|Thousands of local people arrived by|
The Dutch DIY chain Gamma holds an annual Racing Day at Assen's circuit. It's free to attend this event if you have tickets from the shop or their website. When I bought some DIY materials a few weeks ago the cashier pushed a couple of free tickets into my hand so we decided to go and check it out yesterday.
As with any event in or around Assen, thousands of local people arrived by bicycle. But with this event attracting over 100000 people in total from across the Netherlands (more than Assen's population), it shouldn't be any surprise that a lot of people arrived by car and motorbike.
|But far more people arrived from all around the country by car and motorbike|
|Just as noisy as I remember them|
being as a child.
|Curious about where those black|
circles came from ? Wonder no more.
Tyres are clearly too cheap.
|Three children and their parents wearing|
"Kawasaki racing team" jerseys cycling
home from yesterday's event on one of
Assen's many safe cycle-paths.
Cycling is popular, motor racing is popular too
When I've been to the TT circuit before, it's been because there have been occasional cycling events there. The 2009 Vuelta a Espana had its prologue on the TT circuit, and that one-off event (for which we also got free tickets that time through a bank) attracted a fair crowd of 40000 people. But that's not so much compared with the 100000 people who can be attracted to the same location for motor sport events.
|Motor racing is incredibly popular.|
So is private car ownership.
Dutch cycling is not in the blood but in the infrastructure
It is sometimes forgotten by campaigners elsewhere that the Dutch cover 3/4 of all their km traveled by private automobile. There are enough cars and there is enough driving in the Netherlands that cars could be utterly dominant to the extent that they make cycling unpleasant. Indeed, that situation had already arisen by the 1970s in the Netherlands, when people owned far fewer cars than they do today. Domination of cars led to an increase in cyclist injuries and a steep decline in cycling.
|In the early 1960s, British people cycled more than the|
Dutch now. Without support, cycling declined sharply.
Go back a few decades and you'll find that British people cycled for a higher proportion of their journeys than Dutch people do now. As cars came to dominate roads, the UK suffered the same steep decline as the Netherlands did, but because no measures were taken to prevent that decline the decline continued. The same happened across most of the world. For instance, in New Zealand.
Nations once thought to have "cultural" cycling can suffer declines just as well as can those where cycling was forgotten about decades ago. Twenty years ago, Denmark stopped emphasizing cycling, bringing about a decline. The fastest decline in cycling ever seen is that happening now in China, where cycling was once far more significant than in the modern day Netherlands.
Cycling can survive only where it is supported. Unfortunately, recent plans in the Netherlands do not offer the same support to cycling as was offered 20 years ago and this is putting Dutch cycling in danger. If cycling is no longer the most convenient and safe option then people will drive more. This is demonstrated by all the places where that has already happened - a very long list of places which includes the Netherlands.
A previous event in Assen: Every year there is a driving demonstration on city streets. People mainly attend this event by bicycle. No sign whatsoever in Assen of a sporting legacy leading to an en-masse switch to formula one racing cars...
This isn't a sponsored post. Our free tickets came in the same way as the other 100000 attendees free tickets - through buying DIY materials. Gamma's Racing Day is an entertaining event and I can see why it's popular.