Amsterdam’s new ‘Inner Ring’ will be a cycle street

For this week’s post I cycled a large part of the so-called Binnenring (Inner Ring) in Amsterdam. This is a new cycle route right around the historic city centre of the city, that is currently under development. Where possible the route will be (or has become) a cycle street for longer distances. On the city’s website Amsterdam explains the reason for the reconstruction of the streets that form this Inner Ring. I translated the text of the website and adjusted it slightly to make it a bit more understandable to an international audience.

Hard to see on images taken in the middle of winter, but around the reconstructed intersection of Frederiksplein the ring has really become much more green with a lot of newly planted greenery.

Safe, fast and attractive

Improving traffic safety and creating more space for cycling and public transport are the main reasons for redesigning the “Binnenring” (Inner Ring) in Amsterdam. We want to create a recognisable, safe and attractive route. The Binnenring is more than 7 kilometers long and runs through Czaar Peterstraat, Sarphatistraat, Weteringschans and Marnixstraat. More space will be created on the Binnenring for cycling and public transport. The city will achieve this by turning it into a main bicycle street with (mostly) separate tram tracks.

  • Cars will be guests and the maximum speed will be 30 kilometres per hour.
  • The public transport stops (tram stops) will be accessible to all users
  • There will be safe and pleasant walking routes to and from these stops.
  • The tram tracks will not be used by other vehicles as much as possible.

The city has already taken care of a large part of Sarphatistraat, Weteringschans and a number of important intersections along this route. In the coming years, the western part of the route will have the main focus, in particular: Weteringschans between Weteringcircuit and Leidseplein as well as the Marnixstaat. Amsterdam is also working on Czaar Peterstraat and the northern part of Sarphatistraat. The Binnenring is intended to be extended to Amsterdam-North in the more distant future, via new bridges over the river IJ, on the east side and on the west side of the city centre.

Mentioned in other sources is that the number of trams increased significantly on the Binnenring after the North-South Metro line of Amsterdam was opened. (This tram line crosses that new line perpendicularly, so they complement each other.) More trams meant more potential conflicts with other types of traffic, including walking and cycling. Making the area around the tram tracks safer was therefore a priority for the city. The reconstruction of the first parts of the Binnenring started in 2016. The ring runs on streets on the inside of the final canal around Amsterdam’s historic city centre. Local car traffic is rerouted to the main road on the outside of this former city moat. Also a ring formed by several streets which all together are referred to as the S100. Through traffic is directed via the A10 ring road, a motorway which runs mostly outside the main built-up area of the city.

Map of the ‘Binnenring’ (Inner Ring) in alternating colours to indicate the different sections. (image city of Amsterdam)

The reconstructed parts of the Binnenring are notably greener than these streets were before. The parts of the Binnenring which are yet to be redesigned will get the same type of greenery that you can see in the Sarphatistraat today. The middle part of Sarphatistraat was one of the first sub-projects to be finished in 2018.

The cycle street has a surface of smooth red asphalt. One of the first crossings to be finished was the main intersection of Frederiksplein, that was completed in 2018. Another big intersection, Weteringcircuit, was reconstructed in 2019. The street connecting to Weteringcircuit called Weteringschans was reopened as a cyclesteet in 2020.

I stop the ride and the video in Marnixstraat, because from then on most of the reconstruction has yet to take place. The north part of that street is in the planning stage. The final design is expected to be approved this year (2023) and the reconstruction may take place in 2024 (or later). The reconstruction can only take place after a parking garage (for cars) has been finished. The south part of Marnixstraat should be under construction right now. The works were scheduled to have started, but I have not been there recently to check if that is indeed the case. 

Sarphatistraat-north may look interesting with the tram on grass tracks, but the cycleway is considered to be too narrow and that is the reason to also redesign this part of the Binnenring.

The north part of Sarphatistraat (where the tram tracks run on grass now) will also be redesigned. The separate cycle tracks which can be found there now are too narrow for the amount of cycling traffic. But that sub-project is also still in the planning phase. Works will not take place before 2025.

