Environment

Traffic Jams in the Netherlands are the Exact Opposite of America

October 9th 2015

By:
Kyle Jaeger

In America, rush hour means spending your commute home in bumper-to-bumper traffic, gradually inching forward and hoping that you chose the "fast" lane. In the Netherlands, they have a similar problem—except it's tire-to-tire traffic, because they ride bikes. So many bikes.

There are a lot of benefits that comes with a bike-based transportation system, especially as far as the environment is concerned. Sure, cars might be faster than bikes, but that won't help you in a traffic jam. And while roads in the U.S. aren't always the most bike friendly, cities such as Los Angeles are pushing for better bike lanes in an effort to diversify its car-centric transportation system.

This incredible video highlights the difference between rush hour in America and the Netherlands.

Taking a bike to work might seem impractical for someone who was raised in the age of the automobile, but just watch this video and you'll see just how efficient the cycling system can be. A cyclist in Utrecht, Netherlands, filmed his daily commute on a GoPro and the 16-minute bike experience is impressive.

Cycling is the most common form of transportation in the Netherlands, with more than 31 percent of the country's population listing bikes as their main mode of transport. Now compare that to America. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, approximately 140 million Americans commuted to work in 2012; less than one percent of those people biked. (121 million drove in a private car or truck.)

Some of the advantages of biking are obvious but important to note: It's a great form of exercise and helps reduce rates of obesity and heart failure, the Obesity Society reports. More bikers would mean less cars on the road, effectively reducing traffic. And since cycling doesn't involve fuel, it's about as "zero-emissions" as you can get.

In New York, "[i]f just 5 percent of all people commuting by private car or taxi switched to public or non-motorized transportation (walking or cycling), the result would be a decrease of 150 million pounds of CO2 emissions per year," according to one study. "To achieve a similar reduction, we would have to plant trees on about 20,000 acres of land—an area 1.3 times the size of Manhattan."