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Bagaimana Kita Boleh Belajar Sejarah Pembudayaan Berbasikal di Amsterdam?

Sejak beberapa hari kebelakangan ini, kisah para penunggang basikal bergaduh dengan penguatkuasa DBKL tiba-tiba menjadi tular. Sebelum daripada itu, 8 orang remaja di Johor meninggal dunia apabila dilanggar kereta pada jam 3.00 pagi.

Kita sedia maklum, Kuala Lumpur sudah membudayakan ‘KL Car Free Morning’ pada setiap hari Ahad, minggu Pertama dan Ketiga setiap bulan. Mahu tahu lanjut, boleh lawati laman sesawang KL Car Free Morning.

Akhir tahun 2016 yang lalu, seorang kakitangan Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka, dipercayai dilanggar-lari sewaktu berbasikal di lebuhraya DUKE.

Proses pendidikan kepada masyarakat untuk membudayakan penggunaan basikal selain daripada tujuan rekreasi, adalah proses yang berterusan. Beberapa kejadian yang menyayat hati atau tidak sepatutnya berlaku ini harus mampu menjadi pemangkin untuk Malaysia memperbaiki dan mempertingkatkan lagi prasarana dan juga menyediakan insentif bagi penggunaan basikal untuk aktiviti meneruskan kehidupan (bukan sekadar untuk tujuan berekreasi semata-mata)

Di bawah ini, saya kongsikan sebuah artikel mengenai sejarah ringkas bagaimana Amsterdam menjadi sebuah bandar yang mesra dengan pengangkutan basikal:


A typical Amsterdam street scene sees countless cyclists either heading to or from work, transporting young children to school, or carrying anything from groceries or house pets to impressively tricky artefacts like ladders or even bulky furniture. With this in mind, it can seem to outsiders like cycling is simply built into the Dutch DNA. In reality, the Netherlands’ renowned cycling prowess is a hard-won combination of urban planning, government spending and people power.

Most visitors are still shocked, however, by the vast numbers of bicycles, and the wide variety of cyclists: from students to police officers and from bank staff to couriers, cycling is the most egalitarian mode of transport. The Mayor of Amsterdam and City alderpersons also cycle. Even King Willem-Alexander cycles regularly with his family.

Building Amsterdam’s cycling infrastructure

The popularity of cycling in Amsterdam is undoubtedly aided by the fact that Amsterdam is flat, compact and densely populated and the climate mostly moderate. But Gerrit Faber of the Fietsersbond, or Cyclists’ Union notes that “It’s not what we have because of our genes. We built it – and other cities can, too.”

He is referring to the investment in cycling infrastructure that began in earnest in the 1970s, following a post-war boom in auto reliance that led to unacceptably high death rates for cyclists. In 1971, more than 3,000 people were killed by cars, 450 of them children. “At that moment, people decided we don’t want it and we built what we have today,” says Faber.

Today there are some 400 kilometres of bicycle paths criss-crossing the city, with an estimated half of all city journeys taking place on two wheels – pretty impressive for what began as an ‘elitist pastime’ in the 1890s.

Rolling rebellion in wartime

Cycling remained the main mode of transportation in the country’s pre-World War II days and even played a role during the Nazi occupation of the city in the 1940s. “The Germans hated Amsterdam cyclists,” says Pete Jordan, author of In the City of Bikes, with “their attitude full of bravado, like it is today – running red lights and being anarchistic.” As Amsterdam cyclists purposely slowed up convoys and refused to give way to German vehicles, cycling, says Jordan, became “the biggest expression of resistance to the Nazis… It gave ordinary people satisfaction that they were hindering the Nazi cause.”

With the car replacing the bicycle after the war and even the city’s mayor tolling the velo’s death knoll in 1965, urban planners rushed to accommodate four-wheeled vehicles. One thankfully nixed 1960s plan was even to pave over the city centre’s historic canals to make way for cars. Today, however, those cars that five decades ago haphazardly filled the city’s most famous squares – Rembrandtplein, Leidseplein – are gone. In their place are thousands of bicycles.

Looking to the future

The Fietsersbond’s Michel Post has a vision for the Amsterdam of the future: the city’s car traffic will decrease to the point where there won’t be a need for cycle lanes at all, as bicycles move off the curb and claim the streets. “Cars will consider themselves guests,” he says, elevating Amsterdam’s status as the world’s biking capital to new heights.

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