How Amsterdam’s Urban Form Created the Ideal Cycling City | Urban Life |
Before the bicycle arrived in Amsterdam in the 19th century, the city had undergone six centuries of development, inadvertently creating a compact urban environment ideal for bicycle use.

A smaller city is more navigable by bicycle purely becaus 85% of journeys by bicycle in Amsterdam are shorter than 5km (3.1 miles). Amsterdam’s suitability for a bicycle network is about more than its size, however. A network of canals and 1,500 bridges mean it is essentially a city of islands. Most of Amsterdam’s canals were built to encourage property development, meaning many roads have water to one side and housing to the other. The result is that road widening is almost impossible. Considerations about how to adapt Amsterdam’s centre for cars were ultimately abandoned for bicycle-friendly policies. This included the development of an extensive network of segregated cycling facilities and bicycle friendly policies.

Mixed-use developments typically found in Amsterdam have further enhanced the city’s suitability for bicycle use. With home, work, and leisure opportunities located within shorter distances of each other, residents have easy access to retail, leisure, health and education facilities, critical in establishing sustainable communities...

Via Lauren Moss