Alex Goldmark is a senior producer in the newsroom for New Tech City and Transportation Nation.
VIDEO: How the Dutch Got Their Bike Paths
Wednesday, January 18, 2012 - 02:46 PM
The Netherlands are lauded the world over as a biking success story -- but as this documentary shows, it wasn't always that way. In fact, the model cycling culture that exists there today is the product of a protest movement to revive a historical bike legacy that had been lost.
In the early 1900s, bike use was so common that bike infrastructure wasn't needed because there were more bikes than cars.
"After World War II everything changed," the documentary explains. As the country grew in wealth, the Dutch could afford cars in record numbers, clogging old cities not designed for automobiles. Buildings were torn down to make way, and "city squares were turned into car parks." The daily travel distance went from 2.9 miles in 1957 to 14.2 miles in 1975. The car took over.
A rash of children on bikes being hit by cars led to the protest movement in the early 1970s just as the oil crisis hit. The government began a concerted and creative push to remake city centers for pedestrians and bikes.
Watch the video for the rest of the details, and story of the protests:
An October post by Mark Wagenbuur on bike blog Hembrow has more history as well.