Leftists and no-growth NIMBYs never tire of telling Americans that if they would only stop driving and stop building outside the center city, all our traffic problems would disappear. In other words, put the experts in control and everyone will live happily ever after.
Guess what? That’s exactly what was done in Amsterdam and the city still suffers from morning and evening rush-hour traffic jams and gridlock. Even more ironic, the jams are caused by bicycles.
According to a report in The New York Times, in a city with a population of 800,000 there are 880,000 bicycles, which is four times the number of cars. More people make trips on a bicycle than are made by automobile: 32 percent by pedal power and 22 percent by pedal-to-the-metal power, and yet an official responsible for bicycles around railway stations describes the situation as, “It’s not a war zone, but it’s the next thing to it.”
In the Netherlands the people listened to the “smart growth” experts. Amsterdam is rated as the most bicycle-friendly city in the world. Commuters have responded and use rail and ferries to reach the city and bicycles to finish the commute. The Dutch have cut the number of wheels on the road in half, and yet there are still traffic jams and no place to park!
Amsterdam’s main train station is a wilderness of bicycles. The two-wheelers cover the available space like iron filings on a magnet. Only these filings are padlocked to the nearest immovable object.
So once again experts fail to deliver on their glowing promise — possibly because subconsciously they didn’t expect to be listened to in the first place — and were completely unprepared for success.
Yet the experts don’t give up. Now traffic-weary commuters are promised $135 million will be spent “to improve the biking infrastructure, including the creation of 38,000 bike parking racks.” The problem is it will take 20 years to complete the building program. If it takes two decades to build a bike rack, there’s no telling how long one would have to wait for an automobile parking garage.
In the meantime, cyclists are facing a new two-wheeled menace once they get moving. Motor scooters are becoming more popular with the internal combustion set and since some — experts again — are allowed to use bike paths, collisions are becoming more common. The scooters comprise only 3 percent of traffic density, yet are involved in 16 percent of traffic crashes.
An official with the powerful cyclist’s union complains, “The city cannot cope. We need a change.”
Someone call an expert.
Michael Reagan is the son of President Ronald Reagan. He is president of The Reagan Legacy Foundation. Read more reports from Michael Reagan — Click Here Now.
© Mike Reagan