By Nicholas Kevlahan
Published November 23, 2012
French newspaper Le Monde reports that Amsterdam has been so successful in promoting bike use, its bicycle infrastructure is now reaching the breaking point.
In a city of 800,000 residents, 490,000 people ride a bike each day for a total distance of 2 million kilometres (i.e. about 4 km each per day).
That is an increase of 44 percent in the past 20 years, indicating that Amsterdam has achieved its very high rate of cycling through continuous improvement rather than making a past choice and then resting.
Some more highlights:
Bikes now make up 33 percent of all trips, with walking at 27 percent, public transit at 20 percent and automobiles at 19 percent.
The main Amsterdam railway station has 10,000 bike parking spots, but needs 20,000 to satisfy demand (40 percent of train users arrive and leave by bike).
An interesting note on safety and injury risk in Amsterdam: the absolute number of serious cyclist injuries (if not relative risk) is increasing and now makes up 55 percent of the total of 950 serious traffic injuries annually. That is stimulating a discussion of how to reduce the risk.
In Hamilton, according to a 2010 traffic collision report, there were 21 traffic fatalities and 2,272 traffic injuries in a population of 505,000.
The overall serious injury rate appears to be about 2.4 times higher in Hamilton than in Amsterdam. According to an OECD report on definitions [PDF], a "serious injury" in the Netherlands corresponds to the "Major" and "Minor" injury categories used in the Hamilton report (i.e. admitted to or visited a hospital), and in 2010 there were a total of 89 + 1335 = 1,424 "Major" and "Minor" traffic injuries in Hamilton.
While Hamilton struggles to introduce even minimal bike infrastructure, the shift of transportation to bikes in Amsterdam has stimulated a discussion on a radical re-thinking of how space is used in the city.