Notes and Notices

On art, architecture and design

12/05/2014

How the Dutch got their amazing cycling infrastructure

Posted by Carren Jao Pineda |

We have two bicycles in our apartment. It sits comfortably on a bike stand indoors, but only one ever makes it out on a regular basis. Why? Because despite the many strides in alternative transportation in Los Angeles, cycling is still a scary prospect, especially for those who aren't proficient bikers.

I'm one of the former. My husband is the latter. On the tight cycling paths, I find myself wobbling and imagining gruesome deaths by swooping cars just inches to my left. The city is getting better at promoting cycling, however, as I write this they're overhauling a small 0.5-mile path just outside my home to make room for a wider cycling path and next year, much to my excitement, CicLAvia, a popular car-free event in the city will be coming to my neighborhood! No need to take the Red Line to wherever CicLAvia has opted to set up. Despite these good news, I still find myself wishing for a more secure, segregated bike paths that are physically separated from the cars, but I'll take what I can get.

In the meantime, I shouldn't lose hope. Change comes not because of one event, but multiple confluences. In Netherlands, their amazing cycling culture was borne out of an cramped city infrastructure that couldn't handle a large motorized vehicle volume, an oil crisis, and also an alarming surge of cycling deaths. This gave rise to citizens who clamored for change and kept at it.

Here's a great video found via Root Simple:



Many cities might share the same problems, but the lesson here for me, is that without political will coming from the people themselves, there can be no change. In Los Angeles, we are building that political will. It has already resulted in major strides in pro-cycling and pedestrian policies, but we still have much more room to improve.

But, if the Dutch can do it, so can any city right? All we need is to want it and to say it, loudly and consistently.

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