The Stubborn Commuter”

Josh MacFadyen published an article in NiCHE earlier this month, The Stubborn Commuter, that dwells in the heart of a whole big bunch of things I’m passionate about: cycling, active transportation, land use, urban planning, maps, GIS.

This is what keeps me stubbornly commuting to work. Between my PhD in early 2010 and today, I’ve been fortunate to find work at UPEI, Western, Saskatchewan, Arizona State, and now UPEI, again. I have bought exactly zero semesters of parking passes from any of those universities. My wife and I have fought the urge to get a second vehicle, or to “put another one on the road” as they say in PEI. It’s a challenge with a busy and relatively large family. It means we run a house with exactly 0.16 cars per person. Our bike fleet fluctuates, but it is usually closer to 1.5 bikes per family member. 


Ton Zijlstra's picture
Ton Zijlstra on November 23, 2021 - 06:03 Permalink

I thought there was a comment here earlier by someone with some stats on the 6% of commutes that are on bicycles in the Netherlands, suggesting it as a max cap given we cycle a lot here. It's gone now, or was on another posting. Nevertheless, I looked some stuff up, as I was triggered by that 6%. In our own family life it feels like more than 6%, even though the statistic itself doesn't sound wrong. The Dutch statistics office keeps a lot of data on this, so I had a look.

Dutch statistics are kept on 3 dimensions w.r.t. mobility:
distance traveled, number of movements, amount of time spent

In 2019 (2020 is a bad comparison with all the lockdowns)
Of all KMs traveled 69% were by car, 14% public transport, 8.4% on bicycle, 2.5% on foot. This is an average of 9 thousand KM in cars, 1100 on a bike, and 322 on foot per person.

When it comes to the number of movements those % shift:
cars 47%, public transport 6%, 28% on bicycle, 16% on foot. This means people take the car for bigger distances, and more local movements are on bike / on foot.

The time spent traveling looks like: 55% car, 13% public transport, 22% bike, 15% on foot

So 8,4% of kilometers, forming 28% of movements, and 22% of our traveling time is on bike, on average here in the Netherlands.
That resonates in a more balanced way with my personal perception. Locally we do most things by bike, for work anything longer distance is by public transport (cycling to the station), car is for transporting duties, and longer distance family travel. In total it means I cycle daily, drive the car weekly, while in KMs traveled the car wins out over the bicycle.