One of the most popular excuses for why cycling infrastructure on the Dutch model is not built in other countries is that of space. Many people honestly believe that their city, be it London, Los Angeles, Sydney, Cambridge or wherever, has streets which are narrower than usual and can't provide cyclists with the necessary space.
An anonymous reader recently sent me a group of "photos" taken from Google Maps Streetview which illustrate similar streets in the UK and in the Netherlands. The streets are so similar they could almost be before and after photos, and in fact if they were all from the Netherlands that is what they would be.
In each case, any cycling provision provided in the British example is narrow, while that provided on a similar street in the Netherlands provides a far better cycling experience.
The difference in subjective safety is obvious. And of course this is why Dutch people feel confident to cycle so much more than people of other countries.
I'm sometimes asked why I concentrate on what has been done in the Netherlands. The answer is simple: proven results.
In how many countries are more than a quarter of all journeys made by bike ? Just one: The Netherlands. In how many are more than a 20% made by bike ? Still just one. More than 15% ? Denmark joins the Netherlands. More than 10% ? Finland - with Sweden and Germany just scraping in. More than 5% ? Belgium, Switzerland and Austria.
What the Dutch have done is quite amazing. They've been wildly successful even by comparison with second place, and second place is taken by a country with similar, though less well funded, policies. There is no example of a successful alternative route to mass cycling.
Click through for the full set of ten comparisons, shown a bit larger than these two sets of photos. Or take a look at some of the other excuses that people sometimes make for why their country has a low cycling rate.
For another direct comparison of British vs. Dutch policies, take a look at what passes as a London Superhighway vs. the Dutch equivalent.
This post is tagged with "beforeandafter" because while they're not actually "before" and "after" photos, they could so easily be so, if only the will to make these changes existed in Britain.