Do the Dutch have too many cyclists?
Traffic congestion, parking difficulties, and road rage. Those are some of the problems we typically associate with motor vehicles in cities. But in the Netherlands, many cities are running into these problems because of an overabundance of bicycles.
AFP reports that major investments in bicycle infrastructure has lead to, not surprisingly, a rapid growth in bicycle usage and a unique set of problems for bicyclists:
The Dutch newspaper Trouw recently said that in places like Amsterdam and Utrecht, the increase in bicycles is giving rise to new phenomena that include bicycle traffic jams, pile-ups, parking problems and bicycle rage.
Around major stations such as Amsterdam and Utrecht Central, tens of thousands of bicycles parked legally and illegally hog public space and restrict pedestrian access, while leaving cyclists scratching their heads to try to remember where they parked their steeds.
More cyclists on the road means more congestion and "bicycle rage" often flies across the handlebars.
With 5 million people commuting each day and more bicycles than their population, the country simply doesn't have the infrastructure to accomodate the high and growing demand for bicycling. At least not yet.
In Amsterdam, the city recognizes this problem and is investing over $72 million to improve bike infrastructure. The city recently announced a four-year plan that will add thousands of bicycle parking spaces, new storage facilities, and safety features to dangerous bike lanes.
But, at least for Amsterdam, bicycle congestion and the need to invest in more bicycle infrastructure is seen as a good problem to have.
"The increase in bike usage results in annual savings for the city of 20 million euros on public transport and another 20 million euros on motor traffic infrastructure," the city of Amsterdam said in a statement. "In comparison with other forms of transport, investing in bikes delivers the most effective result per euro."
City of Amsterdam responds to rising numbers of cyclists [City of Amsterdam]
Photo: Flickr/.m for matthijs