Amsterdam Bike Network is Too Successful

By Nicholas Kevlahan
Published November 23, 2012

French newspaper Le Monde reports that Amsterdam has been so successful in promoting bike use, its bicycle infrastructure is now reaching the breaking point.

In a city of 800,000 residents, 490,000 people ride a bike each day for a total distance of 2 million kilometres (i.e. about 4 km each per day).

That is an increase of 44 percent in the past 20 years, indicating that Amsterdam has achieved its very high rate of cycling through continuous improvement rather than making a past choice and then resting.

Some more highlights:

An interesting note on safety and injury risk in Amsterdam: the absolute number of serious cyclist injuries (if not relative risk) is increasing and now makes up 55 percent of the total of 950 serious traffic injuries annually. That is stimulating a discussion of how to reduce the risk.

In Hamilton, according to a 2010 traffic collision report, there were 21 traffic fatalities and 2,272 traffic injuries in a population of 505,000.

The overall serious injury rate appears to be about 2.4 times higher in Hamilton than in Amsterdam. According to an OECD report on definitions [PDF], a "serious injury" in the Netherlands corresponds to the "Major" and "Minor" injury categories used in the Hamilton report (i.e. admitted to or visited a hospital), and in 2010 there were a total of 89 + 1335 = 1,424 "Major" and "Minor" traffic injuries in Hamilton.

While Hamilton struggles to introduce even minimal bike infrastructure, the shift of transportation to bikes in Amsterdam has stimulated a discussion on a radical re-thinking of how space is used in the city.

Nicholas Kevlahan was born and raised in Vancouver, and then spent eight years in England and France before returning to Canada in 1998. He has been a Hamiltonian since then, and is a strong believer in the potential of this city. Although he spends most of his time as a mathematician, he is also a passionate amateur urbanist and a fan of good design. You can often spot him strolling the streets of the downtown, shopping at the Market. Nicholas is the spokesperson for Hamilton Light Rail.


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By ORiTvOnline (registered) - website | Posted November 23, 2012 at 14:32:13

I lived in Amsterdam for a couple of years and what a treat it was! For a city with many water canals it completely shares its roads with motorist (car, truck, & electric/gas bike), LRT, pedel cyclist and pedestrian equally in peace. Motorist think twice before speeding as cameras are placed everywhere not only at stop lights with extremely high fines. They even have large digital signs telling motorist how fast you are driving. Bike racks are located everywhere! Street cleaners come out every night and hose down the streets and even walls! Oh and btw the LRT goes out to the suburbs including the airport. I would love it for everyone that says this can not work here to take a trip to Amsterdam anytime of the year and see for themselves. We are a young country and should look up to our older brothers and sisters across the pond.

Comment edited by ORiTvOnline on 2012-11-23 14:40:04

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By jason (registered) | Posted November 24, 2012 at 15:32:03

kind of makes me sheepish for being excited that we just recently landed sharrows on 5 lane, high speed roads downtown.

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By LOL all over again (anonymous) | Posted November 25, 2012 at 22:19:55

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By Fred Street (anonymous) | Posted November 30, 2012 at 15:55:00

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