Every cycling campaigner will at some point mention the Netherlands, but what is actually so special?
Credit: Dutch Cycling Embassy
The Netherlands have not always been a nation of cyclists, while the bicycle has always played a part in Dutch history, the period after the Second World War was characterized by an increasingly car-centric policy. However The Dutch reached a point in the 1970’s, where the lives lost to motor traffic increased to a unacceptable level for the public, and the Netherlands, as a nation, made a conscious decision to end the dominance of motor traffic. This was primarily driven by vigorous campaign from the public to bring an end to the traffic fatalities, particularly those involving children (Stop de kindermoord -Stop the child murder).
Now cycling has become central to all planning and transport policy in the Netherlands and a network of safe, convenient and continuous bicycle routes are in place across the country. Comprising of high quality segregated cycle tracks along busy roads and restricted motor vehicle access along minor or residential streets. This has had the effect of creating a cycling culture in the Netherlands; practically everyone cycles, young or old. Getting on your bicycle is simpler, more convenient and in some cases even faster than using a car. People in the Netherlands don’t see themselves as ‘cyclists’ any more than the majority of the people in the UK see themselves as ‘motorists’, the bicycle is simply just another method of getting around. No helmets, no specialist clothing, just a person on a bicycle getting from A to B safely and conveniently.