@amsterdamized gives us Dutch cycling culture on Radio NZ

The Dutch do it well, don’t they? Almost 30 % of all trips were by bicycle between 2005 & 2007 (yes I know those figures are a bit old but I bet they’re still around that level). They cycle with their clothes on. And blow me down if they don’t have Europe’s lowest percentage of cyclist deaths per billion kilometres cycled in spite of their horribly dangerous practice of never wearing helmets!!!!* Ahem.

So they’re pretty good at this cycling-for-transport game. When they talk, I listen. Last night Marc van Woudenberg, aka @amsterdamized was good enough to give us a bit of his experience on Radio NZ. And of course clever Radio NZ have embed code, so you can listen to him here. Enjoy!



*Fortunately we in NZ are Very Sensible and we would never ride without helmets, which is why we have such a good road cycle safety record h–… Oh.


11 thoughts on “@amsterdamized gives us Dutch cycling culture on Radio NZ

  1. Unity

    Love it 🙂

    Very strange about our road statistics – perhaps those polystyrene lids are a ‘red herring’, the ‘Emporer’s new clothes’ of cycling?


  2. Simon Kennett

    Sorry, but I’m going to have to call you on the sarcastic comment about our road safety record.

    In 2010 the Netherlands had the second lowest road toll per capita in Europe (just 39 deaths/million people). That was the lowest road toll the Netherlands has had for decades. The average road toll for the EU was 69 deaths/million people

    The NZ road toll for 2011 was 284 – 64 deaths/million. We’re in the same ball park. Of course, some parts of New Zealand are safer that others.

    2010 was also a record low year for the Wellington region – 10 deaths (compared with a 2007-2011 average of 16). Our population is almost 500,000, so we had a road toll rate of 20 deaths/million in 2010. 2011 wasn’t quite so good – it was 26 deaths/million for the Wellington region. Still, the Wellington region’s road safety record is significantly better than the Netherlands.

    I know our road safety for cyclists is worse than the Netherlands (and would dearly like to see that improve) but overall our road toll is trending down and is comparable to the rest of the developed world.


    1. In that case I should have been more clear – I was talking about cyclists’ safety on the roads. I had assumed that would be clear from the context of a cycling website, but on re-reading I can see that it wasn’t.

      I will say, though, that even if our road safety record as a whole is comparable to other countries’, that doesn’t make it ‘good’. It’s still bad and we know it.


      1. Simon Kennett

        Thanks for the edit.

        ‘Good’ is a relative term. While I accept that any road toll greater than zero is ‘bad’, if the road toll goes down to a record low that is ‘good’. The 2011 road toll is the lowest since 1952!

        Focusing solely on cyclists in the Wellington region, the total road toll for the last three years was 2. The cyclist road toll for the previous 3 years was 5. Sorry, I don’t have more data at my fingertips. These are small numbers, but it would appear things are improving (despite the helmet law). This may partly be due to a safety-in-numbers effect. If you think that’s the case, why would you want to fuel the view that ‘we have an atrocious cycle safety record’ – a commonly held view which scares people away from cycling?

        I think there are better ways to argue against the helmet law.


      2. Simon Kennett

        Health benefits of regular cycling outweigh the risks associated with unhelmented cycling (with the possible exception of children, since learner riders are at greater risk of crashes and the main health benefits accrue to prevention of sedentary lifestyles, heart disease, etc in later life). Accentuate the positive – eliminate the negative, yadda, yadda…


      3. Alastair

        I agree with Simon that cycle advocates should accentuate the positive. How often do “car advocates” (e.g. Jeremy Clarkson, car manufacturers) talk about the danger of traveling by car (even though it is an order of magnitude less safe than public transport), or how off putting it is to be forced to wear a seat belt?


    2. Nigel

      Mr K, Why are you writing about the general road toll when the article specifically mentioned “cyclist deaths per billion kilometres cycled”. (I might be out-of-line here if this is the result of an edit). Is it valid to take the sum total of pedestrian, cyclist, motorcyclist, and car deaths, and then distill it down to just one group. Especially when that cyclist group is down in the statistical “noise”?

      We know how many cyclist deaths there were in Wellington over the last few years (you mention them later), BUT how many billion kilometres did we cycle? I doubt anyone knows, but some scenarios could be explored. Remember recreational cycling has to be removed as there is no exposure to general traffic there. So how do we compare on this statistic.

      The Dutch cycling commentators talk about separation of cycle traffic from general traffic. This is how they have made cycling “safer” i.e. it’s cars and trucks that kill cyclists in collisions, not other cyclists! So how can NZ have a safe cycling environment when basically every cyclist is forced to share the road with general traffic? Only the very brave cycle for the long term, as the rest can’t get used to the terror and give up. As the English put it: we do it in spite of the conditions.


      1. Simon

        Yep – there has been an edit to the last sentence.

        The exposure rate for cycling is usually estimated using the MOT Household Travel Survey data.

        One useful alternative to separated cycling facilities (which will never cover 95% of the road network here in Wellington) is lower speed limits (and traffic calming engineering measures). That approach also offers major safety gains for pedestrians. In a 40 kph zone, a novice cyclist traveling at 25 kph will be a lot less terrified than in a 50 kph area (since the speed differential has dropped from 25 to 15 kph). That said, I’m a big fan of off-road cycling!


      2. Chris

        A 30 kph limit in the entire CBD and other high foot & vehicle traffic areas would be wonderful. Riding through shopping villages like Brooklyn and Miramar is a much nicer experience these days.
        When driving, these limits are easy to keep to and aren’t really any slower. Few drivers manage more than 40 kph in Willis St for example. Although I find when driving through areas like Taranaki-Courtenay intersection, it is far too easy to speed on through. The wide roads and multiple lanes give a false impression – they don’t feel like a 30 kph area.


  3. Anne de Vries

    With great interest I read this topic. I am from Holland and will be moving to Wellington in a month to study. Indeed nobody in Holland would consider wearing a helmet, except when we are mountain biking. On the other hand, a big difference between the Netherlands and other countries is that here the traffic is completely used at bikers. It is the main way of transport in cities, because it is usually faster than cars and public transport. We have lots of seperate biking lanes, but also if we drive at the same road as the cars they will be constantly aware of the bikers. If they hit a biker or pedestrian car drivers are always liable for 50%, regardles who’s fault it was. I cannot judge about the biking situation in Wellington. I can imagine, however, that different biking cultures ask for different policies.


Your comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s