Thursday, September 8, 2022

Austin Mayor and Dutch Royal Celebrate Pedal-Powered Partnership


Queen Máxima Tours Austin on Electric Bike During Working Visit to U.S. 

The Queen of the Netherlands toured downtown Austin on an electric bike earlier today, Sept. 8, as part of a working visit highlighting the economic ties between the Netherlands and the United States. 

Her Majesty Queen Máxima joined City officials – including Austin Mayor Steve Adler – on a scenic ride from City Hall, along the Hike and Bike Trail on Ladybird Lake, and up to the Central Library, on a Gazelle e-bike.

Earlier, at City Hall, Mayor Adler issued a proclamation marking today’s date as Netherlands-Austin Friendship Day, in celebration of the “long-standing cultural and economic friendship” between the Kingdom of the Netherlands and the City of Austin, which he said had worked together on “innovative and smart solutions to global challenges, such as climate resilience and adaptation, mobility, energy, sports and health”. 

“It’s an honor to show off our beautiful city to Her Majesty Queen Máxima,” said Austin City Manager Spencer Cronk. “The Netherlands has certainly made an impact on Austin, helping to inspire our vision for a central library as well as our network of bikeways. This visit was a welcome opportunity to strengthen our partnership.” 

The royal visit coincides with the 10-year anniversary of the City’s commitment to incorporating the core tenets of Dutch bikeway network design into its own mobility infrastructure. A ThinkBike workshop with Dutch experts in 2012 informed Austin’s Bicycle Plan and today Austin is seen as an urban mobility innovator among its peer cities in North America. 

“We are grateful for the inspiring example of sustainable and equitable mobility that the Netherlands offers Austin and the rest of the world,” said Richard Mendoza, Interim Director of the Austin Transportation Department. “Austin’s quality of life is immeasurably lifted by the application of these mobility principles in the build-out of the City’s All Ages and Abilities Bicycle Network — a 200+-mile connected network of trails, shared-use pathways and bike routes to make getting around Austin safer, easier and more comfortable for everyone.”

Meanwhile, Austin’s award-winning Central Library was inspired by the Amsterdam Public Library at Oosterdokseiland and De Nieuwe Bibliotheek in Almere, borrowing innovative elements that give the people of Austin unique ways to gather, learn, explore and play. 

“When Austin was preparing to build its new Central Library, APL staff visited libraries around the world – including in the Netherlands – to draw inspiration for the library of tomorrow," stated Austin Public Library Director Roosevelt Weeks. "It was an honor to show Her Majesty Queen Maxima our Central Library and highlight the ways that Dutch libraries inspired Austin to create a facility that is world-class, yet still uniquely Austin.”

Today’s events, among several scheduled for the Dutch royal’s four-day visit to California and Texas, were originally intended to have included His Majesty King Willem-Alexander. Unfortunately, the King was forced to pull out of the trip on doctors’ advice to help him fully recover from pneumonia. 

Prior to her visit to Austin, Queen Máxima had visited California’s San Francisco and Silicon Valley. After departing from the Library this afternoon, the royal was scheduled to make stops at Austin’s Capital Factory and Austin FC, before heading to Houston. 

Ahead of the Queen’s visit, the Netherlands government released figures showing the economic relationship between the Netherlands and the United States is “stronger than ever”. According to the figures, in 2021, Dutch-US economic ties supported an estimated 955,000 American jobs, of which about 106,000 were based in Texas. Texas is also first on the list of the top 10 US states that export the most goods and services to the Netherlands. 

“The cities of Austin and Houston are concrete examples of the partnerships that exist with the Netherlands in the areas of cycling, energy transition, and water management,” said Dutch Ambassador André Haspels. “This visit by Her Majesty Queen Máxima is in recognition of these deeply strong ties, in these fields and also in healthcare, startups, and defense.”

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