Amsterdam: More Trips by Bike than by Car

old green omafiets and tram

The question whether cycling is decreasing in popularity in Amsterdam or the Netherlands has been raised here several times. Each time the answer has been “No, transportation cycling is actually increasing here.” Today yet more statistics were listed in the Bike Europe trade website that show that bike use continues to rise.

from Bike Europe (via Fietsberaad though I couldn’t find it there) with my commentary mixed in:

AMSTERDAM, The Netherlands – The bicycle is the means of transport used most often in Amsterdam. Between 2005 and 2007 people in the city used their bikes on average 0.87 times a day, compared to 0.84 for their cars. This is the first time that bicycle use exceeds car use.

There are not many places in the world where bicycle use actually exceeds car use, and certainly no other capital cities. But it gets better…

In 2006 the inhabitants of Amsterdam engaged in some 2 million trips a day, an 8% reduction compared to 1990. This is due to the number of trips per person per day falling from 3.6 to 3.1. The number of transfers has fallen in the old city within the ring road in particular.

These seem to be the total numbers of trips, made by all means of transportation.

The number of trips by car, compared to 1990, has fallen in all districts (-14%), whereas the number of trips by bicycle has only risen within the ring road (+36%). The bike is used most often in the town centre (41% versus an average of 28%) and the car least often (10% versus an average of 28%). This can be attributed to the restrictive parking policies enacted here since the 1990s.

Not surprisingly the higher the density, the more bike use is favored. Thus where we live and the WorkCycles shops are the number of bicycle trips is at least four times as great as car trips.

‘Dienst Infrastructuur en Beheer’, the infrastructure department of the city registered approximately 235,000 car movements in both directions at the city centre in 1990; by 2006 this had fallen to 172,000, a decrease of over a quarter. Over the same period the number of daily movements by bicycle rose from 86,000 to over 140,000 (+60%).

Let’s keep up the good work so that in a generation cars will be an insignificant part of the traffic and street scene in Amsterdam.

13 Responses to “Amsterdam: More Trips by Bike than by Car”

  1. Amsterdamize Says:

    I had to double-check, but this was published by Fietsberaad in December 2008. In my post you’ll find the link to their original post.

  2. henry Says:

    Strange for them to republish figures from half a year ago. Perhaps there wasn’t enough paid advertorial about e-bikes this month to fill the space. Have you also noticed that the Euro bike press is just e-bike, e-bike, e-bike? Clearly the big players want to ensure that we get with the program.

  3. Amsterdamize Says:

    I think you’re on to something, yes, they are pushing that theme a lot.

  4. henry Says:

    You’d think that the Dutch are pretty much riding nothing but battery operated bikes now. Sure some seniors off in the countryside, but they’re still nonexistent in all the metro areas. Regardless, the e-bikes of today are the landfill of tomorrow.

  5. Todd Edelman Says:

    Can’t say it here.

  6. Todd Edelman Says:

    Regarding increasing bike and decreasing car use:

    * Is Amsterdam creating more spaces for bikes on major thoroughfares, or this a problem because of the manner in which their respective spaces are generally physically-separated?
    Of course the first question is how much bike congestion is there?

    * How about more space for pedestrians?

    * Pedestrian and collective PT modal share? I mean, the main thing is that people are driving less, but where exactly are they doing instead? Some are cycling, but the others?
    These cycle groups just care about cyclists… in the worst case scenario, a city can lose its small, distributed shops which can increase bike modal share as people go to more central stores, but then pedestrian share does down.

  7. jeff Says:

    To me, the real question is: who is driving the cars?

    Who would pay the high parking rates, gas costs, etc, so they can own a car in Amsterdam?

    Upper class folks who want a status symbol, people who are physically unable to bike, or perhaps they have a long commute that public transport doesn’t reach?

    And do the cycling Dutch look down on people who use a car?

    The longer I’ve been a cyclist, fewer and fewer of my friends are drivers, and now I feel out of touch with the driver’s mentality.

  8. henry Says:

    Todd,
    Yes, cars and trucks are gradually being pushed out by various means: decreasing numbers of parking spaces, fewer drivable routes through the city and increasing restrictions on which cars and trucks may enter the city. At the same time cycling is being promoted by improving the bike road network, building more parking facilities etc etc.

    This is all happening largely independent of the pedestrian facilities. People continue to walk here and the streets are crowded with tourists and locals alike on foot. The downtown areas are thriving and there is no significant movement to outside the city or away from independent shops. If anything the opposite seems to be true. The new developments such as in Noord and Ijburg and designed around bicycle, pedestrian and public transport.

  9. henry Says:

    jeff,
    Various kinds of people drive cars in the city center. Probably a lot of them are driving for commercial reasons: businesses delivering goods, taxis, salespeople visiting customers with samples, realtors carrying clients around for example. There are also people with commutes to or from the city that they perceive as faster or more convenient by car Some people keep cars for occasional use: holidays, driving the kids to sports practice each week or visiting family in another city.

    But, believe it or not there are also people (not many) who just choose to drive around the city, practical or economical or not. Perhaps its a status thing for them, or they could care less about the cost of parking and constant tickets. I know a very wealthy 60ish gentleman who drives his Mercedes everywhere and insists it’s very practical. It doesn’t bother him a bit that it costs several hundred euro a week for prime parking. Different strokes for different folks.

    Yes, driving a car around the city is very much frowned upon by many Amsterdammers, as is riding a scooter.

  10. Todd Edelman Says:

    OK. Henry. Could you please expand on your today’s e-bikes are tomorrow’s garbage thing? (Actually what does it take to… uh… deify an e-bike?)

    Also, you have mentioned earlier your resistance to e-Bakfiets but I know that the two-wheel bike that yours is grown upon (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tzY7qQFij_M) in an e-version has been Blogged about on a UK site.

  11. henry Says:

    Todd,
    Simple. Dozens of manufacturers are making e-bikes, most with proprietary and not very robust electronic parts that are constantly being updated. All of those parts: motor, controller, battery, battery management, control panel, connectors etc have to be compatible with each other. The batteries have a short lifespan and other parts will fail in time as well.

    A larger firm such as Gazelle will probably stock spare parts for perhaps ten years but often at absurd prices. The smaller operations will often not stock any old parts at all, if they even survive to be called in a few years.

    In a nutshell an e-bike is much more complicated than a standard bike, will therefore require more repairs. But those repairs will be often be uneconomical or virtually impossible. So what’ll happen to the bikes: Some will be ridden with the batteries removed and the motor as dead weight. Some will get converted to non-e bikes. Some will actually get repaired. But in general the actual lifespan of e-bikes will probably prove to be an order of magnitude shorter than standard bikes.

    Your link goes to a Chia Pet ad BTW.

  12. Todd Edelman Says:

    The You Tube link is correct: I was alluding to the modifications your company makes to bikes from various suppliers.

  13. Melanie Says:

    The US has a long way to go before we have more people riding than driving, but to that end, we have recently launched a new site in the US dedicated to utility cycling and thought you might be interested – http://www.utilitycycling.org. Please feel free to contact us if you would like to guest post or become involved in some way. Thanks!

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