Flip-side of the Amsterdam Coin

The damned thing is done. Sort of.

It’s not what I had originally intended. Last year, when I published a tongue-n-cheek trailer for this video, I was planning a documentary about bicycling in Springfield, Missouri with comparisons to Amsterdam (realizing, obviously, that such comparisons are difficult at best given the radically different contexts). The comparison was never the point. The point was — still is really — to caution people hereabouts (and all over the USA) about bicycle lanes and tracks.

Well, several things went wrong along the way — none of which are worth going into detail about. You can piece together most of it if you care to dig through a year’s worth of posts on this blog.

Anyway, think of this video as a draft. It’s rough in spots. It needs further work. I’ll be interested in your feedback for making it better.

By better, I mean helping me do the rhetorical work of furthering my point: Dutch bicyclists made a bad bargain in Amsterdam by surrendering the streets to cars and cramming themselves into lanes and tracks; we Americans ought not follow their example.

Get the popcorn ready. A cold beer wouldn’t hurt either. This is a video only traffic bicycling geeks can appreciate.

UPDATE: Many good suggestions for polishing this draft are flowing in by various means. Please keep suggestions coming. Known issues:

  • Length: This needs to be 15 minutes tops.
  • Hazards: Needs more explicit explanations of certain hazards.

UPDATE: I’ll keep a list of persuasive suggestions here:

  • Lose the parking segment; doesn’t advance the thesis
  • No long segments without verbal or textual commentary

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Comments 56

  1. Janice in GA wrote:

    I wonder what the statistics are on accidents there vs. accidents here as a percentage of mode share? It looks like they’re pretty familiar with how to navigate there, where maybe you aren’t so much?

    Some of the problem seems to be success of the bike there. If you had that many cyclists in Springfield, wouldn’t you have similar problems? I too ride on mostly pretty quiet suburban streets and the majority of my interactions with motorists have been good. I would be hugely uncomfortable in a busy urban situation like Amsterdam, because I’m not used to navigating bike traffic like that. I’m sure I’d get dinged at and close-passed too. But that would be my fault, not theirs, the same way I’d get honked at if I drove my car unpredictably (to the natives) in an unfamiliar urban setting. I’m sure I’d come away from that situation feeling unsafe and unhappy too

    Not ragging on you here, really. Because scooters in bike lanes?? Jeezopete.

    Posted 27 Oct 2013 at 7:57 am
  2. Andy Cline wrote:

    Janice… If we has a similar percentage of bicyclists in SGF riding on the streets, there’d be an entirely different culture on the streets. Same in Amsterdam. As it is, 40 percent of the mode share gets about 10 percent of the space.

    Posted 27 Oct 2013 at 9:26 am
  3. Ian Brett Cooper wrote:

    I think you’ve made your point clearly at the end of the video. What I think is needed is to edit the video in such a way so that it emphasizes the points you’ve made.

    Also, many of the questionable actions we see in the video go without comment or caption, so we stand to miss many of them, especially since we were not there, so we can’t gauge precisely how closely or dangerously that truck or that moped passed you.

    Posted 27 Oct 2013 at 10:00 am
  4. Andy Cline wrote:

    Ian… Inches :-)

    Yes, I’m working on how to do that now. The first step, however, is cutting it down by about half — cutting being easier than adding. So I went ahead and let it run long.

    Dan G. is suggesting more narration to point out trouble spots. I’, also thinking about using text and graphcis (arrows, circles, etc.).

    Posted 27 Oct 2013 at 10:15 am
  5. Steve A wrote:

    No video visible from iPhone. :-(

    Posted 27 Oct 2013 at 10:19 am
  6. Eliot Landrum wrote:

    Many folks wrongly assume that bicycling is popular because of the infrastructure. It might be helpful to point out that bicycling in the Netherlands, especially Amsterdam, has been wildly popular well before a single cycle track or bike lane was installed (which was in the 1970s).


    Posted 27 Oct 2013 at 10:52 am
  7. Eliot Landrum wrote:

    Steve: try this link

    Posted 27 Oct 2013 at 10:54 am
  8. fred_dot_u wrote:

    I rarely watch videos of such length, but this one was captivating. A lot of cringe-worthy segments show that utopia isn’t all it’s hyped up to be for some people… I hope CayEl (sound it out) isn’t too upset at having his bubble burst.

    I suspect that if the USA attempted to emulate Amsterdam with similar cycling “facilities,” it would become more near a disaster than any other option available.

