In the last year one of the very few positives that we have seen as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic is the increase in people cycling.
Our reporter Tom Lawrence explained that:
‘Lockdowns have left people with nowhere to go and not a lot to do and cycling can be a form of daily exercise, but it can also help the planet.
In 2018 (UK), road transport emitted a quarter of CO2 (most of it coming from cars) and over a third of nitrous oxides, a harmful pollutant.
A permanent increase in more people using cycling as a form of travel could see these numbers fall.’
At Buzz we wanted to investigate if other countries in Europe had seen the same rise in numbers.
To do this Tom spoke to Joey Van Peij, a student living in Amsterdam, to learn about why cycling is the favoured mode of transport in the city.
“There is no means of transport as efficient as a bicycle. You can cross every Dutch city with ease.” Joey explains.
“The narrow city centre of Amsterdam, with all its canals and alleys, was not made for the large number of cars and freight traffic that traveled across the city every day.”
There was certainly a need for people to make the change from car to bike.
“There have recently been so many sinkholes in the city. If you walk through the centre and look closely you will be surprised that there is not a house that stands up. Everything has collapsed.”
Joey thinks that cycling is in fact just what the city needed to make it a better and safer place.
“The bicycle turned out to bring together everything that was in danger of being lost in the Dutch city: small scale city life; neighbourhoods where people could work and live; healthy city air; the streets a safe place for children to play. All of these possibilities were opened up when we stopped using cars.”
But when did the Netherlands become a hub of cyclists?
“Because of the international oil crisis in 1973, there were car free Sundays – allowing people to experience life without cars again.” Joey details.
“Cycling and walking became a right in the Netherlands much more than in many other places in the world.”
Joey now wonders why other countries don’t adopt this form of transport. “The bicycle is a much more logical companion for humans then a car that you have to throw money at for petrol and parking charges.”
“I am amazed when I am in England that nobody cycles to do their daily shopping or pick up their children from school. I think if people leave their car and use bicycles more, they can certainly contribute to a better and healthier living environment.”
Are you a keen cyclist? Let us know on our social media pages with #ClimateAction