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Why is cycling so popular in the Netherlands? (and not so much in Canberra?)

By mlr 9 August 2013 58

Why is cycling so popular in the Netherlands? (and not so much in Canberra?)

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-23587916

There are more bicycles than residents in The Netherlands and in cities like Amsterdam and The Hague up to 70% of all journeys are made by bike. The BBC’s Hague correspondent, Anna Holligan, who rides an omafiets – or “granny style” – bike complete with wicker basket and pedal-back brakes, examines what made everyone get back in the saddle.

In response a social movement demanding safer cycling conditions for children was formed. Called Stop de Kindermoord (Stop the Child Murder), it took its name from the headline of an article written by journalist Vic Langenhoff whose own child had been killed in a road accident.

To make cycling safer and more inviting the Dutch have built a vast network of cycle paths.

These are clearly marked, have smooth surfaces, separate signs and lights for those on two wheels, and wide enough to allow side-by-side cycling and overtaking.

In many cities the paths are completely segregated from motorised traffic. Sometimes, where space is scant and both must share, you can see signs showing an image of a cyclist with a car behind accompanied by the words ‘Bike Street: Cars are guests’.

What’s Your opinion?


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58 Responses to
Why is cycling so popular in the Netherlands? (and not so much in Canberra?)
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davo 10:46 pm 24 Oct 13

Look you idiots…Holland is flat as your average pancake….Canberra isn’t…go figure….plus the cities are denser so you really dont need to cycle for longish distances to access urban amenities.

Spiral 5:32 pm 14 Aug 13

Blathnat said :

What did amaze me though, was that the town he lives in (sorry, I cannot honestly pronounce or spell it) actually has “town bikes”.

I grew up in rural Victoria and we had a “Town Bike” too but that probably wasn’t something we bragged about.

mlr 5:07 pm 14 Aug 13

Just saw this page, interesting… Why Cycle Cities Are the Future
http://www.archdaily.com/409556/why-cycle-cities-are-the-future/

And for people wondering how to lobby for the election …
http://vote4cycling.com.au/

Mark

tim_c 12:44 pm 14 Aug 13

mlr said :

Thanks everyone!

Lot’s of great feedback which I really appreciated. Especially the videos, and the weather comparisons.

In summary – less Canberrans ride because they’re much better at thinking up excuses…
* I was going to ride, then I remembered I have to wear a helmet, so I thought I’d drive the car, then I remembered I have to wear a seatbelt, I might just walk instead…
* I might ride to work today. Oh no, that’s right, there’s a short, slight upward gradient towards the GG’s driveway which will probably last for about 2min of my 35min commute, that’s it, I’m driving.
* I once saw a cyclist in Canberra wearing lycra and I don’t have or want to wear lycra so I’m obviously not able to ride a bicycle in Canberra.

mlr said :

On the topic of bike helmets, I subscribe to the view that we need to be wearing them, while ever we need to ride bikes on roads with other large, heavy & dangerous (to bikes) vehicles. In the Netherlands, there are so many bike paths, it is very rare that you need to ride on the road. Here, (even in Canberra with lots of bike paths) that is not true.

I really don’t understand what’s the big deal with wearing a helmet, unless you’ve got nothing worth protecting. I once had a very low speed stack on a fire-trail far from traffic where I hit my head on a rock protruding from the road surface and I was grateful I’d been wearing my helmet – now I always do.

mlr said :

Like others, I am constantly amazed at the lack of forethought and planning for cyclists. For example, bike paths simply directing cyclists onto the road, or bike paths simply stopping because the cars get priority when ever it gets a bit hard or costly to cater to both. Seems to be a classic catch 22 to me – less people riding because it is dangerous, leading to less money being spent on infrastructure, since fewer people are riding.

I wish it only related to cyclists – the lack of consideration for the ‘big picture’ seems to be the norm for TAMS in anything they do.

mlr 10:46 am 14 Aug 13

Thanks everyone!

Lot’s of great feedback which I really appreciated. Especially the videos, and the weather comparisons.

On the topic of bike helmets, I subscribe to the view that we need to be wearing them, while ever we need to ride bikes on roads with other large, heavy & dangerous (to bikes) vehicles. In the Netherlands, there are so many bike paths, it is very rare that you need to ride on the road. Here, (even in Canberra with lots of bike paths) that is not true.

