Amsterdam close to banning scooters from bike paths

The Dutch government has had a partial change of heart over whether scooters should be allowed on bike paths, at least in Amsterdam.

Earlier this year, the Minister for Infrastructure and the Environment Melanie Schultz van Haegen rejected a proposal by the Randstad cities of Amsterdam, Rotterdam, The Hague and Utrecht to ban scooters from bike paths in the cities.

Now in a letter to Parliament, Schultz says she has been persuaded by the Municipality of Amsterdam to propose that the capital city be allowed to make it compulsory for scooter riders to wear helmets, especially in the centre, meaning they can be moved off bike paths and onto roads.

Amsterdam’s scooter problem

In her letter, the minister writes that Amsterdam has done everything possible to address the scooters, over 80 per cent of which travel above the 25 km per hour speed limit, but the possibilities are exhausted.

She said the number of scooters in the capital has increased by 275 per cent since 2007, from 8.000 to 30.000. The number of trips by bicycle has also increased, by 40 per cent since 1990.

In order to facilitate future growth of cycling, Schultz says, it is important that there is more room on the bike path.

"Amsterdam has convinced me of the fact that all efforts need to be look for ways to create space on bike paths in order to keep the historic city centre area accessible.

"Relocation of scooters to the roadway is needed to maintain the accessibility of the city for bicycles."

According to the original letter written by the Randstad municipalities, there were 689 victims of scooter accidents in the four cities in 2012, with 53 per cent of those just in Amsterdam, usually on the bike path.

Further, almost half of all traffic fatalities in Amsterdam were moped riders.

Only a local solution

The proposed change is to allow municipalities to require, in certain areas of local traffic, that scooter riders wear helmets. She said she sees no benefit in making it compulsory in rural areas.

The other three major cities who joined Amsterdam in the proposal do not currently intend to force scooters off cycle paths.

Advocates & opponents

Motor vehicle trade associations have already spoken out about the proposal, calling it "dangerous symbolic politics."

"Helmets do not prevent collisions. Furthermore, this measure is not a structural solution to problems on the bike paths," said a spokesperson.

On the other hand, cyclists group Fietsersbond are very much in favour. "We are very pleased that the Minister has supported Amsterdam's request to permit it to reserve bicycle paths for cyclists," said spokesman Wim Bot.

"Moving scooters off the bicycle paths makes absolute sense from safety, environment and traffic perspectives. We are optimistic that Parliament will make the legislative changes necessary for this to happen."

Sources: Government of the Netherlands, Parool, NRC, Fiestersbond

Alexandra Gowling


Alexandra Gowling

Alexandra is an Australian citizen and an experienced expat, having spent (quite a bit of) time in Asia before coming to the Netherlands a year ago. She enjoys writing, reading...

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