All about cycling in the Netherlands
Last week a news-broadcast on national Dutch TV reported that e-bikes are now even embraced by a most unlikely group: school children. Electric assisted bicycles have long had an image that they were for ‘old’ people, but apparently that is changing rapidly.
Road managers are also anticipating that people can cycle further in future because of the increased use of electric bicycles. That is the reason for so many long distance cycle paths that are being constructed all over The Netherlands.
So let’s see the story of these school children who have discovered the e-bike to cycle to school.
Most striking in this news-item for me was that cycle journey of 30 kilometres one way. Now that sounds like an awful long way – even for The Netherlands – and you could think the girl was exaggerating a bit, because 92% of all Dutch school children live within 15 km from their schools after all (see earlier post). So I did some investigation and I think the girl was not at all exaggerating!
The father’s name was shown in the report and a quick search on the internet revealed that he lives in Zeewolde and works at a secondary school in Amersfoort. This is a school with a very specific type of religious identity of which there are only four in the entire country. If you work there it would make sense that you would want your children to attend such a school as well. There is no such school closer to Zeewolde than the one where he works in Amersfoort. If you then look at the distance from Zeewolde to that school in Amersfoort in the Fietsersbond cycle route planner it is exactly 30.7 kilometers!
It is interesting to see that the girls must already have had an average speed of about 20km per hour to do the 30km ride in 90 minutes. E-bikes are limited to go no faster than 25km per hour in The Netherlands so they can only shave 15 minutes off their journey. They will still need 75 minutes one way. Even though cycling to school is very normal in The Netherlands, as I have shown you before, a total of 60 kilometres is quite an achievement for such young people to do that day in day out.
The other thing standing out is the fact that 33 bicycles were bought at the same time! A package deal from a number of parents. Very nice for the seller as well! Selling e-bikes is very good for the bicycle shops. As I have shown you in an earlier post. Sales more than doubled to 223,000 electric bicycles in the last 7 years. The proportion of the turnover is even larger than the proportion of total sales. This particular deal came with a few extra services like an on road break down service and a full maintenance programme. The cost for the parents were €2000 per bicycle, including the service package. Since the school is four years this would come down to €500 per year. The father says public transport would cost him €4,400 or €1,100 per year. So it is a good deal, also considering the bike should last longer than those 4 years. Of course the girls told us they were cycling every day anyway so that would make this calculation not entirely correct. But even if they only used public transport for half of the time it would still be a good deal.
For such long distances the e-bike is a perfect invention. No wonder so many people are discovering it.