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20 December 2018

Gert-Jan Krabbendam, Chairman of the Mobility and Sustainability Executive Committee of the Municipality of Maastricht, moves up a gear

"Cycling in winter doesn't feel like an effort; it's actually great to be active."

Gert-Jan lives in Itteren and is the Chairman of the Mobility and Sustainability Executive Committee at the Municipality of Maastricht.

Chairman of the Mobility and Sustainability Executive Committee of the Municipality of Maastricht Gert-Jan Krabbendam cycles 8,000 to 9,000 kilometres per year on average. On his speed bike, he covered the first 5,000 kilometres in the first year. He cycles another 3,500 to 5,000 kilometres per year on his racing bicycle. ‘Since I became Chairman of the Mobility and Sustainability Committee, I rarely drive anymore. I have become even more rigorous in taking my bicycle, because I'm very aware that I need to set an example. If I don't cycle, how do I tell others that it's good for them to do so? 

The cycling Chairman of the Executive Committee is not easily tempted to take the car to work. ‘I once decided to take the car to a meeting because it was raining. And, of course, I arrived too late. Using a bicycle in the city really is much faster! I'm also very aware that I need to cycle to stay fit and healthy. I also feel a lot less happy when I can't cycle!’  

Keeping active

‘Cycling in winter doesn't feel like an effort; it's actually great to be active! The weather is usually also quite all right, and I wear a raincoat at most ten days per year. You can dress against the cold, so I have a pair of extra-thick gloves for when it's bitterly cold outside. I also wear galoshes on rainy days, to stop mud from splattering onto my shoes.’  

The fastest way

‘I purchased a speed bike to make sure that I didn't arrive at work or my meetings covered in sweat. I live seven kilometres from the Maastricht town hall where I work. On my speed bike I can get to places much faster than with any other mode of transport. Depending on the traffic, parking the car and walking to the town hall almost always takes more time than cycling.’ 

Cycling together is fun

‘The downside of cycling with the speed bike is that I don't get enough exercise to stay fit enough to cycle on my racing bicycle. So, I created a WhatsApp group to bring together civil servants who also love to cycle to go on a bike ride once a month. In the winter it's a small group that gets together, but when spring starts more people join the group, because it's fun to cycle together. It also motivates me to keep training, because I don't want to be the person at the back,’ laughs Gert-Jan.  

More kilometres by bicycle

‘I challenge everyone in our city to start cycling. Let’s all rack up more cycling kilometres and reduce our kilometres by car! It's good for you, for your employer, and for your children. After all, we are the first generation to experience climate change and we are the last generation that can do something about it!’