Electric Cars & Cycling in Amsterdam
In an ironic turn of events bicycle riders are pitted against electric cars in Amsterdam - the "Bicyle City". Known for promoting the use of cycling to the point that it makes up more than 50% of transportation the city now wants to replace gas powered cars with electric. Of course cycling is the cleanest major transportation vehicle in the world while electic cars are only "green" if the energy used to recharge them is derived from clean sources such as hydo-electric, windmills and solar. Most electricity is generated using coal and other sources that create considerable pollution.
While cyclists are afraid that the number of cars will increase city officials claim that they are only trying to replace existing gas powered vehicles. As an incentive they are giving free power to new electric car owners during the next 2 years and will pay half of the extra cost of buying a plug-in vehicle, as compared to the less expensive gasoline-powered models. Amsterdam has a goal of putting 10,000 electric cars on the road by 2015, and 40,000 by 2020. In 30 years, they expect every car to be electric. The city has even installed 19 electric power charging points where motorists can charge up their cars for free.
Of course the Dutch live in a country of which 40% is below sea level so they take the threat of global warmning and a rising ocean very seriously. Clearly they have had more problems during recent years with increasing downpours that cause riverine flooding. If not for an elaborate series of dikes and pumps that push the water out, almost half of the country would be underwater. Replacing gas powered cars with electric is seen as an important step for Amerstam which wants to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 40 percent by 2025. That is over twice the level proposed by the United States during the same period.
Cyclists are worried about any increase in the number of cars because the pinched, medieval streets at the center of the city can quickly become clogged with traffic. Currently bicycles have the right of way over cars. Because of the slower less congested traffic conditions created by cyclists many do not even feel the need to wear a helmet. Now there is concern that more cars and more parking ramps will change all that. There is also limited parking space. Today there are 3 times as many parking spaces for bicycles as cars. Any increase in the number of automobiles might require reducing spaces for bicycles. One cyclist put it well saying, "Biking is safe when there's more bikes."