A jubilee and ‘golden’ cycling

This is my one hundredth blog post! When I realised it was coming up I thought it needed something special. Something outstanding, something golden or something … but I soon dismissed that thought. The posts which are generally loved most by all of you are the ones in which I show you something that couldn’t be more ordinary, or more mundane if you will, to us Dutch. So something normal it was to be and then nature helped me a bit. It is the ‘golden season’. Autumn in the Netherlands can be very grey and wet, but it has a beautiful face too. When the sun shines on the leaves of the trees changing colour, the yellow ones radiate as if they are golden. So why not show you ordinary people cycling in that scenery. (See the video at the end of this post.)

autumn cycling
Autumn cycling in the Netherlands. Trees lighting up as if they are golden. A father is pointing out ducks in the water to his child in a seat on the handle bars. Grand dad is leading the way. Three generations riding on a bicycle showing that cycling in the Netherlands seems to have a healthy future.
Why this blog

With this one hundredth blog post it may be a good time to reflect on why I am writing this blog and why I am making those videos at all. I wrote the first regular post in February 2011, but I’ve been showing you Dutch cycling for much longer. My first video was published in January 2009 which is almost 4 years ago now. Since there are well over 200 videos now, it means I have been making about one video a week for the past four years. So yes, why do I create all that? The answer is simple: because of you and your comments and questions on the internet. This is underlined by the fact that that very first video was about my own long commute. In answer to people saying on the internet: “We couldn’t have commutes by bike because ours are too long”. That first video shows it can be done: my own commute is 55 kilometres (34 miles) one way of which part is done by bicycle.

With this blog I try to make clear that none of the excuses you ever read about why cycling couldn’t be the right option for [insert any region of any country] holds water. What we have in the Netherlands could be emulated in other countries and the Netherlands is not special in any way. It is an ordinary first world country, like so many others, where people do own and drive cars, but where people choose the bicycle as an ordinary means of transportation as well.

My posts and videos are aimed at ordinary people outside the Netherlands who are interested to cycle themselves. By debunking one myth at the time I try to make clear to them that what we have in this country is what they could have too. In an ideal world these people would then take it up with the powers and planners in their own region and they would thus slowly be starting to change things for the better in their own cycling situation. For my broad audience I try to make the posts and videos attractive and helpful in the sense that they actually show how the Dutch do things. I can’t go to the depths that road planners need, but I would like to think that I do fill the gap between the pretty pictures of nice girls on bikes and the boring planning manuals. All the response I got so far is my reward. And as you can tell it is enough to keep me going. I get signs that I am on the right track. Just this week one of the people kindly donating some money to keep all this also financially going wrote me: “The BicycleDutch blog is extremely useful, educational and enjoyable”.

Boston, Pamplona, London, Washington, Budapest

There are other signs too. Being asked to address a group of American Summer students from Boston was a very nice experience and getting the award from AMTS in Pamplona, Spain this year was a great acknowledgement. So was the fact that the alderman of Amsterdam choose to show one of my videos in London recently, to a conference room full of planners and politicians including Norman Baker, the current UK Parliamentary Under Secretary for the Department for Transport who watched intently. That is more than I ever hoped for. (You can see videos of the presentations of the entire Go Dutch conference here.)

Also more than I hoped for was the news that the US captial Washington is transforming some of its infrastructure to better accommodate cycling by using one of my videos as a guideline. As flattering as this is; from the plans I can tell they have misinterpreted some of my video. Especially the stop lines and waiting areas for cyclists are totally wrong and should have looked like this. They should have gotten some proper professional advice by a Dutch road planner too. I can only show you what we do here in the Netherlands, but everything needs to be adapted to the actual place where such infrastructure is going to be built. Taking into account traffic volumes, local law and customs, not to mention the fact that the diagrams in that video are not entirely to scale and that every junction is different.

I liked the way things worked out in Budapest much better. At the conference there, there was a team at work of which I was a part. I was able to show how things developed in the Netherlands until now and then the professionals could tell the audience far more in depth how and why things are currently being done in this country.

