Thursday 6 November 2008


A little while ago I signed up for the Fietsberaad Nieuwsbrief which lets you know what is going on with cycling in this country. The Fietsberaad is the Dutch cycling experts group.

A new copy of the email Nieuwsbrief arrived yesterday, and here are some of the main items in it:

I'm pleased to be able to report that Houten has won the title of Fietsstad 2008 (Cycling City 2008). Councillor Marianne Kallen said "we are very proud." Houten was the first place in the Netherlands to try a lot of novel ideas. I have covered Houten before.

Also, it's great to see that Assen's plans for a new countryside path that I also covered before also gets a mention. Follow the link to see what it will look like.

Minister Eurlings of the ministry of traffic and works has announced an extra 30 million Euros of funding for cycle parking at railway stations and improvement of five cycle routes which it is believed could have a particular effect in reducing traffic jams. They were highlighted by a campaign called "Less queuing with the bike." Fietsersbond, the Dutch cycle campaigning organisation has criticised the plans, saying that at least 60 million Euros is required to make the improvements that are needed, and for the result to be of "Olympic Quality" (a phrase use earlier by the minister).

The Fietsberaad is not so happy with the latest proposals for roundabouts. Most roundabouts in the Netherlands currently have a single lane for cyclists to cross, but these "turborotondes" will reduce safety and comfort for cyclists. An example is given showing a better way of doing it, giving priority to cyclists at the crossings. (turbo roundabouts have remained controversial. See further posts about this type of roundabout, one of which includes a video showing a real life example of the problem illustrated here).

The German centre for health reports that Dutch people keep cycling in bad weather but Germans don't. Their report goes on to say that more than 63% of Dutch people use a bike at least three times a week. In Germany and Denmark this is 45% and 46% respectively. Eighteen percent of Dutch people ride more than 30 km per week and 31% ride between 10 and 20 km per week. Germans ride on average a bit less than the Dutch, but more than the Danes.

All three nationalities see cycling as good for health, brings you closer to nature and allows flexibility in journeys, but only in Germany is health the most important reason to cycle. In a questionnaire, 77% of Germans put health as the number reason to ride. 47% of people in all three countries said too long a distance would put them off cycling, and a third don't much like cycling.

Bad weather stops around 40% of Germans from riding, but only 18% of the Dutch and 25% of the Danes. Only 19% of Germans cycle to work, vs. around 30% of the Dutch and Danes.

These three countries are those that John Pucher and Ralph Buehler wrote about as being at the forefront of making cycling irresistible.

In other news, The Erasmus Medical Centre in Rotterdam is introducing a new policy of free folding bicycles for workers in an attempt to reduce the current 45% of workers who arrive by car to 20-25% and according to the Swiss BPA, a safety organisation which wants to make cycle helmets compulsory, 38% of Swiss cyclists now wear a helmet, up from 18% in 1999. This is, of course, a vastly higher percentage than in the Netherlands. However, vastly more people cycle in the Netherlands than in Switzerland, and they're safer too.

There were one or two other bits, but you'll have to subscribe yourself if you want to read them.

The Fietsberaad also produces a regular magazine about cycling infrastructure.


Anonymous said...

Those "turborotondes" look very dodgy. What do you want to bet that the German automobile federation comes out in favour of them?

I'm not suprised Germans don't cycle as musch in the winter: Less people have got hold of the 'bikes for transport' idea, and we have a lot less infrastructure, and what we do have isn't always kept clear of snow and ice. There's other issues as well, but I'd need a blog post to cover them all...

David Hembrow said...

I think the "turborotondes" show that even here there is some conflict about the best way to provide infrastructure.

Cyclists always have to be vigilant !

Kevin Love said...

Interesting. Here in Canada we are no strangers to winter. Does anyone else have snow tires for their bicycles?

Courtesy of the Toronto Bike Union, I just found out that those who live in my part of Toronto (Ward 27) have 33% of their work trips by active transportation (walking and biking). Public transit gets 32% and autos 35%. An interesting breakdown into thirds. Details at:

David Hembrow said...

Snow tyres ? I think you can get in most places where it snows a lot. And I know it does snow a lot in Canada. We get a bit of a chill here, but snow is rare. It being a bit cold doesn't stop people cycling, but I suspect the weather would stop more people if we had a couple of metres of snow !

What's special about your bit of Toronto ? The figures for that bit are quite impressive, but according to the PDF you sent the link for, in the city as a whole the driving to work rate is 65% and the transit rate is 28% leaving just 7% to share between everything else.

We don't get figures here for just a part of a city, but I'm sure if you picked certain areas, such as where students live, you'd get really very high figures. Figures for whole cities of 40% or more of journeys by bike are not uncommon here. Here in Assen I've also seen it expressed as the entire populace making an average of nearly 1.2 cycle journeys each per day. It's 1.4 cycle journeys per person per day in Groningen.

I've also seen it expressed as 35% of journeys under 7.5 km in the whole country being by bike (or nearly 30% of all journeys, whatever their length).

Comparing stats created by different means and measuring different things really is a nightmare.