All about cycling in the Netherlands
After all the recent serious posts it is time for a light hearted look at people cycling again. What better place to look for people on their bicycles than the cycleway through the Amsterdam Vondelpark?
On a Saturday afternoon in August I positioned myself on the viaduct that spans the width of the park at its narrowest point, to look at the people passing below. It had been a cold and rainy afternoon. But the rain had just stopped and the sun was almost winning from the clouds again. It was August, so there were still many tourists out and about on their rental bikes. And because it was a Saturday there were many families on their way as well. Coming back from grocery shopping or from doing errands in the city centre.
I have filmed in a park before, but that was in Utrecht on a weekday. That looked a bit different. There, everybody was clearly going from A to B. Here, on a Saturday in the summer holidays, many people were also cycling as a leisure activity.
What struck me when I looked at all the footage, is that most of the people are not cycling alone. There is a whole lot of human interaction going on there with all these people on their bicycles. They are cycling with their friends, lovers, colleagues, children and quite a lot of them are cycling in groups.
Indeed, cycling in The Netherlands is really a sociable activity. With some rare exceptions, all infrastructure is built so people can ride two abreast. That gives parents the opportunity to ride next to their children, but everybody else can do it too of course. As a result, cycling side by side is something the Dutch find the normal thing to do.
As you can clearly see in the video, that makes the interaction very easy. People talk and laugh together. Some seem to be having more serious conversations, but most of them are simply having a good time while they ride.
I hope you enjoy looking at all these people passing by as much as I do.
Video: People cycling together in the Amsterdam Vondelpark. The opening still shows a young family. Note that the infant (behind a plastic windscreen) is already practising to hold handle bars!
Some stills from that video: