If You Build It They Will Come

“Cycling is like a piece of magic: It only has advantages.”

“Biking saves medical costs since biking contributes to people’s overall physical activity levels, and getting sufficient physical activity prevents against many noncommunicable diseases, including obesity, Type 2 diabetes, coronary heart disease and some types of cancers,” Dr. Carlijn Kamphuis, the study’s lead author, wrote in an email exchange.

Frans Jan van Rossem, Utrecht’s head of bicycle programming, put it another way. “Our revenue is healthy people, less traffic and beautiful living,” he said.

The project’s cost, $48 million, was paid not just by the municipality, but also by the region and the national train service, which recognizes that increasing the availability of bike parking leads to an increase in riders.

Utrecht, like many other European cities, spent several postwar decades trying to make automobile use easier.

The effort included building a four-lane highway over centuries-old canals, making space for parked cars on its narrow cobblestone streets, and planning for a highway that was to cross the medieval city’s cathedral square.

Decades later, the concept of progress looks quite different.


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