A man known as the “cycling professor” has shown bewilderment at Melbourne’s ranking as one of the world’s most liveable cities.

Professor Marco te Brommelstroet, who is based in Amsterdam, says the Victorian capital has a long way to go before it could compare to the quality of life in his country.

In fact, he’s rather baffled by all the fuss about the city.

“I find it quite amazing,” Professor Brommelstroet toldThe Age during a visit to Melbourne. “Somehow they are not measuring the quality of your streets.”

He was reacting to the Economist Intelligence Unit’s Global Liveability Index which was released in June, ranking Melbourne in third place after Vienna and Copenhagen. Another Australian city appeared on the list, with Sydney coming in at fourth place.

The Aussie cities both scored highly for health, education and infrastructure, along with stability, culture and environment.

It’s not the first time Melbourne scored highly on the list – it was second in the rankings in 2019 and was crowned the world’s most liveable city for seven years in a row until 2017.

As the chair of Urban Mobility Futures at the University of Amsterdam, Marco aims to spread Dutch bicycle knowledge around the world. That’s because Amsterdam is one of the most cycling-friendly cities on Earth, with approximately a third of trips made on bike.

He said in most of the Australian city, cycling is only for “high-skill risk-seekers” and we could do a lot more to make it more accessible and safer.

“The 99 per cent of people who would like to bike but are too concerned and not willing to face those risks – they have no options,” he told the publication.

He said the fact that cars dominate the city is a big issue that comes at a huge cost to society – especially for children.

“Children have been losing a lot of their rights: the rights to public space, the right to roam, the right to be autonomous, the right to claim the city,” he said.

In contrast, in the Netherlands, three quarters of high school students walk or ride, and according to studies they are the world’s happiest. That’s compared to just 20 per cent in Melbourne, dropping from 33 per cent over the last 50 years.

He also said car trips lead to worse mental health and cities should be designed to bring people together not disconnect them, a problem which continues to worsen.

“This is designed for disconnection,” he said as he pointed towards a road with seven lane. “Individuals going from A to B in a cocoon.” he said.

As part of its climate change pledges, the Victorian government wants to increase cycling and walking as a form of transport from 18 per cent of all trips to 25 per cent by 2030. However, as it digs up roads to create bicycle lanes there has been some backlash from locals.

Professor Brommelstroet is due to meet Victorian government officials during his visit to Melbourne, and said he would talk about how Paris has a plan to remove almost half the city’s on-street carparks. He says the city is an example of what can be achieved.

While almost 70,000 of the carparks will go, cars will almost be banned from school streets while hundreds of kilometres of bike lines will be built.

He said the city’s mayor Anne Hidalgo is planning the transfromation as part of a bigger narrative of “a city that needs to repair and reconnect”.

“If you have an alternative narrative, you have much more support than you think. But if you keep talking about it in these narrow terms of, ‘I will take your space, and we’ll give it to somebody else’, you will create backlash.”

“You will keep poking at the privilege of a few, and they will get angry. But now, the people who are losing out – the children – they’re angry, but we don’t hear them.”

In Amsterdam, there is elaborate network of cyclepaths for the people spanning some 515 kilometres, including cycle highways where all but one gives the right of way over crossing traffic to cyclists.

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