cycling in the park

Summer cycling

Summer has started and that means we can watch beautiful people cycling in their summer outfits. The contrast with last week’s post couldn’t be sharper when you see these typically Dutch people cycling in the park! And even though they’re riding in a park, that doesn’t mean that these people are recreational cyclists. They just ride on a main cycle route that happens to go right through Wilhelminapark in the center of Utrecht. But because it is a cycle track in a park, it is forbidden to mopeds and look how that improves the atmosphere: everything is even more relaxed!

Of course there are also a lot of people in the Netherlands who cycle for recreation, but I filmed this on a Wednesday afternoon so you mainly see people going about their daily business. Primary schools in the Netherlands are closed every Wednesday afternoon, so there are a lot of children on their way as well.

I thought it would be nice to have a look at some of the people and imagine what they could be thinking.

First some pictures and the long video can be found at the end of the post.

cycling in the park
“A camera … again?”
cycling in the park
“I can look around better when I am standing up! And feel the wind… wheehee”
cycling in the park
“Hands on the handlebars? Why?”
cycling in the park
“Will you stop laughing! I always keep my smart phone there, I got no pockets you know!”
cycling in the park
“Rain or shine, I keep my coat on, I am not like those half naked youngsters!”
cycling in the park
“No dad, I really don’t need to stop to finish my ice cream, I can do that while I’m riding!”
cycling in the park
“I’m so happy with my new clothes I got in this bag hanging from my handlebars!”
cycling in the park
“I am riding in the park right now, ENTER and … it has been posted”
cycling in the park
“I just love my thumb and being on the bike with daddy… oh and playing with my curly hair!”
cycling in the park
“I’m a little lady, I know how to stop the wind from catching my skirt!”
cycling in the park
“Pretty aren’t they? I sometimes buy myself some flowers!”
cycling in the park
“It’s no problem riding a shared bike in this dress, but can that guy stop smoking near me?”
cycling in the park
“I have so much more experience than these young girls. Style comes natural to me now.”
cycling in the park
“Now if you two don’t stop nagging, then I’ll…” (She actually says this!)
cycling in the park
“I just love hearing this song on my bike! So I turned it up a notch”

Why don’t you have a seat on a park bench and enjoy all these very different people cycling by in 20 minutes! It’s pure tranquillity…

So just how busy is it here? This is on the route to the Utrecht University area. Traffic counts on points just before and after this route goes through the park, show figures of first 14,850 cyclists per day, dropping to 10,200 and then rising again to 12,130. It is therefore safe to conclude that at least 10,000 cyclists a day cycle through this park. That is only a bit more than the figure for London Bridge mentioned in the article Move over Amsterdam, the London cycling revolution is in top gear. But the cyclists in London look so very different! Imagine what cycling could be like in London if cycle conditions would be improved to appeal to ordinary people as well, and not just to daredevils…

The “London cycling revolution” is incomparable with the every day reality in just any city in the Netherlands. “Tranquillity” is most certainly not the first word that comes to mind when you see this picture.

7 thoughts on “Summer cycling

  1. Fantastic material.
    This is exactly the way you should promote cycling outside the Netherlands. I consider myself an evangelist in cycling promotion and especially of infrastructure to make cycling a save experience for everybody. Not just young and strong daredevils.
    I live in Amsterdam and I use my bicycle for almost everything. I have a car for heavy transport but I hardly use it. In the city the bicycle is more fun, faster and cheaper. I was in Cambridge UK two years ago and we took our own bicycle with us in the car. A logic thing to do because it is the best way to see the city. Cambridge has a cycling promotion policy and there are some special routes and paths. In my experience however it is (as we say in Dutch) twice nothing. You ride a cycling path and it suddenly stops for instance at a roundabout, you have to be careful all the time. At the same time I was annoyed by the fact that cyclist wear helmets and orange or yellow safety jackets. The message you tell to the other traffic is, look I’m doing something dangerous, I’m the weak party in traffic and the car will always win. In Dutch cities the cyclist are known for their assertive, almost aggressive way of dealing with traffic. The feeling is, we gained the space we got right now and we’re not going to give it up. This is far more easy when the majority of traffic consist of bicycles but I miss that attitude in other countries.
    A cycling policy is only then successful when old people and children feel save to ride on a separate infrastructure and don’t have to wear helmets.

    When I returned from Cambridge and entered the first roads in Holland again I realized what an incredible infrastructure we have got and not only in the city. You can travel from city to city and in the countryside on separate cycle paths.
    See all the discussions on the site of the NewYorktimes on the subject last week. And for more ideas on infrastructure see the large knowledge base for policymakers of Fietsberaad.

    suggestion: put a camera on a helmet and show the way you cycle through the city, for instance from home to the central station during rush hour.

    1. Forget my last suggestion. I see you have already done so and got already famous because of it.

  2. Your post makes a great point about the type of people who `dare’ to cycle in London. It’s predominantly brave lycra-wearing sportie types. And without them – I’m not one of them – I don’t think the attention cycling is getting in London would exist.
    However, we need more dutch-style cyclists where all ages feel safe and free to cycle. We have a LONG way to go before we reach this. We’re light years behind Amsterdam and the Netherlands and it annoys me when people assert otherwise.

    The cycling revolution is notable in central London, but the further you go out to the suburbs across Greater London and the more likely you are to do a 3 mile journey and not see any other cyclists. It can be a lonely and nerve-wracking experience as we don’t have safety in numbers.
    If only everyone in England could drive like a Buddist and cycle like a Dutchman!

  3. One afternoon I rode in glorious sunshine along the cycle routes which parallel both the River Danube and the Danube Canal which leads from the central city to it. It made me appreciate how much quality infrastructure for leisure cycling the city has. It felt like most of Vienna was out on its bike, enjoying the weather along what’s effectively a long and attractive city park. And these riverside routes are well integrated into the city’s wider (and higher) cycling network via some nifty cycling ramps.

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