Traffic jams, pileups, parking problems…on bikes

Commuters here in the U.S. have had it beaten over our heads for years about how amazing the bike culture is in cities like Copenhagen and Amsterdam. In fact, when a U.S. city gets serious about developing bike infrastructure, one of the first tasks is to send planners to visit one of those European cities for a firsthand look at how it all works.

But, those cities are not without their problems:

Problems all-too familiar to car drivers the world over, from traffic jams to road-rage and lack of parking, are now also threatening to turn the Dutch dream of bicycling bliss into a daily hell.

In a small country where bicycles outnumber people by 1.2-million, the Dutch have simply run out of space to accommodate the five million cyclists who take to the road every day, turning commuting in major cities into a nightmare.

Read the rest of the article by visiting South Africa’s Independent Online site.

Too much of a good thing? Personally, I could live with some of that two-wheeled mayhem! How about you?


  1. Graham November 13, 2012 6:12 am 

    So.. wait a minute! Are you suggesting that people on bikes are just like people in cars and that then traffic gets congested and parking is limited, they get angry and frustrated?!

    But.. But I thought that cyclists (like myself) were superior human beings and we had left all that silliness behind us?

    Seriously though, Can you even imagine a town with that many cyclists? That’s amazing.

  2. Ghost Rider November 13, 2012 6:26 am 

    Ha! Yeah, hate to break it to you: people are people, and as soon as they find themselves inconvenienced in the smallest way, the ugliness comes out.

    I think, though, that if I found myself in a huge bike traffic jam, I would have an ear-to-ear smile.

  3. Iron_Man November 13, 2012 6:46 am 

    Time for a bike-pooling lane for tandems only! :)

  4. Matt November 13, 2012 7:00 am 

    I kept wondering if this was a South African version of the Onion… some parts of it had so much forced drama I had to laugh.

  5. RANTWICK November 13, 2012 10:26 am 

    I’m with you, GR… sounds like my kind of nightmare. Guess its a “you have be there” kind of thing…

  6. RANTWICK November 13, 2012 10:35 am 

    You know, on thinking about it more, it sounds like bikes (and mopeds) are now too numerous for their designated road space… time to rip out the cycle tracks and other infrastructure and ride and park with the cars! Crazy, I know… sometimes I think ALL traffic infrastructure should be removed, lights, lanes, everything. Let people, in their almost infinite adaptability, adapt to changing conditions on the fly. Uh oh. Am I an anarchist?

  7. bigbenaugust November 13, 2012 10:50 am 

    I will quote Rick James: “Give it to me, baby!”

  8. Graham November 13, 2012 1:13 pm 

    I actually like Rantwick’s idea, but only if we couple it with the “guilty unless proven innocent” idea some European countries have when it comes to motorist accidents with bicyclists and pedestrians. I know that it would go a long way to making the drivers I know more cautious around more vulnerable road users.

  9. Ken Grubb November 13, 2012 8:29 pm 

    Seems like a problem to which we should aspire.

    City planners won’t always get it 100% perfect every time. I know, sucks right?

    If their estimates for growth are too low, congestion. If their estimates are too high, wasted lanes. It’s the pursuit of perfection by estimating what imperfect humans will do.

    Congestion with mostly bicycles, rather than cars and bikes, means the differential speeds are much, much lower, so this should make those “horribly congested” biking Meccas considerably safer and healthier though, right?

  10. RANTWICK November 14, 2012 7:15 am 

    Thanks for that link, GR.

    Here’s one back:

    It seems to me that riding like an idiot/scofflaw/selfish person would quickly become a losing proposition for cyclists in a situation like that… alhtough I suppose you never know.

  11. bhanu December 6, 2012 1:46 pm 

    I think its unfortunate that this out of context quote is being perceived as gospel truth. I quote:
    “Well no, of course not! This article was clearly written by someone who has heard some quotes, has taken them out of context and exaggerated the rest of the story to get a juicy news item that sells well. Of course the Dutch themselves know better, but the down side of a story like this could be that politicians and planners around the world can point to it and say: “see, this is not what we should strive for!”
    I would suggest a bit more online research and taking the trouble to read this rebuttal.

    cheers from Netherlands.

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