Which Came First, The Bike Or The Bike Lane? (Video)

bikelanes netherlands image

Image credit ::Modern Mechanix

When Richard Masoner of Cyclelicious asked "What came first, the bikes, or the bike lanes? Do bike facilities encourage people to bike? Or are they a response to increased demand after there are more bikes on the road?" I sent him a link to a post we did showing that bike lanes existed in 1928, but another commenter sent in a fabulous video telling the history of bike lanes, which explains how they date back to Napoleonic times.

The film explains that there were not a lot of roads in the Netherlands; the primary means of transport was by canal boat. Road building was tough in the soggy soil. Napoleon build a network of roads, but they deteriorated rapidly. When the bike came along, the Napoleonic roads were narrowed and given over to bikes. By 1905 there were strong rules to keep cars and carts off the bike lanes, and soon trees and hedges were planted between the bike paths and the new roads being built to accommodate the car.

So in fact, the bike lanes did come first. More in Cyclelicious. See also Copenhagenize for the history of bike lanes in Copenhagen.

More on Bike Lanes:

Are Blue Bikelanes Better than Black?
Physically Separated Bike Lanes
Über-Short Bike Path Gets Cyclists from Here to Here

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