I’m hoping the light rail system will allow bikes to be taken along for the ride. That might solve some of the distance and hills problems for some people. One day, Canberra will have light rail to all the outer suburbs, so perhaps we should be planning for that.

Like others, I am constantly amazed at the lack of forethought and planning for cyclists. For example, bike paths simply directing cyclists onto the road, or bike paths simply stopping because the cars get priority when ever it gets a bit hard or costly to cater to both. Seems to be a classic catch 22 to me – less people riding because it is dangerous, leading to less money being spent on infrastructure, since fewer people are riding.

OK – sunny and 14 degrees outside now, better go for a ride around the lake!

Mark

Blathnat 10:53 pm 13 Aug 13

Having spoken to my cousin who lives about an hour out of Amsterdam, he has pointed out so many reasons people cycle over there. Most of them have been covered.

What did amaze me though, was that the town he lives in (sorry, I cannot honestly pronounce or spell it) actually has “town bikes”. Their town council literally provides cheap single-speed bikes to any resident. They’re encouraged to use these bikes, and leave them at the designated ‘parking’ racks (these are plentiful in town centres, railway stations etc). When it comes time to leave, you just grab the closest bike. Because they’re all identical, no one steals them or abuses them.

Then it occurred to me how this would fail miserably in Canberra. Such a different cultural and social setting.

Ben_Dover 5:06 pm 12 Aug 13

“Why is cycling so popular in the Netherlands? (and not so much in Canberra?)”

“Better weather.”

Hmm, Amsterdam vs. Canberra.

Wins for Amsterdam:
Doesn’t get those stinking hot summer’s days we get in Canberra.

Wins for Canberra:
Less cloud cover
Half the rain days
Less windy
No snow
Less freezing temperatures
Far, far less miserable winter’s days (you know the sort: doesn’t make it to 10, it’s raining, and you don’t see the sun).

Not sure what your definition of “better” is.

joke
noun
1.
something said or done to provoke laughter or cause amusement, as a witticism, a short and amusing anecdote, or a prankish act: He tells very funny jokes. She played a joke on him.
2.
something that is amusing or ridiculous, especially because of being ludicrously inadequate or a sham; a thing, situation, or person laughed at rather than taken seriously; farce: Their pretense of generosity is a joke. An officer with no ability to command is a joke.
3.
a matter that need not be taken very seriously; trifling matter: The loss was no joke.
4.
something that does not present the expected challenge; something very easy: The test was a joke for the whole class.
6.
to speak or act in a playful or merry way: He was always joking with us.
7.
to say something in fun or teasing rather than in earnest; be facetious: He didn’t really mean it, he was only joking.

bikhet 4:05 pm 12 Aug 13

Paul0075 said :

…The pushbike users in Canberra are vastly higher than anywhere else I have lived or visited in Australia. …

I knew it! Dope fiends!

davo101 3:48 pm 12 Aug 13

Ben_Dover said :

Why is cycling so popular in the Netherlands? (and not so much in Canberra?)

Better weather.

Hmm, Amsterdam vs. Canberra.

Wins for Amsterdam:
Doesn’t get those stinking hot summer’s days we get in Canberra.

Wins for Canberra:
Less cloud cover
Half the rain days
Less windy
No snow
Less freezing temperatures
Far, far less miserable winter’s days (you know the sort: doesn’t make it to 10, it’s raining, and you don’t see the sun).

Not sure what your definition of “better” is.

Ben_Dover 2:24 pm 12 Aug 13

Why is cycling so popular in the Netherlands? (and not so much in Canberra?)

Better weather.

kea 1:19 pm 12 Aug 13

BicycleCanberra said :

While I could write a long and boring list of comparisons that has nothing to do with density or terrain it is best that you watch these videos.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rn2s6ax_7TM
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XuBdf9jYj7o
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=22XM8-YTC98

In the 1950’s the cycling rate in England was about the same as the Netherlands. Even though most of England in dense many still use the car as proffered form of transport

What I learnt about by watching that first youtube link was that it is possible to ride a bike wearing normal day clothes and nobody wore a helmet either.. bike riding has already become more appealing on those two accounts..

