‘Cycling with ceremony’

Amsterdam, not a city widely considered cycle friendly by Dutch standards, is nevertheless interesting for its cultural prominence and global status as a cycling city. This cultural capital shows how urban cycling can be made pleasurable, and is given an aura of pomp and ceremony. It is celebrated not only through the wide network of traffic calmed streets, but also through the network of parks that extend into the city. This allows you to cycle over bridges, along the water’s edge, through parks teeming with wildlife, and even directly through some of the most famous tourist attractions. In this way, cycling in Amsterdam is an unobtrusive way to glide through the artefact of the city centre, not only for tourists, but for residents, as the compact and mixed use centre creates an ideal environment for bike use.

Because the cycle network forms such an integral part of the cityscape, you could be forgiven for thinking that this network of cycle paths has been there forever, but cycling only became very popular after a spate of traffic accidents in the early 1970s. This provoked a great deal of civil unrest, which led to cycling in Amstedam becoming a priority. Work thus began on the series of cycle paths, which, critically, was accompanied by measures to discourage car use, such as the introduction of paid car parking, which helped precipitate a dramatic increase in bike usage.

Cycling in Amsterdam

Cyclists can pass straight through the Rijksmuseum (pictured), and enjoy the sound of buskers playing in the interior opening / Image from

Cycling in Amsterdam

Cyclists on a sunny morning in the Vondelpark, which provides not only a leisure facility but a cycling route. A large public park, it is characterised by very wide paths that allow for pedestrians and cyclists to coexist. At each entrance and exit, cycle routes continue seamlessly into the city / Image from