Cycling in Amsterdam

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Riding in Amsterdam.

Amsterdam is well known for being bicycle friendly. Nevertheless, though people outside of the Netherlands consider Amsterdam to be one of the most famous and important centres of bicycle culture worldwide, the city itself is actually not at the top in terms of bike-friendliness compared to many smaller Dutch cities. This is reflected in the fact that Amsterdam is not on the short-list for the Fietsstad 2014 (BikeCity 2014) awards, announced by the Dutch Fietsersbond (Cyclists' Union): the cities of The Hague, Eindhoven and Almere were nominated for the Fietsstad 2014 awards, while the Netherlands' most bicycle-friendly city of Groningen won the award back in 2001.[1] It should be made clear that for bicycle-friendliness, one must consider the Netherlands as whole. Meanwhile Amsterdam is also struggling with 44% of all cyclists feeling unsafe[2] and a relatively high number of cycle fatalities.[3]

The basics[edit]

As is common in Dutch cities, Amsterdam has a wide net of traffic-calmed streets and world-class facilities for cyclists. All around are bike paths and bike racks, and several guarded bicycle parking stations (Fietsenstalling) which can be used for a nominal fee. According to the most recent figures published by Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS), in 2015 the 442.693 households (850.000 residents) in Amsterdam together owned 847.000 bicycles — 1.91 bicycle per household. Previously, wildly different figures were arrived at using a Wisdom of the crowd approach.[4]

Bicycles are used by all socio-economic groups because of their convenience, Amsterdam's small size, the 400 km of bike paths,[5] the flat terrain, and the arguable inconvenience of driving an automobile: driving a car is discouraged, parking fees are expensive, and many streets are closed to cars or are one-way for motor vehicle traffic (but not for cyclists).[6] Amsterdam's bike paths (Fietspad) are red in colour, in order to differentiate them from both the road ways and footpaths.

Amsterdammers ride a wide variety of bicycles including the traditional Omafiets - the ubiquitous Dutch roadster with a step-through frame - to anything from modern city bikes, road bikes, mountain bikes, and even recumbent bikes.

Many tourists discover Amsterdam by bike, as it is the typical Dutch way to get around the city. Bicycle tour groups offers a guided bike tour through the city. Bicycle traffic, in fact traffic in general, is relatively safe: in 2007, Amsterdam had 18 traffic deaths, of all types, in total.[7]

Bike traffic has a 32%[contradictory] mode share.[8]

Bicycle theft in Amsterdam is widespread: in 2005, about 54,000 bicycles were stolen and every year between 12,000 and 15,000 bicycles are retrieved from the canals.[9][10]


No other city in the world has tried to tackle the issue of our automobile-reliant lifestyle more radically and aggressively than the capital of the Netherlands, Amsterdam. The city is slashing car access and expanding accessibility and convenience of public transportation by extending hours while being transparent to aim to be an eco-friendly smart city. Roughly, two-thirds of urban transportation is taken place by bicycles and only 19 percent of the citizens use cars daily.[11] Amsterdam’s ultimate goal is to become a “car-free city”; aspiring to be a zero-emissions city by making it physically harder for drivers to drive.[12] This will be done by making central roads through-routes, using one-way systems, narrowing roads and creating barriers.[13] Initiatives are taken by the city of Amsterdam itself, by the alderperson and city hall. They plan to even encourage people to use public transportation by running the Metro on weekends all night and be free for children under the age of 12.[14] Urban planning and smart city planning often face the issue of cost. However, the Netherlands’ government is being cost-efficient by using street-design tool “knip”, making cuts.[15] They are closing roads for cars and opening them to two-wheels and pedestrians, and creating space for sweeping squares, especially around big public spaces like a train station. Also, the city encourages the use of public transportation and drop-off taxis by slowly decreasing the number of parking spots.[16] The government is pushing to reform the use of public transportation and make drivers give up their keys to reduce the number of cars on the roads in Amsterdam, hence reducing the CO2 emissions from gasoline. On top of all the efforts done by the legislation, the government is opening their City Data to the public online for free and easy access for its citizens; creating honest transparency with their people.[17] Amsterdam is creating municipal policies under government-citizen transparency to become a smart city and to adapt to the growing urban sprawl happening globally.

Possible issues[edit]

By 2012, cycling in Amsterdam had grown tremendously in popularity — up by some 40% in the previous twenty years.[18] The city had 490,000 fietsers (cyclists) take to the road to cycle 2 million kilometres every day according to statistics of the city council. This has caused some problems as, despite 35,000 kilometers of bicycle paths, the country's 18 million bicycles (1.3 per citizen old enough to ride) were clogging Amsterdam's streets at peak times and parked bicycles were overcrowding train stations and other areas. This is being addressed by building even more bike lanes and bicycle parking stations with much greater capacity to tackle a problem many other cities in the world would envy, that of bicycle traffic congestion. Safety is also a concern, mainly on infrastructure that does not yet conform to the modern Dutch road safety policies of Sustainable Safety. Advance stop lines or otherwise little protection at traffic lights on distributor roads is a major cause of collisions, including the death of a 7-year-old girl under a garbage truck in 2013 on a road which did not include protected cycle paths.[19]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ Elzi Lewis (30 July 2013). "Fietsstad 2014 - which Dutch cycling city is best?". website. Retrieved 4 December 2013.
  2. ^ "In Amsterdam 44% of cyclists don't feel safe". DutchNews.
  3. ^ "Bicycle Cities Index".
  4. ^ "Amsterdam, City of Bikes". Archived from the original on 29 August 2019. Retrieved 11 November 2019.
  5. ^ "Cycling in Amsterdam". Retrieved 2010-08-11.
  6. ^ "Amsterdam Fietst" (in Dutch). Archived from the original on 2007-08-06. Retrieved 2007-04-19.
  7. ^ Research and Statistics Division. "Core Numbers in Graphics: Fewer Traffic Deaths". Safety and Nuissance (in Dutch). City of Amsterdam. Archived from the original on 2008-08-22. Retrieved 2008-10-04.
  8. ^ "Cycling facts and figures". Retrieved 23 October 2020.
  9. ^ Research and Statistics Division. "Core Numbers in Graphics: Fewer Bicycle Thefts". Safety and Nuissance (in Dutch). City of Amsterdam. Archived from the original on 2008-08-22. Retrieved 2008-10-04.
  10. ^ "Many bicycles end up in the canals of Amsterdam". Retrieved 2013-07-02.
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  18. ^ "Summary: Long-term Bicycle Plan, 2012-2016 (PDF, 301 kB)" (PDF). The City of Amsterdam. Retrieved 4 December 2013.[permanent dead link]
  19. ^

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