Paul0075 12:59 pm 12 Aug 13

When my friends and family from outside of Canberra come to visit, they are amazed by all the cyclists here. The pushbike users in Canberra are vastly higher than anywhere else I have lived or visited in Australia. My understanding is that we also boast the largest number of cycleways for a city of our size.

I had to vastly change my driving habits since moving here too, I am always looking for pushbike riders on the on-road paths and when changing lanes, but in the past it never really was on top of my mind.

I am not a regular cyclist, but I do go for a ride occasionally, and get a lot of enjoyment from it. My average recreational ride is about 12 to 15 km. But I do baulk at the hills around northwest and western Belconnen. I can’t deal with those, I am, after all a fatty boombah, and never recovered properly after several months of illness in 2012. But I will get back up there eventually, and be able to enjoy it more again.

howeph 12:40 pm 12 Aug 13

Just for the record, I didn’t say any of the quotes attributed to me below. They were made by aussielyn in comment #28 (the one after mine).

tim_c said :

howeph said :

Cyclists’ bell to signal when behind pedestrians as a courtesy.

Isn’t that a bit like blasting your car horn and/or flashing your high beams at slower moving traffic in front of you? I always thought courtesy was to overtake only when safe to do so, and not sound your ‘warning device’ to tell slower traffic to get out of your way.

howeph said :

Cycling is not for the speeding lycra-clad types we have here.

You don’t have to wear lycra to cycle in Canberra either. In fact, I always wear ‘normal’ (civilian) clothes when I cycle, and I see many others similarly attired. I’m not sure quite where your assumption comes from that to be allowed to cycle in Canberra you must first go out and buy expensive brand-name cycling-specific lycra and race around like an professional athlete.

howeph said :

Motorists and cyclists are not in conflict.

They wouldn’t be here either if they could both learn to share the road space.

howeph said :

A cycle has a function and the basic cheap version will not be stolen.

That’s not what my Dad said after a visit to Holland – he said so many bikes are stolen, then ditched in the canal when the thief has finished with it, that they have to clean out all the dumped bicycles from the canals very regularly.

howeph said :

Both cyclists and motorists obey the rules

We should do that here!

Holden Caulfield 12:21 pm 12 Aug 13

Nightshade said :

Kalfour said :

Which Canberra are you guys talking about? It’s really flat here. Hills exist, but they’re hardly super long or super steep.

I don’t know which hills everyone else is talking about, but the hill on William Hovell Drive leading up towards Higgins feels pretty long and steep in a car, let alone on a bike.

LIES!!!

Canberra *is* Amsterdam, how many times does it have to be said?!

😛

watto23 12:16 pm 12 Aug 13

The inconsiderate drivers are just as inconsiderate to motor cyclists too and anyone with an L plate! So cyclists shouldn’t feel too alone 🙂

That said I don’t ride anywhere, not because of fitness, but because of time. Same reason I don’t catch public transport. I’m more than willing to catch public transport, but there are no options that don’t take 1hr plus each way. That 1hr a day saved means i have more time for everything else.

That is also my issue with the proposed light rail. Its good for getting commuters that live on a dense transport corridor to work. But not so good at getting commuters to and from town centres quickly, which to me would be of greater benefit. Tuggeranong to City could be done in 15 minutes on a dedicated busway, or light rail line with no stops, or just a single stop in Woden. I could drive,bike/bus to the town centre then get around canberra quickly.

spinact 11:56 am 12 Aug 13

gasman said :

Bike parking is pretty.

Some times, but it can also be ugly. Some nice examples of both here

Spiral 11:46 am 12 Aug 13

Kalfour said :

I’ve noticed some comments about how hilly Canberra is.

Which Canberra are you guys talking about? It’s really flat here. Hills exist, but they’re hardly super long or super steep.

I know parts of Calwell and Fadden are quite steep.

Calwell Primary school is on Downard street and when my oldest boys went there the school discouraged kids from riding to school because it was considered too dangerous. Downard is not the worst in Calwell but it is a hard slog for most people.

I used to find it would take as long for me to ride from the Hyperdome to the bottom of Downard as it did to ride up that street.

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