By Alissa de Vogel
Amsterdam is frequently and enthusiastically heralded as the best city in the world for cyclists, and for good reason. The entire city and outlying areas are covered with physically separated bike lanes, and the entire country is flat as a board. However, it wasn’t always that way. (Okay yes, it was always flat, but you know what I’m talking about). This video gives a basic rundown of the history of cycling and automotive infrastructure in the Netherlands, and how it got to be the cycling mecca it is today.
After WWII, the Netherlands saw a significant economic boom that prompted many Dutch to start driving. The sudden mass-motorization lead to the deaths of 3,300 pedestrians and cyclists in 1971. Almost all of the victims were children. These deaths, combined with the oil crisis and general economic decline, caused mass protests demanding better infrastructure for cyclists and pedestrians.
The Dutch government eventually responded. Painted bike lanes became physically separated, and a few years later only 14 pedestrians and cyclists were killed by cars. The video points out that the problems the Netherlands faced were not unique, but we tend to disagree. Amsterdam is one of the oldest cities in western Europe, and was not designed with cars in mind. San Francisco, on the other hand, went through significant growth and development in the 20th century and our roads are designed to accommodate cars, not cyclists.
And with that, do you think it's feasible, or even necessary, to implement a system like this in San Francisco or other American cities?