Increasing cycling in Amsterdam Nieuw West
Amsterdam means bikes but not all parts of the city are equally bike friendly. In the district of Nieuw West only 16 percent of the population cycles daily, compared with 28 percent across the whole city and 44 percent in the historic centre. Nieuw West has the second lowest mode share for cycling in the metropolitan region. How is this possible to have such a moderate mode share in the city of bikes?
In order to understand the trend, it is important to understand the barriers being faced by the population and presented by land use patterns. Nieuw West has a large immigrant population, and senior citizens especially tend to view cycling as unsafe. This can be because bicycling skills are lacking. Image is also a problem. Research has shown that young people in immigrant communities attach little value to the bike. Among this group, cars or even public transport are favoured over bikes.
The spatial structure of Nieuw West is still largely based on popular architectural ideas from the period 1945-1970 and features spacious neighbourhoods, wide roads and large green spaces. Relatively long distances between destinations and feelings of insecurity on solitary paths through the greenery create an environment where cars and public transport are well used but not necessarily bikes.
How will cycling be encouraged?
Recently, a plan has been developed to encourage bike use. The actions proposed include such measures as bicycle skills training, campaigns to present a more positive image of cycling, construction of missing links in the bicycle network and building more secure bike parking facilities. Previous experience shows that bike skills training courses not only help participants meet mobility needs but also increases participation in the community. For example, residents recently started requesting more “bike staples,” which are rods against which bikes can be placed in crowded public spaces, such as shopping centres and public transport nodes. The district is responding to these requests.
The current actions focus on the short term. In the longer term, the plan is to expand the project scope by addressing the important issue of social safety. Other long-term efforts could include increasing bike parking and more intensive monitoring of user needs and developments. For example, do people demand more secure parking facilities? What is the potential of electric and cargo bikes? How can user needs be accommodated through spatial and infrastructural planning?
Through these efforts, Nieuw West can keep up (and perhaps surpass) the cycling rates of neighbouring districts! For more information about the plan developed for Amsterdam Nieuw West or Mobycon’s work developing bicycle plans, contact Angela van der Kloof or Wouter Sanders.