London Evening Standard)
- MARK BLUNDEN Amsterdam
- 1 day ago
Officials in Holland say young cycling campaigners should be encouraged to get involved with urban policy to improve safety, along with adding practical solutions such as removing traffic lights to promote respect between cyclists and pedestrians, more eye contact between road users and putting countdown screens at bike crossings.
It comes after the appointment of Amsterdam’s first Junior Bicycle Mayor, eight-year-old Lotta Crok, who was selected from a group of “bicycle heroes” who campaign in schools to improve cycling. The city’s safety measures also include bike classes for children after they first learn to ride aged four, and give-way road markings for cyclists.
Amsterdam is considered one of the world’s cycling capitals, with 500 miles of bicycle paths. Cornelia Dinca, a senior consultant for Amsterdam’s Smart City project, tasked with improving cycle safety, said cities should focus on cutting speeds to protect children and families from cars and “middle-aged men in Lycra” zooming past them.
Dutch surveys showed cyclists failing to stop at traffic lights was also among children’s concerns.
Ms Dinca believes improving safety by segregating cyclists more on main roads, where speed limits are more than 20mph, is an important first step. But she warned that major changes might not be achieved for generations.
Early radical ideas from Amsterdam residents included “guerrilla bike lanes” painted by residents in the Sixties, which police tolerated and were eventually absorbed into the city’s road network.
Now innovations include an underground, digitally-controlled cycle park, along with a crackdown on bikes chained in public places. Lorries take them to an out-of-town “bike cemetery” and owners must pay €30 (£26) to retrieve them.
Ms Dinca said: “You need to focus on routes to schools, thinking about how we can grow cycling for children. This is part of the behavioural change so people are more used to cycling as a team.
“Then you can get to the point of taking out traffic lights, which is when you have really high volumes of cyclists and very low volumes of cars, that’s when it starts to work well.” But she thinks it “will most likely take a couple of decades” to create a complete bicycle network.
London’s own Walking and Cycling Commissioner is Will Norman, who was appointed by Mayor Sadiq Khan in 2016 to advise on policy and promote participation. The number of cyclists in London increased by eight per cent last year, with TfL launching “Quietway” routes from Newham Way to Stratford High Street, and from Wanstead Flats to Barkingside, to help cyclists.