The video shows the first part of my ride home from work a few evenings back. My route takes me from the industrial estate on the South East of Groningen towards the south, so I don't see the numbers of bikes that you see during rush hour in the centre of the city. Also it was a wet and windy day.
My route is around 30 km in length, about 28 km of which is on cycle paths, not roads. Normally my commute takes about 50-55 minutes - an average speed of 33 - 36 km/h. This is a far higher speed that I averaged on a shorter commute using roads in the UK, but naturally not as high a speed as I can average when racing on a closed circuit. This time I spent more time on the roads than usual because of the road works. The road work signs actually told cyclists to use the normally unidirectional 2.5 m wide cycle path on the other side of the street as a bidirectional cycle path, but I instead rode on the road for a while before going back on the normal cycle path.
In the video I edited out almost all the bits where nothing is happening, but left in every interaction with another cyclist or driver. While many kilometres of cycle path are edited out, most of the time I was on road is still in the video.
The velomobile parked outside the shop at the start of the video belongs to Marcel Prins. We had an interesting, though short (it was time to go home) conversation and he had some complaints about the route he took to Groningen from Leeuwarden. Nothing's perfect, of course, including conditions for cycling in the Netherlands. Personally, I find that the surfaces are not so smooth and that I get lost when I head west into Friesland as the signage seems not to work so well either. However, it's all relative.
Much of what is "bad" here would still be pretty good by the standards of many other countries, both with regards to infrastructure and the behaviour of drivers on the roads. While this sortof thing happened to me fairly frequently when riding in the UK, it's never happened here.
For those who think the first video doesn't look enough like Rush Hour (even though that's exactly what it is), here's another video of leaving the centre of Groningen at roughly the same time:
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The less positive stuff What not to do if you want a cycling "revolution" - Long list of interventions and policies which are not helpful. Copy the best examples from the Netherlands - a short list summarising the above. Important to copy the best examples, not just anything "Dutch". Bear in mind that the Netherlands is not perfect. Shared Space - this much hyped idea simply does not work well. It disenfranchises the vulnerable and claims of safety are exaggerated. Don't confuse the concept with far more successful nearly car free streets. Shared Use Paths designed to be used by pedestrians and cyclists together. These rarely work well because the two user groups are too different and it leads to conflicts. They are not built in the Netherlands (but cycle access to pedestrianized zones is good). Strict (or presumed) liability - If you think this is an important part of why people cycle in the Netherlands then it is probably not what you think it is. Helmets - one of several ways of scaremongering about the supposed dangers of what is actually a very safe means of transport
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A cyclist in a cycling family living in the capital of the cycling province of the world's greatest cycling country.
I was born in the UK, lived for over 8 years in New Zealand and have lived in the Netherlands since 2007.
I organise cycling infrastructure study tours, run an online bicycle shop, arrange cycling holidays and write a popular blog about cycling.
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