The Weteringschans/Museumbrug intersection in the before situation. It was a busy and not very clear and safe intersection. (Google Maps)
This is what the intersection of Weteringschans with Museumbrug will look like after the reconstruction. Works started in October 2022 and the reconstructed intersection (which will resemble a roundabout) is expected to be finished by July 2023. In 2019 I filmed one minute at this intersection and that video went viral. I am looking forward to filming the new situation in the second half of this year! Traffic should run even smoother on the new intersection!
A rendering of what this location will look like after the reconstruction. In the distance to the left the Rijksmuseum. (Image city of Amsterdam)

Enjoy the ride and note that there are parts which are finished and parts which have yet to be reconstructed. Also note that I filmed this ride in January 2022, a year ago.

My ride on a large part of the Amsterdam Binnenring (filmed in January 2022).

The city of Amsterdam published a really interesting background story on the history of the Binnenring on their website. It is in Dutch but Google Translate creates a quite readable and understandable machine translation.

13 thoughts on “Amsterdam’s new ‘Inner Ring’ will be a cycle street

  1. Would you also explain how the traffic plan have been / will be reconfigured so as to ensure low motorised traffic? This is the key to switching from bicycle tracks to a bicycle street, and without emphasing this, I’m afraid part of your audience will wrongly interpret this as a proof that mixing bikes and traffic (without any consideration about the actual volume of motorised traffic) is what leading Dutch cycling cities go for.

      1. Some 80% of the traffic within and on the old city ring (s100) is local traffic. And there is too much of it. Amsterdam is a great city for cars because of the popularity of the bicycle, it results in a compact city and space for cars. Luckily most inhabitants prefer the bicycle, but there is a hardcore group of motorists that insist on using the car a lot.

        The biggest problem is the highway that cuts through the city from north to south. With a tunnel it passes the IJ and at the mouth of the tunnel there are even 8 lanes of car traffic! I propose to make a park there and reduce the tunnel to two small lanes only.

  2. Guinness declares Al Qudra Cycling Track the ‘Longest Continuous Cycling Path’

    Dubai’s Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) has achieved a new Guinness world record that adds to its impressive tally of world records in having Al Qudra Cycling Track spanning 80.6 km declared as the longest continuous cycling path surpassing the previous world record registered in 2020 for a 33 km cycling track.

    Philip Demosthenes – 303-349-9497 (mobile)

  3. I am not comfortable with the wide bike path on Sarpathistraat. Makes cars push their way, as shown on film, car driver just “have to” overtake, in spite of a long queue for red light 50 m ahead. They push cyclists to the door zone, just like any other narrow street. The only thing won is autoluw.

  4. Hi Mark, in two illustrations (showing the situation opposite the Museumbridge) you confuse the western part of the Weteringschans with the Weteringcircuit 🙂

  5. Small correction, the red and blue on the image doesn’t indicate what sections have been finished or not. They just alternated to colours to show the different sections.

  6. We still have to deal with tourists on zebra crossings. Especially here, near Rijksmuseum. Tourists from car culture afraid to cross unless we come to a full stop.

    How to educate them before they are let to roam around freely without any experience? Perhaps with some VR experience at the airport to drill them… Include substracted ‘points’ in such a serious game if they stay put on the curb at the zebra crossing each time a bicycle passes.

    Sometimes I long back for the pandemic era, when only locals were crossing the street. That went so smooth! Like bicycling in Utrecht or Groningen, where pedestrians understand bicyclists (because nearly all of them are bicyclists themselves).

    1. Maybe catch them on their flights, depending on where they’re coming from. When we went to Iceland, the in-flight entertainment had a short cheerful video about the DANGERS OF DRIVING IN ICELAND, and it was pretty much 1) you need to have your headlights on, all the time, year-round, 2) there are so many sheep, please be alert for sheep all the time, it is very important that you do not hit sheep with a car. (I think there were also some explanations of signs, like for low-visibility hills and single-lane bridges.)

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