French version here.
Cycling Infrastructure: The Case of The Netherlands
The Netherlands is renowned for having high bicycle use. The Dutch government spends an astonishing €510 million (€30 per capita) per year (1) on developing bike infrastructure. Looking at the staggering data, one might ask, why so much investment in bicycle infrastructure? And why are 17 million Dutch people obsessed with cycling as a means of transportation (2)?
To the outside world, it might look absurd, but to the Dutch people, it’s a way of living a happy and healthy life. The health benefits are immense. In a study, it was found that cycling alone prevents 6,500 deaths (3) in the nation and increases life expectancy as well. But it is not just about health. The economic side of it also indicates it to be a beneficial trade. The health benefits amount to more than 3% (3) of the overall gross domestic product of the Netherlands. As a result, investing more in bike infrastructure provides a high cost-benefit ratio for the country’s 17 million plus citizens.
Canada’s Investment In Cycling
In Canada, too, people understand the benefits of cycling, and the cycling community is growing day by day. In 2020, in Montreal alone, 1.1 million people rode bicycles, while Quebec had 4.5 million bicycle users. However, the spending on cycling infrastructure is not enough to meet the needs of the growing community (4). Between 2006 and 2017, nearly 890 people died (5) while riding bicycles. The reasons vary, but the lack of a safe and secure bicycle infrastructure is a major contributor to the tragedy.
The Netherlands has continuous, wide, and well-maintained cycling paths, making it easier for the rider to navigate across the city and country. The paths are generally 4 meters wide, providing ample risk-free space to ride. The good cycling infrastructure translates into more and more people adopting it as a regular means of transport. In 2019, an estimated 22.9 million bicycles were in the Netherlands, of which 2.4 were electric ebikes (6). Every year, approximately one million bicycles are sold. If we look at the total population, which is 17 million, then it is evident how much the Dutch people love cycling, owning 1.3 bicycles per capita, which happens to be more than any country in the world (7). The wide cycling community wants cycling to be taken seriously in the country, so safe, secure, and smooth routes can be set up for people to ride bicycles.
Bike Lanes In Canada Are In Growing Demand
In Canada, the growing demand for good paths for cycling routes has been increasing. Last year, Minister of Infrastructure and Communities Catherine McKenna and Parliamentary Secretary Andy Fillmore announced a funding commitment of $400 million over five years to help build and spread networks of paths, bike lanes, trails, and walker bridges (8).On average, $80 million dollars will be spent each year, which, in comparison, falls short. With a large population and urban areas, Canada requires more infrastructure spending. In the long run, investing more in cycling infrastructure makes perfect sense as the world moves toward more sustainable modes of transportation. Here are the main benefits…
Health: With accessible cycling routes, more people will adopt cycling, resulting in better health and a reduced problem of obesity. Approximately 26.8 percent of Canadians were classified as obese, with another 36 percent classified as overweight (9). Exposing them to health risks due to excess weight. Cycling can also reduce mental stress and depression. In short, it can improve the overall health of an individual.
Economic: An active lifestyle leads to less spending on healthcare needs, allowing individuals and governments to save vast sums of money in the long run. Bicycling requires less parking space, so there is no need to maintain huge and costly parking facilities.
Less fatal accidents: When compared with motor vehicle accidents, bicycle accidents are less likely to cause severe injury, adding to the average life expectancy of the country.
Environmental: Motor transport vehicles cause air pollution, leading to global warming. Gradually, if more and more people adopt cycling as a mode of travel, then the growing air pollution problem can be controlled. The transportation sector currently accounts for 27% of greenhouse gas emissions in Canada (10). More bicycles also mean less noise pollution.
Affordable transportation: Travelling on your ebike or bicycle is less expensive than driving a car or a motorcycle. While cars demand frequent repairs, ebikes/bicycles can be easily maintained and stored.
Better community building: Cycling is more than just a means of travelling; it is a fun activity which allows people to connect and share their experiences with each other. As a hobby, it is something on which people can connect and develop better community values.
Less congestion on the road: Cycling is an effective tool for reducing the increasing load of traffic. Frequent traffic jams can be avoided if more people use bicycles to cover short distances in the city.
In Summary, Luxury Or Necessity?
Unlike the perception of many people, cycling infrastructure is not a luxury but a necessity. In short, it is wiser to use your car on a rainy day and use bicycles/ebikes as much as you can to avail all the benefits mentioned above. As a community, we can start demanding cycling infrastructure on local levels and start using bicycles more. Today, there are a plethora of options, from conventional bicycles to ebikes, that can meet your specific needs.
We at Quantum electric bike are also working towards a better, healthier, and cleaner world with our wide range of ebikes, customised as per the needs of the user.
Choose the path of sustainability.