    It’s unfortunate that Cycling Savvy or similar programs aren’t yet as widespread as they could be.

    Thanks for putting a tremendous amount of work into your presentation.

    Posted 27 Oct 2013 at 11:03 am
  9. Steve A wrote:

    Eliot’s link works for us po’ iOs folks! Thanks. :-)

    Posted 27 Oct 2013 at 1:44 pm
  10. Andy Cline wrote:

    Fred … “Captivating” isn’t the word I’d use. I bored myself silly with the intersection segment :-) But thanks for your kind thoughts. And let me know if you think of things to make it better.

    Posted 27 Oct 2013 at 2:14 pm
  11. fred_dot_u wrote:

    Andy, I don’t think I have half the editing/artistic skill you have when it comes to video. I can clip and insert with the best, but composition eludes me.

    Even the music was acceptable in my opinion. Perhaps others will disagree, but my wife commented from the other room that it was worth hearing and reminded her of black and white silent movies!

    Posted 27 Oct 2013 at 4:34 pm
  12. fred_dot_u wrote:

    This is a comment to enable the notify action below the comment box.

    Posted 27 Oct 2013 at 4:35 pm
  13. Andy Morris wrote:

    Great Stuff, can’t wait for the edited version.

    Posted 28 Oct 2013 at 9:33 am
  14. s wrote:

    I’m an American cyclist, and I have to point out that you, apparently, are unaware of the Netherlands’ cycling laws and culture.

    Yes, while it seems dangerous to an American to cycle next to parked cars, drivers in the Netherlands are required to look for cyclists behind them before they open their car doors with their right arm; it’s part of their driver’s test. They’re taught to be aware of cyclists and to share the road, so they’re more conscientious than American drivers, who aren’t taught these things. Therefore, it still is a lot safer to cycle in the Netherlands.

    So, that is why the Dutch were cycling next to the parked cars- they’ve been cycling for their entire lives and know what is safe and what isn’t.

    Yes, Dutch cyclists that are behind you, wanting to pass, will, naturally, feel frustrated and annoyed that you are riding in the middle of the street- something that they deem is unneccessary, and probably rude, to do in their culture.

    I’ve read Dutch bicyclists’ complaints about their infrastructure, so they’re aware of things that aren’t perfect, either. For example, they’re annoyed by tourists who walk or stop in bicycle lanes when they’re supposed to be on the sidewalk.

    They just deal with it, though- things like crowded intersections- and eventually, get used to it.

    Posted 28 Oct 2013 at 11:51 am
  15. Ian Brett Cooper wrote:

    S, Are you really so naive that you think dooring cannot happen in the Netherlands? I assure you that although the law in both the Netherlands and the USA states that drivers are required to look before opening a car door, many do not. I do not know how many people per year this kills in the Netherlands, but I do know it kills cyclists here every year. Just because a law exists, it does not mean people will always (or even often) follow it – as many examples in Andy’s video clearly show.

    As for riding in the middle of the street being rude, maybe those who think it’s rude would change their minds if they realized that it’s the safest place to ride.

    As for the idea that people should ‘deal with’ bad infrastructure, is that the bright future of American cycling advocacy – if it’s no good, just accept it? Maybe the Dutch government should use that as a slogan: “Yeah, we know it’s bad – now just deal with it!” Sounds fricken awesome – or maybe “Half-assed bicycle facilities – they’re the way of the future!”

    Andy’s point is that, as a rule, we in the US don’t need to deal with bad infrastructure because it is not ubiquitous here, and we won’t ever have to deal with bad infrastructure if we just integrate ourselves into traffic rather than segregating ourselves from it.

    Posted 28 Oct 2013 at 12:18 pm
  16. Joe Gilpin wrote:

    I think that one of the major differences between the United States and the Netherlands is better depicted by our driving than our bicycling. In the United States in 2012 the top selling vehicles were led by the Ford F-Series and the Chevrolet Silverado. I know how to ride a bike in mixed traffic and have done so all over Europe, the driver training, consideration, and fleet composition are much more friendly and conducive to bicycling than in the United States. Until this changes and compact cars and better training become the norm you will continue to hear the call for greater separation for bicyclists from the enormous vehicles we still seem to prefer in the US.

    Rather than examine the behavior of bicyclists in the Netherlands (seems about the same as here per capita) look at what else is different in their culture.

