Opportunities for expanding the use of bicycles

Bicycle use is widespread in the Netherlands. In 27% of cases, we take the bicycle. In some cities, bicycles account for a much greater proportion yet. Nonetheless, opportunities exist for having more people travel by bicycle. After all, more than half of all car trips involve a distance shorter than 7.5 kilometres. This is a distance that most people find acceptable to cycle. And with the rapid advent of the e-bike, longer distances are quite cyclable as well.

Cyclists leaving the IJ-ferry at Amsterdam Central Station during rush hour

Cyclists leaving the IJ-ferry at Amsterdam Central Station during rush hour

Sample measure: fast bicycle routes

If more people chose to cycle to and from work, the number of tailbacks during peak hours would be reduced. Options for boosting bicycle use particularly involve distances up to 15 kilometres. High-quality bicycle routes are essential for this group of cyclists, not only within the cities, but also between cities. In recent years, the State has encouraged municipal and provincial authorities to provide good regional cycling routes. Currently, some 25 fast bicycle routes are being constructed or have already been completed.

Sample measure: rewarding bicycle use

Various regions are promoting the use of bicycles by means of mobile phone apps. A case in point is the B-Riders project in the province of Brabant. B-Riders are commuters who switch from car to bicycle. They are coached by an app, and receive a financial reward for each kilometre cycled during peak hours. Experience has shown that most people continue to cycle even after the reward ceases.

Sample measure: bicycle facilities and mileage allowance provided by employers

Employers, too, benefit from employees riding a bicycle to work. Employees who cycle are in better shape and are less prone to absence through illness. In addition, bicycle use often enables companies to save on parking costs. For that reason, the government is encouraging employers to provide adequate bicycle facilities, and introduce a mileage allowance for cyclists. Employers may provide cyclists with a (tax-free) mileage allowance of up to 19 cents a kilometre, as is the case for car commuters.

Sample measure: Bicycle Counting Week

More information on cyclists’ behaviour is essential with a view to providing proper bicycle facilities. That is why a National Bicycle Counting Week (Dutch website) is organised. During this Bicycle Counting Week, cyclists operate a special counting app on their mobile phones. This app measures their speed, the route they take, the time of day that they cycle, and where they encounter delays. This information is highly valuable in mapping out problems and locations at which the bicycle infrastructure needs to be improved.