VIDEO: Bikes rule in the Netherlands
I just got back from a European trip that included two stops in the Netherlands. And, once again, I’ve found myself captivated by Dutch cycling culture.
Not only are there dedicated bike paths just about everywhere; there are also huge bike garages at many railway stations, where you can have a mechanic tune up your bike while you’re at work. Public staircases include clever grooves parallel to the steps that allow cyclists to easily move their bikes up and down. And cycling accessories go far beyond the meagre selection of baskets and panniers available in North America; on my two trips to Holland, I’ve seen people carrying everything from a week’s worth of groceries to small pieces of furniture on bikes, using a variety of trailers and racks.
It’s not surprising that only 7 percent of Dutch people canvassed in a recent survey said they rarely cycle. On the other hand, 80 percent said they cycle at least once a week.
Interestingly, cycling began to decline in the Netherlands in the 1950s, as people switched increasingly to cars. However, it went through a renaissance in the 1970s, after a group of parents demanded safe cycling routes so that their kids could bike to school.
Last spring, Britain’s All Party Parliamentary Cycling Group visited the Netherlands to get the inside scoop on the country’s success. Check out this video about the trip.
(And just in case you think biking is only for the relentlessly unfashionable, check out Cycle Chic from Copenhagen. It’s a weirdly captivating blog with lovely photographs of stylishly dressed cyclists in Denmark–another haven for two-wheeled travellers.)