    Posted 28 Oct 2013 at 10:05 pm
  17. Ian Brett Cooper wrote:

    Joe, driver training and consideration may be better in Europe compared to the US, but that perception may be, in part, caused by the fact that cyclists in places like Amsterdam are so unwilling to rock the boat. The video illustrates clearly that cyclists are self-policing in terms of making sure that other cyclists toe the line, ride far right and inconvenience motorists as little as possible, even at the cost of cyclist safety.

    It’s easy to be considerate and to appear well-trained, when cyclists are not asserting their rights to the road.

    Posted 29 Oct 2013 at 4:12 am
  18. Jan wrote:

    I’m dutch, living in Amsterdam, and would like to give some dutch perspective on this:

    First, using Amsterdam as an example of dutch infrastructure is not the best of choices. Most other dutch cities would consider the Amsterdam infrastructure to be appalling at least.

    Second, the video seems to focus on the center of Amsterdam, which is sad. Traffic in the center is a nightmare, and even though there are cycle facilities, it’s best avoided as much as possible, unless for the first or last part of your journey. Since the center is really small (2km across), you’d never have to cycle more then 1 km in those conditions. There are some very nice corridors for cyclist cutting through the center, making this distance even shorter if you’re willing to increase your trip length by a bit.

    About the door zone: Newer infrastructure won’t put cyclists in the door zone anymore, but some roads still have the layout that was considered ‘good practice’ in the 80’s. Not much of a problem in practice, since car drivers actually DO look out for cyclists. Really, if you wouldn’t, you would be hit by a cyclist 50% of the time when you’d open your door. Safety in numbers is very, very true.

    Also, dutch cyclists are not only heavily protected by their numbers, by law and by infrastructure, but above all, by the public awareness. Literally everybody in the Netherlands cycles, from age 2 to 92, and every car driver rides a bike at least once a week. We don’t have cyclists and drivers, we just have people who happen to be on a bike at this point in time.

    About ‘right to the road’: Dutch traffic really works differently here. Dutch cyclists will take their space when needed (very assertively, don’t worry), but we don’t mind sharing the road where possible. If there’s a car behind them that cannot pass, they’ll clearly indicate that by moving to the left and taking their position. However, if there’s a car that can pass (and in Amsterdam, a few inches of space is considered enough, as long as the cyclist decides), they will indicate that by moving to the right (and grow annoyed by the car being on their tail without passing because car drivers are more afraid of cyclists than vice versa).

    Posted 29 Oct 2013 at 4:54 am
  19. Ian Brett Cooper wrote:

    No matter how many motorists “actually DO look out for cyclists”, riding in the door zone is suicidal. What if one of those parked cars is being driven by an American on a business trip? It’s a potentially grave mistake to cycle in the door zone even if driver compliance with the law is 99.999%.

    Posted 29 Oct 2013 at 5:00 am
  20. Ian Brett Cooper wrote:

    And in my view, it’s still far better to ride in the road than it is to rely on narrow pedestrian-style paths. The “newer infrastructure” that “won’t put cyclists in the door zone anymore” will still be second-class, out of motorists’ way facilities. Cyclists in the Netherlands have indeed made a poor bargain.

    Posted 29 Oct 2013 at 5:12 am
  21. Jan wrote:

    Second class, narrow pedestrian style? Have you even been to the Netherlands and outside the canals of Amsterdam? Bike paths are 2 meters wide, and we happily sacrifice a car lane or parking if there’s no enough space for them…

    Posted 29 Oct 2013 at 5:17 am
  22. Jan wrote:

    “No matter how many motorists “actually DO look out for cyclists”, riding in the door zone is suicidal. What if one of those parked cars is being driven by an American on a business trip? It’s a potentially grave mistake to cycle in the door zone even if driver compliance with the law is 99.999%.”

    The the door opens, the cyclists hits the door, tumbles and falls. Speeds are low, usually, no harm is done.

    And sometimes harm IS done, and people get hurt or die. But the fatality rate in dutch traffic is far, far lower then all other countries in the world.

    As an avid cyclist, I don’t mind cycling ‘on the road’ when i’m abroad. But dutch traffic works so well because most people are not cyclists, they just happen to use a bike. And I don’t trust 6-year-olds or my grandmother to cycle ‘on the road’, having to be assertive, because they are not. But I do trust them on the Amsterdam bike paths, which they do use every day.

    Posted 29 Oct 2013 at 5:23 am
  23. Ian Brett Cooper wrote:

    Yes Jan. I’ve cycled hundreds of miles in the Netherlands. I know exactly how cyclists are treated in the Netherlands. The irony is, Dutch cyclists have fooled themselves into thinking marginalization onto sub-standard facilities equals priority.

