High petrol prices see bikes gain ground in the NetherlandsHard to believe, but even in the most bicycling intensive culture on the planet, higher priced fuel yields more bicyclists.
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.)
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.
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