Dutch mobility: from The Hague to Amsterdam by bike
23 de October de 2019

The Netherlands serves as a shining example of best practices in mobility infrastructure. A network of well-maintained freeways connects major cities, while a comprehensive railway system efficiently caters to both passengers and freight transport needs. Additionally, the country boasts an intricate system of water canals, which not only manage water drainage but also serve as vital transportation routes.

During our visit to The Hague, we decided to embark on a bike journey to Amsterdam. From a Brazilian perspective, this might seem somewhat risky, as connections between major cities there are often characterized by heavy traffic, large trucks, environmental pollution, extensive industrial zones, and monotonous landscapes. However, the route between these two Dutch cities defied these expectations.

Our approach to the trip was not overly detailed in planning, as our intention was precisely to evaluate various aspects: the connectivity of the cycling network, the safety of cyclists in relation to vehicular traffic, the demographics of those utilizing this infrastructure, the scenic beauty of the route, and how all of these elements contribute to the residents’ quality of life. Alongside canals, lakes, rivers, and roadways, smaller paths frequently accommodate cyclists and local residents. Although such infrastructure is a common sight in many European countries, the meticulous attention to detail in The Netherlands elevates it as a paragon of urban planning.

Waterfronts are frequently repurposed for leisure and contemplation. Elderly individuals, children, families, and couples comfortably travel medium and long distances without hassle. In addition to serving as greenways, offering oases of serenity amidst urbanization, we observed locals using these paths for their daily commutes. The permissible speeds on these roads are in harmony with pedestrian and cyclist traffic, often with specific regulations for vehicles. It’s astonishing how extensive distances can be safely and enjoyably traversed, thanks to well-maintained surfaces, clear signage, and the landscape’s natural allure enhanced by the infrastructure and urban amenities. Real estate developments often abut these pathways, prompting contemplation on how delightful it must be to reside in such locations.

The meticulous planning of the Dutch landscape is worth emphasizing. Every inch seems purposefully designed, optimized, and multifunctional. Here, space for people takes precedence over space for cars. The design of narrow streets, tailored to human scale, underscores why I consistently respond “The Netherlands” when asked about a global exemplar of planning and mobility best practices.

Text and photos: Walter Weingaertner

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