PARKING (the biggest enabler of cars in cities):
The hourly price for on-street parking in Amsterdam’s city center is 5 Euros. A day- ticket goes from 30 to 45 Euros. The further you are from the Old City Centre, the cheaper the parking is.* Cars are charged electronically, and can park in designated areas like this below (the X is a loading zone)
Want to buy a car? Go ahead: the tax for that will be 50% of the total cost. Gas is $6.48 a gallon.**
I was shocked at gas prices - and also surprised to find the speed limit in Amsterdam is higher than NYC’s: 30mph. But I rarely saw that - and when cars were moving fast, there was no close-passing. Drivers are careful because of the liability laws: if a driver hits a cyclist or pedestrian, the driver is automatically deemed liable. In NY, the reverse is true and our fatalities are proof.
Also reversed: where in NYC we cyclists are constantly in danger of losing our bike lanes to cars, in Amsterdam, cars are considered “Invited guests” on the street, with rights that can be revoked at any time. Right of way clearly prioritizes pedestrians and cyclists, and you feel it.
Sadly, there are still fatalities. While in Amsterdam, I was introduced to a couple who live there, knew my interests, and brought with them a heavy book about cycling in the Netherlands. If you look at this chart (the yellow is bikes)...
AND NOW THE OBVIOUS:
All of this adds up to far fewer cars on Amsterdam’s streets, leaving room for lots of alternatives, like car-free streets for walking, dining, shopping…
I wish I could say that for New York.
HOW THEY DO IT: Bike Infrastructure
*** Number of cyclists in Amsterdam, courtesy of the Rijks Museum exhibit