Cycling is a ubiquitous mode of transport in the Netherlands, with 36% of the people listing the bicycle as their most frequent mode of transport on a typical day as opposed to the car by 45% and public transport by 11%. Cycling has a modal share of 27% of all trips (urban and rural) nationwide. In cities this is even higher, such as Amsterdam which has 38%, though the smaller Dutch cities well exceed that: for instance Zwolle (pop. ~123,000) has 46% and the university town of Groningen (pop. ~198,000) has 31%. This high modal share for bicycle travel is enabled by excellent cycling infrastructure such as cycle paths, cycle tracks, protected intersections, ubiquitous bicycle parking and by making cycling routes shorter, quicker and more direct than car routes.
In the countryside, a growing number of inter-city bicycle paths connect the Netherlands’ villages, towns and cities: some of these paths are part of the Dutch National Cycle Network, a network of routes for bicycle tourism which reaches all corners of the nation.
Many roads have one or two separate cycleways alongside them, or cycle lanes marked on the road. On roads where adjacent bike paths or cycle tracks exist, the use of these facilities is compulsory, and cycling on the main carriageway is not permitted. Some 35,000 km of cycle-track has been physically segregated from motor traffic, equal to a quarter of the country’s entire 140,000 km road network. On other roads and streets, bicycle and motor vehicles share the same road-space, but these are usually roads with a low speed limit. The surface quality of these bike lanes are good and the routing tends to be direct with gentle turns making it possible to cycle at good speeds for considerable distances. Cycleways come with their own sets of rules and systems – including traffic signals/lights, tunnels and lanes.