Friday, December 3, 2010

The Netherlands Invests in Cycling Routes

I am constantly amazed by how, when it comes to cycling infrastructure and trail building, the Netherlands and other Scandinavian/European countries seem to "get it."

In the United States, the answer to congestion (and just about everything else) is to just keep throwing money into more highways, more lanes, more polluting, more fossil fuel consumption...

The serenity of trails is a national treasure.
Whereas in the Netherlands, they just announced the addition of 16 new long distance inter-city bicycle routes. They just seem to understand that an investment in bicycle trails/paths/routes is an investment in transportation, health, antiobesity, recreation, family togetherness, decreased pollution, decreased use of fossil fuels, increased work productivity, and improved health.

Keep in mind, they already have a strong cycling culture in the Netherlands, and they are constantly trying to improve that culture; and it's paying off. According to David Hembrow of A View from the Cycle Path:

"In the Netherlands, 35% of all journeys under 7.5 km are already by bicycle. Also, 15% of journeys between 7.5 km and 15 km take place by bike. For all distances over 15 km, the numbers drop to just 3% of journeys. However, even for these longer distances that's still a larger percentage by bike than people make even of short journeys in many other countries."

Those figures are already pretty amazing; but it's even more amazing that they are not satisfied with good. They are still working for great. While politicians and some nationally known corporations in the U.S. are trying to cut funding for bicycle paths, they have learned elsewhere that now is the time to increase funding and to increase the biking infrastructure.

I might also point out that European countries are not just content to add unsafe biking lanes to roads, but they are more likely to add dedicated biking routes that are separate from the roads.  That sounds safe, relaxing, and enjoyable; it sound a bit like Utopia to me.


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