I remember visiting Amsterdam back in the 90’s, and I was struck even then by how many bicycles there were and how they seemed to have their own lanes (what a great idea!). Now Amsterdam is a ‘world bicycle capital’, and new book ‘Cycling Cities: The European Experience’ (by Professor Ruth Oldenziel of Eindhoven University) explains how it happened, almost coincidentally.
It seems that cycling policy was never a long-term, fixed idea, but more something that evolved over the years. Amsterdam isn’t completely representative of The Netherlands as Rotterdam has relatively low cycling numbers.
Today, the centre of Amsterdam sees a whopping 87% of journeys under 4km carried out by bike (and often by electric bike). Oldenziel gives a telling quote that will hopefully grow to become accepted wisdom in London and gradually other parts of the UK. ‘The story of Amsterdam is actually that automobility was so expensive that car space is now taken over by cyclists by default.’