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In the Netherlands, Amsterdam and the Hague, there are more bicycles than residents, and 70% of all journeys are made by bike. People not familiar with the concept of the bike taken as real traffic tools sometimes consider the Amsterdam – the famous bike-friendly capital of Holland – as a fantasy world, which are not like adult world of cars and trucks. In reality, you need to readjust your perspective, because Amsterdam has succeeded in building one of the world’s most successful transportation systems. The transportation system in Amsterdam which is convenient, cheap, clean, quiet, efficient and safe is the epitome of sustainability.

1. All streets are bike streets

In most cities, bike lane network was far sparser than vehicular traffic networks of the entire street. In Amsterdam, the street network map is a bicycle network map. Almost all the streets of the city are full of good bicycle facilities. Unusually, in Amsterdam, you’re more likely to need a dedicated car map than a bicycle map, because in many streets cars are restricted or no cars are allowed.

2. Separated cycle tracks, not bike lanes

There are few street bike lanes in the city: on higher- speed streets, the current standard is separation and elevated bike lanes, which provide a safer and less stressful experience. The move separates bike lanes from street bike lanes, which will be a major historical shift in our design of bike facilities. This is an important shift which has been demonstrated by a long history of successful trials in Amsterdam.

3. When possible, go completely car free

Now saying it is a kind of trend is too early, but Amsterdam planners have recently begun to turn “woonerfs” called by the Dutch and also called “complete streets” into shared streets that completely ignored cars. One prominent example is Plantage Middenlaan, where there once were trolley tracks, car lanes, bike lanes and sidewalks. Now the car’s lanes has disappeared, leaving the tram tracks, red bike lanes and pedestrian walkway in an attractive extended linear park.

4. Two speeds, both slow

All streets in Amsterdam have two speed zones :30 miles per hour and 18 miles per hour. The speed control here does not depend on whether the driver is willing to comply with the law, but rather on the design and planning of the street itself. All tools in the box are used for road traffic calming- textured pavement, speed bumps and tables, narrow streets and raised intersections. From the cyclist’s point of view, it is usually a stroke of genius to separate the low-speed street from the high-speed main road. On this speed table the bike path always crosses the side street. So cyclists can experience a largely undisturbed ride, through a car’s passage or changes in elevation; the car is obliged to slow down and give way to the riders. No wonder Amsterdam traffic mortality rate is lower than most cities, two deaths per 100000 people, which have been halved in the past 20 years and reduced by two-thirds in the past 30 years.

5. Stress-free intersections

A safe intersection for bikes and cars is a struggle that is all over the place. Some cities have proposed complex Rube Goldberg-like solutions. But in Amsterdam, it is often easier to design a bicycle intersection, partly because meeting the demands of car traffic is not the biggest concern. For example, bicycle boxes are rarely used in Amsterdam to turn left at larger intersections. Instead, the default design is to use a two-stage left turn method: first, cyclists cross a vertical street, and then they start crossing second; every street has its own bicycle traffic light with whole process straightforward and stress-free.

 

References:

Elzinga, T. and Leemburg, A. (2015). The Netherlands – The World’s Most Successful Cycling Nation, Available at: https://uk.investinholland.com/the-netherlands-the-worlds-most-successful-cycling-nation/ (Accessed 19 May 2018).

Garrick, N. (2017). 5 Reasons Why Amsterdam Works So Well for Bikes, Available at https://www.citylab.com/transportation/2017/10/5-reasons-why-amsterdam-works-so-well-for-bikes/544101/ (Accessed 19 May 2018).

Ham, T. V. (2016). How the Netherlands became a cycling country, Available at https://www.voxweb.nl/international/how-the-netherlands-became-a-cycling-country (Accessed 19 May 2018).

Moskvitch, K. (2015). How to Get a City Cycling, Available at http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20150324-how-to-get-a-city-cycling (Accessed 18 May 2018)

O’Sullivan, F. (2016). The Dutch Love Cycling So Much That Their Bike Lanes Can’t Cope, Available at https://www.citylab.com/transportation/2016/01/the-dutch-love-cycling-so-much-that-their-bike-lanes-cant-cope/423492/ (Accessed 19 May 2018).

School of Architecture
Planning and Landscape
Newcastle upon Tyne
Tyne and Wear, NE1 7RU

Tel: 0191 208 6509

Email: nicola.rutherford@ncl.ac.uk


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