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Cyclists in Amsterdam ride slower than in other cities. The three busiest cycle paths are not in Amsterdam, but in Utrecht. The Dutch cycle faster when it rains. These are some of the cycling facts that came to light during National Bike Counting Week which was held for the first time in September. All the data of the research will be made public at the beginning of 2016.
Cyclists in Amsterdam ride slower than in other cities. Photo © Holland-Cycling.comCyclists in Amsterdam ride slower than in other cities. Photo ©

Measure, know, improve

There are 14 million cyclists in Holland, but relatively little is known about where and when they're out on their bikes. To find out more about the behaviour of all these cyclists, the Dutch Cyclists' Union organised the National Bike Counting Week (Nationale Fiets Telweek) which was held for the first time in September 2015.

Over a seven-day period cycling data was collected via an App that tracked the movements of cyclists through the GPS of their smartphone. The App was downloaded by 55,000 cyclists who made in total 377,321 bike trips, covering 1,200,748 km. All this data gives a valuable insight into when the Dutch cycle, which routes they take to get from A to B and how long it takes them. The Dutch Cyclists' Union hopes the data will support their lobby for better cycling infrastructure. Their motto is: measure, know, improve.

Valuable data

Some of the data is pretty predictable. On workdays the cycle paths are busiest during the morning and evening rush hour. In the weekend cyclists go for longer, recreational rides in the middle of the day. In thinly populated rural areas people cycle faster than in busy cities such as Amsterdam.

More interesting for policy makers is the large amount of data they collected on the routes cyclists took to get from A to B. Where are the bottlenecks? Where are cyclists held up by traffic lights? All this data gives a better understanding of cyclist's behaviour, making it easier to tailor bike infrastructure to their needs.


For policy makers it's the boring statistics that are most important. With an average speed of 14.9 km/h Amsterdam has the slowest cyclists. In the popular cycling regions Drenthe and Overijssel the average speed is highest: 15.8 km/h.

The media, of course, seem more interested in the exceptions. The fastest trip registered during the research was between Utrecht and Soest where a cyclist on a recumbent managed to reach an impressive average of 43.2 km/h over 18 km. The longest trip registered was 180.6 km - that’s 32.5 times the daily average!

Cyclists who think they can beat these statistics will get another chance next year when there will be another National Bike Counting Week. We’ll keep you posted.