Paulo made a video of some of our conversation over lunch:
I took a few photos:
|The centre of Houten. No cars are allowed here, except for access.|
|Herbert talks about the city, how cyclists can take direct routes while drivers cannot. Herbert also told us about the road safety record of Houten. In the past 25 years there has been just one fatality amongst cyclists in the city, a pensioner who was unfortunately run over by a refuse truck. Dutch cyclists are the safest in the world.|
|OV-Fietsen - the national public bicycle system of the Netherlands. These distinctive blue and yellow bikes are available in almost all cities.|
|The new railway station cycle park is especially well integrated You can park your bike (there are 3500 spaces for a city of 50000 people) buy a ticket and then climb the stairs to access the platform directly.|
|Social safety is also important. This is cycle parking in which you don't feel you will be mugged. The flowers are a nice touch.|
|Most cycling in Houten takes place away from cars.|
|The demographic of "cyclists" in the Netherlands also includes disabled and elderly people. Cycling is accessible to all in one form or another. Note the subtle barrier to prevent motorists from using this cycle path (I'm standing at a junction with a bicycle road)|
|A relatively new development in Houten. This narrow bicycle road (bikes have priority, cars are considered to be "guests") is the only access road by car for 900 homes (a short silent movie showing it can be seen here)|
|Everywhere is most easily reached by bike.|
The photos show many of the features of Houten. However, while this city was specifically designed to accommodate bikes, and does so very well, it would be wrong to get the impression that what works in Houten has stayed in Houten.
All other cities in the Netherlands, including Assen where we live, now have many similar features. Successful experiments in Houten as well as other cities have influenced new development and re-development all across the country. These days, the Netherlands doesn't really have just a few "cycling cities", but is in fact an entire cycling country. Cycling en-masse is not concentrated in just a few areas. This is the secret of why the cycling rate is so high for the country as a whole.