All about cycling in the Netherlands
Thousands of people took their bicycles and went to the beaches last weekend in the Netherlands. For many it was a long weekend starting with Ascension day on Thursday. The weather was more typical for August than for early June and so it was perfect for a day to the beach. Not only the North Sea but also most lakes in the Netherlands have beautiful sandy beaches. And they are often more easily reached by bicycle than by car. Which only enhances the relaxed atmosphere around these pleasant beaches.
People on their bicycles around two of the city’s beaches in ’s-Hertogenbosch (a.k.a. Den Bosch) on Saturday 4th June 2011.
After all the focus on infrastructure in our past few blog posts it is maybe time to see the people again for which all this infrastructure was built in the first place. It is obvious that Dutch cycling infrastructure is being used in high numbers and by people of all ages, all classes and all backgrounds. When you are used to taking your bike for your trips, be it for commuting or running errands, you are much more likely to use your bicycle for your leisure activities too. And nobody seems to be doing it on their own. You see families, friends, young and elderly couples, large groups, you name it, all on their bikes having a good time together. And doesn’t it look good!
This post, written by me, was first published on the blog ‘A view from the cycle path’ on Thursday 9th June 2011.
The original 15 comments:
John Slohn said… I wonder if the Dutch find some of your videos to be pointless. What I mean is they might think “Why would you bother recording mundane everyday life?”. I think some of the videos are a great record of everyday life at that place and at this point in time. Sometime in the future when someone is making a period film set in 2011 in the Netherlands they can use these as research material for the costumes. I’ve been getting to the beach a few times here in Vancouver, Canada. We have a really nice nude beach that faces the ocean. I usually cycle there through pretty streets with flowering bushes. Very nice… 9 June 2011 17:51
David said… In the very last sequence, there were pedestrians walking facing the cycle traffic. In North America, pedestrians are taught to walk facing the traffic on regular roads, but on multi-use paths most walk with the traffic, resulting in no end of whining about cyclists not ringing their bells to alert pedestrians of their presence since some pedestrians appear not to like to be approached from behind by cyclists whom they can’t see. Is it typical in the Netherlands for pedestrians to walk facing cycling traffic in situations such as that last sequence where pedestrians and cyclists are using the same facility? 9 June 2011 21:22
Mark Wagenbuur said… @John, yes most have no idea why I film them cycling. It is indeed considered far too normal to be interesting enough to film. @David, yes if there is no facility for pedestrians on any road the pedestrians are supposed to face traffic. It is something they do without thinking. Doesn’t matter what kind of traffic, because this was a cycle path only. This would not be considered a ‘shared’ or ‘multi-use path’ it is a road without provisions for pedestrians. Rare in this country but they do exist. 9 June 2011 21:45
Severin said… I’ve been watching people cycle to the beach here in Malmo Sweden. It does not look quite as relaxed, though many do double up on single bikes. I’d say 90% of all bicycle paths are bidirectional here, no matter how narrow and even if there are bicycle paths on both sides of the street. It is a very interesting idea, and can be quite fun in my brief experience here but this leads to some congestion along routes. As always, thanks for the wonderful video, great product and congrats on the coverage, Mark ‘Car Neighbor’ 9 June 2011 22:06
Yokota Fritz said… Very nice to see this! Santa Cruz California can look a *little* bit like this, but with fewer bikes and many more cars. 9 June 2011 22:21
Mark Wagenbuur said… @Severin… ah you have seen that lousy Google translation too! That ‘Wagen’ in my name has NOTHING to do with cars! My Flemish surname was originally spelled ‘Quaeghebuer’ and of that name the last two syllables do indeed mean ‘neighbour’. Unfortunately the first part means the opposite of ‘good’… But luckily for me the spelling is now so corrupted that no Dutch speaking person gets the true meaning either. So hush! (The name ‘Goedegebuur’ (‘good neighbour’) does indeed also exist in the Netherlands and Belgium) End of this off topic remark: back to cycling please! 😉 9 June 2011 22:52
kfg said… The mallards must be tourists. 9 June 2011 23:34
Paul Martin said… I couldn’t see a single obese person. You should see our beaches! The other thing that really strikes me is just how quiet it is (something I often commented on when I was in the NL recently). So peaceful. Lovely film, Mark, thank you. 10 June 2011 00:01
Nico said… Maybe I got poor eyesight from watching too many internet videos, but I couldn’t spot many locked bikes, and certainly not locked with the gigantic U-locks used here in London. Is this specific to that countryside location, or is it like that in the big cities too? My lock weighs nearly as much as my bike! 10 June 2011 13:39
David Hembrow said… Nico: Most people, most of the time, secure their bike by use of a ring lock on the back wheel. It’s extremely convenient. There’s very little crime here, and regardless of Amsterdam supposedly being the cycle theft capital of the world, in most of the country it’s unlikely that anyone will take any notice of your bike when it’s parked. It’s also possible to leave your shopping from one shop in the baskets on your bike when you go into another shop. 10 June 2011 14:08
Neil said… The s-Hertogenbosch that google maps shows me isn’t near the sea. Are these river beaches? > if there is no facility for pedestrians on any road the pedestrians are supposed to face traffic That’s true for the UK too, but it’s not always adhered to and certainly not for anything that looks like a path (e.g. cycleway) where people will just walk anywhere (and cyclist tend not to stick to their ‘side’ then either). 10 June 2011 14:11
David Hembrow said… Neil: Every Dutch town has at least one beach, often artificial. Here in Assen we’re also quite a long way from the sea, but we have several beaches within an easy cycle ride. Our nearest is under 4 km away, so you can easily be there in ten minutes. The journey to our local beach is entirely on cycle path apart from the first 200 metres. This is one of the reasons why they are so well used in the summer. Children can go to the beach on their own without anyone worrying about their safety. Also, of course, these beaches are very safe. You can’t get washed out to sea, and the water quality is tested. 10 June 2011 14:33
David Hembrow said… Reading one of the comments on the video I just linked to made me realise that I need to add more information. The comment said “Looks like a fun trail to ride”, which seems innocent enough but of course actually entirely misses the point. It isn’t just a recreational trail. Residential areas everywhere in the country are linked to beaches everywhere in the country in exactly the same way, just as every residential area is linked with town centres and local shops. The cycle network is comprehensive across the entire country. It’s not just fragmented little bits which don’t link up. 10 June 2011 14:40
Mark Wagenbuur said… @Neil, that’s right: no where near the sea. But there are quite a number of (man made) lakes around ‘s-Hertogenbosch. No street view possible, this is the closest you can get. In the view from above you can clearly see the white of the sand of the beach in this lake. In the streetview that would be on the other end of the water you see. And you can also see what’s keeping out motorised traffic! 10 June 2011 15:04
Frits B said… @Mark W – Writing about cycling runs in the family, apparently. There’s a journalist writing for Amsterdam newspaper Het Parool by the name of Els Quaegebeur. But you probably knew that already :-). 14 June 2011 12:35