Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Cycling on a May afternoon

To take items that people have ordered from our shop to the post office, I make the 3 km round trip several times a week on a cargo bike. There are always lots of other people on bikes all around me as I make my journey. Yesterday I took a camera. See below for photos of streets in the suburbs of a typical small Dutch city on a typical May afternoon:
Just around the corner from home, a bridge built to keep cars off the cycle-route

Children ride their own bikes on a route which leads to the city centre

A route used by many secondary school students to ride home to villages South West of Assen

Bicycle road becomes cycle path

Bicycle road along the canal

All age groups represented

Don't spill your drink. Negotiating a roundabout in Assen.
These photos illustrate the usual story. Cyclists in this country not only are safe, but they also feel safe. This is a place where everyone can and does cycle. This is possible because cycling in the Netherlands does not look nor feel like an extreme sport, unless you want it to. Being segregated from cars virtually 100% of the time makes this possible.

9 comments:

BrandweerQuest said...

What a positive article!
It makes me feel good to live in Holland.
Better than mine link on facebook this morning.
https://www.facebook.com/FietsDienstenPutten
http://www.nrc.nl/nieuws/2012/05/14/docu-fietskoeriers-wagen-leven-in-brussel-filehoofdstad-van-europa/

BrandweerQuest said...

Have you seen this bike somewhere in Drenthe?
http://bit.ly/Kj8OXZ
It's stolen from the the beach neerby Putten. ;-p

Photo Blogger said...

Your pictures look almost like Cambridge: http://iitm.be/ccyclists ;-)

David Hembrow said...

If you ignore that the Cambridge photos were taken over many months, not one afternoon, inevitably include people wearing high-viz and helmets because that is the way that many cyclists dress in Cambridge, that there aren't often children riding their own bikes because the required degree of subjective and actual safety simply isn't there, and also ignore the unusual demographic and legal reasons why Cambridge has a relatively high cycling modal share, then yes, the photos do look a bit like Cambridge :-)

It is a big problem with cycling photo blogs that the photos can indeed look rather alike even though the conditions for cycling can vary enormously between the different places where they are taken. This is why I don't often do photo posts, as people can assume that I'm cherry picking. However, that's not the case. There is no need to do so here. The streets and cycle-paths really do look like this.

Luke said...

Photo Blogger, I had a quick look at your photos - it struck me that (a) not many of them have more than one person on a bike in them; (b) quite a lot of them are of people on segregated paths.

That suggests to me (a) that not that many people actually cycle in Cambridge - it just seems lot to us; (b) those that do like segregated paths.

But I did like the photos

Paul Martin said...

Wonderful! :)

christhebull said...

@David, @Photo Blogger -
I could probably find lots of suitable cycle chic situations in Bristol if I took my camera out with me. I could easily stick to the nicer places like Castle Park (home to one of the better off road paths) and wait until an attractive young lady or dapper gentleman rides past. I suspect that if I waited long enough, I could see a nice variety of riders or machines, although if I wanted to see a child ride something other than a BMX bike I would be waiting for some time. Obviously photos of the latest carbon frames would not be of importance and I would wait for someone to ride past on a Raleigh Twenty instead.

I could also be selective about the traffic situation, by sticking to places like Queen Square (which has had the through road running diagonally across the centre of the Georgian square removed) as opposed to the Triangle or Stokes Croft, even though the latter places have more happening in terms of retail and nightlife.

Obviously I would have to be selective in regards to clothing. If it looks like a well known fashion retailer like Topshop or an online specialist like ASOS would sell the clothing being worn, it is acceptable. Team kit, cleats, or hi viz would necessitate waiting for someone else to ride past.

So, of course it is possible for me to capture a photograph of a young lady riding a vintage small wheeled shopper bicycle in a relatively stress free example in Bristol, and it would also be possible to do likewise in a Dutch city (although I suspect such bicycles are far rarer than traditional roadsters). It would not be necessarily representative of the cycling experience in Bristol.

Mark S said...

I think the only times I can recall seeing that sort of level of cycling and feeling that subjectively safe in the UK is when I'm on holiday at a Centre Parcs resort ;-)

This is probably due to the fact that cars are pretty much barred from driving around the majority of the time, with exceptions for disabled visitors and the parks own service vehicles. The only times it gets really busy is when people arrive and depart but then you're either loading or unloading so can't ride around ;-)

In essence each resort is like a micro town and all the main areas have extensive bike parking, although it is that type that you wedge the front/rear wheel into so not great from a security perspective.

I'd love for our towns and cities to become more cycle friendly. Where I live there are quite a few parks within an easily rideable distance but the conditions on the roads just make it rather impractical to ride or even walk there with the kids, trying to get across a main road without a zebra crossing or light control and only a small central island when you have 5 kids and a buggy isn't easy!

Neil said...

I seem to remember the Centre Parcs we went to did heavily promote helmets (free with the bike hire or am I misremembering).