Amsterdam remains the most amazing bicycle city. It scored highest in the baseline score in the 2017 Index, as it did in 2015, but it stumbles when it comes to the bonus points that reflect the dynamics in a city moving forward. Indeed, watching Utrecht passing by into second place shows that the city needs to dust off its gameface.
In the three-horse race at the top of the ranking, Amsterdam lacks the innovation and investment we see in Utrecht and Copenhagen. As ever, they continue to maintain their status quo. It is, of course, an amazing status quo but still fails to see any serious progress compared to other cities. But this is AMSTERDAM. It is a joy to cycle around the city, despite the non-uniform infrastructure designs. The bicycle is well and truly the default transport form.
What is a concern, however, is the rapid rise of the scooter. Numbers are rising rapidly and safety on the cycle tracks - as well as the perception of safety among citizens - is deteriorating. There were 8000 scooters in 2007 and 35,000 in 2016. The City seems powerless in stemming the tide.
The City has plans for impressive development and bicycle urbanism projects, but they are still in the pipeline. On a positive note, the City is keen on revisiting the standard infrastructure designs and looking for ways to tweak them in order to improve flow and reduce bicycle congestion through Desire Line Analyses.
Improved infrastructure behind Central Station is welcome, as are connections like the one under Rijks Museum from a few years ago. But there is still room for improvement given the swarms of competing transport species in this densely populated city.
There is only one Amsterdam and there will never be another. The typology of the city is unique, which might explain why they struggle to implement ideas from other places. On the other hand, lack of political will might indicate that they aren’t even looking.
Amsterdam sits comfortably at the top of the Index, but could do well in looking to Utrecht and farther afield for inspiration. Like Copenhagen, Amsterdam has an inherent responsibility to assume and maintain a leadership position. For the benefit of its own citizens, of course, but for cities everywhere.
Placing bicycles on the municipal, political agenda much more than now is going to be necessary if Amsterdam is to hammer out a vision of where to go from here.