Amsterdam gives notorious street for bikes a low-traffic makeover

Amsterdam may well have a reputation today as one of the best places in the world to ride a bike, but that doesn't mean the work is done.

The city is undertaking a new revitalisation project, rather than resting on its laurels, and will turn a notorious route for bikes into a low-traffic street prioritising walking, riding and public transport.

De Pijp, a neighbourhood on the southern edge of Amsterdam's CBD and Van Woustraat, serves as a main thoroughfare and winds through the area as a lively shopping strip and key access point to the city.

It's also considered the city's worst place to ride a bike, viewed as an lingering relic of urban Amsterdam in the 1970s and '80s before the city began its renowned transformation.

While many of Amsterdam's main roads have been overhauled to become more amenable to bike riding and walking, Van Woustraat has gone unchanged.

But work is underway on refurbishing its busy and narrow northern section, an area that covers five blocks and leads to the fringe of the downtown area. This renewed section of Van Woustraat will be reinvented as a low-traffic city street. 

Bike riders protest for better safety on Van Woustraat (Credit: Archive Fietsersbond Amsterdam, 1977)

On-street car parking will be removed and wider footpaths and bike lanes will take their place. The design also incorporates loading and unloading bays for deliveries.

The project involves the redesign of nearby intersections to improve the flow of bikes and prevent cut-through motor traffic in the interests of rider and pedestrian safety. 

The Amsterdam city council approved a concept plan in 2019 and began work on the project in May. The plan will be completed in phases and is expected to be wrapped up by the second quarter of 2024.