All about cycling in the Netherlands
People were still ice skating earlier this month in the Netherlands, but now the first bulb flowers are in bloom! Many people went out cycling last Sunday to enjoy one of the first gentle spring days and to watch the first flowers of the season, crocuses and daffodils, that you can see blooming all over the Netherlands now.
Spring started on 20 March at 17:15 hrs and Daylight Saving Time on 25 March at 02:00 hrs. Although these markings are human inventions, things do begin to look very different from how our environment was in the winter. Recently, I stumbled upon a claim on the internet, that the many traffic islands in the Dutch towns and cities are wasted public space that should have been used for something meaningful to people. Those who believe this to be true should come to the Netherlands in spring time, when the bulb flowers are blooming. The flowers can be found exactly there, on those traffic islands. They do have a purpose besides protecting people. They turn the streets into a sea of colour. A welcome sight after the long grey winter.
I’ve always connected bulb flowers with cycling, especially the early daffodils. That must be very personal and I think I know why this is. One of my early childhood memories is going with my parents to a nearby forest that had thousands of daffodils each spring. The bulbs had been planted in the 18th century park forest Bos Voordaan in 1933, as a job creation program during the Great Depression. The flowers draw a lot of people from nearby Utrecht each spring, because even after 85 years there still are many daffodils in this tiny park forest.
I have vivid memories of going to the Daffodil Forest in the children’s seat of one of my parents’ bicycles. One day we were all set to go when we heard a loud bang, just after my father had started to ride. This was followed by a loud hissing sound and a full stop. This exploding tyre made a big impression on little-me, which made me remember the event to this day. Or maybe it was the disappointment that we weren’t going to see the bright yellow fields of daffodils that day.
It may be no coincidence that this week’s video, which I filmed in ʼs-Hertogenbosch, shows a lot of parents cycling with children. Showing your children the blooming flowers during a leisurely Sunday afternoon bicycle ride seems to be a favourite spring pastime of the Dutch and it has been like that for decades!
Enjoy the video!
This week’s video: cycling past the spring flowers in ʼs-Hertogenbosch.