I tend to agree with this Guardian article that: “Anyone who has ever tried to make their way through the centre of Amsterdam in a car knows it: the city is owned by cyclists.” For those unschooled in Dutch cycling history, this is a quick take on the subject and shows how the Dutch didn’t embrace cycling by accident.
Like most of the world, the Dutch were also enthralled by cars, which seen to signal both prosperity and the future. However in 1971, there were 3,300 car-related deaths–400 of which were children–and this was the turning point for parents to take to the streets and reclaim them. At least for cyclists.
Oddly enough, the Dutch might be taking this hard-won cycling victory for granted. There are fewer children cycling to school than in the past and no one knows why. Supposedly, despite no evidence to the contrary, parents believe that roads are more dangerous and have started driving their children to school. I saw this happen in Silicon Valley decades ago (only because the local council cancelled bus service due to budgetary constraints) and it seems to be a common myth. Scaremongering over hard facts.
But to repeat: The roads here are safe. Drivers look out for cyclists. The infrastructure is sound. Most people benefit from having the freedom of movement, freedom from noise pollution and the cost effectiveness of cycling minor distances. Yes, this city is owned by cyclists–but only because they remember to keep their voices heard.