All about cycling in the Netherlands
The morning rush hour in Amsterdam is not something I have ever filmed myself (yet). When I started this blog other bloggers were covering Amsterdam but I also never really felt the urge to get up very early to travel all the way there to be in time for the morning rush hour. Amsterdam is more than an hour’s travel from my home after all. But fortunately I have some great followers who are willing to help me out. I was able to show you a morning commute from the Amsterdam De Pijp neighbourhood to the railway station parking at Amsterdam South station in 2015, filmed by a friend. Now I am able to show you a morning commute from Amstelveen to the University of Amsterdam thanks to a friendly follower!
Hidde is the name of a student at the University of Amsterdam who lives in Amstelveen, which is a suburb in a separate municipality directly south-west of Amsterdam. Hidde wrote me:
“This is my daily commute to the university. It is a route of 10.7 km from my home in Amstelveen to the University of Amsterdam UvA. I recorded this on Thursday 31 October 2019. I left home around 8:10am that day to catch the morning rush hour. Unlike you, my camera is mounted low, directly on my handlebars, which gives a different result than the higher-up view in your shots. I use a GoPro which has a fish eye lens and while that makes the field of view a lot larger, it also causes some deformations at the edges. I did not change my cycling behaviour for the video because I would not find that true to nature. So you can indeed see me cycling through a red light at signalised intersections where that is possible (according to my own judgement).”
You will indeed see that Hidde rides a bit differently than I do, partly because he knows this route so well. He already rode to secondary school in Amsterdam before he studied there at the university. He has quite a high speed because he uses a hybrid bicycle. That is not really a city bike but also not really a racing bike. Some of his traffic decisions are also a bit different from how I would make them. Not only the red light running but also how fast he cuts some corners and how close he passes other people also on foot. Where really necessary he does pull the brakes though, so it never really becomes dangerous also in my perception.
On his ride Hidde encounters an interesting range of different types of infrastructure. Also of the type that the handbooks advise against. On-street cycle lanes on 50km/h streets and quite a few of those actually. Amsterdam is a bigger city that seems to lag behind a bit when it comes to catching up with these developments. It takes more time to change the course of a large ship and in the same way it also takes more time to change a larger city apparently. What is promising is that in the end there is a modern cycle street with priority for cycling on a street that previously had those inadequte on-street cycle lanes. Also in the beginning of the video developments are visible; the roundabout in Amstelveen was only constructed in 2019.
I had Jitensha Oni look at the video beforehand. Because he can analyse rides like no one else can. He has done quite a few already on my blog. Examples can be found here, here and here. The figure of 9% of the ride being on 50km/h streets with only on-street cycle lanes is even higher than I expected. I really think that this type of infrastructure is not good enough, not even when these streets are not the busiest there are. This is exactly why so many people from the rest of the Netherlands are not impressed by the cycling infrastructure in Amsterdam. Of course there is no place that is perfect, but in this particular field Amsterdam has work to do. It is good to see (at the end of the video) that they are indeed changing this.
What really blew my mind is the incredible number of people cycling which you can see in this 30 minute ride: well over 800! And that is even without counting the people you see crossing Hidde’s route. Only the ones on his route, in his own direction and directly oncoming. Normally we get to see dots on Jitensha Oni’s maps where other people cycling were to be seen, but that was not possible with these high numbers. So he tried another style a figure that corresponds directly with the route in the same picture. This has turned out to be very clear in my opinion. You can see that at the beginning in Amstelveen there are a lot of school children because Hidde passes a secondary school there at just the right time. In Amsterdam, where he is later, we see a lot of adults going to work and a lot of students, obviously more and more the closer he gets to the university.
There is quite some road work going on in this ride and that leads to some detours. Most of the infrastructure is very safe, but the most dangerous intersection, according to Hidde, is just past the bridge over the river Amstel where he needs to take a left turn to the Weesperzijde. You can even see a vehicle standing there in the middle of the intersection – stuck in the sea of cyclists. In the bicycle parking garage of the university at the end we see quite a few traffic wardens or “bicycle coaches” as they are called. One of them shouts in great Amsterdam fashion “Good morning lady… lady, good morning… lady… bicycles with baskets must go in the back. Bi-cy-cles-with-bas-kets-must-go-in-the-back!” Which apparently means that that student’s bicycle with a front basket was not allowed to be parked where she put it and that the lady in question wasn’t really paying attention to the bicycle coach…
Enjoy Hidde’s ride! You can choose the real time version, which has additional information with signs informing you about the type of instratructure on the route, or you can choose the sped-up version.
The route in Google Maps.