Congestion, crashes and a chronic lack of parking spaces – for Britain’s roads, substitute the Netherlands’ cycle lanes. It seems cycling has become so popular in the country that its infrastructure is struggling to cope.
Citylab reports on a recent report by the country’s SWOV Institute for Road Safety Research which has found that with bike paths filling to capacity during rush hour, crashes are becoming more common. Furthermore, many areas are woefully short of bike parking with Amsterdam now planning a 7,000-space bicycle garage under the IJ lake.
The SWOV says that the sheer numbers using bike paths means many can’t ride at the speed of their choice and argues that this is a major cause of the growing number of collisions that do not involve cars. Around 1,000 cyclists are hospitalised each year after collisions with other cyclists – although it should be noted that in Amsterdam alone, several hundred thousand trips are made by bike each day.
However, CCTV from four major junctions indicates that poor behaviour is a major cause. Footage showed 20 per cent of cyclists using their phones while riding — albeit most were just listening to music. Around 80 per cent pulled out of their lane to overtake without looking behind, while five per cent were seen riding in the wrong direction.
Currently, moped riders are allowed in cycle lanes providing they don’t exceed 15mph. The Independent reports that they now face being banned as the country looks to give its cyclists more space. SWOV director Peter van der Knaap said that busy cycle paths now need to be widened to cope with the volume of traffic and increasing popularity of cargo bikes.
Germany recently opened the first 5km stretch of a traffic-free bicycle highway that is set to span over 100km. A number of ‘bicycle autobahns’ are planned. They are four metres wide and are unsullied by traffic lights or crossroads.