There is no other European metropolitan city associated with the bicycle as a means of transport as much as Amsterdam. Since the 1970s, the streets of the capital of the Netherlands have gradually filled up with men and women who pedal to work, to the shops, and even to do the school run.
This revolution is not just about mobility. It is also cultural, and supported by numbers: some estimates mention 7-800 thousand bicycles for a total of 850 thousand inhabitants, others mention even one million cycles present. This means that, on average, every citizen in Amsterdam has a bicycle, with all the related benefits in environmental, social and health terms.
According to data collected by the Human fitness App, Amsterdam is the most active city in the world among those considered, in other words, where the population spends the most time moving around, i.e. walking, running or, indeed, cycling, a category in which the Dutch capital is ranked number one.
All this is possible thanks to a formidable infrastructure network, which comprises nearly 800 kilometres of cycle paths across the city, 150 shops and workshops dedicated to bicycles, as well as a large number of secure cycle parking places: there are a whopping 10,000 around the central station, where commuters can safely leave their bike. Cycle paths are now as distinctively representative of Amsterdam's geography and life as its picturesque canals are.
Thanks to all these interventions in favour of cycling, together with the lengthy awareness-raising work, two million kilometres are covered by bicycle every day in Amsterdam. As mentioned, there are countless advantages beyond mere financial benefits for people and businesses engaged in the industry.
At an environmental level, while Amsterdam is a thriving and productive city, the quality of the air is good: according to IqAir's annual report, the average PM2.5 concentration in the last year was 10.7 μg/m³, in line with the limit of 10 imposed by the World Health Organization (in New Delhi, the worst among the capitals, this value was 98.6).
As far as the health of its citizens is concerned, the active lifestyle of the inhabitants of Amsterdam (and of other Dutch cities, which are all virtuous in terms of cycling, starting with Utrecht) makes the Netherlands the country with one of the lowest levels of obesity in Europe, but also where there are fewer road accidents in the world, confirming that the more people cycle, the safer the roads are.
Cycling prevents about 6,500 deaths each year in the Netherlands and the Dutch have a life expectancy longer by an extra half-year thanks solely to the bicycle. This is a health benefit that affects 3% of national GDP: investing in the bicycle, as Amsterdam and the Netherlands have taught us, is in short a winning strategy on all fronts.