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As per the United Nations website – World Bicycle Day draws attention to the benefits of using the bicycle — a simple, affordable, clean and environmentally fit sustainable means of transportation. The bicycle contributes to cleaner air and less congestion and makes education, health care and other social services more accessible to the most vulnerable populations. A sustainable transport system that promotes economic growth, reduces inequalities while bolstering the fight against climate change is critical to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.

Acknowledging the uniqueness, longevity and versatility of the bicycle, which has been in use for two centuries, and that it is a simple, affordable, reliable, clean and environmentally fit sustainable means of transportation, fostering environmental stewardship and health, the General Assembly decided to declare 3 June World Bicycle Day.

It encouraged stakeholders to emphasize and advance the use of the bicycle as a means of fostering sustainable development, strengthening education, including physical education, for children and young people, promoting health, preventing disease, promoting tolerance, mutual understanding and respect and facilitating social inclusion and a culture of peace.

The Assembly welcomed initiatives to organize bicycle rides at the national and local levels as a means of strengthening physical and mental health and well-being and developing a culture of cycling in society.

A bicycle-friendly city is a city with more space, less noise, cleaner air, healthier citizens and a better economy. It’s a city that is a nicer place to be in and where individuals have a higher quality of life. Where accessibility is high and there is a short route from thought to action if one wants to head out into nature, participate in cultural or sports activities or buy locally. Bicycle traffic is therefore not a singular goal but rather an effective tool to use when creating a liveable city with space for diversity and development.

Cycling is a democratic mode of transportation. It offers greater mobility to virtually everyone regardless of origin, age, income or physical ability. The bicycle increases social participation and is an inexpensive solution to transport poverty.

IT PAYS OFF 

Fortunately, it pays off to invest in urban cycling. Increased cycling levels give society less congestion, fewer sick days, longer life expectancy, less wear and tear on the roads and less pollution. Cycling initiatives are also inexpensive compared with other transport investments.

So here goes our Top 3- Don’t @ us!

1. Copenhagen

 

(Fun Fact – did you know that 9 out of 10 Danes own a bike?). 

Interestingly male cyclists account for 47% and female 53% of all cyclists in the city.  33% of people choose to get to work by bike each day meaning there are 1.1 million fewer sick days! Adults who bike to work also have 30% lower morbidity.  According to research carried out by the Cycling Embassy of Denmark- children that cycle to school can focus for 4 more hours than those children who arrive by car.

So, what makes it the most bike friendly city in the World?

Copenhageners cycle 1.44 million kilometres every day. More than €40 per capita in bicycle infrastructure investments. Four bicycle bridges built or under construction. 167 kilometres of new regional cycle highways.

Over the past decade Copenhagen has been continually stitching itself together, connecting the city with 12 new bicycle and pedestrian bridges. Since 2017 alone, the city has opened Alfred Nobel’s Bridge, connecting the new neighbourhood of Sydhavn, and broken ground on three new major bridges, like Lille Langebro and Dybbølsbro. The later of those will have 5.5 metre wide bike lanes in each direction to accommodate more than 22,000 daily bicycle riders.

And on the regional level, investments totalling €20.6 million has seen the creation of eight new routes, totalling more than 167 kilometres. These cycle highways are an expanding network of comfortable infrastructure with improved wayfinding and lighting, wide cycle tracks, repair stations, and timed intersections stretching more than 20 kilometres out from the city centre. And based off 2018 evaluations, the improvement of conditions along these routes has increased bicycle traffic up to 68%, with 14% of new bicycle commuters switching over from the car. Keep an eye on this initiative as another seven routes are already financed and will be built out over the coming years.

A cycle track is not just a stretch of asphalt. It can be both a dream and a nightmare to ride on. Copenhageners can ride comfortably through the city, transporting infants, loved ones and groceries without having to worry about bumps or potholes.

The momentum that Copenhagen has built up, especially over the past twenty years, has kept the city at the front of the pack. But the numbers are clear, it will always be a tight race between Copenhagen, Amsterdam, and Utrecht.

2. UTRECHT

Utrecht is a bustling, bicycle-friendly city. Every day over 125,000 cyclists ride to their work, school, university, public transport, shops or home through the city centre.

The municipality wants to make cycling even more attractive for these and other cyclists. Consequently, the bicycle is given precedence in the mobility policy of the municipality of Utrecht. We want to keep our growing city liveable, accessible and economically strong. And we are convinced that the bicycle can and should play a major role in this.

Being a bicycle-friendly city in the Netherlands is well sort of a given but being one of the most bike friendly is hard- Competition is tough! But it looks like the city of Utrecht is up to the challenge, the city willing to embrace innovation and drive innovation.

Utrecht benefits from world class cycling infrastructure, high bicycle modal shares, convenient intermodality, and bicycle riders of all stripes. But where the city really shines this time around is through innovation and political will. This growing city pursues cycling as a mode of transportation to the fullest potential, prioritizing bicycles over cars, aiming to double the use of bicycle commuting traffic by 2030. The city is implementing smart traffic signals, dedicated ‘fast lanes’ for e-bikes, and expanding bicycle parking capacity across the city.

In order to make intermodal connections as seamless, the city is building the world’s largest bicycle parking structure, increasing capacity at the station to 22,000 bicycle parking spaces.

Additionally, the central station pledged to build an additional 11,000 bicycle parking spaces by 2020, pushing the capacity within the neighbourhood up to 33,000. That’s more than the number of car parking spaces at Disney World Orlando (in a fraction of the space).

3. Amsterdam

The Netherlands is a country of bikes. They have a population of around 17 million people, and almost 23 million bicycles! For short distances ¬– especially in cities – bicycles are a popular alternative to public transport and cars. In fact, one quarter of all journeys in the Netherlands are made by bike. So, cycling rules!

The Dutch Capital world-famous for its bicycle-friendliness has released an ambitious new bicycle plan for 2022 that focuses on improving bicycle parking and existing bicycle infrastructure. With 11,000 new inhabitants filling the city every year, Amsterdam is creating new “royal routes” to accommodate more bicycles. These corridors include measures to allow for a lower stress cycling experience during rush hour periods. Some of these measures include widening existing cycle tracks to 2.5 metres for increased capacity, building more low-speed cycle streets and redesigning major intersections to allow for more protected cycling space.

By 2025, the City will be removing over 11,000 car parking spaces from the city centre (1,500 per year), to be replaced with bicycle parking, street trees and better walking environments. Additionally, in a much-needed move, the City is planning on connecting bicycle and foot traffic in North and South Amsterdam over the river IJ with the construction of a bicycle bridge. And on top of all that planning, Amsterdam is finally banning mopeds from riding in cycle tracks within the city centre. This has been one of the greatest points of concern among local bicycle users for years, and now with this new move by the City – mopeds will be required to drive with other motorized vehicles in the street.

The Dutch have not only created a safe and extensive network for cycling. They designed this network to make cycling safe and suitable for people of all ages, all abilities and for different types of bicycles. Cycling as a mode of transport is therefore accessible to everyone.

Road safety is not a goal, it is a precondition for cycling!” 

This effort not only focused on building cycle paths but also making intersections safer by changing layouts or by adding lights for cyclists, thereby reducing the chance of conflicts with vehicular traffic. Where the physical space is too small for physical separation, vehicular traffic is slowed down by a change in the street layout as well as signs. Dutch planners also create areas where cars are allowed to enter but were they are guests and cyclists and pedestrians have priority

A bicycle is not simply two wheels and a frame, but exists in many forms. This requires a nimble government to makes smart use of it.

Pieter Litjens

Transport Alderman at the City of Amsterdam

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