Plusnet Bicycle: an essential tool for a safe cycling city

To facilitate safe and pleasant cycling, a network of good cycling routes is needed. Amsterdam developed a network of good bicycle routes over numerous years. But how do you get there? How, for example, do you ensure coherence and prioritisation? And how do you build on this? In Amsterdam, the Plusnet Bicycle has been used as a policy instrument, and in this article, we discuss its added value. In relation to its added value, we are also interested in your experiences, examples and ideas.

More profound bicycle policy

The main cycle network consisting of the primary grid and secondary routes was established in 1982. The main routes were aimed towards longer trips and the secondary network towards trips in and between neighbourhoods. Secondary routes via neighbourhood streets also function as an alternative for routes via the primary grid. As implementing improvements on the primary road is more complex, secondary routes offer an alternative until improvements are feasible.

Secondary routes can often be improved more easily using measures such as speed reducers, cut-offs for cars, crossing over main roads and preventing illegal parking. The whole forms a more robust network.

1982 Hoofdnet fiets bron Veiliger fietsen in Amsterdam uit 1987.jpg The main network and the secondary network as established in 1982. Source: Safer cycling in Amsterdam, 1987

Cycle path not necessary, yet the quality is

Assuming the main cycling network should be made up of separate cycle paths by default is a common mistake. Many of the best and busiest cycling routes in the city including as the Weesperzijde, the Binnenring, and the Spiegelstraat, do not have separate cycle paths. If only a few cars use the road and speeds are controlled, cyclists and cars can share the road.

Regardless, quality is a requirement that must be met. Routes in the main network and the Plusnet bicycle must be safe, fast, comfortable and well maintained. Additionally, the routes ought to form a coherent and familiar network. These quality requirements are described in the Policy Framework for Traffic Networks and elaborated in the CVC Guideline.


Years of consistent and persistent work on the Main Cycle Network have resulted in a high-quality cycling network. Please read in this document how work has progressed since 1979. Today, approximately 95% of the network has been realised. Furthermore, similar to the other modes of transport, the main bicycle network and a bicycle plus network currently in Amsterdam are in place. As the Plusnet takes precedence over the main net, priorities may be derived and choices can be made. This interactive network map shows where exactly the routes run.

Time for a leap of scale

Partly due to the development of this robust cycling network, cycling in Amsterdam is once again in full swing. In fact, sometimes cycle paths are overcrowded and it’s time for an increase in the scale of cycle infrastructure in order to create more room for more cyclists. For example, we are working on bottleneck solutions for busy intersections (such as Mr Visserplein). Simultaneously, we are working on entire routes such as on the Kinkerstraat and the Oranje Loper.

Lessons learned

As is the case for the bicycle city, the bicycle network is constantly evolving. New challenges call for new solutions.

Share your experiences!

How is your city building its bicycle network? How does your city, or region provide coherence and prioritisation? Should we aim for separate cycle paths or should we use a system of mixed traffic? Do you have any advice for Amsterdam? Please, share it below!


The city of Amsterdam Amsterdam

Download the overview of the Plusnet Bicycle in high quality PDF

Apr 19, 2021

2018 Hoofdnet en plusnet fiets highres.pdf


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