Sometimes you find little gems on YouTube. This is one of those! An American film showing cycling in Amsterdam in the 1950s. It is tempting to think nothing has changed but that would not be the full story. Yes, there is a lot of cycling in Amsterdam today, especially in the city centre that is portrayed here, but the car/bicycle ratio was a lot better in the 1950s! For 30 years (1950s-1980s) cycling was in decline. Only after the cycling infrastructure was updated, improved and built-where-missing, cycling became a viable alternative to the car and it made a comeback to the level we see today, not nearly as much as the beginning of the 1950s. But then again so much, that a high number of streets have now been converted to ‘cycle streets‘, where cars are guest just like it was everywhere in the 1950s. It is interesting the narrator mentions there were more than 3 million bicycles in the Netherlands, or “one for every family”. (When in fact it was one for every three people.) That figure has risen to 18 million, more than one per person (there are 16 million Dutch people now and there were 10 million in 1950). Another interesting quote:
“The Netherlanders are a race that travels on bikes.”
Some stills with comments:
Video showing a light-hearted American view on cycling in Amsterdam in the 1950s.