Fresh cycling statistics from the Netherlands

These statistics about cycling just in from the Dutch RAI, “branch organization for mobility”

There are 19.1 million two-wheelers in the Netherlands (and 16.4 million people). This includes 634,000 motorcycles and about 500,000 mopeds and scooters, thus about 18,000,000 bicycles. Of course could pretty much guess this just by looking at the bicycle covered streets of each town. Its obvious there are about as many bikes as people, and they’re mostly city/utility bikes that live outdoors.

The number of motorcycles has doubled since 1998. Having (also) ridden a motorcycle for many years I can take some guesses about the significance of this: The motorcycle has steadily lost its bad-boy image, becoming more accepted and mainstream. As traffic and parking worsen the motorcycle (like the bicycle) becomes a suitable alternative to driving a car.

The Dutch rode rode their two-wheelers a total of 19 billion kilometers, about 3 billion more than in 1998. That’s approximately 1200 kilometers per resident of all ages, shapes and sizes per year. Considering the population too young or otherwise unable to cycle, that’s an awful lot of kilometers per person. One could argue that the inclusion of motorcycles skews the statistics, but then there are only 1/30th as many motorcycles as bicycles.

Elsewhere the bicycle usage stats are separated. Here we see that the Dutch cycle, on average, 909km per year, which translates to 2.48km per head, per day. This has largely held steady since 1991, the earliest year shown in the chart. Thus, a definitive NO to the question posed in an earlier post “Are the Dutch replacing their bikes with cars”.

Below some more statistics I find interesting

Sales of new bicycles in the Netherlands in 2007 by type (x1000):
846____City bicycle
227____Child’s bike
141____Hybrid / trekking bike
89_____Electric bike
48_____Mountain bike
33_____Folding bike
14_____Racing bike
50_____Others
3______Unknown
1401___TOTAL

Average purchase price for a bicycle in the Netherlands in 2007:
€603____All bicycles including department stores
€709____Sold through bicycle shops

Length of bicycle paths and roads per province:
872_____Groningen
997_____Friesland
1183____Drenthe
1401____Overijssel
549_____Flevoland
2182____Gelderland
947_____Utrecht
2307____Noord-Holland (Amsterdam region)
2198____Zuid-Holland (Rotterdam, the Hague region)
680_____Zeeland
2793____Noord-Brabant
962_____Limburg
17071___TOTAL

If 17,000 km of nearly perfect bicycle paths and roads doesn’t sound so impressive then just look at a map of the Netherlands to see how small this country is.

Source: RAI vereniging. Read it for yourself here. In Dutch of course.

UPDATE September 2009: A new and very thorough study of the Dutch bicycle path network was recently completed. It was determined that the earlier figure of 17,000km was highly inaccurate. In fact it was determined by actually measuring the roads with modern electronics that it is approximately 29,000km. But if that isn’t incredible enough consider that that is only a measurement of the bicycle paths separated from auto traffic. Painted bike lanes, as most of the world regards as “bicycle infrastructure” were not even counted. If they did they’d basically have to include the entire Dutch road network.

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9 Responses to “Fresh cycling statistics from the Netherlands”

  1. Green Idea Factory Says:

    Questions and comments:

    1 – What is public impression and opinion about motorised two-wheelers aside from being more generally acceptable and mainstream? Tailpipe emissions, noise, road chaos, etc?

    2 – Regarding the bicycle usage stats, could it be that fewer people are cycling less, or is there some modal share information which would show this is definitely not the case?

    3 – Just seeing the length of the paths seems not important as the density.

  2. henry Says:

    1. “Motorcycles” and “Motorised two-wheelers” are not synonomous. Motorcycles are for adults and these days seemingly many educated adults. I can’t think of any particular public impression of them. They’re fairly popular for such a lousy climate.

    Scooters and Mopeds are mostly ridden by kids and lower income people, and are regarded by others as noisy and annoying, which they often are.

    2. The Dutch are simply continuing to cycle as they have always done, probably more in the cities than rural areas now but the statistics don’t tell us about that.

    3. 17,000 kilometers of bike paths in a country 300km long x 150km wide seems like pretty good density to me. Bicycle paths go everywhere, more conveniently than automobile roads.

  3. Steven Vance Says:

    Can you link to the new and thorough study?

  4. henry Says:

    Steve, No I never had a direct link or maybe I once did but don’t any more. In any case the article I quoted here (almost a year ago) was only available in Dutch.

  5. Amsterdamize Says:

    it wasn’t so much a study as it was a project by The Cyclists Union to again map out the bicycle infrastructure in NL for their bicycle planner software. That’s how they found out.

  6. Steven Vance Says:

    Can you link to the bicycle planner software?

  7. Amsterdamize Says:

    sure. The green planner is for recreation, one for each province. The red planner is for door-to-door routes. Each is not complete, the rest of the provinces will be included by the end of this year.

  8. Amsterdamize Says:

    it’s hard to see, Steven, but the word ‘sure’ is linked 🙂

  9. Dave Cherling Says:

    Interesting statistics. Not entirely surprised by the low number of mountain bikes sold.

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