Working Bicycles of the Netherlands

We are visiting the Netherlands and learning a lot about this small, densely populated country. One of the most obvious sites (besides the windmills) in both urban and rural areas is bicycles.Image

The Dutch have the most bicycles per head of population in the world. (1.3 per citizen old enough to ride) Many Dutch own more than one—one for everyday use and a “best” one for cycle trips. According to Wikipedia, 27% of all trips in the Netherlands are made with bicycles.Image

And the Dutch have bicycles adapted for any use. They are used to transport dogs, children, groceries, even suitcases!

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There are two primary reasons for this high usage: the flat Dutch countryside and the excellent availability of cycling paths that are well-maintained and well-lit.

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Seventy-five percent of secondary students cycle to school. In order to increase safety they must pass a traffic exam to be awarded their Verkeersdiploma. Interestingly though, the Dutch do not wear helmets for their numerous cycling trips—that safety piece of equipment is used only by racers and mountain bikers.

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With so many bicycles, parking them can be a problem. Some public facilities have fancy bicycle parking ramps, but sometimes passing train station, it was clear that where to park a bicycle is a big problem. I cannot imagine this problem happening in the U.S. We could learn a lot from our European neighbors about public and self-propelled transportation.

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Signing off from an Amsterdam cafe,

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4 comments
  1. We’re just down the road from you in Paris, where the ubiquitous “velib” bike system allows one to ride free as long as one checks in at a “velib” station every 30 minutes. We’re about to take off for the Bois de Boulogne… Yes, we in the U.S. must stop thinking we have the answer for everything…! Happy travels, you two!

  2. A recent project we were involved with was a fun social enterprise small business: valet bicycle parking for events!
    It works well apparently and deals with the volume of bicycles in relation to parking.
    Enjoy your cups of tea in Amsterdam cafes.

  3. Jeanne Petrick said:

    Here is something positive happening in a big city. Chicago has the DIVVY bikes system and it is taking off splendidly. DIVVY bike stations are everywhere around the city – you rent them for a very reasonable price. It is so heartening to see sooo many folks using the system – old, young, female, male – even in the winter (yes, this past winter) people were riding the DIVVY’s. AND, the DIVVY stations are solar powered to boot! There are more and more bike lanes since this project started. It has become a model for other big cities like NYC.
    Thanks Ann, for sharing those photos and this topic!

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