The bike path under Amsterdam’s world famous Rijksmuseum has turned into a veritable cash cow for the city. Although it is illegal for scooters and mopeds to use this bike path, between November 2014 and January 2017 no less than 27,000 fines of 90 euro were issued to these tenacious road users caught on camera, amounting to a staggering 2.4 million euro in fines.
The city has even put more obvious signs, but it’s not working. A few days ago, local TV station AT5 stood outside there for an hour and a half and saw four scooters get fined at what is now 95 euro a pop.
What’s the big deal? Well, even back in 2003 when the bike path was being renovated, there were discussions about making it off limits to cyclists, but the museum was quickly struck down on that point. The path had been open to cyclists for ages, so that wasn’t going to fly. However, making it illegal for scooters and mopeds was acceptable, but obviously not everyone thinks it applies to them.
According to insurance data gathered by newspaper Het Parool, some 95% of all Vespa scooters are stolen off the streets of Amsterdam within five years. Throughout the rest of the country only about 4% of Vespas are stolen in the same period of time.
I once had that Roman Holiday vibe and seriously considered buying a Vespa. British comedian Eddie Izzard made owning a Vespa (video excerpt) even more appealing to me during one hot Dutch summer and after a memorable trip to southern Italy.
The NLTimes and other sources claim that “Piaggio brand scooters are also a hot target, with 12% of them being stolen within five years”, but then Vespa scooters are made by Piaggio, so that sounds off. Het Parool does explain that Vespas and Piaggios (not Piaggo dear Parool) are registered separately by Stichting Aanpak Voertuigcriminaliteit (SVAC) who handles stolen vehicles.
According to our sources, Amsterdam has just launched an electric scooter taxi service called Hopper, although Hopper’s press release mentioned as of October 1. “For a fixed rate of EUR 2.50 a ride, as long as the final destination is within city limits. The project is a private-public cooperation with the City of Amsterdam, Dutch Railways (NS) and the Ministry of Infrastructure & Environment and helps solve metropolitan transportation problems.”
Hopper apparently took five years of planning, is only available downtown, the Zuidas business district and the RAI exhibition hall area, and runs on weekdays from 8 am to 8 pm. You can order a Hopper by phone or a smartphone but not yet (they don’t say iPhone or Android). The goal is to expand to Rotterdam, The Hague and Utrecht, aka the Randstad conurbation.
Although A+ for effort, the part I have to chip away at is when they state that, “scooters in Amsterdam are limited to a top speed of 25 km/h, which means customers (and their drivers, for that matter) can ride without helmets.” Yes, the helmet bit is true, but the last thing cyclists in Amsterdam need right now is more scooter traffic on bike paths. This year Amsterdam’s parking enforcement officers set the worst possible example by doing dangerous things such as driving over the limit and against cycling traffic. The amount of scooters that go over 25 km/h on bike paths is surely more than half. I’m not saying Hoppers drive too fast, but I’m not convinced they won’t try.
I would consider making use of this service, although in the weekend and surely after 8 pm, but that’s just me. If anyone out there has actually used or even seen one of these, let us know. It’s all nice and green to have electric vehicles on the streets of Amsterdam, but like any other means of transportation they also cause their own set of problems. It would be great to be able to pay so little to get around town regularly, as taxis start at EUR 7,50.
To prove that ‘everything sounds better in the Concertgebouw’, Amsterdam’s beautiful 125-year-old concert hall, some amusing adverts were made, albeit not every one of them brilliant or believable. I find the showering one a bit boring, and I don’t need to hear burping children either.
In the video below, the acoustics were tested using three scooters, which sounded much less annoying than they do on the street whizzing by on bike paths. The three scooter guys are pretty typical for Amsterdam’s streets, and they had never been in the Concertgebouw before. Having attended concerts there myself, all I can say is that the hall is very live sounding and makes brass and strings sound very vibrant, as long as you have good seats.
And that’s not all. According to Nieuws uit Amsterdam, they don’t wear helmets and drive a polluting type of scooter, while the city pushes for traffic safety and clean air. You can imagine why cyclists union Fietsersbond highly recommends these parking enforcement officers do their jobs on a bicycle just like a whole bunch of other working people do.
Ever since the cold spell started well over a week ago, the beloved ticket givers have traded in their scooters for taxis. That’s right: the city is paying for them to be driven around town with taxpayers’ money by taxi. In Canada they’d just walk around wearing warm clothes, but oh no, snow is dangerous here! Why don’t they just have cars?
True, scootering around on icy streets is dangerous, and cycling is also not a good idea, but what’s wrong with walking? It’s like nobody thought of it. Tons of people work outdoors day in day out despite the cold, why are these people so special? Before ‘do you it yourself and see how cold it is’ pops up in the comments, I was a bike courier in Montréal, Canada for three years also during the winter with temps of -25 celsius. Dress warmly and keep moving.
In June of this year there were 1,000,000 mopeds on the Dutch roads for the first time, according to NOS.
That is 300,000 up from 2007, and even 600,000 up from 1995. In an article about bicycle manufacturer Batavus, Wikipedia claims that there were more than 2 million mopeds in the Netherlands in 1977, but I could not find anything to back that up.
I wanted to celebrate this millionth moped by creating a sort of “Holland moped chic” set on Flickr, analogous to Copenhagen Cycle Chic and Amsterdamize. Unfortunately, as you can see below, my photography skills were not up to the task and riders came out mostly blurred.
Dutch road laws make a distinction between bromfietsen (‘buzz bikes’) and snorfietsen (‘purr bikes’). The latter can only legally go 25 km/h, and are considered to be closer to regular bicycles in intent and use. Snorfietsen have also become very popular lately because they can look as good as regular scooter mopeds, yet you do not have to wear a helmet while riding them.
Mobile scooters will be racing at the Zandvoort racetrack in Zandvoort aan Zee to celebrate Mobility Day (‘Mobiliteitsdag’). This day is dedicated to anyone who can get around quickly and properly in a wheelchair, mobile scooter or walker. There will be an obstacle course, wheelchair races, mobile scooter races and a celebrity race. You can also have your wheelchair or mobile scooter pimped.