The Brooklyn Paper has posted an excellent article on the state of bicycling in that most bike-friendly of cities, Amsterdam. Bicycling in Amsterdam sounds like a dream; the biggest issue they face is a lack of sufficient bike parking due to the ever-increasing number of bicyclists — what a problem!
To cater to the ever-increasing number of cyclists, the city has installed 250,000 free bike racks, mandated that office buildings include indoor racks for employees, and installed a three-story bike garage on a barge beside Centraal Station that can house 4,000 bikes at a time.
But the racks are never enough, and cyclists often chain their rides to railings, street signs, and just about anything else that doesn’t move.
As would be expected, bike theft is a major issue as well, mostly due to the sheer number of bicycles available.
Although the crime has declined in recent years, thieves still hijack about 50,000 two-wheelers each year.
To curb the crooks, cops establish random checkpoints and repossess any bikes showing the telltale signs of theft: a missing built-in rear-wheel lock, an etched off identification number, or defaced bike shop plates.
All that said, Amsterdam is just about as close to a bicyclists’ Utopia as you’re going to find; bicyclists dominate the roads and demand respect with their sheer numbers (50 percent of residents use their bikes for transportation on a daily basis). Plus roadways are designed to favor bicyclists. For example, some bridges designate one lane for cars and the remainder for bicycles and pedestrians — exactly the opposite of what we see here in the U.S.
All of this came about by a long-term effort within government to reduce automobile use and increase bicycle and pedestrian travel. We can only hope that we someday see a widespread shift within this country that takes us in a similar direction.