For those who’ve been in the Netherlands before or currently reside here, it is not news that the Dutch love to cycle. On average an adult in the Netherlands cycles up to a 1000 kilometres a year, whereas a student doubles that with 2000 kilometres a year! Cycling is part of the lifestyle here, there’s no denying that. There’s many different reasons why the Dutch use this form of transportation so often. In the Netherlands there’s over 35.000 KM dedicated to bike paths, that take you all across the country. Besides getting to and from work/school, these paths are frequently used for daytrips that, well, consist of cycling.
From the very beginning of children’s life, bikes are in the picture. Before they can cycle themselves, small kids are placed in what is known as a ‘bakfiets’ or into a small chair on the front or back of the bike. Around the time they can walk, toddlers get the chance to experiment what biking is by hopping on a tricycle, then a small bike with two extra wheels to keep their balance, and eventually the wheels disappear and the child will gradually cycle on bicycles we all use. This process is pretty standard, and applies to many growing up in the Netherlands. It should therefore come as no surprise that in the Netherlands, there are more bicycles than there are people. With 17 million inhabitants, there’s roughly 22 million bicycles that are being used. Why’s this the case? It’s not rare that one person owns more than one bicycle. Think of native students, they usually have one in their home town as well as in the city of their studies.
However, our country being full of more bikes than people isn’t the only fun fact that’s out there. Oh no, there’s more madness to this lifestyle we love so much which is described below:
1. We get taught how to cycle and even need to pass an exam
Yep, that’s right. There’s a mandatory cycling proficiency class in primary school that all children must take. It teaches you for instance how to participate in traffic as a cyclists and what the various different signs on and next to the road mean.
2. Traffic rules are extremely bike friendly
As so many of us use a bike to get to everywhere, the rules around traffic are often in our favour. One, for instance, is that when a cyclists ends up in an accident with a car, it’s almost always the driver that is in the wrong, even if the cyclist could have been more careful.
3. It’s the safest place on earth to ride your bike
With all the dedicated paths for bicycles and all the traffic rules in cyclists’ favour, it comes as no surprise that the Netherlands is the safest place on earth to cycle. As it is such a big part of life here, it’s important to keep this form of transportation as safe and efficient as possible. And uh, there’s no real big hills or anything that’s in the way either, making it easy to lay out dedicated paths!
4. There’s a zillion different routes you can take
Something that you are allowed to do in current ‘quarantine’ is go out for some fresh air or exercise. What better way to do this by grabbing your bike and going on one of the many cycle routes through the Netherlands. Wherever you live, there’s at least three different routes in the area that will take you through small parts of forests, beautiful fields, or next to lovely streams.
5. It is one of the most romantic ways of spending time with someone you love
Grab your friend or loved one, and of course your bike, and ride off into the sunset. Haha, in all seriousness, holidays or daytrips are often done by bicycle as well so taking someone you love for a bike ride, is indeed a real loving thing to do!
So, in case you ever wondered why the Dutch are so crazy about cycling, we challenge you to go out and try it for yourself. With the many different routes and the opportunity to rent bicycles in almost every city (OV-fiets throughout NS.nl) there’s really no excuse. And for every student out here, enjoy the safe, scenic rides, but also the efficiency that comes by being a proud bicycle owner! ;)