In a broad sense, transportation planning and design in the Netherlands is based on an overall system-wide perspective. The country’s Summary National Policy Strategy for Infrastructure and Spatial Planning states that the comprehensive vision for Netherlands in 2040 is to make it “competitive, accessible, livable, and safe”. This goal does not specifically single out any one mode of transportation; rather, it views the country as a whole, with different parts (e.g. the bicycle transportation network) that interact to make the system function. This is one of the main reasons why the overall transportation system of the Netherlands has been so successful—each part of the transportation network is analyzed with other parts in mind, and, as a result, the different parts cooperate well with each other. This can be juxtaposed with traditional planning strategies in the United States, where, at least in the past, each part of the transportation network has largely been developed in isolation of other parts. For example, here in the United States, the AASHTO Green Book is the prevailing guide for designing roadways. While it does discuss bicycle facilities to a certain extent, AASHTO has also produced a separate guide, the Guide for the Development of Bicycle Facilities, which focuses specifically on bicycle infrastructure. Even though these two modes interact frequently, they are covered in separate design guides.
A wonderful example of integrating two modes of transportation is the Netherland’s interface of bicycling and public transit, as detailed in chapter 8 of Pucher and Buehler’s City Cycling. To start, bicycle parking is present at most, if not all, train stations in the Netherlands. The country had 325,000 bicycle parking spots at train stations as of 2012 (Pucher and Buehler), and has been increasing that number ever since. Bicycle parking can range in terms of protection from the weather and security from theft. In 2012, the Netherlands had 85,000 guarded bicycle parking spaces (Pucher and Buehler), which offer protection from theft via a parking lot attendant. Bike lockers are also common in the Netherlands, with 15,500 in 2012 (Pucher and Buehler). Additionally, bike rental programs are also common in the Netherlands. These are called OV-Fiets, and they allow users to rent bikes at a train station to get to their final destination.
Integrating bicycles and public transit solves both the problems of first/last mile movement as well as bicycling for longer trips. The problem of first/last-mile movement is that there aren’t always viable methods available when a transit user needs to get from their origin to a transit stop or from a transit stop to their destination. The aforementioned integration of the two modes provides quick and easy transfers between bicycles and transit, allowing bicycles to be the viable method for most users. Additionally, one drawback of bicycling is that longer trips can be difficult for some users, due to the physical strain of riding for extended periods of time. By utilizing transit, riders can now make longer trips with their bicycle, and avoid the need for car ownership.
Integrating bicycles and public transit, is a great way of promoting the comprehensive vision that the country has set out to achieve. The economic gains of having bikeable and walkable cities make the country very competitive. Transit creates accessibility for citizens both in terms of socioeconomics as well as ability, and bicycling is accessible from a socioeconomic standpoint. Livability increases dramatically when bicycling makes up a significant mode share. And, lastly, the design of bicycle facilities ensures the safety of riders and other road users.
Pucher, J. R., & Buehler, R. (2012). City Cycling. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management . (2018). Cycling Facts [Brochure]. The Hague, Netherlands. Lucas Harms and Maarten Kansen.
Summary National Policy Strategy for Infrastructure and Spatial Planning (Publication). (2011). The Hague, Netherlands: Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment.