The Dutch experience of urban design for cycling

The Dutch experience of urban design for cycling

A synopsis of a talk by Netherlands Ambassador Rob Zaagman
March 2018, Wellington


“Cycling is a way of life in the Netherlands”.

But until the 1980s transport provisions for cars in Holland, just as in New Zealand, had priority over cycling and walking.

Cycling after WWII in Holland was in steep decline.

That was all changed with the "Stop de Kindermoord" ("Stop the Child Murder") campaign following 450 child road deaths in 1973.

Dutch cities and towns have been transformed into more liveable attractive places.

(See how public attitudes to cycling were transformed )

Some interesting facts about cycling in the Netherlands detailed by Mr Zaagman:

  • 84% of people own a bike

  • There are 23 million bikes owned by Holland’s 17 million people

  • There are 3 times more bikes than cars

  • A quarter of all traffic movements are done by bicycle

  • A quarter of all commuters travel by bike

  • Over half of all children go to school by bike (only possible because cycling is safe)

  • Cycling culture starts with bike lessons at school

  • Holland has 35,000 km of cycleways

  • It has 6,000 km of fast cycleways (cycle highways)

  • In 1989 transport authorities gave cycling equal status with other transport modes in planning and spending

  • Holland spends $600m/year on cycling policy and infrastructure

  • Amsterdam spent $25-30m/year on cycling infrastructure and policy from 2007-10

  • Cycling infrastructure spend benefits are three times spending on trains or cars

Zaagman’s cycle planning and design principles

  • The most important thing is that cycleways are connected, safe and accessible

  • Safety is the key – when separation is impossible, traffic speed must be limited to below 30km

  • The network must be extensive and interconnected

“It doesn’t help you if you are on cycle path and all of a sudden it ends and you are in the middle of nowhere”.

  • Urban planning must take account of cycling

  • Cycle paths have to allow fast, safe commuting

  • When sharing space with cars, bike lanes have to be clearly recognisable

  • Contact moments should be limited

  • Existing roads often need to be redesigned, intersections must be made cycle-friendly

How a Dutch Cycle-friendly intersection looks (above)

See how it used to be and how it now is

  • Laws should protect cyclists – any collision between a motorist and cyclist is the fault of the motorist unless proven otherwise

  • Helmets are not necessary if cycleways provide safe passage and may hinder cycling take-up

  • Loss of parking due to building cycleways in practice has invariably improved business for local businesses

To view the talk go to: