The Slotervaart District is asking passers-by in shopping areas how it can make cycling more attractive. The survey is part of an ambitious programme to promote cycling in the car-friendly district.
The programme has the enthusiastic support of Alderman Paulus de Wilt, a member of green party GroenLinks who does not own a car himself, and reportedly even refused to sit in one in the past. According to De Wilt, Slotervaart is Amsterdam’s most ambitious district when it comes to bicycle promotion.
“Cycling is healthy, both for yourself and the environment”, he explains. “Cycling is also safe for people around you: if everyone would cycle, traffic would be a lot safer. Cycling is simply ‘living the good life’.”
The district has good cycling lanes, but few people use them. Along with Osdorp and Zuideramstel, Slotervaart is among the most car-rich districts of Amsterdam. Almost one in three households does not even own a bicycle, compared to one in four for all of Amsterdam.
Factors explaining low bicycle use include low parking fees and a relatively high percentage of ethnic minorities, who are less likely to use a bicycle.
In collaboration with cyclists’ organisation Fietsersbond, Slotervaart has developed an ambitious plan to promote cycling among school children, employees and other residents.
All but two schools in the district participate in activities to educate school children and their parents about safe routes to school. A track where children can practice cycling will be created in the Rembrandtpark next month (temporary at first, but it may become permanent).
In May, there will be a campaign ‘To the shops with bells ringing’. People who arrive at a supermarket by bicycle will receive coupons that will entitle them to some kind of gift. The district is also promoting bicycle use among its 354 staff and among participants in integration courses.
Further, residents can request a ‘bike staple’ to be placed in front of their house, provided that there is sufficient space for the bicycle parking place and that at least three neighbours support the request.
In the future, Slotervaart plans to train bicycle menders (there is said to be only one bicycle repair shop in the district); to make bicycle pumps and repair sets available at a number of locations and to reduce waiting time for cyclists at traffic lights.