How To Build a Nation of Cyclists – Tips from the Netherlands

Many of us think of Holland as a nation where people get around primarily by bicycle. That appears to be the case now, but apparently it was not always so; the Netherlands was car-dominated for a few decades before deliberately setting about promoting cycling as transportation for the masses.

In this little 3-minute video, the Netherlands correspondent of talks with a representative of the Dutch Cycling Embassy (how great that such an organization exists!) to find out how they did it.

Tips include: Make sure there are pathways separated from the automotive traffic, and that riding is comfortable and safe for anyone whether age 8 or age 80. Provide plenty of parking. Give cyclists the right of way. And — a biggie here — write it into auto insurance policies that when motorists get into an accident with a bicyclist, the onus is on the motorist to prove they were not at fault.

Here in Florida, the main things needed, in my observation, are

1) shade trees along roads and sidewalks;

2) bike lanes or at least shoulders to ride on; and

3) education (for motorists – regarding the need to share the road; and for bicycle riders – regarding the need to obey the laws same as any other wheeled vehicle).

Awareness is key.

Bicycle and foot are my main modes of transport. I don’t own a car (though I have owned cars for periods of my life). I’d love to see a network of cycling lanes not only in every city, but linking all cities! The other day I read that in France, there’s a paved bicycle path from Paris to the Normandy coast. Over 200 miles! Imagine the low-footprint adventures a family or group of friends could have! And for people who often travel solo, like me, it would feel very safe and comfortable to travel this way.

How about you — What is your main mode of transport? Is there anything that would help or encourage you to get around primarily or entirely by walking, cycling, or other human-powered transport, if you don’t already?