Cycling is an art and science that resolves everyday life problems of urban cities. Millions of people around the globe use this machine daily for their mobility needs. Cycling involves many interesting narratives of society worth understanding. However, so far limited attention was paid to structure the study of cycling and present it in a consolidated academic form.

In January 2020 the Urban Cycling Institute affiliated to University of Amsterdam and part of Centre for Urban Studies introduced the world’s first academic online course on cycling called “Unraveling the Cycling City”.

The four-week MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) covers state-of-the-art knowledge that emerges from research and practice of the evolved Dutch cycling system.

Time and again researchers have studied the social, cultural, historical and technological aspects of the Netherlands where cycling is deeply engraved. The mecca of cycling is a living lab for research and experimentation and often cited in several studies released by international experts. Across geographies, the findings of the research studies have served as a reference point to the planners for developing space and to create a model cycling city of their own.

The online course by Urban Cycling Institute ‘Unravels’ the best in class knowledge put into practice internationally pertaining to culture, policy and behaviour; and serves as a guiding light for planning a cycling city with multi-modal approach.

‘Unraveling the Cycling City’ offers a well-designed learning syllabus with comprehensive research material, scholarly articles, educational videos and flexible schedule to complete the modules at your own pace.

Few high points of the course:

  • The course is designed by faculties of Urban Cycling Institute: Prof. Dr. Marco te Brommelstoret more often referred as ‘fietsprofessor’, George Liu and Meredith Glaser.
  • It covers material published by renowned writers: Mark Wagenbuur, Mikael Colville Anderson, Luca Bertolini and many notable experts.
  • Scholarly Articles: “What happens if you turn of the traffic lights?” “The handicap of a head start”, “The arrogance of space” and many more”.
  • Research papers: “Scofflaw bicycling: Illegal but rational”, “Cycle friendly design”, “Making Cycling Irresistible – Lessons from the Netherlands, Denmark and Germany”.
  • Videos: Why We Cycle, Bicycle Dutch, Cycling Research Review, Lucas Brailsford.


‘Smart bike path’ in the city of Groningen. This facility provides students an uninterrupted ride to the university. Image source: Dutch Cycling Embassy.


Four weeks into this course, I have a renewed approach towards bicycle design, urban planning and better equipped to promote cycling in my city.

This course is recommended for transport and city planners, policy makers, cycling advocates and people in the function of mobility and sustainability.

This course brings in high quality content which is easy to comprehend.

Through this course, I found that ‘Cyclist behaviour’ is a huge study in itself and there is tremendous research work one can pursue. Barring few, the papers can be saved for future reference.

I found lessons on ‘Cyclist breaking rules and disobedience’ interesting and it provided an inside perspective of reality. The explanation deep dives into the conduct of street cyclists and reveals the logic behind their non-conformist behaviour.

The innovative solutions enlisted in ‘Cycle friendly design’ research document is a useful practical guide into the compact city of Amsterdam.

The session on Swarm behaviour and Pattern language were class apart and a testimony to the wealth of knowledge the Dutch institutes brings to the rest of the world.

Am overwhelmed with the Dutch cycling culture and it is commendable to learn about the hard-facts of history and to see the cities progress.

The conviction and the modesty maintained by the Dutch for so long without actually celebrating their own success is laudable.

The Dutch cycling culture is more than just bike lanes, as Lucas Brailsford points out in his video “A cycling culture is created with more than bike lanes. It is a complicated balance between infrastructure policy and law enforcement, or lack thereof”.

This course has equipped me in approaching the subject of cycling more closely, make sharp observations and convert those into insightful content.

Once you complete this non-technical intermediate level, you will be rewarded with an e-certificate which is shareable online.

Coursera _Unraveling the cycling city
Proud to have this certificate permanently added in my profile.


Important Links: Next Date for enrollment is 1st July 2020


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Cover image by George Liu featuring him and Marco.


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Author: Vijay Malhotra, Mumbai


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