Cycling highways and resistance: How citizen participation can influence citizens' resistance to cycling highway projects
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Since the last decade, cycling highways have been used as a means of combating traffic jams, but in the Netherlands these cycling highway planning projects are often confronted with public resistance (Beijnink, 2021; EenVandaag, 2019; Guit, 2021; Hellegers, 2021; Hilbers et al., 2021; Leeflang, 2021; Polman, 2018; Redactie, 2019; Savenije, 2020; Schilthuizen, 2022). In the coming years, expanding the national cycling highway network will play an increasingly important role to combating traffic jams and improving the accessibility of cities and regions, but also stimulating bicycle use in the Netherlands in general (Ministerie van Algemene Zaken, 2019). A cycling highway is geographically more complex and larger than an average location-based spatial project often running through several provinces, making it unclear who has the interest, who has the lead, and whether the right form of citizen participation is being applied. This research is set up to contribute to a better understanding of citizens' resistance to cycling highway projects, more specifically on how participatory processes change the level of citizens’ resistance during the planning process of these cycling highway projects. Therefore, the following research question is formulated: How does the participatory process during the planning process of a cycling highway change the level of citizens' resistance to the cycling highway project? The study is set up to qualitatively analyse the views and considerations of planning officials, cycling experts, civil servants, and citizens on resistance to cycling highway projects. This is done by interviewing planning officials, cycling experts, civil servants, and citizens that have experience with citizens’ resistance in planning processes. A literature review on infrastructural projects from a planning perspective and citizens’ resistance forms the basis for the semi-structured interviews. Questions are asked about their experiences with resistance, citizen participation, power relations, and what can be learned from their experiences in terms of citizens’ resistance to cycling highway projects. Based on the theories and concepts described in this thesis, the conceptual framework outlines how levels of participation, and levels of trust and problem-solving influence levels of citizens' resistance to location-based spatial projects. Less is known about which factors cause resistance in cycling highway planning processes and how participatory processes change the level of citizens’ resistance during the planning process of these cycling highway projects. Based on multiple criteria, the cycling highway Cuijk – Mook – Nijmegen (known as MaasWaalpad) was chosen as a case study, which had resistance in several places along the trajectory: Resistance in Lierdal (Vereniging Bos en Kuil) and resistance in Cuijk.