Pedal Power points initiative connecting people with communities

All Roads Lead to Your Path

15th November 2028

My dearest Anouk,

This is a day, when it would have mattered to be together. Do not fear, all is not lost. I will explain.

I know it has been a while, but I have been wanting to write for some time. I know life for youlately has been challenging and I wanted to brighten your day with news from my life and ofmy gift for you. Today, the starry night bike path was opened in your honour.

There’s been many days when I have reflected on our time at school. Riding our bikes together, so carefree and joyful. When the relentless, biting November rain came down on us, we wouldlaugh and long for summer days. Freezing hands locked to the metal handlebars, we would ride our old Dutch bikes in solidarity. In the dark afternoons, I would ride with you until you were safely home. Because I knew you didn’t want to be alone. It’s this feeling that took me on my next journey.

My bike was stolen one too many times, so I decided to register for the government’s bike rental plan. This program evolved and I subsequently signed up for the Pedal Power points initiative to earn bike miles. Every ride counts and the app records all my journeys. It was time for the roads to give back to me.

Many people would use their points to learn new skills like bike repair and football lessons at our local club. However, I chose to give my points to a local urban planning project to build a bike path for the new estate near your house.

After two years of saving points, I have managed, with the help of my family, to construct a small path and it’s called starry night. The blue and green pebbles embedded in the path aresolar charged during the day to then glow at night. You will always have a starry night despite the grey skies. I chose to learn to love and give back not only to our local community but to you. In gratitude for our lasting friendship.

Taking this leap is a risk for I have never known the love I feel for you. It’s an education for meto risk being heartbroken in the fete of unrequited love. But a risk worth taking. It’s only through my failures do I learn how to succeed better.

If the great engineers, from our past, didn’t take a risk, our country wouldn’t exist. We arethe innovators that climate change thinkers looked to for solutions. And we didn’t realise our value until the world turned to us. Innovation is our past and our future.

I hope you will accept this gesture as I only have good intentions. For it’s your happiness I seek; to live each day happier than the last. When you are feeling low, I would want you to tell me and I will take you to your bike path at night to see the starry sky.

Just like the great artists from the golden age, we are now the disruptors. We will own the streets and the paths for everyone, not just the brave. The paths will light up and lead the way for you to safely return home. In the past, biking was uninteresting and it had a fixed meaning; getting from one place to another. Now, biking can be a catalyst for so much more. For me, it helped me to reconnect with you.

From my window, I can see an abandoned white bike; a relic from the past. The white bike movement’s plight to reclaim the streets and abandon cars was unsuccessful. It was never intended to be a business plan: instead a protest. Free white bikes, waiting to be taken, placed all over our city to encourage bike journeys. A protest rather than a business plan. The program, by design, was destined to fail and was rejected by council. However, it won in the end. Our car free cities help me breathe easier and keep me safer on those dark winter nights.

As I am writing this letter, I can see an abandoned white bike from my window. Forlorn, yes,but will be claimed by someone in the future. Either through theft or rightful ownership. An image often seen on our streets, constantly adapting and reinventing for our changing world and the needs of people.

bikes by a canal

Many times I have thought of the white bike program. The designer had the idea of white bikes so his wife could easily identify her bike. A problem she often found frustrating in the city of bikes. He placed free bikes all over the city for people to use and then leave at their destination.We nurture a pragmatic and solution driven culture to solve our problems. This innovative program failed in the city he lives, but prompted many successful bike rental programs elsewhere. Like many initiatives in our country, we need to see it succeed elsewhere in order for us to pay attention and appreciate the benefits.

The societal resistance to cars won in the end. Restricted access for cars is opening spaces formore paths and is making it more inclusive for everyone. The protests are a distant memory but the tensions remain. The history of the motor vehicle advancing our society failed. We didn’t fail, we succeeded. Transport now has a different meaning and is shaping our cities and the development of new cities and their infrastructure. The bike path has new meaning for so much more than just a bike to get from one place to another.

