Europeans Love Bikes

Every time I’m riding my bike and get stuck behind a smog producing death machine I fantasize about biking in cities like Amsterdam. Compared to North American cities they are already revolutionary in the way they promote cycling, and now some European cities are pedaling harder!

Copenhagen and Amsterdam have a cycling rate of 30% and 40% of their population commuting to work on bikes. This is good news itself, what’s better is that they are looking to encourage more cycling by increasing the cycling infrastructure that exists.

The rest of Europe is paying close attention. Officials from London, Munich and Zurich (plus a handful from the U.S.) have visited Amsterdam’s transportation department for advice on developing bicycle-friendly infrastructure and policies. Norway aims to raise bicycle traffic to at least 8% of all travel by 2015—double its current level—while Sweden hopes to move from 12% to 16% by 2010. This summer, Paris will put thousands of low-cost rental bikes throughout the city to cut traffic, reduce pollution and improve parking.

The city of Copenhagen plans to double its spending on biking infrastructure over the next three years, and Denmark is about to unveil a plan to increase spending on bike lanes on 2,000 kilometers, or 1,240 miles, of roads. Amsterdam is undertaking an ambitious capital-improvement program that includes building a 10,000-bike parking garage at the main train station—construction is expected to start by the end of next year. The city is also trying to boost public transportation usage, and plans to soon enforce stricter car-parking fines and increase parking fees to discourage people from driving.

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