Recreational cycle rush hour

The second day of Pentecost a.k.a. Whit Monday is a holiday in the Netherlands. This year it was beautiful cycle weather! So I placed my camera on a tripod next to a cycle path somewhere between ‘s-Hertogenbosch and Vught and filmed for about half an hour in the afternoon.

This is what the camera caught, a very high number of passers by on bicycles!

This cycle path is part of one of the national recreational cycling networks.

In the 2009 brochure Cycling in the Netherlands by the Ministry of Traffic we can read the following about recreational cycling in the Netherlands:

Cycling and recreation

Around 70% of the Dutch occasionally take to the bicycle for a recreational day trip. This means that after walking, cycling is the most important recreational day activity. The bicycle is used on a massive scale to reach other recreational destinations: around 232 million times a year. For recreational trips in the Netherlands, there are various types of routes and networks available to the cyclist:

• National bicycle routes. A national network of routes enabling substantial circuits. The listed total distance of such bicycle routes is 6,500 km; of these some 4,500 km are signposted in both directions.

• Round trips: The round-trip regional circuits. These are of all types and distances, including long theme routes. In addition there are eight signposted long bicycle circuits. Round trip circuits are less flexibly usable, and in most cases it is necessary to complete the entire circuit in order to arrive back. Round trip circuits are only in the form of day trips. Municipalities, regions or provinces (also private initiatives) are responsible for these routes.

• Regional (junction) networks: An intricate regional network which enables many of the circuits in the region. This network now comprises some 3,700 km, signposted in both directions. Municipalities, regions or provinces (also private initiatives) are responsible for these routes.


It is often difficult to differentiate whether facilities are intended primarily for recreational cycling or also for other purposes. Thus a cycle path network in the country will certainly also serve a recreational purpose rather than simply conveying the cyclist from A to B. And bicycle/pedestrian ferries intended for recreational purposes in the summer are also used gratefully by commuter cyclists.

In other words: bicycle policy often serves both utilitarian and recreational bicycle use.

From various surveys it appears that 40% of recreational cyclists use marked routes. The availability of routes is enormous and extremely diverse, both in length and in signposting. Of the route cyclists, 60% use signposted routes. The number of bicycle route networks is thus also being expanded, both in the Netherlands and Belgium.

11 thoughts on “Recreational cycle rush hour

  1. Mark, is there some resource online where we can see the recreational cyclepath network in English? I will be in the the Netherlands next month & would like to get out of Amsterdam on day trips to see the countryside. I would also like to take a trip to Utrecht for the day.

    1. An English introduction to the recreational cycle networks (the numbered junction network and the long distance cycle routes) can be found on this page (see esp. the videos in the right column). The route planner is now also available in English! (make sure to choose your language on the language tab above the map).

      1. OMG, The Dutch do EVERYTHING better than us! I just watched a few videos about the network and how it works. It is so simple a young child could do it! In the UK it is so easy to get lost on the cycle routes because of bad signposting etc…
        I want to be a Dutchman! Do you think they would let me in? 🙂

  2. Not exactly a “rush hour’ is it, Mark? More like a ‘relax day’. But perhaps it’s nice to see for non-Dutch how cycling is very much a social activity, and how this cycle path, very adequate under normal circumstances, becomes too narrow on such sunny days… Much of the fun of cycling is in doing it together, side by side, noticing the same things, sharing the experience. I truly wish this could be a world wide experience one day, for I’d love to explore other countries by bike in the same way.

  3. I become so genuinely happy when you post content, and especially videos, on this blog. Seeing the people bicycling so happily and relaxed makes me dream of what can be done in Los Angeles. Every day I put on my “bicycle planner goggles” and re-imagine the streets in my local neighborhood as if they were designed with pedestrians and cyclists as priorities over ‘level of service’, ‘through put’, and speed of motor vehicles.

    (Today I measured a sidewalk on a local commercial corridor and the sidewalk was pinched at points, reduced to as narrow as 16 inches due to telephone poles, and roadway signs. This is in the “world class” city of Los Angeles, obviously we have a lot more we can do for pedestrians and cyclists before it becomes as safe and pleasant as it is in the Netherlands.)

    Thanks again for your uplifting and inspiring videos, it reminds us what to aspire to.

    1. What a wonderful reply, I like you feel the same.
      Sheffield has come a long way in the past few years but still not a patch on what the Netherlands has done.
      Keep up the great work Mark.

  4. Another lovely video showing the rest of the world how it should be Mark.
    After watching many of your videos I do notice alot of people has their saddle heights all wrong. Are there many cases of people with knee problems in the Netherlands? I have googled it and cannot find a definite answer.

    1. I have no idea how you would be able to tell. In the Netherlands for the upright bicycles the right height of the saddle is when you can place your foot on the ground while sitting on the saddle. This is safer for stopping with a traffic light. When people cycle by you couldn’t see that.
      I have never heard of excessive knee problems in the Netherlands. You seem to imply because of the “wrong” height of the saddle, but I don’t see anyone where I could even establish that.

      1. I have always been taught that the “standard” for the correct height is that the knee is slightly bent at the bottom of the pedal stroke. If the saddle is too high it leads to a rocking motion of the hips and a stretching of the knee, conversely if the saddle is too low it can lead to excessive pressure on the knee joint. My wife would ride with her saddle too low and have knee pain after a short amount of time, lifting the saddle helped alot.
        In many of you videos, (which I really like by the way) I see many people with very low saddles, it worries me that they could be hurting themselves unnecessarily.

      2. Funny… I always think, when watching people cycling in other countries, that they put their saddles way too low! I’ve always learned that the right saddle hight is when your knees are just not fully stretched, so with just a little bend at the lowest point. The man at 0:37 obviously has his saddle too low. It certainly takes a lot more effort if you ride with a low saddle. At 1:00 it seems the lady indeed has her saddle too high, it looks like she’s rocking from side to side to get to her pedals.

      3. @Jeff: The standard you mention is also used as a standard here in the Netherlands, but as Mark said being able to comfortably get your foot (or feet) on the ground is also important.
        The man at 0:37 Koen mentions obviously has his saddle too low, but he also has a small child in a seat attached to his handlebars. Being able to get both feet to the ground quickly may be more important to him than his comfort. (If your saddle is at the ‘standard’ height, you can only ever get one foot to the ground.)
        From my own experience, having a low saddle is not much of a problem if you’re cycling at a leisurely pace.

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