Bike paths along the busiest routes in Amsterdam city centre are currently too narrow for the rising numbers of cyclists that use them on a daily basis. Abandoned bikes and overcrowded bike racks are also beginning to cause accessibility issues at Amsterdam Central, Amstel and Zuid Stations. The City of Amsterdam plans to tackle the problem by creating 38,000 new bike parking places and laying at least 15 kilometres of red asphalt bike lanes on the most dangerous roads in a gradual process running until 2020. Up until 2016, the City Council will invest 57 million euros in measures designed to benefit cyclists. This investment is recorded in the Long-term Cycle Plan 2012 - 2016, which also outlines future cycling policy.
Bicycles are an essential means of transport in Amsterdam. Compared to other transportation in the city, bikes are cheap, fast and clean while also offering inherent health benefits. Bikes also take up relatively little space. Bike usage in Amsterdam has grown by more than 40% in the last 20 years, from 340,000 daily journeys by bicycle to 490,000 in 2008. And the numbers continue to rise. The amount of bicycle journeys to and from train stations is expected to rise by 25% by 2020. Collectively, Amsterdammers travel in the region of 2 million kilometres by bike every day. Investment in cycling facilities has lagged behind this explosive growth, resulting in overflowing bike racks and overly narrow bike paths on the primary routes in the city centre. The percentage of seriously-wounded traffic accident victims that are cyclists has also risen to 56% compared to 48% in 2000.
The majority of the Amsterdam cycle path network is up to scratch, although the lack of space in the city centre often makes it impossible to create separate cycle paths. As an alternative, a total of 15 kilometres of red asphalt bike lanes will be laid along the most dangerous roads in order to help improve traffic safety. The City of Amsterdam will also introduce so-called ‘Plusnetten’ which means that during major road reconstruction work, the busiest cycle routes will be redesigned to allow cyclists as much space as possible.
Up until 2020, the City of Amsterdam is collaborating with partners such as Prorail and the Stadsregio Amsterdam to invest nearly 120 million euros to address the major issues affecting bike storage and the cycle path network. 90 million euros of this will be dedicated to the creation of 38,000 new bike parking places. Looking further to the future, a total of about 200 million euros will be required up until 2040, of which 170 million euros is for bike parking facilities. 200 million euros is an enormous amount of money, especially in these testing economic times. However, these measures are vital and are also economically viable. The increase in bike usage results in annual savings for the city of 20 million euros on public transport and another 20 million euros on motor traffic infrastructure. In comparison with other forms of transport, investing in bikes delivers the most effective result per euro.
By 2016, the Long-term Cycle Plan (Meerjarenplan Fiets) 2012 - 2016 will result in the following being achieved:
- The creation of an additional 1,700 bike parking places in public space at Amsterdam Central Station. The opening of the first new indoor bike storage facility, with space for approximately 1,000 bikes. Agreements made regarding the required extension of the facility up until 2020 to realise a total capacity of at least 14,000 bikes, up to a maximum of 17,500.
- A new bike storage facility for 3,000 bikes under the Gustav Mahlerplein next to Amsterdam Station Zuid will be nearing completion .
- The creation of 800 additional bike parking places in public space at the other major Amsterdam train stations. In 2020, this will rise to 5,300 spaces.
- The establishment of Additional Fietspunten (‘Bike Points’). This successful bike storage concept offering free bike parking is already available at Amsterdam Station Zuid. At the indoor storage facilities, cyclists can securely store their bike for free for a period of 24 hours before paying 50 eurocents for each additional day. 74% of cyclists retrieve their bike within 24 hours. Consultations with the Dutch Railways will commence in 2013 regarding the conversion of the frequently empty indoor storage facility at Amsterdam Station Amstel into a Fietspunt. From 2016, the City of Amsterdam plans to extend the Fietspunt concept by constructing new indoor storage facilities at Amsterdam Central Station.
- The installation of more than 2,000 additional bike racks at major public transport interchanges (such as the new stations on the Noord/Zuidlijn).
- More efficient use of the existing bike parking facilities in public spaces. The City of Amsterdam will stimulate this by creating regulations that cyclists must retrieve their bike within 7 or 14 days in busy areas and by enforcing other regulations such as areas where bike parking is prohibited.
- The creation of 4,500 bike parking places around Leidseplein and De Rode Loper. Combined with the measures to use existing facilities more efficiently, the addition of these spaces will mean that there is sufficient bike storage in the area.
- A sufficient amount of accessible bike storage facilities will be part of every newly-constructed residence, office or facility.
- The improvement of safety on 15 kilometres of the most significant section of the cycle network (i.e. the busiest routes) by the addition of red asphalt and by the widening the cycle paths where possible (with the added consideration of scooters and delivery bicycles using the paths).
- The creation of improved cycle routes under the railway to the west of Amsterdam Central Station and over the Noord-Holland Canal at Mosplein. Decision taken regarding at least one more cycle route in the area.
The Long-term Cycle Plan is available to download on the Amsterdam.nl website (in Dutch). Keep up to date on the latest developments regarding bikes in Amsterdam on Twitter: @020fiets (in Dutch).