Amsterdam’s extraordinary bike culture

No other city in the world matches Amsterdam’s biking culture, where more people commute by bike than car. As one resident put it, “It’s the quickest way to move around in the city, even more than a car or public transit,” and from a public official’s point of view, “Everything you do for a bike is very cheap compared to what you do for cars,” claiming that bike infrastructure improvements typically cost only 5% as much as automotive and mass transit improvements.

Some of the biking culture evidence:

– More than 75% of residents of the 750,000-person city own bikes, 50% use them daily, and 38% use them to commute, more than motorists.
– In the center city, 60% of all trips are made on bikes.
– The city hosts 240 miles of protected, dedicated, shielded bike lanes. By comparison, New York City has 5 miles of such lanes.
– To incentivize biking, the city instituted an 18 mile/hour speed limit in the central neighborhoods and charges up to $7.50 for a metered car parking spot.
– When a car and a cyclist collide in Amsterdam, the driver is almost always found to be liable.
– Cyclists get a head start at traffic intersections by waiting in front of cars in a painted box.
– The city implemented 70 special cycling stoplights that tell bikers how long until the light turns green.
– The city installed 250,000 free bike racks, mandates that office buildings include indoor racks for employees, and built a three-story 4000-bike garage.

Read more in the Brooklyn Paper’s Brooklyn cyclists would love Amsterdam – a truly bike-friendly city, then see how your city stacks up! Paris remains a leader in public bicycle systems with its 20,000 Velib bike sharing program.

Photo of Amsterdam by mv4.