Dutch shopping habits are often frowned upon by foreigners. Shops close early (6pm on working days) or are even closed all day (on Sundays). This means that most working people can only go shopping on a Saturday. At least before 5pm, because shops close even earlier on a Saturday...
What's that got to do with cycling? Well... why don't we stand on a street corner one such Saturday from 4 to 5 pm and see all the people coming back from that very shopping trip. The whole demography of a Dutch city cycles by right before our eyes! And it's pretty!
Many people carry bags. A lot of the bags are just hanging from the handle bars. Officially that is illegal, but that would not be widely known.
Note that all ages are represented. Not just the 20 to 40 year old commuting males. In fact that age group seems under-represented in this video. And, since this is a Saturday, hardly anyone is a commuter in this video anyway. Many children cycle on their own, some are even also unaccompanied. A great number of the cyclists are over 60, men as well as women. The weather wasn't very good that day, just 16 degrees (61F), it was very windy and it had rained off and on... but that didn't stop any of these people from taking their bicycles to go shopping.
All signs of a healthy cycling culture. But it may be under threat.
On June 22nd many people in the Netherlands became rather concerned by news reports that the European Commission would want to make it mandatory for all these cyclists to wear high visibility vests. For the Dutch an alarming thought. One Dutch member of the European parliament immediately stated: "This [report] implies that cycling is dangerous when in reality it is the safest means of transport. Cyclists should not be yellow canaries". Which from the Dutch view point is understandable. Just imagine all the people in the above video in those vests or even worse, the ones in this rush hour video. It would blind everybody! So is this really what the European Commission wants? It is always good to go back to the source of such reports. I found the press release and the message is not quite what it became in the Dutch press: "High-visibility reflective vests should be carried in vehicles for all occupants, say MEPs. Cyclists, too, should be encouraged to wear helmets and reflective vests after nightfall, they add".
"Encouraged" and "after nightfall". So not mandatory and not at all time. Still, from a Dutch view point a ridiculous idea going against everything cycling stands for in the Netherlands, where road deaths have already decreased enormously by investing in good cycling infrastructure.
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