BICYCLE DUTCH

All about cycling in the Netherlands

Judge + bicycle = Culture Shock

A tiny article can tell tales. In the Indian Express (Sunday edition for Pune*) tucked away on page 7, the following appeared recently:

Culture Shock page7

Culture Shock! Judge from India taking a position in The Hague NL, asked whether he would like a bicycle to be booked for him.

So what will the perplexed honorable judge find in The Hague? A city that has been criticized in the past for slightly less good cycling conditions. Well, to give him (and you) an idea I went there and filmed.


Not so bad, is it? I think the judge could very well give it a try after all!

Some facts and figures

The Hague has a population of a little over 500,000 and is the third largest city in the Netherlands. Although Amsterdam is the capital, the seat of the Dutch Government is in The Hague. The city is also home to a number of international (legal) organisations. Such as the International Court of Justice with its seat in the Peace Palace. The Hague has about 400 kilometers of separated cycle paths and 70 kilometers of on street cycle lanes.

From 2006 to 2010 the city invested 34 million euros in cycling. That money was spent on things like replacing old concrete tiles by smooth red asphalt for 55 kilometers of cycle path and by building cycling infrastructure in 22 missing links. From 2011 to 2014 the city has allocated another 34.5 million euros and from third parties another 14 million euros is available. That makes a total of 48.5 million euros to further improve cycling conditions in four years.

This money has been and will be used for:

  • increasing parking facilities for bicycles (especially around railway stations)
  • creating specific cycling infrastructure where that is missing in the network
  • improving sites that are unfriendly for cyclists
  • improving the surface of existing cycle infrastructure.

From 2006 to 2010 cycling increased by 10%. The following 2011-2014 plan aims to work to an increase in cycling to a percentage of 30% by 2020 and 50% by 2030, as compared to the rate of 2005. (facts and figures from the city’s 2011-2014 cycle plan – PDF in Dutch only).

primeminister

Spring 2012 the Dutch prime-minister (left) leaves one of the state offices in The Hague by bicycle.

Cycling in The Hague is good enough for the Dutch prime minister, so it should also be good enough for a judge.

(* via @Herbert_Tiemens)

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14 comments on “Judge + bicycle = Culture Shock

  1. Pingback: Life in the Netherlands: Biking to School | Becky Castle Miller

  2. Pingback: 24 oranges » Indian judge surprised by question about riding a bicycle

  3. Pingback: Fuck you, John Franklin | The Alternative Department for Transport

  4. Schrödinger's Cat
    25 June 2012

    I love that riding a bike in the Netherlands is something that all levels of society do, it’s great that the government see cycling as something for everyone, not just the proletariat.

    It makes me smile to know that they phone up foreign dignitaries asking them if they’d like an official bike!

  5. PeterK
    25 June 2012

    Many politicians commute by bike.
    This article has a picture of then-prime-minister Wim Kok commuting:

    http://weblogs.nos.nl/denhaag/2008/03/20/kamerlid-waar-bent-u/

    And this article has a picture of then-minister (now Vice President of the Council of State) Piet Hein Donner dodging press on his bicycle:

    http://www.trouw.nl/tr/nl/4500/Politiek/article/detail/2460069/2011/06/30/Waarom-heeft-Donner-liever-pluriform-dan-multicultureel-Nederland.dhtml

  6. Colibri
    25 June 2012

    Watching the video reminded me how amazing I found being able to cycle right through the Royal Palace.
    Try doing the same thing in Paris or Brussels and you’ll be gently handled…

    • Har Davids
      25 June 2012

      Colibri: it’s even possible to cycle through the Binnenhof, the old Dutch Parliament building; entry and exit through narrow gates, with a short trip over old court-yards in between. Just down run down the politicians.

      I wonder if it’s possible to get an official reaction of Mr. Bhandari, now that the shock may have worn off. It’s good to be reminded that, in many ways, the Dutch are still pretty down to earth.

      • Colibri
        26 June 2012

        @ Har Davids :
        Indeed, not the Royal Palace, but the Binnenhof, that’s what I meant :-)

  7. Sir Velo
    25 June 2012

    He probably took it as a calculated insult based on the fact that,until recently, cycling was the preferred mode of transport for all Indians below the poverty line.

  8. Jeff Shone
    25 June 2012

    What a beautiful city. Thank you for sharing this story.

  9. Miquel
    25 June 2012

    Great post (again). The image of the prime minister by bike is usual or just because a special occasion. I mean, it is normal to see the politicians commuting by bike in the NL? That would be fantastic and would say a lot about the Dutch society

    • bicycledutch
      25 June 2012

      There were special talks in the coalition for weeks and every day the prime minister went by bike with his adviser for all those weeks, rain or shine. A great number of politicians can be seen cycling in the Netherlands. Now and in the past.

    • Frits B
      25 June 2012

      When spiteful comments on the PM’s cycling appeared it transpired that all departments in The Hague have a stable of official bicycles for trips within the city. In the PM’s case he used one from his own department, a Gazelle Primeur stepthrough (they are all stepthroughs for general use). But I suppose his normal transport between home and office will be his official car, if only because of the loads of papers cabinet ministers have to take home – although former minister Donner reputedly always cycled to and from home followed by his driver plus paperwork.

      • Bertram
        25 June 2012

        Another striking example is the former member of the Den Haag city executive and subsequently junior minister, Jetta Klijnsma. She suffers from chronic spasms but insisted on cycling to her job for the Den Haag council. She was entitled to be driven to work but instead got her driver to pick her up every morning on a tandem bike. In the following video she explains that she made the choice to cycle to and from work (and to and from appointments around the city) after realising that she spent most of her work sitting down in meetings.

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This entry was posted on 25 June 2012 by in Original posts and tagged , .
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