    When the Dutch are allowed to ride on all general traffic roads and when Dutch bike paths are wider than the roads – and not just in a few instances – THEN you might be able to say that the Netherlands is a cycling paradise.

    Until then, it’s a joke..

    Posted 29 Oct 2013 at 6:15 am
  24. Jan wrote:

    I’ve never said it’s a cyclists paradise. But in Amsterdam, 40% of all trips are done by bicycle, and children cycle from age of 6 on their own, and the elderly cycle until well in their nineties.

    Riding on general traffic roads is a very nice solution for the happy few, and when I rode a racing bike, I used to do it even in the Netherlands, even on places where it wasn’t allowed, because cycle paths will slow you down and are sometimes too crowded.

    However, for 90% of the population, that’s not an option. They cycle like they walk: chatting, riding next to each other, on their cellphone, not caring about their surroundings until the environment forces them to do so. A dutch-style cycle path allows that.

    To accomodate for that, bike paths get wider and safer every year. Does that make racers and fast young cyclists more happy? Likely not. Does it make cycling safer? Not necessarily. But it makes traffic safer, because the modal share of cycling increases!

    Posted 29 Oct 2013 at 6:29 am
  25. Andy Cline wrote:

    It really is important to watch the whole thing (I know a 36-minute draft is painful) and LISTEN to what I say. I’m very carfule to note that I am dealing with central Amsterdam on purpose and cherry-picking my video on purpose.

    I did ride father afield and experienced some really well-done infrastructure of the kind we call greenways in the U.S.

    My purpose in highlighting central Amsterdam was to show the problems with the very kind of infrastructure we’re building in the U.S. — crappy door-zone lanes and cycle tracks.

    My point is we don’t need that stuff here.

    Posted 29 Oct 2013 at 1:02 pm
  26. KruidigMeisje wrote:

    Isocrates, we agree on the scooters. And the cyclists union (fietsersbond.nl) totally agrees too.
    But cycling on the right side of the road is unsafe? NO.
    The stats don’t agree with you (please check cbs.nl), cycling in NL is the safest in the world, per km cycled. That might be because all dangerous places in the streetscape (like right hooks) have dealt with in (where necessary segregated) infrastructure, which is constantly updated. This is why so many people cycle, without helmets, and still NL is safest to cycle. It might also be telling that you could cycle 5 days on end in this “bad” place without incidents or being horned at.
    Perhaps you could wonder why all nl cyclists drive on the very right side of the road. They do it partly because it makes overtaking easier. Overtaking by cars or faster cyclists, which I see being done in the video both at the same time btw. Partly because they are used to this road position by the infrastructure and it feels as usual. And it is safe. So why change? Cycling is habitual, not a constant thought proces to them.
    And you (and @Ian) might be amazed to know: there have no deaths by dooring in the last few years, I know that for certain. So driving to the right is NOT suicidal.
    With all the above please take into account the amount of cyclist kms in Amsterdam, especially versus Springfield. And suppose: what would happen to a city like Amsterdam if half of all cyclists (stil safety in nrs then) would change to cars? Clogged city, with no room on the streets anymore. THAT is real bad use of streets.
    Amsterdam is not perfect, I totally grant that. Infrastructure might be better, though most of it is good for the use everybody gives it. But with their infrastructure choices (both in cycling lanes as in filtered permeability) they have made a very livable city, that is safe for cyclists. Even if they do not ride to the right.

    Posted 29 Oct 2013 at 2:04 pm
  27. lastwheel wrote:

    It seems Brett likes to hang out here. Our conversation began over at…


    …seems to have stalled. Feel free to continue.

    Posted 29 Oct 2013 at 5:05 pm
  28. Stephan wrote:

    There is so much wrong in this video that it is impossible to point out every misconception. So I will stick to one basic thing that you make a big fuzz about yourself.

    The road positioning of the cyclist filming all this is a blatant violation of Dutch law.

    Dutch Road Law states:

    Drivers are required to keep as far over to the right as possible.
    (See page 9; Section 2.1 Road positioning Article 3.1)

    And Dutch Road Law sees people cycling as “drivers”:
    Drivers: all road users excepting pedestrians
    (See Page 71; Appendix 3 Definitions; Article 1)

    No wonder people tried to warn you: you were breaking their law!

