The REAL lessons from Amsterdam

Following the recent spate of cycle deaths in the capital, some cycle campaigners have seized upon the tragedies by reiterating calls for the authorities in London to install segregated cycle lanes on all major motor transport arteries throughout the city. The Dutch city of Amsterdam is heralded as the inspiration behind this plan.

But the cycling infrastructure in Amsterdam is nothing like the measures being proposed in London!

There are plenty of main roads in Amsterdam that don’t have cycle lanes .

There are plenty of tram lines in Amsterdam that don’t have cycle lanes alongside them. Trams are, in effect, trains that run on roads. Cyclists must, naturally, be careful around the trams.

In Amsterdam the cycle routes have loads of signage. This makes it much easier for cyclists to follow those routes. Campaigners in London have completely ignored the need for better signage.

In Amsterdam, the authorities have built a cycle network. They have ensured that all the cycle routes in the city connect up properly, whether on main roads or not. The network gives cyclists confidence that the cycle lane they are using will not suddenly disappear. Most campaigners in London have completely ignored the need for a network of cycle routes.

There is a single cycle map in Amsterdam. Called Amsterdam op de fiets (‘Amsterdam on the bike’) the map is available at the Amsterdam Tourist Office. It shows suggested bike routes, areas closed to cyclists, bike repair shops, tram lines and even museums and popular attractions. It covers all of Amsterdam, from the northern islands to the southern suburbs. Campaigners in London have completely ignored the need for a single ‘London Cycle Map’. At the moment there are twelve separate cycle maps for the capital, supplied by TfL.

There are around 400 kilometres of cycle lanes in Amsterdam. This may sound high, but London already has over 2000 kilometres of cycle lanes. London is about 7 times bigger in size than Amsterdam, so proportionately we’re not that far behind in terms of cycle lanes. Our capital also has a huge amount of green space, and most of this space is great for cycling. So more cycle lanes, while always nice, is not necessarily what London needs.

So what do we need? We need cycle campaigners in London to abandon their ideological (anti-capitalist) obsession with embedding cycling infrastructure onto main roads. Some roads are not suitable for cycling infrastructure, or indeed for cycling full stop. The Dutch know this – their cycle policies have been based on pragmatism.

We need to learn the REAL lessons from the Dutch. We need to create a network of signed cycle routes and a single London Cycle Map showing how these routes connect together. We’ve already got the raw material. A serviceable London Cycle Network, including parks and quiet but direct streets, has been created over the last thirty years or so. The main things the network lacks are signs and a decent map.

We need to stop wasting our time and shooting ourselves in the foot with sensationalist bad ideas based on half-truths at best.

Sadly the problem goes deeper, because the mainstream media in Britain doesn’t generally report sensible ideas. Sensationalism sells more papers and attracts more listeners and more clicks.

Unless YOU help us promote the London Cycle Map Campaign, cycling in London will remain in the hands of a minority with an agenda that claims to represent but actually lets down the majority. Just like the communists whose ideology these cycle campaigners, let's face it, probably share deep down, they promise much, deliver little, and benefit a lot. LCC membership anyone? It’s only £36.

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