Known for tulips…and windmills…and wooden shoes…and ice skating…and artists referred to as the Dutch masters, the Netherlands is also known for bicycles. With over 30% (in Amsterdam closer to 40%) of residents using bikes as their primary mode of transportation, you can see why the Netherlands could easily be called the Country of Bicycles. This was a major factor in selecting a bike tour as the way to see the Dutch countryside.
Of course when relying on a bicycle for transportation, modifications are necessary for carrying groceries, school books or other items.
Even DHL makes deliveries by bike.
It’s amazing to see the adaptations made for children. From seats with windshields to simple metal racks.
Even fancy wheelbarrow type carriers with seat belts. But no Dutch cyclists wear helmets, not even children. The only riders with helmets are those on bike tours, an insurance requirement, and probably a good way to recognize tourists who may not be familiar with the rules of the road.
Parking garages house thousands upon thousands of bikes in cities like Amsterdam where nearly a half million cyclists ride two million kilometers per day according to the city’s statistics. Even university housing includes multiple levels of parking for student bikes.
Strict traffic laws, classes on bike safety in the schools, as well as driving courses that stress bike awareness for those in cars keep the streets safe. And according to Denise, one of our tour guides, if a car and a bicycle are involved in an accident, the driver of the car is at fault. Attentive drivers are a must.
As we conclude National Bicycle Month, I’m sure the Dutch would encourage us to follow their example and make every month Bike Month.