    You will not like this law. But that is besides the point. People can dislike the fact that English law dictates they have to ride/drive on the left hand side of the road. But when you choose to do that as a foreigner in the UK you will have to comply. The same applies when you drive or cycle in the Netherlands.

    It is no surprise that you don’t understand so much of what you see if you are already unaware of such a basic rule of conduct.

    Posted 30 Oct 2013 at 3:11 am
  29. Ian Brett Cooper wrote:

    Stephan, I think you may be confused. If cyclists are required to keep as far right “as possible”, EVERYONE in that video was breaking the law. Also, if cyclists are to ride far right, why does the very next line state “Cyclists are permitted to ride two abreast.” How are both cyclists going to ride as far right as possible when one of them is not?

    I think probably the actual law is a bit more nuanced than the document you’ve linked to, which is an ABRIDGED version, as it says in the note at the very start of the document.

    Posted 30 Oct 2013 at 7:40 am
  30. Ian Brett Cooper wrote:

    And the idea that any country in which cyclists must ride as far right as possible could be a great country for cycling is simply ludicrous. So I think maybe you’re arguing against yourself there Stephan.

    Posted 30 Oct 2013 at 7:45 am
  31. Andy Cline wrote:

    I’m sure I probably broke a few laws inadvertently. And I might have broken a few on purpose 😉 There’s no way I’m riding next to car doors. I don’t care how careful the Dutch are getting out of their cars.

    Posted 30 Oct 2013 at 5:57 pm
  32. Michael wrote:

    Andy, your video isn’t showing up in Safari on my iPad. It was easy to find searching on Vimeo and is working just fine from their site.

    Posted 30 Oct 2013 at 7:02 pm
  33. Jan wrote:


    Most Amsterdammers won’t care whether you break the law or not, as long as you don’t interfere with them. However, in the video, the moment you get dinged, you’re clearly a nuisance. You’re cycling next to a tram track, and overtaking cyclists are forced to either pass you at a too close distance, or are forced to cross the tram tracks twice at a shallow angle, in the meantime riding between the tracks, which is (given the speed of trams) a very bad idea in general. Whether you like the rules or not, it’s quite rude not to allow other cyclists to overtake you by moving a bit to the right.

    Posted 31 Oct 2013 at 4:28 am
  34. Ian Brett Cooper wrote:

    Jan, I’d rather be rude than injured or dead any day. If Amsterdam folks don’t like it when people try to avoid the door zone, maybe they shouldn’t be riding on streets where the bike path only gives people a foot or so in which to ride between a tram line and a door zone.

    How on Earth anyone could think it was safe to put a bike lane there in the first place is incredible.

    Besides, didn’t I recently see a video by one of the Dutch cycling facility apologists saying how Dutch cyclists had become very competent at negotiating tram lines? If this is so, then why not just overtake across the tram line?

    Posted 31 Oct 2013 at 5:16 am
  35. Jan wrote:

    Living in Amsterdam, I know that the number of cyclists hit by speeding trams and taxi’s, and the number of accidents happening on tram tracks are a lot higher than the number of cyclists hit by a door. Also, the consequences are usually more severe.

    The cycle path next to the door zone is far from ideal, but it’s not unsafe. You just need to be a bit more aware. Every car has a mirror and usually lots of glass, it’s easy to see if somebody is inside.

    Posted 31 Oct 2013 at 5:58 am
  36. Ian Brett Cooper wrote:

    It doesn’t matter how many are hit, it’s the fact that it can happen. Riding in the door zone is suicidal, no matter whether one or fifty people are killed per year.

    Yeah, and maybe in Amsterdam cars have magical alien glass that doesn’t reflect light, or maybe in Amsterdam, God makes the sky less glary, but to suggest that it’s easy for a cyclist anywhere else to see inside a regular Earth car is ridiculous.

    Riding anywhere is fairly safe, but riding in the door zone is one of the most unsafe practices in a safe activity. People who do it are stupid, whether they’re in Alien-governed Amsterdam or here in the real world.

    Posted 31 Oct 2013 at 7:04 am
  37. lastwheel wrote:

    You aren’t checking your blindspot, Ian Brett Cooper. See previous post.

    Posted 31 Oct 2013 at 7:07 am
  38. Ian Brett Cooper wrote:

    Honestly, I’m finding it hard to recall a more ridiculous post about cycling than Jan’s above. Cycling in the door zone safe? Easy to see inside cars?

    I mean, Jeez! How desperate are these folks to find any way to justify these facilities?

