|The cycle-paths on this route are all|
wide and smooth like this. On weekend
mornings, all the racers are riding.
I made the delivery this morning and I took photos on the way.
|Catching up with another racer|
|Another racing cyclist on the cyclepath|
As usual, I didn't see any bikes on the
road. There is no benefit from that.
|Older stretch of cycle-path with less|
separation, resurfaced and very smooth.
More racers heading in the opposite
direction to me.
|Another thing which was holding up|
cars on the main-road was this tractor,
which I overtook from the other side
of the canal
In part, I've written this blog post as a response, to try once again to point out that simplistic arguments like "Dutch cyclists are slow" are so very short of the truth. It would be nice to think that people contemplating writing the same sorts of things would first read the myths and excuses page, but those who have their own fixed view of the world tend not to bother.
|Also plenty of cyclists on the almost car|
free road on the other side of the canal
from the main road and cycle-path
The actual average speed by bike in the city of Groningen has been measured and it's 14.2 km/h, or just short of 9 mph. This is not especially quick, but this is for an average person and it is not the rolling speed, but the overall speed for a complete journey including stops. By car it's much slower - 9.6 km/h. This is perhaps the source of the "6 mph" speed quoted by some VCers. It applies to cars, not bikes, but anyone who came here and insisted on riding their bike on the road would have their speed reduced to this level.
Any lack of speed perceived is not because "the Dutch are slow" but because in the Netherlands, even people who are slow still ride bikes. This is a country where the demographics of cycling include everyone, not just fitter than average people.
|Another cyclist spotted this morning.|
In Dutch law, wheelchairs and scooters
like this are classed as bicycles. Cycling
facilities are inclusive of everyone.
My journey was fast and convenient because of the cycle-path network in this area. I was home today in time to have a shower and sort through my photos before lunch and then continue on with the day. Making a delivery in this way has less to do with running our business than giving me an excuse to go for a ride and get some exercise, which is of course beneficial to everyone. The health benefits of cycling are recognized in this country just as in any other, but because cycling is always a pleasure in the Netherlands, these benefits are realised to a greater extent than in other countries.
The yellow thing at the bottom of the photos is my Mango velomobile. It's a good part of what makes it possible for me to ride faster than younger and fitter people on "hi tech" carbon racing bikes. Streamlined bikes like these are the fastest practical production bicycles in the world. They are more common in the Netherlands than in any other country and this is in no small part due to the Dutch cycle-path network providing such a good habitat for people who like to ride fast.
Lastly, I leave you with a video made by my friend Harry featuring his and Wilfred's Mangos, demonstrating how it's possible to get through Groningen on the traffic free streets and cycle-paths at a higher average speed than 14 km/h while remaining responsible and not causing anyone any problems:
If some of the maneuvers at junctions in the video seem unconventional, it's probably because you're watching one of the many simultaneous green junctions. However, on my trip there were no traffic lights at all, while there would have been several sets to negotiate if I'd driven instead of cycles. It's quite common in the Netherlands that you avoid traffic lights when cycling.
Click for my picasaweb album of racing cyclists on cycle-paths. This is where they ride in NL, not on the roads.