Addicts to fight bicycle theft
20 June 2007 - The Infrastructure and Traffic
Department (dIVV) is working on a programme in which drug addicts
and ex-convicts carry out street surveillance to reduce bicycle
theft. This was announced by the municipality after the publication
of the new bicycle plan.
“London, Paris, Barcelona, Rome and many other foreign cities
are jealous of our large numbers of cyclists”, said Alderman
Tjeerd Herrema. The municipality wants the bicycle to retain its
popularity, for it is good for the city’s accessibility, liveability
and air quality.
This week, the municipality therefore published its multi-year
bicycle plan. Bicycle connections must improve, the number of places
to park a bicycle will increase, cycling must become safer and the
image of cycling must improve.
Through the AFAC, a terrain where found and removed bicycles
are collected and registered, the city tries to reduce bicycle theft.
This approach has been copied by a number of other cities.
In addition, bicycle shops are regularly inspected, people who
offer bicycles for sale on the internet are investigated and street
surveillance is carried out. In order to reduce the cost of surveillance,
a plan is being developed to use drug addicts and ex-convicts. The
programme should help their return to society.
Bicycle accident-prone? The bicycle
seems to be a relatively safe mode of transportation. Cyclists make
up 25 to 33% of accident victims, while bicycles are used in 37%
of trips. “It remains a vulnerable group and every accident
is one too many”, responds Johanneke Helmer of the dIVV. Every
year, five cyclists are killed in traffic accidents in Amsterdam,
and hundreds are injured.
That is of course to some extend their own fault, given how recklessly
many jump the lights. At least, that is the general impression.
In fact, ten percent of bicycle accidents are caused by jumping
the lights. In addition, five percent are caused by cyclists riding
in the wrong direction or on tram tracks.
More often, accidents are caused by cars: cars turning left or
right without giving way (15%), opening car doors (7%) and problems
with parking cars (10%). This autumn, the municipality will present
a plan to improve traffic safety.
Phased traffic lights. Traffic
lights in Amsterdam are ten times more bicycle-friendly than in
Rotterdam, but there is room for improvement. The municipality wants
traffic lights to respond better to approaching bicycles and to
provide better information on waiting times to cyclists.
In addition, there will be experiments introducing phased traffic
lights for cyclists and displays indicating how fast one should
ride to arrive at a green traffic light. If the experiments prove
successful, the measures will be introduced at a larger scale.
Cycling courses. In March, a
study by cyclists’ organisation Fietsersbond revealed
that there are still waiting lists for cycling courses in
most districts. There is no mention of this topic in the Bicycle
Plan, but the issue is being addressed, Helmer said.
For example, there has recently been a project at the Calvijn College
in west. A problem is that it is difficult to find enough volunteers
to offer the courses. Helmer: “You should not underestimate
this: not anyone can give such courses”.
Molly Moore of the Washington Post recently visited the bicycle
flat at the Central Station to report on bicycle parking. The article
appeared in numerous American newspapers.
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