Wednesday, November 19, 2014


                           ( Bicycles Parked over on canal Bridge in Amsterdam , Netherlands ) 
                                             ( Bicycle Riders near Vondel Park Amsterdam )
                                                   ( A Bicycle Path in Amsterdam , Netherlands )


Bicycle is a major mode of transport in the Netherlands. It is surprising to see almost 40percent of the road traffic in Amsterdam comprising of bicycle users. This could be even higher in rural areas. These bicycles move on separate paths with protected Intersections. The bicycle routes are shorter and direct. Almost every city and town in the Netherlands is interconnected through a national network of well laid down bicycle paths . These paths are created and maintained by Dutch Governmentas a national policy task to promote bicycle usage amongst people . 

I am informed that the Dutch government prioritized this mode of transport long back , possibly sometime around last quarter of 19th century. This mode got more acceptance in public after widespread protests broke out in Netherlands over the spurt in motor accidents during 1970 to 1975 . During these years ,motor accidents killed more than 500 children annually . The government immediately swung into action and came out with a comprehensive bicycle friendly policy for the people . This policy meant quantitative fund allocations for development of separate paths , roads , intersections , parking facilities , accidental insurance support and establishing network of traffic signals .

With bicycle , roads in Netherlands have become almost pollution and noise free. The accidental deaths have come down drastically . 

As a part of its National policy to promote Bicycle usage ,children in Netherlands , after a certain age , need to learn cycling . They are supposed to use this mode of transport for going to their school later which could be as far as 8 to 10 kms . Elderly people are trained to use the electric bicycle . Trains and ferries can not refuse to carry your bicycle should you need to do so to cover longer distances. This is a matter of state policy which has due legal sanction. 

Bicycle lanes are painted red or black and no mopeds are allowed to be driven along these paths. One can see some cyclists moving at a speed of about 20 kms per hour on these paths .
Every shop in Amsterdam has bicycle parking facility close to its location . If you do not park your bicycle properly , you may be fined by law enforcing agencies . Every railway station , school , library ,college , university , hospital , supermarket must have a proper bicycle stand.
You find children, students , doctors , university teachers ,ladies , businessmen , government employees and tourist using bicycle to cover distances . The government also gives annual awards to the city / Town with best Bicycling paths and facilities .

Did we forget this cheap and pollution free mode of transport In our country ? Can we learn a lesson from the Netherlands experience ? 

I conclude this post with a couplet of urdu Poet Naseer Turabi ….

Kabhi ye haal ki donon me yukk- dili thhi bahut
Kabhi ye marhalaa jaisay ki aashnayee na thhi…….
( Avtar Mota)

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