April 15, 2019
Amsterdammers across the city woke up on Monday morning (April 8) to find that their city looked a little different. More specifically, their route to work, college or school was a bit bluer, and a lot quieter.
The council’s ban on scooters came into effect this week, banning all types of scooters – including those with blue licence plates – from using bike paths, and requiring drivers to wear a helmet.
It’s been a long time coming – approximately nine years – and rumours of a bike lane ban have swirled around for a while, only to be met with tired disbelief that the ruling would ever come into effect.
But as of Monday, clusters of enforcement officers in fluorescent clothing have been lining the cycle paths, ready to redirect scooters onto the roads. For the first month, only warnings will be issued to those scooter users found to be flouting the rules. After that, violators can expect fines of €95.
Despite a petition against the scooter ban having gained over 47,000 signatures by Thursday, April 11, the measure seems to be largely popular. As an immigrant, it was quite shocking to first encounter the sight of young babies balancing on the front of bikes without any form of protective gear. But don’t be deceived by the apparent laissez-faire attitude of the Dutch; when it comes to cycling, safety still matters.
Not having to share the bike lane with mopeds – which are wider, faster and more likely to be carrying multiple passengers – will not only give cyclists more room on their commutes, but will also make it slightly easier for them to breathe. The days of being stuck behind a scooter at a traffic light, while it belches exhaust fumes into the crowd of waiting cyclists will soon be behind us.
I ran a poll on Instagram, in which my question: “Do you think banning scooters from the cycle lane is a good idea?” was answered positively in 100% of responses. Answering the query: “Amsterdammers – what do you think about the new cycle lane rules?” One respondent replied: “LOVE LOVE LOVE THEM <3.”
Obviously, this in no way constitutes an official questionnaire – but most Amsterdammers have witnessed, or have unfortunately had their own experience of, a scooter meeting a bike in a grizzly embrace, providing proof enough to support the ban.
Scooter riders might be displeased and slightly inconvenienced by the new law, but in Amsterdam the classic pedal bike has always reigned supreme. Hopefully, this measure will ensure that cyclists not only feel, but actually are, safer in their own designated spaces.
However, it remains to be seen how well this measure will actually be enforced. Five days after the ban came into effect, I was nearly run into the pavement by a moped driver who was slaloming around cyclists like he was competing in the Winter Olympics. Attitude change takes time, and a bike lane ban will never be able to eradicate irresponsible driving. But it is a positive move.
Rebecca Took is a student at the University of Amsterdam. The views expressed here are not necessarily those of The Amsterdammer.