1a. Hoogstraat oude 19xx-SAA-10009A002291

Oude Hoogstraat (ca 1970, Stadsarchief Amsterdam)


Chapter 2

Hidden Benefits
The fact that the bicycle did not die out in Amsterdam but indeed revived is due to several factors. One was the structure of the city. The Netherlands has traditionally been a country of medium-sized cities, where everyday destinations remain within a radius of a few kilometers, and therefore within cycling distance. Moreover, Amsterdam escaped major urban remodeling in the nineteenth century; no broad boulevards were built that later could absorb large numbers of cars. In the small-scale city the automobile -- driving and standing still -- was at once a problem. This meant, in the long term at least, a favorable starting point for every competitor of the car, including the bicycle.
3. zitdemonstratie voor een autoverbod in Leidsestraat 9 april 1970 SAA

Sit-down demonstration (1970, SAA)


Chapter 4

A permanent home
Amidst a broad spectrum of activism, some groups focused specifically on cyclists' interests. As a counterbalance to the dominant car, they sought to build up power around the bicycle. This required more than just anger, but notably knowledge, organization and patience. Knowledge was acquired through meticulous inventories of the city from the cyclist's point of view: what is important for the cyclist, where the bottlenecks are found and how they can be remedied. Large bicycle demonstrations made the power of citizen numbers manifest. With the founding of the national Fietsersbond (Cyclists’ Union) in 1975, and its Amsterdam chapter a year later, the bicycle had a fixed address. From here on, the patient work of building bike city was begun.
5. Knelpuntennota 1977 voorkant

Bottleneck report (1977, Cyclists Union)


Chapter 6

Redesigning the street
The course was set; now the goals of the cycling city had to be achieved. It was and is a long-term affair. While the number of cars continued to grow nationwide, their presence in the city was curtailed and regulated. With the curbing of car parking, space could once again be created for fearless cycling. A network of cycle routes spread across the city, residential streets became traffic-calmed, hundreds of bottlenecks were tackled. Every new street plan requires working out with limited square meters amid clashing interests. As the bike become ever more successful, bike parking becomes more difficult. In this way, the cycling city progresses and remains unfinished.

Chapter 8

'A passageway fit for a prince'
One of the Netherlands’ most discussed and disputed bikeways is the passageway through the Rijksmuseum. Museum directors repeatedly tried to divert the city’s biking route around their building, making their most concerted attempts in the years between 2003 and 2013, when the building was being radically reconstructed. Bike activists and neighbors were not persuaded by the powerful and prestigious museum lobby; after a strenuous battle and with reasoned argument, they managed to preserve this monumental biking corridor. Since then, the symbiosis of the "museum of the Netherlands" and the cycling city has become more powerful than ever.

peak hour at mr Visserplein


Chapter 10

Toward a bicycle city
When cyclists began organizing themselves in the 1970s, they realized that the conversion of a car city into a cycling city would take a long time -- perhaps fifty years. That period is now coming to an end. Much has been achieved, but the creation of a cycling city is far from complete. The future poses urgent questions. Cities everywhere are facing major challenges - due to energy, climate, social cohesion, expanding housing needs - to which the bicycle can make a crucial contribution. But it is still far from certain whether the city will capitalize on these opportunities. Bike city Amsterdam is great, but perhaps we are only halfway.