What comes to mind when you think of the Netherlands? Maybe it’s their vibrant tulip fields or their immense love of cheese. For bike-mad people like ourselves, the Kingdom of the Netherlands is synonymous with near-perfect cycling opportunities. With around 25% of the country’s landmass being either at or below sea level, this slice of Western Europe is a haven for cyclists.
Yet, aside from its geography, why do the Dutch have such a penchant for cycling? Interestingly enough, Holland’s passion for bikes is ingrained into its culture and history just as much as its iconic windmills are. With this in mind, let’s take a closer look at the world’s most bike-friendly country, the Netherlands.
Bikes over cars
Due to the destructive impact the Second World War had on the Netherlands, many of the country’s cities were in dire need of rebuilding. Because of this, councils took the opportunity to restructure their towns around the newly affordable automobile, paving over paths and even canals to create new roadways during the 50s and 60s.
However, the Dutch people grew increasingly unhappy with this change, as previously open towns and cities quickly became congested, unwelcoming and even dangerous as road accidents skyrocketed. Thankfully, with immense pressure from the public, councils relented, leading to multiple retrofittings of old cycle lanes and an increased focus on bike-friendly neighbourhoods.
Designed for cycling
Whilst many people still do drive throughout the Netherlands, it’s easy to see that many of its towns and cities are designed for cyclists. Aside from countless bike lanes snaking alongside roads, their intersections are designed for maximum safety, with protective barriers between the road and the lane to protect both drivers and cyclists.
Parking for bikes is also extremely easy and is managed in much the same way motorised vehicles are with dedicated parking spaces. The city of Groningen is a great example of this, with a whopping 10,000 parking spaces for cyclists in a large underground lot!
Learning to cycle in the Netherlands begins at a very early age, with many children being introduced to the concept before they can even walk in the form of special cargo bikes known as ‘bakfiets’. These bicycles are connected to large boxes with protective canopies for children to sit and enjoy the ride.
Cycling is also extremely popular amongst Dutch teenagers. Due to the legal driving age being 18 in the Netherlands, cycling offers many young people a sense of freedom and ease of transport outside of driving a car.
Experience the perfect Dutch cycling holiday with Hooked on Cycling
For anyone interested in cycling abroad, the Netherlands is a perfect choice and, with Hooked on Cycling, we can help you get there. With a variety of self-guided cycling holidays throughout the Netherlands and the Low Countries, our team is on hand to ensure your trip is one to remember.
For more information on destinations and itineraries, visit our website or get in touch on +44 (0) 1506 635 399.