Fall 2000, p.12

Auto-Free World

The World Talks Bicycles in Amsterdam

"It could never work here," is the response when T.A. requests European style bike designs and parking. That simply is not true. What is good for bikes in Europe, is good for bikes here. At the Velo Mondial conference in Amsterdam, representatives from 51 countries came to discuss different ways to fit bicycles into our landscapes and mindscapes. The bike heaven that is Amsterdam was the perfect setting.

The Dutch make about 40% of all trips by bicycle compared to the 1% made here citywide. The reason why, aside from their long standing cultural affinity for cycling, is political. During the mid-seventies the Netherlands pumped funds into designing and building quality facilities for cyclists. The facilities include an elaborate and comprehensive network of separated and on-street bicycle lanes. These turned the tide and made riding a bicycle so remarkably safe and commonplace that all ages participate. Here are some examples:

This raised crosswalk is five inches high and serves to dramatically reduce speeding on a four-lane arterial in Amsterdam. In Downtown Brooklyn the City refuses to install one over two inches high.

In NYC there are 2 bike specific traffic signals; in Amsterdam, almost every major intersection is outfitted with them.

Intersections like this provide space and signals for all street users-where two way bike paths meet from all directions.