Richard Florida
by Richard Florida
Wed Jul 1st 2009 at 10:30am UTC

It’s All About the Bike

Bikes have replaced cars as the preferred mode of transportation in Amsterdam, according to a new study (reported in the Oregonian via Planetizen):

“The bicycle is the means of transport used most often in Amsterdam,” reports Bike Europe. “Between 2005 and 2007 people in the city used their bikes on average 0.87 times a day, compared to 0.84 for their cars. This is the first time that bicycle use exceeds car use.”

When I started cycling in the Boston area a decade or so, I recall there was a competition between bike, car, and train commuters on designated routes. The bike commuters cleaned up.

It’s getting better in cities from New York to Portland, but American and Canadian cities have a long way to go to catch up – in car too many, commuting by bike remains fraught with risk.

Check out this video of Amsterdam bike commuters:

7 Responses to “It’s All About the Bike”

  1. Michael Scott Says:

    Richard,

    I just ended my W-2 position (with a one-hour commute) to purchase a bike and couldn’t be happier. The Sacramento-Folsom-Davis, CA biking corridor is one of the most well developed in the nation. It is fraught with danger though as increasing numbers of bicyclists are competing with cars for control of the roads.

    Michael Scott

  2. GJeff Says:

    The video did not show up on my computer, but can be seen at “The Oregonian” link in the story above, or here:

    http://blog.oregonlive.com/commuting/2009/06/in_amsterdam_more_trips_now_by.html

  3. anna Says:

    the place isn’t Amsterdam but Utrecht: see
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/gregraisman/3548341974/in/set-72157618735799428/

  4. Buzzcut Says:

    Not entirely unrelated.

  5. Michael Wells Says:

    Good catch Anna. Don’t know how the Oregonian got the video wrong.
    But the story is still about Amsterdam. I wonder how much of the Amsterdam region they’re talking about? The old city, 5 miles out, 10 miles out? Not to quibble, because a lot of Amsterdam transport has always been bicycles, and I’ll bet it’s increasing.

    Here’s a video from Portland:
    http://www.streetfilms.org/archives/portland-bike-rush-hour-on-the-hawthorne-bridge/
    If you just count Inner Southeast Portland where much of the population is young creative class, the percentage using bikes as primary transportation is around 20%. For the whole city, the Census bureau says its 4%, which is still a huge increase over 10 years ago.

    Whether Amsterdam or Utrecht, Holland is flat and has lots of old streets so bicycling is easy. Portland or San Francisco by contrast have lots of hills, so bike commuting is a sweatier affair.

    What I know as a driver is that the number of bicyclists has grown to where I automatically watch for them, which is different from watching for cars or pedestrians. I also think Portland bicyclists have become much better at following the rules of the road and thinking safety. I suspect this has to do with biking becoming more mainstream. A few years ago you saw bikers running stop signs and red lights at speed without looking.

  6. Deborah Says:

    Fort Collins, Colorado is also a a great place to ride bikes. You can see more and more bikes in our city and recently some prime parking spots in the downtown area were given over to large bike racks which make it even more conducive to leaving the car at home. We’ve got mountains in the background but it’s pretty flat too. If you don’t own a bike in Fort Collins, you can “earn” one by contributing volunteer hours to help refurbish bikes http://fcbikecoop.org/

  7. Greg Says:

    You may find this blog amusing and popular among bike commuters in NY.

    http://bikesnobnyc.blogspot.com/