Petzer, B.J.M., MSc.

The role and potential of cycling-based mobility services in the urban mobility transition of the Netherlands

Department of Industrial Engineering & Innovation Sciences,  Eindhoven University of Technology,

Supervisor: Prof. Geert Verbong


Brett Petzer completed separate bachelor’s degrees in politics and architecture before giving up his car to become an urban utility cyclist in Cape Town, South Africa. The resulting experiences oriented him towards a master’s degree in city and regional planning at the University of Cape Town, as well as volunteer and consulting work in bicycle infrastructure planning. His dissertation compared the usefulness of a basket of international cycling environment assessment tools in the context of a mixed-income mobility route in the same city.



A range of political and economic imperatives currently compel actors in the mobility sector to find ways to deliver more accessibility with fewer negative outcomes. Worldwide, this necessitates moving from a land transport system largely dominated by fossil fuel-propelled automobility towards a multimodal system that produces lower GHG/pollutant emissions and consumes fewer resources, including public space. In the Netherlands, potential exists to place cycling at the centre of such a multimodal system due to its unique status as a nationally-relevant, well-resourced mode of transport that is widely accessible.

This thesis will examine the role currently played by cycling-based mobility systems in the Netherlands through a critical analysis of this concept and instances thereof. It will then consider the potential for achieving greater integration between modes by the positioning of cycling-based mobility services at the centre of the urban movement system. In order to understand why this transition is necessary, and why it has come to be in its present state, a transition studies perspective will be used to survey the present and predict future configurations. An analysis of business models and value creation will be incorporated into this model to ground it in financial and power/political terms. This in turn will allow for a fuller understanding of the choices facing the gatekeepers to further change, and of the distribution of costs, benefits and (dis)incentives between actors.

Combining the political and business model lenses on the problem of integrating cycing-based mobility services into the broader urban mobility system offers a new view on a field that has hitherto tended to be considered in technological terms.

When bike lanes are not enough: Growing mode share in Cape Town, South Africa, an analysis of policy and practice (Jennings, Goldman & Petzer) in (forthcoming) Non-motorised transport integration into urban transport planning in Africa, Mitullah et al., Taylor & Francis.

Journal Articles:

At the coalface, Take 2: Lessons from students’ critical reflections, Planning Theory & Practice, Volume 16, Issue 3 (2015). Co-authored with Tanja Winkler and Faranaaz Bassa.