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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?)
wildturkeycanoe 5:01 pm 09 Aug 13

Canberrans are lazy.

tim_c 4:47 pm 09 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

You forgot to include one from Canberra for comparison:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4m2q2u2WA3s

tim_c 4:44 pm 09 Aug 13

Leon said :

You have to be a hero to ride a bike in Canberra.

The average bicycle commute in the Netherlands is only 4.4 km. In Canberra it’s 10 km….

Really? Because 10km is just soooooooo far…

I used to commute nearly 11km to high school, and then 18km to university. When I started working full-time, my commute was only 7km and it was hardly worth the trouble by the time I showered and changed (which took nearly as long as the commute). When I changed workplace, the commute became a much more worthwhile 12-13km, although fear of Jim’s Mowing and his many sympathisers has got me off the road and onto the scenic, meandering and bumpy cycleways, increasing the commute to a still-very-achievable-without-being-an-ironman 16-17km.

Diggety 4:41 pm 09 Aug 13

Helmet laws.

Part of the problem at least.

HiddenDragon 4:11 pm 09 Aug 13

The hash cookies in the little basket on the bike probably help, too.

BicycleCanberra 4:05 pm 09 Aug 13

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

switch 4:03 pm 09 Aug 13

I have cycled in Amsterdam. Some observations:

The on road stuff is just as scary as here, more so since the bike lanes are far more crowded. I often wonder why even bother with onroad lanes here since I usually see about one bike a day using them.

Amsterdam cyclists do not stop for red lights. Ever. If they had to cope with our level of car use, there would be a lot more dead cyclists there.

Motor bikes and push bikes share the lanes. Dunno if that is meant to happen but it does.

Holden Caulfield 2:58 pm 09 Aug 13

1. “In many cities the paths are completely segregated from motorised traffic.”
2. Distance.
3. The convenience of driving currently outweighs the cost savings of riding.
4. See #6 above.

bundah 2:58 pm 09 Aug 13

Not so many almost 1/4 acre blocks in Amsterdam!

chewy14 2:42 pm 09 Aug 13

Hmm, taking Amsterdam as an example. A flat city with 8-10 times the population density of Canberra.
I can’t possibly think why they might ride more and why it would be far more economically feasible to build such cycling infrastructure.

Leon 2:37 pm 09 Aug 13

You have to be a hero to ride a bike in Canberra.

The average bicycle commute in the Netherlands is only 4.4 km. In Canberra it’s 10 km.

No matter how many cycling facilities you build, you won’t get the majority of Canberrans cycling until you redesign the city so that more destinations are within cycling distance.

For ideas, see http://www.walkscore.com

dungfungus 2:32 pm 09 Aug 13

The short answer is that Canberra was built for cars because it was planned after the advent of the motor car.
Urbanisation in the Netherlands evolved long before even the bike was invented and if everyone was able to drive a car the bikes would end up in the canals – hey, that’s not really a bad idea!

neanderthalsis 2:28 pm 09 Aug 13

My 2.2 cents (GST Inc) is that most Australian cities, Canberra included, are designed for cars. We have wide reaching urban sprawl, less than adequate public transport, a road network built primarily for cars with a few bike lanes thrown on as an afterthought and a mentality that bikes are for fun rather than transport. We have grown up in low density suburbs reliant on cars, the Dutch have grown up in high density towns with narrow lanes and a history of cycling for transport rather than leisure.

ABC129 2:16 pm 09 Aug 13

tim_c said :

One reason is that the Netherlands don’t have any hills. Canberra doesn’t have any serious ones either, but they seem to be enough to put a few people off.

The other reason could be the milder climate in the Netherlands – for nearly half the year it’s just too hot to cycle in Canberra.

Yeah, they never have bad conditions to ride in over in Amsterdam: http://www.flickr.com/photos/22992078@N02/5281210335/

Also, The maximum temp this July for Amsterdam was 32 with minimum of 10. Not exactly vastly different from Canberra’s January mean maximum of 28.1 and mean minimum of 13.2 (yes, I know these are mean values)

tim_c 1:51 pm 09 Aug 13

One reason is that the Netherlands don’t have any hills. Canberra doesn’t have any serious ones either, but they seem to be enough to put a few people off.

The other reason could be the milder climate in the Netherlands – for nearly half the year it’s just too hot to cycle in Canberra.

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