Thanks to Catarina Dutilh Novaes at NewAPPS, I saw a nice short film about the recent history of cycling and cycle paths in the Netherlands. As she puts it:
As so many other countries, after WWII the Netherlands went through an economic boom, which among other things meant many more cars and the accompanying need for roads to accommodate them. As was to be expected, this went at the expenses of biking, which became highly unsafe; unsurprisingly, biking rates started to go down. So in the 1970s, vocal movements and popular protests demanded an improvement in the infra-structure for biking, in particular in that an astonishing number of bikers were dying in traffic accidents – including many, many children. Lucky for us, this was around the time of the 1973 oil crisis, so it all seemed to indicate that serious changes in lifestyle, and transportation in particular, were needed. Political will to implement those changes became forthcoming, and slowly but surely, cycle paths were built around the country. Sure enough, as soon as it became safer to bike again, the biking rate grew spectacularly again.
Visit the original post to see the film.