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Sunday, September 07, 2008

Even Dutch people are bicycling more

Image of bicyclists in Amsterdam

From Agence France Presse, 09.07.08:

High petrol prices see bikes gain ground in the Netherlands
The Dutch rely ever more on the humble bike for transport as pollution concerns and high petrol prices give new impetus to traditional pedal power in the only country with more bicycles than people.

The average Dutchman cycled 902 kilometres in 2006, up 16 kilometres from 15 years ago, according to official statistics. Annual new bike sales rose by 80,000 in 2007 to 1.4 million as the Dutch, known for their thrift and pragmatism, shunned the comfort of gas-guzzling cars for the cheaper, greener alternative in a year marked by record oil prices.

The flat-landscaped Netherlands, home to just over 16.3 million people, actually boasts some 18 million bicycles--a ratio of 0.9 persons per cycle, or 1.1 bikes per person. Its closest European competitors are Denmark and Germany, with respective figures of 1.2 and 1.3 citizens for each bike...

Not even the wet climate seems able to put a spoke in the wheels of the Dutch, who weave through city traffic shrouded in plastic on rainy days, transporting anything from pets and children to groceries, musical instruments and plants on their bikes. Many a parent can be seen negotiating traffic with a child secured to each end of a bicycle with shopping bags and even a briefcase secured to the sides. (Read more.)
Hard to believe, but even in the most bicycling intensive culture on the planet, higher priced fuel yields more bicyclists.

In a period of rising energy prices, those nations and communities that wisely made prior investments in bicycling facilities--such as the Netherlands and Portland--will see greater growth in bicycling, as other communities struggle to catch up. This will likely yield a competitive advantage to these communities, as enterprising and creative younger commuters seek a shorter commute and better quality of life.

Image: Web capture.
Visit: Wall Street Journal: Building a Better Bike Lane, Bike Commute Tips Blog
Visit: Less driving is more more cash, Bike Commute Tips Blog
Visit: More cycling inspiration from abroad, Bike Commute Tips Blog
Visit: John Pucher: Cycling for everyone, Bike Commute Tips Blog
Visit: Paul Dorn's Bike Commuting Tips Site


Ordinary Bob said...

My wife and I did a bike trip in Holland a few years ago. The infrastructure makes biking a great way to get around.

The people are also fantastic. If we stopped to consult a map, other riders would stop and help us out. I was amazed at the number of people who speak English there. And one day I got a flat tire in the pouring rain, and we stopped by a building to fix it. A huge smiling man pedaled over, spoke no English, took my tire from my hands and proceeded to fix my flat. He handed it back fixed, smiled, and rode away.

David Hembrow said...

Yes, it's a great place to cycle. We emigrated here from the UK largely for that reason.

The amount that people cycle has to be seen to be believed. In the city we now live in, the average resident makes 1.2 cycle journeys per day. The bike paths are busy whether it's day or night, hot or cold, dry or wet...

We've taken lots of photos and videos, compiled a list of articles and have a blog about how this has been achieved.