Have you ever imagined a place where there are more bikes than cars or even people?For this place is called Holland, a country that since the 1970s has embraced this sustainable mode of transport in its politics, culture and economy. There is no secret, no magic. It was the willpower to combat congestion, air pollution and improve the quality of life of the population that led the Netherlands to become a world example when it comes to the “skinny” with 26% of all traffic movements in Its territory made on two wheels.
Cycling: a popular business
While half of the world’s population associates bicycles with leisure activities, in the Netherlands 9 out of 10 trips on two wheels go to work, to the market, to school-that is, the skinny are part of everyday life, Means of transportation for daily commutes.
According to data from the Dutch Cycling Embassy, an institute that promotes bicycles as ecological urban transport, the country’s 16 million inhabitants have more than 18 million bikes, meaning that for each person there is at least one bicycle. This rate is well above that of ownership of cars: only one in two people has a vehicle. The numbers of the use of the magrelle are to impress, starting with the amount of daily trips, in average of 14 million, which represents 15 billion kilometers traveled per year, something equivalent to the trips made by train in the country.
Where else can you pedal to study
The contact with the bikes begins at an early age, to the point where the poor are the most important means of transportation to school: 40% of primary school students study biking, while only 25% go on the road. Do you think the big boys lose their taste for it? Not even. When they arrive in high school, they ride even more-at least 75% of the young people in this range go from bike to school and miserable 6% of trips happen by car.
Who invests, reaps
The promotion of a greener and healthier lifestyle has obviously required constant investment in the creation of lean infrastructure and in public policies more restrictive of private four-wheeled transport. The list includes the reduction of car access to city centers, creating car-free areas, reducing the maximum speed for motor vehicles in some streets and also charging high parking rates.
At the same time, cycling benefited from the gradual construction and expansion of the cycling network, which went from 12 thousand kilometers in 1996 to the current 29 thousand kilometers. In Amsterdam, the most bike-friendly city in the world, the streets are all adapted for two-wheeled traffic, with bike lanes, shared aisles, rental and guard posts and even special signs-a result of long-standing infrastructure work . Between 2007 and 2010, the city invested $ 28 million a year in cycling projects.
Passionate as they are by bikes, the Dutch spend an average of $ 1.4 billion annually on maintenance, buying bikes or even buying a pass for the numerous cycling festivals that take place in the country every year. The effect of the skinny on the Dutch economy goes beyond national borders: the country exports more than one million bikes every year (Dutch bicycles are successful because of the robustness of carrying passengers and merchandise). In addition, the country can also be considered a laboratory, always in search of new technologies and innovations to make the practice of cycling more enjoyable. Currently, according to data from the Dutch Cycling Embassy, about 60% of the bicycles sold in the country are hybrids while one in eight is electric.
Far more than the benefits to the pocket, the Dutch are well aware of the positive consequences of the skinny for the environment and for their own health. Cycling works as a filter of air pollution. According to a study, if all Utrecht city dwellers stopped cycling, car use would increase by between 22% and 38%, which would cause not only terrible traffic jams, but a 70% increase in associated CO2 emissions To traffic, which would mean a lower quality of life for residents and more air pollution.