New figures from the Fietsersbond throw light on the astonishing number of journeys per day made by bike in the Netherlands. The graph gives a picture of what's going on, but there's also some more detailed text accompanying it:
Dutch people cycle a lot. Of course there is more cycling in the summer than in the autumn and winter. But cycling rates also vary between days of the week. On an average working day, 5 million people make an average of 14 million cycle journeys. Monday and Thursday are the top days with a million more journeys than on the other days of the week. On Saturday, 11.5 million cycle journeys are made, and on Sunday 6.5 million.
Through the week, between 8 in the morning and 6 in the evening, more than a million cycle journeys are made each hour. The high point is between 8 and 9 in the morning with 1.75 million cycle journeys during the hour. In that hour, many journeys to work and school are made, and more bicycles are in use than cars. Cycling on a typical week-day:
|8:00||By 8 in the morning, 750000 cycle journeys have already been made. Most of them are to work.||0.75 M|
|8:30||Most children are now at school. Another 450000 cycle journeys pass in half an hour.||1.2 M|
|9:00||Most adults are now at work, and college students are now on the way.||2.5 M|
|12:00||Another 2.5 million cycle journeys during the morning for a variety of reasons.||5 M|
|13:00||1.5 million more rides. Primary school children (5 - 11 years old) cycle home for lunch.||6.5 M|
|14:00||Another 1.2 million cycle trips pass in the early afternoon.||7.7 M|
|16:00||Most children have left school, and they cycle to friends, sportsclubs etc. In the last two hours, 2.5 million cycle journeys were made.||10 M|
|17:00||Another 1.2 million cycle journeys pass in the late afternoon. Many people make shopping trips and school children head home from sports clubs. The evening rush hour is about to start||11.2 M|
|18:00||Most people are now home. Another 1.2 million cycle journeys have passed.||12.4 M|
|24:00||Another 1.75 million cycle journeys are made in the evening. Many club (sport) cyclists go for rides, night school students ride, club members meet, and people go out on the town by bike.||Over 14 M|
In the day, 5 million cyclists have made around 14 million cycle journeys.
The scale of cycling in the Netherlands is quite phenomenal. If you go out, at any time of the day or night, you're not unusual, but are joining with a mass of other cyclists making their journeys. It's impossible to travel far on a bike without seeing other cyclists. I don't think I've ever made it further than 200 metres from my home (in a 100 m long cul-de-sac) before seeing at least one bike. Riding a bike is not in any way a political statement. It's just normal.
The figures above are national figures, applying to the whole country. The Netherlands has a population of 16 million people. That's just twice the population of London or New York. However, the cycling rate of the country as a whole is far higher than that of cities in other countries. By comparison, treating the country as a "city", the people here are spread out at a remarkably low density of just 400 per square kilometre, vs. 4800 per square kilometre in London or 10000 people per square kilometre in New York.
However, despite having the advantage of high density and the resulting short journey lengths, neither of these cities manage more than a small fraction of the cycle usage of this whole country. London has only around 2% of journeys by bike, and New York even less at only around 0.6% of commutes. In neither of those cities would you find masses of school children riding at any time. (more about population density and cycling)
The difference comes down to infrastructure which invites you to cycle. Cycling is not a difficult thing to decide to do in the Netherlands.
This high level of cycling woukd not be possible if only a limited subset of the population cycled. Read also a three day later blog post about the wide cycling demoraphic of the Netherlands. A week after this blog post was published, Mark Wagenbuur made a video based upon this post.
I've several posts about what brought this level of cycling about. Key to it all is of course a high degree of subjective safety.
Friday 11th update: City Cycling magazine has re-launched today, and there's a quote from me in it which is on this same theme.