Tuesday, 8 February 2011

Falling off my bike


We've now lived in the Netherlands for about 3 and a half years. In that time, I've cycled tens of thousands of km (in 2010 I rode around 12500 km) in many different places, mostly riding quite quickly, sometimes riding quite slowly. Many of those kilometres were on my commute, so at peak times when lots of other people are cycling and driving.

In those three and a half years I've had three crashes on one sort or another. The first was entirely my own fault, and involved just myself. I cornered too fast on loose gravel on a small road in the countryside and fell off.

The second crash was on a day when it had rained, and then froze. One of my Mango's front wheels was on ice, the other was on asphalt and I span around when I braked. Again it was entirely my fault, and involved no-one else.

The third incident was last Sunday. This time, at last, it was an incident which also involved someone else - and more so, his dog. Judy and I had gone for a nice ride around the city and the countryside, and were just a couple of hundred metres from home when what you see in the video happened, on a cycle path in the same area as we walk our own dog. The video makes it look worse than it was. I had virtually stopped by the time I fell over, and I received no injuries at all. If I had not been holding my camera at the time, I would probably not have fallen over.

I've yet to be the victim of anything which could be remotely described as "road rage" or had any close-calls with cars. While the cycle paths here have, as you can see, not been 100% successful in keeping me away from over-enthusiastic friendly dogs, they have been extremely successful in keeping me away from motorists, and the danger that results from them.

There's a lot of completely uninformed nonsense out there about the supposed "dangers" of cycle paths in the Netherlands. Frankly, it's the sort of stuff which can only be written out of ignorance. For example, by those who's only experience of the Netherlands is from travelling here by train in the 1930s, and by those who've never been here at all.

There is no place safer to ride a bike, and no place more pleasant to ride a bike.

Dutch cyclists don't fill youtube with helmet-cam footage of problems that they have on their rides. It would be impossible to make a film like the excellent "Angles Morts" here because it would take several life-times to build up footage of enough incidents to make it look shocking. That's what proper infrastructure design does for cyclists - remove the hassle.

I'm quite happy to accept the occasional problem due to an over-friendly dog over being hassled by drivers and hit by cars.

6 comments:

Green Idea Factory said...

David, the dog was saying hello.. you should have stopped. If I had a dog-height bike - also called a recumbent - I would also carry doggie treats for visitors.

But also I am curious about the leash laws in this area.

Rob said...

Heh. I can also count it on my hand (3 in 6 years). Once I blew a tire on a railroad track crossing (we have lots of those in Illinois, USA) while I was on a busy road, but I didn't actually fall until I took a hard turn onto a side street.

The second time was when I ran into a car at a questionably designed, but correct by federal law, junction... even then I just clipped it, and I didn't fall off.

The third time was when I slid to a halt on an icy path on my way to work.

I wasn't hurt, but the first crash required complete replacement of the tire. That has been the only casualty so far.

Alicia said...

I'm glad you are ok! Cute dog- and naughty. I like it that your reaction is to laugh a bit :)

Frits B said...

GIF: The dog wás on its leash, but its owner clearly wasn't prepared. And even if he were, I think he couldn't have done much. One of my neighbours, doubling as my doctor too, also has one of these Berner Sennenhunde: vey nice, very playful and strong as an ox. Jumps me every time I see her (it's a bitch, in both senses as she always leaves a lot of blonde hair on my coat).
Did you know we have litter boxes for dog poo, and that people even use them? Must be the German streak in this part of the counry.

Micheal Blue said...

This (dogs) can be a problem on the bike paths here in Toronto, as well.
A good thing to be aware of is that if the dog walks in front of the person, or is on a long(er) leash, the person has no control of the dog.
Once, on a bike path, dog nipped at my pants because I surprised it.
It was my fault. I came from behind fairly silently. Neither the dog nor the owner notice me coming. Now I ding the bell.

hercule said...

I am embarrassed to say as a dog owner that mine go wild when they see a recumbent and get over-excited. Upright bikes don't seem to bother them. Then again, as I appear to be the only recumbent rider around here, I have only myself to blame. Other dogs only give me a curious look.