Zijlstra wil vertrouwen in wetenschap helpen herstellen

Staatssecretaris Zijlstra wil weten wat de overheid kan doen om het afgenomen vertrouwen in de wetenschap te versterken. Een commissie van de Koninklijke Nederlandse Akademie van Wetenschappen gaat hem advies geven.

De onderzoekscommissie zal volgens NRC Handelsblad worden geleid door de Utrechtse hoogleraar filosofie Keimpe Algra. Eind dit jaar wordt het beleidsadvies aan de staatssecretaris verwacht.

Dinsdag maakten de universiteiten bekend hoe ze de naleving van de Nederlandse Gedragscode Wetenschapsbeoefening willen helpen bevorderen. Ze gaan er meer aandacht aan schenken in het onderwijs en zullen wetenschappelijke misstappen voortaan altijd openbaar maken.

Een andere commissie van de KNAW, onder leiding van emeritus hoogleraar sociologie Kees Schuyt, zal rond 1 april rapport uitbrengen over de manier waarop onderzoekers in verschillende disciplines met hun data omgaan en wat daaraan verbeterd kan worden.



Bicycle-commuters are a poorly researched group compared to car drivers, yet they offer a number of societal benefits, including less congestion, no pollution and physically fitter employees. “What complicates matters is that each individual makes his or her own consideration to take the bike or step into a car or bus,” Eva Heinen explains. She researched the commuting behaviour of 4,300 people in the flat Netherlands. Of those surveyed, 40 percent cycled to work, of which 17 percent did so every day and 23 percent only occasionally. 

The various groups of cyclists had diverse motivations. Full-time cyclists either have no alternative or are strongly motivated, mainly based on their belief in cycling-related benefits for the environment and their own health. Part-time cyclists however do have alternatives, be it car or public transport, and base their choice on practical considerations; for instance, when they need to transport things, make visits during the day or wear a suit, taking the bike is less likely. Heinen, who conducted her research at the OTB Research Institute for the Built Environment, also noticed that motivation changed with travelling distance. Practical considerations like ease of use and quick transport through urban areas are shared by both short and long distance cyclists. Awareness of ecological and health benefits was more common in long distance bikers.

Changing people’s habits and customs is notoriously difficult, and some people are simply too stuck in their ways to change. There is room for change, however, especially among the group of occasional cyclists. This group may well be easily discouraged by a lack of safe bicycle stalls, no showers at work or the need to dress formally (or indeed foul weather), but they can be tempted to use their bikes under opposite circumstances. “If employers wish to increase the share of cyclist commuters, they should make cycling possible for those who are interested,” Heinen explains. Cyclists are also discouraged by measures that facilitate car commuting, such as providing employees with lease cars and free parking spaces. Most employers do not seem to be conscious of the side-effects of this car-centered thinking.

Eva Heinen, Bicycle commuting, 15 June 2011, PhD supervisor, Professor Bert van Wee.

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