There is still much more to show. I think a lot of your questions are unanswered and even unasked so far, so I think I will continue my blog for at least some more time.

To celebrate the mile stone of my 100th post a video with beautiful people cycling to music in a beautiful golden scenery in the city of ‘s-Hertogenbosch. On – let’s not forget – beautiful cycling infrastructure! Enjoy!

Cycling in the ‘golden season’ in ‘s-Hertogenbosch in the Netherlands

16 thoughts on “A jubilee and ‘golden’ cycling

  1. Looking at the first picture, i was reminded of how many children sitting in the front seat of a bike like to sing, especially when riding on a cobbled road, because of the funny noise you make, like when thumping your chest during singing. Lots of people like to sing when they ride their bike. I often do. Apperently there’s lots of places where you can sing while riding a bike:

    This one gave me a big smile at least!

  2. Congrats– always love your videos and blog posts! I remember when I first discovered your videos, back when you were underground! It was in my first year of college, I remember seeing the commutes and rush hour videos and being mesmerized, I looked like this –> O_O. I probably bugged my girlfriend a great deal gushing about how great I thought your videos were. Kinda hard to believe I’ve been following you so long. I remember thinking, “he can’t possibly keep this up– it’s too labor intensive and he’ll run out of videos to make”

    I’m glad you proved me wrong and I’m thankful for your dedication and hard work. You’ve definitely helped change the conversation for bike advocates in the US, even if you upset a few vehicular cyclists 😉

  3. Thanks Mark for all your great work. A lot of what we have learned from your blog will help cyclists all over the world. We improve each year and our ridership get bigger as a result. Keep up the great work!!!

  4. This is basically the American version of what it’s like to give someone a ride on your rear carrier (from Turks Fruit)

    My wife and I do this sometimes despite uncomfortable road conditions. Unfortunately, it’s not quite so rebelliously romantic as the film.

  5. Thanks Mark for your wonderful Blog. I was in Amsterdam in July and before I left I was able to refer to one of your videos on Dutch Traffic signs. This made our Bromptoneering trip much easier and probably avoided me annoying the locals too much. My hope is that one day Australia will look the same and Blogs like yours will be unnecessary. Until that day comes I hope you keep up the great work.

  6. Gefeliciteerd, Mark. Uitstekend werk: als in-buitenland-wonende-Nederlander geniet ik altijd van jouw blog posts. Het is hier 4 graden en regent: zo meteen op de fiets naar school!

  7. Thanks for all that you do to showcase what cycling is about in the Netherlands, and the possibilities for all other cities around the world. Sometimes pictures and mere words are just not enough to convince naysayers and skeptics who have never seen the “stuff that works.”. But your videos are so clear and authentic that after showing it to the said people, they finally agree that it all makes sense and should be implemented. Just as importantly it has also helped them to realize the significance of not only the “complete network” but also all the little details, designs and amenities that probably most Dutch don’t ever think about. Together, all these nuances are what define Dutch cycling.

  8. Congratulations!
    Thank you for keep posting articles and making videos!
    I am a master student of transportation/urban planing and I find your posts very very interesting and really awesome, and inspired me to my daily use of bike, and in my future career in transport planning!

    Keep going!
    Greetings from Portugal!

  9. Dag Mark, langzamerhand beginnen je blog en je video’s wel degelijk een impact te krijgen. Alle lof voor je werk. Ik kan niet wachten tot ik ook in het buitenland zo lekker kan fietsen. Als de trend zich doorzet, heb ik het idee dat ik het nog wel eens ga meemaken, en jouw werk is mijns inziens daarbij zeker een van de ondersteunende factoren.

  10. Congratulations Mark. I cannot tell you how important and useful yours and David Hembrow’s websites are. A lot of people are very grateful to you both.

  11. Thank you Mark for that five minute interlude of as-close-to-heaven-on-earth-as-there-is and also for all your time and effort in informing the world about cycling in the Netherlands.

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