Cycling is a way of life in the Netherlands. Prior to my 9-day trip to the country, I have never seen this many bicycles in my life. Not only are there too many to count, there are numerous types too.
Observing the Dutch, I have a feeling that a bicycle is more a fashion accessory rather than a vehicle although the bicycle seems to be the primary mode of transport. I understand that everyone owns more than one bicycle.
Just look at the multi-storey bicycle parking at Den Haag Centraal and Amsterdam Centraal stations!
It certainly helps that most of Holland is flat, making cycling an effortless activity. The conducive weather helps, obviously, something that I cannot imagine office workers in Malaysia doing day in and out, commuting to work in office attire.
Also, public transport like the Metro and trams have special spots in the carriage for bicycles and it is not uncommon for cyclists to take along their bikes onto trams and trains.
Most parts of Holland are bicycle-friendly, and having dedicated cycling lanes help reduce accidents. Therefore, cyclists in Holland are not required to wear a safety helmet.
Scooter riders, who share the bicycle lanes throughout Holland, are also not required to wear a helmet and are not permitted to go above the speed limit of 25km/h.
The good thing about using the bicycle to go from place to place is that one doesn’t need to pay parking, will never be issued a parking ticket and no tyre clamping.
I spotted a few broken bicycles on the roadside as well. If it’s broken, just leave it. Don’t have to carry the piece of scrap home, eh?
For someone like me from Malaysia where we drive in the opposite direction from the Dutch, crossing the road is a hazard where cars, scooters, mobility bikes, electric bikes, mopeds, bicycles, buses, trams and even skateboards seem to come from all directions.
Having said so, the risk of getting knocked down by a bicycle is the highest, as they could go really fast, overtaking scooters easily, probably because of the long-legged Dutch cyclists.
I wonder if all the cycling contributes to the physical built and lankiness of the average Dutch person.
It’s fascinating that toddlers who could barely walk yet are already on the bicycle. I was hard-pressed to look for a Dutch who can’t cycle. I wonder if the government’s baby bonus is a bicycle instead of cash or bonds offered like some other countries.
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