    Posted 31 Oct 2013 at 7:07 am
  39. Ian Brett Cooper wrote:

    Lastwheel, I’m not interested in what’s going on on Vimeo. I’d rather carry on the conversation here, in a forum where I know most people are knowledgeable about cycling safety, not in a place where any bozo with a Vimeo account can launch ad hominem attacks. I said my piece over there and your desperation to get me to revisit doesn’t exactly fill me with confidence regarding the level of discourse that may have developed since I last posted there.

    Posted 31 Oct 2013 at 7:25 am
  40. lastwheel wrote:

    That’s a change of heart seen as you began the conversation with me. Your dismissal of what I had to say rested on my lack of vehicular cycling ability and irrational fear. I’ll repost here, first you:

    > Short of forcing people like Lastwheel out onto the road and showing them at first hand how safe the road is, I fear there’s not much to be done about that sort of attitude.

    And now me:

    > I had to do a double take because I read “draft” as “daft” first time round. As you know vimeo has word limits so I had to be brief with my criticism. Scaring a viewer by referencing ~50% injury share is ridiculous. High modal share begets high injury share. What if the total is two per year? Now briefly your fallacies: referencing your personal context is arguing by anecdote, referencing your 40 years is an appeal to authority, and me being “frightened” and of “limited view” is to the man.

    > Can I shut down your arrogance by showing you a video of my personal context? I do hope you aren’t the prudish type because I use strong language.

    > http://youtube.com/watch?v=iREWXOfFFOo

    > If you aren’t familiar with wide-angled lenses, peripheral areas are elongated so the close passes were closer than they first seem. The camera is also over my left ear. For the police incident at the start, should I have maintained my line I could have probably elbowed off the wing mirror.

    Posted 31 Oct 2013 at 7:45 am
  41. Andy Cline wrote:

    Just a reminder to all: The entire point of this video is not to criticize Amsterdam. Dutch cyclists seem fine with their circumstances. That’s just peachy by me. My point is to demonstrate that we ought not build similar infrastructure in the U.S. because 1) it isn’t actually safe, 2) will not increase participation, and 3) marginalizes bicycles in favor of cars. We are, in fact, building crappy door-zone lanes in Springfield. Other places in the U.S, are building conflict-ridden cycle tracks. And the Dutch do in fact promote this stuff.

    Posted 31 Oct 2013 at 7:55 am
  42. Ian Brett Cooper wrote:

    Lastwheel, although I’m flattered that you find my comments so exciting that you’re chasing me across the interwebs to find me, I just don’t care whatis going on on Vimeo. I don’t have time to be responding to all my fans everywhere. Sorry.

    Posted 31 Oct 2013 at 7:56 am
  43. lastwheel wrote:

    > I don’t have time to be responding to all my fans everywhere.

    Remember you approached me so don’t flatter yourself.

    > I just don’t care whatis going on on Vimeo

    You don’t have to care about Vimeo but I can see however, why you advocate a vehicular cycling utopianism because your powers of evasion are extraordinary.

    Posted 31 Oct 2013 at 8:02 am
  44. Jan wrote:

    I stand corrected. I’m a bloody fool for cycling in the door zone, and so are all other Dutchies. It’s surprising that any of us are still alive. The Netherlands is actually a horrible country to cycle, with stupid rules that don’t make any sense. We’re all masochists here, i guess.

    Posted 31 Oct 2013 at 8:20 am
  45. Ian Brett Cooper wrote:

    It is indeed a horrible country to cycle in, if you want to use a bike as it was designed. If you want to be a glorified pedestrian and you want to use the bike as a toy, on toy bike tracks and at under 8mph, Holland (and especially Amsterdam) is great.

    I just don’t want my home town Amsterdamized.

    Posted 31 Oct 2013 at 2:56 pm
  46. Jan wrote:

    Again, you’re confusing the Netherlands with the center of Amsterdam.

    Posted 31 Oct 2013 at 3:19 pm
  47. Ian Brett Cooper wrote:

    Can you cycle on all non-motorway roads in the Netherlands? No, you can’t. It can’t be a great place to cycle if there are some places where you can’t use the road and must use bike paths.

    I don’t want that here.

