DUTCH CYCLING SERIES: This is the first in a series of articles on Dutch cycling and what we can learn from their experience, culture and design.
The series follows a week-long trip to the Netherlands on a bicycle media tour, which the Embassy of the Netherlands in Dublin was kind enough to send IrishCycle.com on.
Barefoot: For starters, barefoot cycling may not typify Dutch cycling but the feeling of freedom seems to, and the bicycle is typical Dutch — mudguards, chain guard, rear carrier, and wheel lock, all adding up to a practical bicycle for everyday use:
Gender split: The male/female balance of cycling in Ireland, the UK and the US is skewed firmly towards men, but it does not have to be that way. In the Netherlands, it’s close to balanced and slightly skewed towards woman.
It’d be nice if we had the weather! We do. For example, Amsterdam has around the same climate as Dublin, but, according to some yearly records, the Dutch capital has slightly more rain. Snow is more common in the Netherlands, while Ireland can go winters without notable snowfalls. Like those who cycle in Ireland, the Dutch adapt to conditions, in their own way:
But the wind: Wind is more problematic in the Netherlands. So much so, some cycle paths require warning signs like this one:
The Netherlands is flat. Isn’t it? It mostly is. But if the wind mentioned above does not make up for hills elsewhere, Amsterdam’s canals has a load of sharply curved bridges which locals cross with style:
Cargo on board: These bridges — which you can cross a few of when cycling into Amsterdam city centre — can be a killer on single-geared rental bicycles if you lose momentum just before crossing one of them. We’re guessing it’d be something similar if riding a cargo bicycle full of children and shopping as many locals do:
And they start off young: Like most of what’s pictured here, cycling while pregnant is everyday stuff. It’s normal:
A seat with a view: Front-of-bicycle child seats are also typical:
Out on their own bike: It’s not long before Dutch children are on their own bicycles:
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Hop on: Older children, if not on their own bikes, often just sit on back carrier of their parent’s bike:
Social: Giving a friend a backer is also common:
Cycling with a friend: And cycling side-by-side is standard by design:
Suit you: The lack of helmets and high-vis is the norm in the Netherlands. Yet, the country has a higher percentage of its population cycling than any other country in Europe and the best safety record.
These are not selective images, while traveling across three providences, high-vis stood out as we only spotted it used once away from construction sites and motorcycle police officers. Helmets clearly mark out sporting cyclists and tourists on rental bicycles; the only other place hard hats are visible is on the odd child. Suits are more common:
Risk takes: It’s not the Dutch don’t take apparent “risks”, like cycling under a museum where bucket loads of tourists are walking all around only half aware of the cycle path:
Hands on: Phones in the hands of people cycling can be seen all around:
Double act: Listening to music on your phone and you get a call but your headphones does not have a microphone? No problem:
Did we mention umbrellas? On a rainy mid-week morning in Utrecht we woke up to rain and locals on bicycles cycling in every direction with umbrellas — at times, up to 1 in every 4 or 5 people had an umbrella up while cycling:
This series on Dutch cycling will continue, covering issues such as cycle routes, bicycles made for carrying stuff, mass bicycle parking and more.