Jul 14, 2017
How did the small Dutch city of Nijmegen conquer car traffic?
The urban design firm Copenhagenize recently released its biannual ranking of the world’s best bike cities. Copenhagen, Utrecht, Amsterdam, and Strasbourg top the list of usual suspects.
But some cycling capitals are less well known. Take Nijmegen, a mid-sized Dutch city near the German border, where bikes boast an inner-city modal share of 60 percent. Last year, the Cyclists’ Union of the Netherlands voted it the best bike city in the country (and thus probably the universe)—toppling other towns that regularly garner international praise.
What’s the city’s secret? A new documentary by Streetfilms shot during Velo-City, an international biking conference recently held in Nijmegen, hits on key points.
A downtown built for people—with engineered enforcement
Nijmegen’s center city wasn’t always car-free—cue grainy footage of midcentury sedans cruising past charming steepled rooftops. “The main square used to be a parking lot,” Sjors Van Duren, the program director of Velo-City, tells Clarence Eckerson, the film’s director.