In the past, a challenge for me was to maintain a consistent income. The labour market only hadspace for me in a temporary capacity. I felt as though I didn’t belong in this short term space with no scope to further my career and quality of life. A forever renter in many parts of my life.

This fixed idea seemed to apply to everything, except for my bike rental. This is now my solution not only for transport but for fitness and a gateway to my future. The lack of options in other parts of my life seem fixed but my biking has opened up my future learning.

Fortunately for me, the workplace is changing. Employment for me in the past was sporadic and short term. I am pleased to say, I am now heading in the right direction with my learning at university and in life. It’s my short term finances that have worked against me to keep memotivated toward my learning goals. My Pedal Power app recommended a job in sustainable mobilities with a delivery company. It’s opened up new option for employment opportunities.

I’ve embraced working in the last mile transport economy. I transport goods for companies in a bakfiets to my local area. It earns me points whilst working. Short term employment in a gig economy had to start giving back instead of taking away from workers. Shifts in work placepolicy are happening and the world is becoming a better place. The digital space of the past is no longer a risk, it’s a place to explore.

We were the pandemic generation with a disrupted education. Our school days will be overshadowed by the impact of decisions made by people who couldn’t or perhaps, failed to see our future. Our younger years were disrupted, but we are finding ways to give back to us and also for a greater good in our community. The time for change is now.

The path I created for you was two years in the making. To top up my points, I had the option to volunteer. With my brilliant biking skills, I signed up to a teaching program at the school we attended to teach children bike safety, bike repair and care. They were happy to see me each week and they are experiencing a very different education to us. It was an opportunity too to get out my grandfather’s tools from his old shed. I remember fondly precious days spending time with him when I was young. The kids at the school loved learning how to fix their bike, attach lights, reflectors and flowers. Bikes today are more beautiful than our old bikes.

bicycle covered with flowers

This project to build you a starry night path has brought my family together. My family are now scattered all over the country, but we are signed up with the Pedal Power program with a family membership. They have donated points to me toward the starry night bike path. My sister now has two children and she rides a bakfiets (bucket bike) so she earns double points. Quit rightlytoo. I know how difficult it is to ride these cumbersome bikes. One day, in the future , I will retro fit her bike to include an electric battery, to make it easier.

My mother still rides her bike to town and she wanted to give me all her points. Right now, herneeds are met and has no other purpose for her points other than to make my goals come true. My uncle is getting older, but will still ride his mobility scooter to the town square on the bike path to meet his friends. He is registered as a senior on the program and is more interested in the mental and physical health programs linked to the app. This interprets his data and recommends lifestyle options for him organised by the local council.

We are the born digital generation and the writing of the wrongs that so negatively affected our adolescence are now being corrected. Our generation is shaping the policy and programs our past governments failed to manage. The shift from an opportunistic, political landscape to youth driven parliament has opened up our world. We have changed our reality. Just because the older generation threw a digital hand grenade at us didn’t mean we had to catch it.

The new youth parliament has managed to create the Pedal Power program to benefit our reality in a good way. No longer do we fear the digital landscape. We can implement a constant process of adaptation because it comes so naturally to the born digital generation.

The starry night bike path is a work of art for our time. Our great artists, from a golden age, were wanting to change the art world. To take a risk. The disruptors of this time didn’t live tosee their impact on the world. This history will change as their art lives on in a tangible form, to make the world a more beautiful place. They suffered for their art and their place. A trope that continues today, but can be overcome.

I invite you to join me tomorrow evening at the starry night path. I want to ride along the path with you by my side. Just like we did at school. I’m afraid you may not show, but that is a beautiful risk, I am willing to take.

My goal is to create an even better world than the one of our youth. The darkness of ‘this world was never meant for one as beautiful as you’. McLean, D (1972).

Yours truly, Johan