Tue, Nov 13, 2012 - Page 9 News List

Dutch cycling utopia threatened by own success

The Netherlands has more bicycles than people, with 18 million bikes crammed into a country less than half the size of Maine, leading to gridlock, bike rage, lack of parking and accidents

By Jan Hennop  /  AFP, AMSTERDAM

The statistics show just how dangerous it has become: One-quarter of all deadly accidents in the Netherlands involve cyclists, the Cycling Association said.

About 200 cyclists died on Dutch roads last year, the majority of them elderly, the Dutch Central Statistics Office said, an increase of 28 from 2010.

The problem has been getting worse since the Dutch authorities decided to broaden bike path use to include more than 1 million mopeds, which are allowed to zoom past cyclists as long as they stay under a speed limit of 25kph.

“Cyclists and moped riders ride at different speeds in a small shared space — and that’s a recipe for disaster,” Bot said.

Bicycle overload has become such a problem that about 180 top city planners convened a conference recently in Utrecht to talk about the issue.

Proposed solutions were remarkably similar to those previously used to deal with car congestion, ranging from building multi-story underground “mega” bicycle sheds to impounding badly-parked bikes.

Municipal workers in The Hague alone have impounded 2,400 illegally parked bicycles since August.

In addition, Amsterdam last week announced a mega 120 million euro investment plan to provide 38,000 new bicycle parking spots and 15km of red bicycle path in the city.

However, “this is not something that will be solved next week,” Bot said. “It’s a medium to long-term problem.”

In the meantime, the best way of dealing with the bicycle bedlam is patience and not getting too flustered, he added.

“Sometimes it helps to just be Dutch and have a thick skin out there,” he said.

This story has been viewed 1955 times.
TOP top