with the air quality in the environment, commissioned by the government. Or civilian agencies that have to consider wind in designing high buildings. Blocken is already getting a lot of requests, he proudly says, but he also has to disappoint people: “I unfortunately have to turn down a lot of VWO 6 students who are working on their profile piece, for this, running the tunnel is really too expensive, but I understand why they are giving it a try. Because who wouldn’t want to do tests in this environment?” Who will do test in the tunnel? “Several conversations with cycling teams and other professional parties are going on, but I can’t say anything about that yet.”

The festive opening of the tunnel will be held on December 14th with a full program: lectures, a debate and an exhibition and speeches. In addition, the promotional film of the wind tunnel will be officially launched. You can register here.

Eindhoven Cycling Tours: discover the beautiful surroundings of Eindhoven by bike

A taxi driver offering cycling tours in Eindhoven? Meet Maurice Meijer. After tearing his cruciate ligaments this 37-years old bought a bicycle to recuperate. What started with just ten kilometers resulted in trips to Oxford and Cambridge, and now even his own biking business: Eindhoven Cycling Tours. The tours in short: discover the beautiful nature of the Eindhoven area by bike. And don’t forget to bring your camera.

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The first tour is scheduled in the next couple of weeks, when temperatures will rise further. “At 15 degrees celsius we will take off.” Maurice recently founded Eindhoven Cycling Tours. Trips by bike for anyone interested in exploring the surroundings of Eindhoven. Before starting his own business, he traveled the globe and took on several jobs  – as a chef, courier and taxi driver. He knows the joy of discovering new places by bike and designed his tours for the Eindhoven expat community and others new to the region.

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His favorite cycling routes? The Strabrechtse Heide, a natural heathland area of ​​1,500 hectares in the villages of Heeze-Leende and Someren Geldrop-Mierlo. Less than an hour by bike from the city centre. Another favorite: the Stratumse Heide. A tour starting from the south of Eindhoven. A hotspot on this route is De Hut van Mie Pils, a centuries old tavern in the forestries of Waalre. Not to be missed is also a trip to the village of Oirschot (with its old town hall dating from 1513) and the 17th-century castle in Heeze.

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Another interesting destination is the tulip fields near Lisse (a village close to the North Sea). By bike? “Oh yes! We will take the train from Eindhoven and then continue by bike from Leiden station. Just a few more weeks and all the flowers will be blossoming again. I can’t wait! ”

The tours around Eindhoven last about two hours.

More info on exploring Eindhoven by bike can be found here.