    Posted 31 Oct 2013 at 3:33 pm
  48. Jan wrote:

    You’re completely right. Who would want to cycle on a nice, at least 1.5 meter wide smooth path if there’s a nice road next to it that you can share with cars, trucks and buses?
    Nobody in their sane mind would do that. Only the pot-smoking crazy dutch do. So much that, while car ownership being as high as most other countries, they prefer cycling for 40% of all their trips, with higher numbers for short distances. Their accident-rate per km cycled is much lower than in all other countries (except possibly Denmark), which proves that they must be mad: a bike is only ‘designed’ to be used as an adrenalin rush invoking machine, not to get from A to B.

    However, for all the mad people, whether they are 4 or 94, welcome in the Netherlands. If you ever happen to be in Amsterdam, i’ll gladly show you around in our crazy city.

    Posted 31 Oct 2013 at 3:43 pm
  49. lastwheel wrote:

    > Can you cycle on all non-motorway roads in the Netherlands? No, you can’t. It can’t be a great place to cycle if there are some places where you can’t use the road and must use bike paths.

    And can you ride on all non-motorway roads in the US and the UK, essentially yes. Do people want to? No they don’t. I thought you vehicular cyclists were known for their bravery but it seems like you are a bit of an intellectual coward. Maybe you need some Dutch courage? I came to see the VC argument but there wasn’t much here and the purist of propaganda only served to show the obnoxiousness of sharing space with motor vehicles.

    Posted 31 Oct 2013 at 4:02 pm
  50. Jan wrote:

    Exactly. It’s general marketing: When you ask the question: “What would make my city more attractive to cycle in”, you shouldn’t ask the ones who are already cycling. They might have their needs, and they might cycle a bit more when those are covered, but with a low modal share, they will never give you the numbers like the Dutch have.
    You should ask the question to the ones who do not cycle currently. That’s what the dutch still do: we worry about increasing age of kids riding to school independently (increased from 6 to 8 I believe), we care about ethnic groups with less bicycle use, we care about the age on which the elderly stop cycling, and stimulate the use of electric-assisted bicycles for them.

    And much to your surprise maybe, even the young and fast are catered by that. Wide, smooth and separated bicycle tracks are not just convenient and safe when you’re very young, slow, or lack confidence and extremely cautious, they’re also amazing for a group of racers, or for a recumbent bike commute.

    Posted 01 Nov 2013 at 2:44 am
  51. JAT in Seattle wrote:

    Jan @50,
    You make a valid point; the future-cyclists wants should be addressed (and I’m calling those who might like to cycle but currently don’t future-cyclists rather than non-cyclists to distinguish from those who never will and don’t want to…)

    But you don’t make the complete point. Those who are already cycling should not be ignored – they are, after all uniquely qualified to address the state of existing infrastructure / road access.

    Furthermore the perspective of non-cyclists is frequently skewed by their perceptual biases. (that was my polite way of saying Wrong) Many want grade separated lanes and cycleways because they believe they are at risk of being rear-ended by motorists, whereas in practice this very rarely happens compared to right hooks, left crosses, etc.

    Unfortunately, the already much vilified vehicular cyclists’ message: “Oh, not, you don’t have to worry about that – you need to worry about this and here’s how you address it.” is perceived as “You must be fearless, and cycle lanes are ghettos!” And the infrastructure advocates capitalize on this and mis-characterize the actual crash statistics (counting right hooks as rear-endings, for instance) because after all we can’t fund separate infrastructure if we can’t make the safety case for it.

    I think you’re being a bit disingenuous about the aptness of mixing groups of racers and recumbent commuters with the very young, slow or electrically assisted on your grade separated facilities.

    Is three a cultural problem with multiple modes of transportation on a lot of American roads? Yes, and some motorists are incredibly intolerant of the perceived delays created by bicycles who wouldn’t bat an eye at being delayed by a school bus or a postal service van or even just another car not driving as fast as they’d like. But these cultural problems also exist on Dutch roads, there’s no need to be defensive about it.

    Posted 01 Nov 2013 at 12:50 pm
  52. Ian Brett Cooper wrote:

    The facilities advocates are always going on about how bike infrastructure is going to result in a blooming of potential cyclists just yearning to ride. They keep asserting the goodness and safety of Dutch facilities (despite the fact that in actual practice IN THE USA they are neither good nor safe) and how riding in the road is unrealistic and unsafe (despite the fact that hundreds of thousands of Americans do it safely every day). While US bike lanes and paths have multiplied over the past few decades, the numbers of new American cyclists are anemic at best and may be explained purely in terms of existing cyclists who would have been riding close by and who change their route so they can ride traffic-free lanes/paths.

