Posted on: August 17, 2017
The Netherlands is a bicycle country, but research encompassing the 20th largest municipalities shows that predominately the car gets the most public space. Both cyclists and pedestrians lose out. But for pedestrians there is most space in Amsterdam’s Red Light District, it has the best streets in Amsterdam and 19 other major cities.
According to this study commissioned by the Nederlandse Milieudefensie (translated: Dutch Environment Defense) more than half of all the streets, 55% to be exact, have been reserved for cars. About a third of all street space is designated for pedestrians. The Dutch cyclist has to do with just 12 percent of all street space.
Researchers looked at every municipality in the Netherlands, separating the square meters designated for every car, bicycle and pedestrian. Based on this they determined which type of road users get priority in every neighbourhood of all 20 municipalities.
Interesting detail: Amsterdam’s Red Light District is one of the neighbourhoods where pedestrians get most of the available space. A total of 60 percent of all space is designated for pedestrians making it the highest scoring neighbourhood in all of Holland and the best streets in Amsterdam to walk around.
A lot of streets in Amsterdam’s Red Light District can not be reached by car and many alley’s in this area are for pedestrians only. The Old Church Square (Dutch: Oudekerksplein) is located in the heart of the Red Light District and is also only for pedestrians. Cyclists and moped riders can be fined if they ride on this square.
According to Milieudefensie municipalities should give more space to bicyclists and pedestrians to keep the cities live-able and to improve the air quality. Campaign leader Anne Knol states that “Cities are increasingly more congested and the largest polluting means of transportation takes op most of the space.” Saskia Kluit, director of the cyclist federation agrees with Knol: “Giving more than half of all space to cars is of course bizarre.” According to Kluit this research proves that cars take up an unevenly amount of space. “For a long time this worked out well because bicycles don’t take up much space. But we can see now that the limited space for bicycles is starting to cause problems.”
Kluit emphasises that in the last few years many new types of bicycles have been added to the road. “You can see an ever larger variety of bicycles: from the “bakfiets” (cargo bicycle) that moves slower than average to the new speed pedelecs that reach speeds of up to 45 kilometers an hour.” With wide bicycle lanes you could manage all different types of bicycles according to Kluit. “Only that rarely ever happens because there are always parked cars in the way.”