It’s difficult to imagine life in The Netherlands without an abundance of bicycles everywhere you look. Parked in front of the supermarket, sprawled in the parks on sunny days, chained at the train station in snow and wind… no matter the weather or the elements, bikes both old, vintage and new are found everywhere you look.
Coming from Australia it’s refreshing, because in Australia riding on the road increases your chance of death by at least 10%. Okay, okay…maybe I’m being dramatic, but it’s not an uncommon story that a bicyclist gets clipped by an enraged motorist late for work. Motorists just hate bicyclists there, and it’s a culture that (fantastically) doesn’t exist here in Holland! In The Netherlands, bicycling is actually a true and legitimate form of transportation unlike most other countries in the world.
What really makes it awesome though is the sheer abundance of bicycle paths. You can literally ride everywhere in The Netherlands. Whether through the countryside or in the city – there’s always a dedicated bicycle path, and on the remote chance you happen to be sharing the road with a car they actually respect the fact that yes, you are riding here.
So why does Holland have so many bicycle paths? Was it some old king that decided bicycles were awesome? Or was it the ancient network of cheese delivery? The history of their abundance of bicycle paths is actually a little more recent than that.
Check out this video (but ignore the strange tones of the voice-over man – the info is actually really interesting!).
Alright, alright… so we know bike paths gained real prominence in the 70’s, but did I mention there are no hills in Holland? The place is as flat as a Scientologist’s personality – there are literally no hills to be seen almost everywhere. It sure does make for perfect riding (except you need to constantly use the old leg muscles…but once you get going it’s easy to just drift along).
Those facts were pretty win, just sayin’.
Truly though, it’s one thing that when I leave The Netherlands I am really going to miss. The freedom of being able to ride to the pub, smack down a few drinks and have a shindig, then roll on back home (maybe weaving a little) is liberating. Forget taxis and public transport, bicycles rule!
Here are a few of our bicycle oriented photos to feast your eyes on since our move here to The Netherlands!