Life in the Bike Lane

As the Netherlands has proven, if you build it (bicycle infrastructure) they will come (13.4 million bicycle owners out of a population of 16 million.) That doesn’t mean everyone here cycles everyday—about 40 percent of daily journeys are still made by car, according to the country’s Fietsersbond or Bike Union—but even non-cyclists remain positive about cycling, seeing it as a way to avoid traffic delays. As someone who bikes to do just that, it’s incredible how much time you can save, particularly during rush hour (which isn’t so aptly named, methinks.)

I was surfing YouTube and came across a short film on that other Amsterdam, the former Nieuw Amsterdam or New York City.  An interesting factoid from “New York City Bike Wars”: roughly 80 percent of the city’s public space is roads, which are obviously designed primarily for car traffic.  How to make public space….uh, more public or for a wider public such as cyclists? Manhattan has been making huge strides in recent years, but cycling infrastructure is still in its infancy and the public is still teething over the idea of cycling as regular transportation.

Here’s a piece on cycling in NYC from the cyclist’s point of view:

I used to live in New York City and rode my bike there about a decade ago, when there were very few bike lanes and I rarely passed another cyclist on my commute. This is not to toot my own horn but rather to say the city’s come a long way, baby! I am curious to see how this major metropolis and world arbiter of finance, fashion and forward-thinking, will continue to tackle the problem. I say, as do many transport professionals, build it and they will surely come.

Here are some pictures of the wonderful things you see around Amsterdam as you allow bicycles take up and utilize more public space.  I haven’t seen many cars do similar, save art cars at Burning Man, but they’re showcased in the desert and far away from city streets.

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