The Netherlands, an outsider's view.

The Netherlands, an outsider's view.

NL

Moped riders protest new Amsterdam regulations

Thousands of moped riders obnoxiously rode around Amsterdam to protest the new city regulations forcing them out of the bike lanes and making helmets obligatory. Bike lanes are packed during commuting hours so the city has tried to help lessen the burden by banning mopeds from the bike pathways. Now moped riders have accumulated more than 40,000 signatures petitioning for their safety as they must ride with faster moving vehicle traffic, according to an article from The Guardian.

The moped riders continue to ride in the bike lane, risking a 95€ fine because it provides more safety. One woman says “I find it absolutely terrifying” to ride in the main roads. A spokesman for the BOVAG transport retailers’ union, Paul de Waal, calls putting mopeds on the road a “dangerous, life-threatening experiment”. “It effectively blames one group of riders for all of the problems,” he says, “and you haven’t solved the bike lane overload. We think it would be far better to widen the infrastructure for two-wheeled vehicles – at the expense of space for cars. The car isn’t holy, but nor are the cyclist or the pedestrian: you need to look at it all together.” 

These complaints have not altered the stance of the green-left city government as it has bigger plans for the future. Amsterdam has been stepping up its climate game by planning to ban all petrol and diesel vehicles by 2030 and removing 10,000 parking spaces in an effort to give priority to pedestrians over cars. These efforts are all to help decrease air pollution and promote a greener, cleaner city in the face of global climate change.

Katelijne Boerma, the bicycle mayor of Amsterdam, says that the issue really is just with space. “If there’s a lack of space – which is the case for cyclists – then people start behaving badly and the bike lanes and a lot of pavements in the centre for pedestrians have a kind of ‘surviving the jungle’ attitude. We all need to work on our fietsfatsoen, which is an old-fashioned word for courtesy. The taxi driver blames the cyclist, the tram driver blames the car driver … but at the end of the day traffic is all of us.” Marco te Brommelstroet, associate professor in urban planning at the University of Amsterdam, points out that the city’s residents actually voted in a referendum in 1992 for a car-free city center. These moped protests prove that the time is now rife for radical transportation change, reports The Guardian.