All about cycling in the Netherlands
Last week the Dutch Ministry for Infrastructure and the Environment published the latest figures of traffic mobility in the Netherlands.
The document “Mobiliteitsbalans 2011” has a summary in English (from page 123), in which we can read the following interesting facts.
Following remarkable growth in the 1980s and 1990s, the total amount of national mobility of people in the Netherlands has not increased since 2005. This particularly applies to car use.
Half of all journeys in the Netherlands were undertaken using cars; a quarter by bicycle; one in five by foot; and one in 20 by public transport. Of the total amount of kilometres travelled, car use accounts for nearly three-quarters of this total, while public transport accounts for 13 percent and bicycles for 8 percent. This division of journeys among the various transport modes has remained relatively constant over the past 10 years. Approximately half of all the kilometres travelled had a social-recreational motive: visiting family or friends, going out or recreational trips. Since 2000, the largest growth has occurred in home-to-work travel: an increase of 18 percent.
Bicyclists travel greater distances
Over the past 10 years, bicyclists travelled a total of 13 percent more kilometres. This is partly attributed to population growth, but is primarily owing to the fact that journey distances by bicycle have increased. The main reasons for this are the increased scale of the various service providers (schools, shopping malls, banks, sports accommodations, etc), and the expansion of urban areas. Home-to-work distances have also become longer. Bicycles are increasingly used in combination with train journeys, accounting for, at present, 4 percent of all journeys by bicycle. Approximately 40 percent of all train passengers use bicycles to travel back and forth from their homes and train stations.
Most journeys over short distances
Seventy percent of all journeys are shorter than 7.5 kilometres, of which bicycles and cars both account for approximately a 35 percent share of such journeys. Public transport is largely insignificant for short distances. Bicycles are used for nearly half of all home-to-work journeys of up to 7.5 kilometres, and for more than half (55 percent) of all short journeys to and from school or educational courses. When engaging in daily leisure activities situated close to home, people primarily walk or ride bicycles. For business-related journeys (73 percent) and daily household activities (41 percent), cars are the dominant mode of transport.
In the three urban areas of Amsterdam, Rotterdam and Eindhoven, peoples’ travel behaviour when travelling short distances varies greatly. Cars are more often used in Eindhoven and Rotterdam, while bicycles predominate in Amsterdam. Within Amsterdam city limits, cars are much less often used than they are in Rotterdam and Eindhoven. For journeys between city centres and other municipalities in these urban regions, the car predominates. Differences between the various urban areas are found in their parking policies, the spatial structure of the city (region), the composition of the population, car ownership rates, and the supply of public transport. The precise contribution that each of these factors makes towards regional mobility cannot be stated at this time.
More bicyclists injured
From 2000 to 2010, the number of traffic fatalities decreased by 45 percent, to 640 deaths, despite an increase in mobility during this period. This decrease was primarily a result of safer cars (due to airbags, for example), safer road designs (roundabouts, 30 and 60-km speed limit roads), information and enforcement. The number of serious traffic-related injuries during the period 2000-2006 remained stable, but rose by 20 percent between 2006 and 2009, with this increase primarily resulting from an increase in the number of accidents involving bicyclists, in which no motor vehicles were involved.
The increasing number of injuries is of course bad news. Other studies reveal that a lot of these incidents not involving motorized vehicles have to do with bollards, scooters, the aging population (more older cyclists) and even a number of severe winters with more icy conditions. A lot of study is already undertaken to tackle this problem.
The above is all mentioned in the summary in English but I’d like to end this post with the table on page 29.
Bicycle use: the Netherlands at the top
The bicycle plays a major role in the travel behavior of the people in the Netherlands with a quarter of all journeys. This high number cannot be found anywhere else in Europe.
Modal share of the bicycle as a percentage of all journeys (2009)
Country percentage United Kingdom 2 Sweden 7 Belgium 8 Germany 10 Switzerland 11 Denmark 20 Netherlands 26