2005 - Cycling
in the Netherlands
and bikes are synonymous, but unless you have visited you
really do not have the concept at how many bikes and cyclists
are in the Netherlands. The number of bikes in south Netherlands
is absolutely crazy! During a normal morning bike commute
one probably sees at least a hundred cyclists in about 15
minutes of riding. And, about 50 per cent of the men and women
on these bikes are in high-end business attire (suits/skirts).
The University of Maastricht actually has a program where
they will pay for part of you bike to promote cycling. In
fact, the Netherlands has separate bike lanes (coloured in
red to distinguish them) in between the road and the sidewalks.
The bike lanes have their own traffic lights- the infrastructure
is incredible (but explains the high tax dollars people pay).
At the University (of Maastricht) hospital there is a four-level
car parking garage, but the first level is entirely for bikes.
A lab-tech that Trent works with bikes to work everyday rain,
snow or shine- over 30 km each way from Belgium!
commuter bikes can be purchased for about 75 to 100 euros
and include front and back lights, room for saddle bags, and
typically have three gears. At nearly every major train station
in the Netherlands there are also a bike shops that rents
bikes, for around 5 euro a day. These train stations will
also park bikes (for a fee) for the day. We commonly see working
people cycling up in the morning, running their bike into
their parking spot at the bike shop, and then running out
straight onto the train and they are off to work- seems like
a nice system.
In general, we find most people so much more fit than the
average North American. Most parents pick their kids up on
the bikes from school and then ride home with up to two kids
loaded onto their bike. We ran in this neighbouring village
called Heer last weekend and in an 80 min run we probably
saw 250+ different cyclists out enjoying the countryside.
These cyclists included anything from professional racers
to big groups of 50+ year olds just cruising along with their
friends. Many of these people also enjoy doing cycle cruising
tours. The day before the biggest annual professional bike
race in the Netherlands, Amstel Gold Race in Maastricht, there
is a series of cycling tours at distances of 50km, 100km,
125km 150km, 200km and 250km (like 10+ hours of riding for
some people). All I know is that it’s February and the
race is in April and the 125 km distance is already sold out!