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Amsterdam looking to set a 20kph speed limit on e-bikes

Faster cyclists could be encouraged to either shift to the roads, or lower speed on the cycle tracks

Amsterdam officials are looking to introduce a speed limit of 20kph for electric bikes within the city boundaries to improve safety for pedestrians as well as other cyclists.

In a letter to the city council, Amsterdam’s transport chief Melanie van der Horst said that e-bikes can often travel faster than 30 kph, boosting the range of speeds on cycle tracks and endangering children and elderly cyclists, reports Dutch News.

While the Netherlands is famed for its cycling culture, with two-thirds of all daily transportations made by bike in the Dutch capital, there has been some concern with the increasing speed aided by the growing use of e-bikes.

Van der Horst pointed to a 2021 survey indicating that 70 per cent of people in Amsterdam were concerned about traffic safety. The speed of electric bikes and scooters was a primary reason for their feeling of insecurity in traffic.

> Dutch research finds cyclists increasingly at risk at roundabouts

Data from Statistics Netherlands (CBS) also indicated that the number of collisions involving e-bikes increased in 2021, with the number of fatalities also rising to 80, six more than the previous year.

Dutch cyclists’ union, Fietsersbond is campaigning to raise awareness on high-speed e-bikes and ‘fat bikes’ — those with extremely wide tyres. They are arguing that some of these bikes can go up to 42kph, or 26mph, and are being altered by the user to allow them to do so, and shouldn’t be allowed in bike lanes.

Van der Horst’s plans involve something similar to this. “A faster cyclist will be encouraged to either cycle on the road or lower their speed on cycle tracks, which should improve cycle path safety,” she said.

However, to bring any such changes, national legislation would be required to legally reduce bike speeds and Van der Horst said that she is now lobbying for change in The Hague.

> Amsterdam cyclists get signs asking them not to jump red lights

The city is also researching ‘intelligent speed adaptation’ technology which will warn cyclists that they are entering a ‘low-speed zone’ via an app. E-bike manufacturers have also started to adapt their software to limit speeds. VanMoof said that in 2022 it changed its app to stop clients setting a higher speed limit, but as expected, people have found ways around it.

Meanwhile, speed limit for vehicles will be pushed down from 50kph to 30kph on 500 roads in Amsterdam this autumn. “More than 80 per cent of roads will become a 30kph zone and we are researching a speed limit on the bike lanes. The growth of electric vehicles means there are huge speed differences on bike lanes and studies show that this creates risks,” said Van der Horst.

Adwitiya joined in 2023 after finishing his masters in Journalism from Cardiff University, with a dissertation focusing on active travel. He's currently living in Cardiff and for the most part moans about the abruptly ending cycle lanes, if he's not cursing the headwind. Adwitiya also covers local and national politics for Voice Wales, and sometimes dabbles in topics related to science, tech and the environment. Cycling became a part of his life just a couple of years ago, and now he can't think of a single reason why anyone would drive if they could cycle. He usually uses his bike for commuting, but he also loves excursions on the Taff trail, however never underestimate his ability to find an excuse to watch something on GCN instead.

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