Dutch Bicycles: Awesome Facts & Kick-Ass Photos

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).

Fun Dutch Bicycle Facts

  • Did you know that with the (roughly) 16 million inhabitants, there are more than 18 million bicycles? That’s more bikes than people! In fact, in our brief tenure here in The Netherlands, Trudy and I have somehow ended up with four bicycles between the the two of us.
  • There are special traffic lights just for bicyclists when riding on a bike path, and if sharing a road with a car they have the same rights. A Dutch friend told me that if a car hits a bike, it’s almost always determined to be the driver’s fault instead of the cyclist…and hang on, I actually did a bit of research and under Dutch law, if a collision between a motorist and a bicyclist occurs, the car driver’s insurance is deemed responsible.
  • The Netherlands makes over 30% of the bikes in all of Europe. Mad!
  • The bicycle tracks in The Netherlands equate to around 29,000 km of segregated and dedicated bicycle paths.
  • Amsterdam (you know, the capital – Rotterdammers hate it ;)) spent over 20 million Euros on cycling infrastructure between 2007 – 2010!
  • 1 BILLION EUROS *puts pinky to corner of mouth* is spent on bicycles and infrastructure every year.

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!

Leave ’em out in the snow, no worries!

The village bicycles… clomp ’em all together, easy peasy!

I’m about to Evil Knievel my way into the Rotterdam Nieuwe Maas.

Amsterdam through the eyes of a bicycle!

How many bicycles can you fit into one space? A lot, apparently!

Beer crates make the perfect bicycle crates (for carrying beer?)

Ik ben ijssssss koud!

Bicycle wars.

Why WOULDN’T you paint your bicycle fluoro green?

Bicycles parked on a canal bridge in Amsterdam.

Is there room for my bike? … (Delft Central Station)

14 Responses to “Dutch Bicycles: Awesome Facts & Kick-Ass Photos”

  1. Tom says:

    Yay! I love bikes 😀

  2. Vera says:

    Brilliant post! Loved the movie and all the pictures!! Loz and I bike-ride a lot here in rural France, too (the streets hardly have two lanes, though, and definitely no cycle lane!) and we always wear flourescent jackets, which made me realize that the reason cyclists have the impression that some motorists are just ignorant b*stards comes from the fact that the latter don’t see the first early enough. It happened to me all the time that I got cut off and nearly run over back in the days, but now I think it’s really hard for motorists to see you, because it can’t just be coincidence or the very good people of the Aquitaine-region that every car that passed us (every single one!! *knockonwood*) has done so care- and respectfully. But anyway: bike-riding is awesome for all sorts of reasons and in a city so much more practical than a car!! Love the Dutch for being so bike-pro (and love Holland for being flat in that regard;)). Further frolic cycling to you!

    • Tom says:

      Hey Vera, it’s awesome to hear you guys are having great riding success by wearing fluorescent jackets! Maybe it is the Aquitaine-region that have such friendly people, you never know 😉

      Nothing better than riding our bikes around the city as a mode of transport – so convenient and easy and free!

  3. Audrey says:

    That’s a nice pair of boots in the first shot! BTW you totally cracked me up with the joke about a Scientologist’s personality. 😀

  4. What can I say? We love our bicycles. That voice over must be the long lost brother of Bob Ross (youtube the guy if you don’t know him)

    • Tom says:

      Haha, Bob Ross is a legend! I just watched a video of him paint a mountain…and then youtube roped me into watching a time lapse video – good stuff 😀

  5. Arianwen says:

    I love all the bicycles in Holland. I was in Utrecht last year for Queen’s Day and my friend kept giving me lifts on the back of her bike – something we Yorkshire folk call a ‘croggy’! It’s not as easy as it looks, but at least you can trust that the car drivers are always on the look out.

    • Tom says:

      Yeah I can’t say I’m to good at doing croggy’s – although that sounds way worse than it is. Nothing like a trusty old croggy in the morning, eh. Still, they do tend to limit bicycles to 2 people max, unlike Asia where you’ll see 4-5 family members on the same motorcycle or scooter haha!

  6. Spencer says:

    Brings back lovely memories of the last time I was in Amsterdam. I went everywhere on a bike.

  7. Loved this post and made me very nostalgic, although I only just left Amsterdam after 3 months living there.

    Brilliant photos!

  8. Caitlyn says:

    Oh, I’m not the only one with a ridiculous amount of Dutch bike photos! I’m an Aussie living in the Netherlands too, not far away from you in Dordrecht. I got my bike stolen a couple of months ago (insert sad face here) and my (Dutch) boyfriend actually MADE ME A NEW BIKE. Yes, collected out of orphaned bike parts.

    Apparently it’s just me, but does that seem a little weird to you?

    • Tom says:

      Oh no!!! That sucks. My girlfriend also got her bike stolen out the front of our apartment, it was a nice one too! Although we did buy it a bit naively from marktplaats when we first arrived here for like 70 Euros, and it was a realllyyy nice bike…so was prob stolen to begin with 🙁

      It’s pretty awesome (even for a Dutch guy) that he can build you a new bike like that 😀 Just reminds me a bit of Toy Story when that kid next door makes new toys by mashing dolls and barbie heads together with trucks and slinkies haha. Cool to hear about another Aussie living here, there are a few of us here in Rotterdam (but not that many).

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