Hundreds of millions of euros to boost cycling in the Netherlands

In the near future, provinces, transport regions, and municipalities will join State Secretary Stientje van Veldhoven (Infrastructure and Water Management) in investing 345 million euros in ultrafast cycling routes and additional parking facilities for bicycles.

This is what Ms Van Veldhoven wrote to the House of Representatives. Last June, the State Secretary announced her intention to set aside 100 million euros to give impetus to regional cycling projects. In collaboration with provinces and municipalities, Ms Van Veldhoven aims to expand the number of cycling commuters by another 200,000 during this Cabinet term.

“Secret weapon to combat traffic congestion”

Ms Van Veldhoven: ‘Bicycles are our secret weapon to combat traffic congestion in the Netherlands. Bicycles are fast, clean, and healthy. The Dutch are – rightfully – known as the pre-eminent cycling nation, and with this collaboration and this money we are collectively stepping up this feat.’

Henk Brink, member of the Provincial Executive and “fast cycling routes” ambassador: ‘Since 2006, when the provinces embarked on the construction of fast cycling routes, we have realised nearly 500 kilometres of attractive cycling routes. The regional governments would like to expand this network by at least another 600 kilometres in the years ahead and have indicated their ambition to realise yet another 400 kilometres after 2021. The resources earmarked by the State Secretary will be quite helpful to achieve this. In addition, we are making existing cycling routes more attractive, wider, and faster, in order to encourage people to opt for a bicycle rather than a car. Thus, we are also investing in the sustainability of commuter traffic and in the future accessibility of urban regions.’

15 cycle highways

In order to enable cyclists to reach their destination faster, 15 bicycle-only routes will be upgraded or newly constructed. In the long run, this will streamline cycling flows at intersections, traffic lights, or other obstacles on these long-distance routes. As a rule, these so-called fast cycling routes are wider and faster than standard cycling paths. The money will be spent on, inter alia, the Breda – Tilburg, Amersfoort – Utrecht, and Assen – Groningen routes.

25,000 additional bicycle stands

It is frustrating to find all the bicycle stands occupied at the end of your journey and miss your train because you have to look for a place to park your bike. That is why four brand new bicycle parking stations will be created at Amsterdam Central Station (IJ side, 4000 spaces), Amsterdam Bijlmer Arena railway station (1850 spaces), Heerlen railway station (1000 spaces), and Rotterdam Alexander railway station (1000 spaces). Along with the expansion of 53 existing bicycle parking facilities, this will generate a total of some 25,000 additional spaces.

Floor Vermeulen, member of the Provincial Executive and cycle facilities ambassador: ‘In addition to investments in infrastructure such as roads, waterways, cycle paths, and public transport, we are attempting to make the bicycle – public transport combination as attractive as possible. This can be a particularly attractive alternative for commuters. However, it does require the facilities to be up to par; for example, there must be ample parking for cyclists. The province of Zuid-Holland is currently realising some 4000 new bicycle parking spaces. The funding provided by the State Secretary will enable us to realise 2400 new bicycle parking spaces, in collaboration with the transport regions and municipalities, and explore the options for another 7500 additional spaces in the cities of Dordrecht and Leiden.’

Employers’ bicycle strategy

Ms Van Veldhoven is the first Cabinet member to show a full commitment to cycling. Together with eleven employers, she intends to encourage more people to cycle to and from work. One of these eleven employers is Groningen University Medical Centre, which recently announced that the eight academic hospitals in the Netherlands are aiming to have ten per cent of their commuting staff exchange their cars for bicycles within three years. Currently, some 30,000 employees of these hospitals drive a car to work.

National Cycling Agenda 2.0

This spring, Ms Van Veldhoven will be launching the National Cycling Agenda 2.0, which features both on-going and new agreements. The ambition is to expand the number of cycling kilometres by 20 per cent and to have 200,000 additional staff opt for the bicycle.

The Netherlands: cycling nation

Bicycles account for more than one quarter of all Dutch transport movements. In 2016, the Dutch population travelled an aggregate 15.5 billion bicycle kilometres. Of all the bicycle kilometres, more than one third involved leisure purposes and one quarter involved commuting to work. In the Netherlands, more than half of all car trips are shorter than 7.5 kilometres and more than half of all employees live within 15 kilometres of their work. These are the people that Ms Van Veldhoven aims to get cycling, in collaboration with the provinces, regions, and municipalities.