Wall Street Journal. Amsterdam and Copenhagen, cities in which 40% and 33% of workers commute by bike, are launching new initiatives designed to accelerate a shift to bike commuting, including increased prison time for bike thieves and the construction of new parking facilities that can hold up to 10,000 bikes.
The rest of Europe is paying close attention. Officials from London, Munich and Zurich (plus a handful from the U.S.) have visited Amsterdam’s transportation department for advice on developing bicycle-friendly infrastructure and policies. Norway aims to raise bicycle traffic to at least 8% of all travel by 2015—double its current level—while Sweden hopes to move from 12% to 16% by 2010. This summer, Paris will put thousands of low-cost rental bikes throughout the city to cut traffic, reduce pollution and improve parking.
The city of Copenhagen plans to double its spending on biking infrastructure over the next three years, and Denmark is about to unveil a plan to increase spending on bike lanes on 2,000 kilometers, or 1,240 miles, of roads. Amsterdam is undertaking an ambitious capital-improvement program that includes building a 10,000-bike parking garage at the main train station—construction is expected to start by the end of next year. The city is also trying to boost public transportation usage, and plans to soon enforce stricter car-parking fines and increase parking fees to discourage people from driving.
Last month, the European Economic and Social Committee, an organization of transportation ministers from EU member countries, adopted a policy goal to have bicycle trips replace many short car trips, which account for 6% of total emissions from cars.