TV station for Dutch speaking people who live and work in other countries recently ran a survey to ask what Dutch people most miss about their homeland.
The winner was Herring, which people like to eat raw. However, "Cycling" came in at sixth place overall. This was presented in the results as 6th of out of ten.
Actually, "Cycling" came in at 6th out of 213 categories nominated by the public, and another ten related categories helped to water down the "cycling" vote.
The other ten categories about cycling were "The bike", "Cycling without a helmet in the dunes", "Cycle-paths", "Mostly cycle-paths and cycling", "Going along with friends and family by bike", "Wonderful cycling with a warm jacket against the headwinds", "The cycling, my bike, riding through Amsterdam", "Good Cycle-paths", "The bike", "Family, croquettes, real chips, licorice, cycling and the Dutch language".
I think it's notable what sort of cycling people are thinking about. Recreational riding with friends and family; having a nice time on cycle-paths through the dunes and not just any cycle-path, but specifically good cycle-paths.
Cycle-paths go together with cycling in one of the categories. i.e. to cycle you need cycle-paths. What is meant of course is the very dense grid of high quality cycle-paths as seen in The Netherlands. The practical type of bike that most people ride in the Netherlands is a factor. Helmets are not wanted.
similar survey was run on the English language Dutch news website www.dutchnews.nl.
This website's audience is English speaking people who currently live and work in the Netherlands. They picked up the top ten categories from the Dutch language survey and asked what people from other countries who currently live and work in the Netherlands think they'll miss most if or when they leave the country. The winning category stands out by a mile.
I've mentioned it before, and I think it still remains true, that people cycle in the Netherlands because it's pleasant to cycle in the Netherlands. Dutch people taken to another place will often stop cycling because conditions don't make the experience of doing so nearly as pleasant elsewhere. People who come from another country to live here are likely to start cycling.
That people cycle in the Netherlands is predominantly because of the enhanced subjective safety brought primarily by cycle-paths and also by segregation of modes without cycle-paths. It's really not "rocket science" and it's certainly not some vague nation of "the culture". The good cycling infrastructure of this country makes a difference to how people live and increases the standard of living of people who live here.
You need the contrast between one place and another to understand this. I've lived in three different countries and found that each has special things to offer. The Netherlands is probably unique in that a slice of the population not selected for being interested in cycling would place cycling in a top ten list of this sort.
Of course, some Dutch people with little, or no, experience of living in other places take what they've got here entirely for granted. They really don't know how lucky they are.
The website also carried out the same survey for Belgian people. In Belgium, frieten (chips / fries) were the winner. Cycling did not appear in their top ten. However this is not surprising. The Belgians don't cycle anything like so much as the Dutch do so they won't miss it so much either. Every country has things which people miss. Beer and really good Indian vegetarian food come top of my list of things that I miss from the UK. It's been decades since I lived there, but I still miss the weather from the New Zealand. The Netherlands has its high cycling modal share despite the weather, not because of it.
2 days ago