    The problem is, ridership isn’t about infrastructure, nor is it about a willingness to learn how to ride in traffic. People will start to cycle in droves when the economy forces them to do so, just as happened in every other country where cycling became popular. This never reached a tipping point in the US like it did in Holland, Denmark, etc., and it’s certainly not going to happen just because someone lays down special paths for cycling. Anyone who thinks it might is, in my view, delusional.

    But hey, we can argue until Hell freezes over, but it’s not going to stop the evangelists from preaching their car-phobic fantasy of a nation with bike lanes from sea to shining sea. This is why, in my opinion, allowing infrastructure evangelists on a blog about vehicular cycling is a mistake. All they do is troll.

    Posted 01 Nov 2013 at 2:49 pm
  53. lastwheel wrote:

    > despite the fact that hundreds of thousands of Americans do it safely every day

    Did you ever get to watch my video? I’m a vehicular cyclist but I want segregation so probably your cognitive worst nightmare.


    Tell me how anyone other than a really dedicated rider is going to put up with that daily. I’ve been hit twice, in the last one thousand miles I’ve had 3 people get out of their car to fight me, and if I wasn’t an athlete and thus possessing a far greater than average spacial awareness I’d probably be dead (perhaps twice in that video). VC makes **me** safer but not safe, and it is unpleasant and obnoxious every day.

    > it’s certainly not going to happen just because someone lays down special paths for cycling.

    The busiest stretch for cyclists for me is always on a converted railway to “green way”. I see almost no one any other time and it’s the only stretch I see parents and kids on bikes. You are 50 years delusional and 50 years selfish.

    > troll

    If by troll you mean present arguments and evidence that leave you without a pedal to stand on then so be it.

    Posted 01 Nov 2013 at 3:07 pm
  54. Jan wrote:

    Wait a minute? I’m forced in some group of ‘infrastructure advocates’? I’ve never said the dutch model is perfect (I keep stressing that Amsterdam is horrible, and as long as the dutch goverment won’t ban scooters, every other place fails as well). I don’t care at all on what other countries will do, I just tried to shed some light on the cycling culture in the Netherlands, which is think is intriguing and quite unique. You can’t copy that, so any other culture will need different solutions, that’s fine. But the subject was some video about Amsterdam, and some derived statements about the rest of the Netherlands.

    After that, I got attacked on statements that riding in the door zone is safe (I repeat myself, it is safe, in the Netherlands. Not as safe as a separated path, but nothing so unsafe that you wouldn’t let a 6-year old do it without a helmet :) )

    About mixing groups: I really think you should come over here. I’ve been racing for a long time, have lot of friends who do that, and I’ve never had any problems with riding on the cycle path. Of course, in the city you’re often trapped in traffic, but that’s the same on the road. In smaller towns and between them, bike paths are amazing facilities.

    I found a nice website with some images: and video: http://www.aviewfromthecyclepath.com/search/label/speed

    Posted 02 Nov 2013 at 1:08 am
  55. Michael wrote:

    Jan, a couple of things.

    Using Amsterdam as the model here actually works really well, because this is targeted at Americans and when Americans talk about cycling for daily transportation someone always brings up Amsterdam and then people pause and their eyes glaze over… American’s see the high cycling “mode share” that Amsterdam has and assume that it must be some sort of cycling nirvana. It’s good that someone has finally shown “the dark underbelly” of Amsterdam to the American cycling community.

    Some places in America have quite a lot of cycle paths. You can see cycle paths using Google Maps, check out Minneapolis, MN for an example. You can ride from Pittsburg PA to Washington D.C. using two “rails to trails” paths or take the Katy trail in Missouri from (almost) Kansas City to (almost) Saint Louis. I love cycle paths. I spend my vacations going around the country riding cycle paths. But, for my day to day commuting chances are there will never be cycle path for me to ride on.

    In America chances are there’s not going to be a cycle path there for most the time for people ride to school, work or the pub. Do to low mode share, low density development, most funding for things like cycle paths being local, the U.S. being flat broke and very politically dysfunctional chances are that there’s not going to be a cycle path in most Americans day to day future any time soon.

    Door zone cycling may be safe where you’re at, but in America where a lot of people people hardly ever parallel park, door zone cycling is one of the easier ways to get yourself killed.

    Posted 02 Nov 2013 at 6:45 pm
  56. Michael wrote:

    Andy, thanks for making this.

    15 minutes, some diagrams to show distances, and maybe a little more info on why what seems to be working in A’dam would translate poorly in America would be grand.

    Posted 02 Nov 2013 at 7:22 pm