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How the Dutch gained cycling superiority

How the Dutch gained cycling superiority

Posting in Cities

A short documentary highlights how the Netherlands became a model for bicycle infrastructure.

The Netherlands is famous for many things -- tulips, drug culture, the Hague -- and its bicycle infrastructure should certainly be on that list. Its capital city, Amsterdam, is one of the top biking cities in Europe, with 600,000 bikes in a city of 750,000 people, many of the country's roads have multiple bike-only lanes or paths, and policy requires that every shop have bicycle parking.

Many cities would like to install similar infrastructure to save money, protect cyclists, and encouraging the energy-efficient and healthful activity. But how did the Netherlands get there in the first place?

A short documentary, made by filmmaker and cycling enthusiast Mark Wagenbuur, highlights the history of Dutch cycling and is well worth a watch.

As the documentary points out, cycling had been a favorite pastime of the Dutch in the early 20th century. But as the economy grew and people became wealthier, cars became popular, leading to the demolition of many bicycle paths in the 1960s and 1970s to widen streets and install parking lots.

What is most fascinating is that public protests, with thousands of Dutch people gathering with their bicycles to fight for their cycling rights, spurred the government to pass legislation to promote cycling once more. Now the country has many pro-cycling policies, including car-free Sundays and car-free city centers.

[via Brainpicker]

Photo: elsamu/Flickr

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Hannah Waters

Weekend Editor

Weekend Editor Hannah Waters is a freelance writer based in Brooklyn. She writes a blog on the Scientific American network, and has written for Nature Medicine and The Scientist. She holds Biology and Latin degrees from Carleton College. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure