I'm sure many people in the Northern Hemisphere have noticed the number of extra cyclists who've appeared recently.
It's the same here in the Netherlands.
I went on a great social ride today, and we saw literally thousands of other cyclists on a ride through the countryside North East, returning through the centre of Groningen and between there and Assen. Thousands were out enjoying the sun on their bikes. Yes, even here cycling gets a boost at this time of year.
So what's the problem ?
I have to be clear that the these extra cyclists are of course no problem at all. It would be ridiculous to complain about there being more cyclists out when the weather is beautiful as it has been today, than a few weeks ago when the temperatures were hovering around zero and it was misty.
However, there's a danger here for campaigners. Every year at about this time, people forget that they're looking at an annual trend and think there has been a genuine increase in the rate of cycling. It all looks so positive, so real. I've often wondered if the boost each spring is the reason why campaigners often seem convinced that cycling is "on the up" when year on year figures in many countries show it is reducing or stagnant. Human memory is fallible and easily fooled by a temporary boost which hides a long term trend.
Spring, or September, are both good times of year to make impressive sounding cycle counts. The numbers which result are far better than if you take an average over the entire year. However, accurate counts and accurate statistics about cycling result not from this but from mundane counting procedures.
At this time of year, it looks positive not just where you live, but everywhere. Enjoy it. Ride your bikes a lot. However, keep in the back of your mind that this doesn't necessarily mean that any progress has been made.
Campaigning has to carry on, based on facts and not just on how pleasant it is to ride on a sunny day. More people will cycle everywhere if subjective and sustainable safety are provided.
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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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