Dutch cycle infrastructure quality drives one cyclist crazy

Not Holland

It will drive you crazy, at least it does this cyclist. The quiet Dutch voice of reason while they so patiently try to help us understand that a cycling nation or city is not built overnight. But put aside your prejudices (and your prides), and spend five minutes with the Dutch cycling guru Mark Wagenbuur while he rides us through the history of cycle infrastructure in the Netherlands. (There had to be a reason for it.)

Here are a few words from the author of the video:

It is impossible to single out one reason for the fact that the Dutch have more cycle paths than any other nation in the world. Many factors contributed to this phenomenon. But is interesting to look at one of the historic aspects. It sheds a bit of light as to why the Dutch consider cycle infrastructure as something normal and ordinary.

This doesn’t mean that a history like this is a condition to build good cycle infrastructure. Examples of good practice in the Dutch situation (adjusted for local conditions) could be copied anywhere.

More Dutch cycling films and information from Mark Wagenbuur – http://www.youtube.com/user/markenlei

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To round this out, here is a thoughtful commentary by cycling observer David Hembrow in his blog: “A view from the cycle path“. david@hembrow.eu

If cycling is to become “normalized” – i.e. something that the majority of the population sees as a part of their life, which parents encourage their children to do, and spouses encourage their partners to do, then it needs something different. All three types of safety become important.

Dutch cyclists are the safest in the world due to infrastructure which keeps them apart from what is the greatest danger to any road user: motor vehicles. They also feel the safest due to street designs which emphasize both social and subjective safety, and this leads to a very high degree of participation.

Dutch cyclists are not only the safest in the world, but also the Dutch cycle more than people of any other nation. Almost the whole population (93%) rides a bike at least once a week. Every type of person cycles. The infrastructure is the reason why.

Unfortunately, some cyclists from minority cycling countries still don’t understand this, and some campaign aggressively against the very infrastructure which could help to bring a higher cycling rate due to improvements in subjective safety. This video from Mark Wagenbuur shows some of the commonly repeated mantras of the more aggressive anti-cyclepath “vehicular cyclists” and demonstrates how they are misleading and wrong, at least when applied to properly designed infrastructure as shown in the video, and as is the norm in the Netherlands.

Well designed cycle paths, and streets designed to prioritize cycling over driving, increase both the safety and speed of cyclists.

Some people may question whether cycle paths as in the Netherlands are necessary to achieve mass cycling. My answer to this is very simple: There are no counter-examples. Mass cycling has not been achieved anywhere in the modern world without cycle paths. The more money spent on cycling, the better the result. Luckily, even the best infrastructure in the world isn’t actually that expensive, and cycling is something that any country can afford to do properly.

Such stuff as dreams are made on.

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3 thoughts on “Dutch cycle infrastructure quality drives one cyclist crazy

  1. Pingback: What is the role of bike paths? | On Our Own Two Wheels

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