Netherlands Part 1: I want my bike back

Holland is known as the country of bicycles, a high proportion of all trips taken by people is by bicycle, they even have a saying "Ik wil mijn fiets terug!" meaning "I want my bike back" - a reference back to WWII when the German army confiscated their beloved Fietsen and often chanted at Germany during football matches.  I spent about a week in the Netherlands, mostly in Delft where I was visiting a friend and with day trips to Rotterdam and Amsterdam where I got to witness what bike culture can really be like.

Delft is a small town just outside of Rotterdam, mostly known for the university TU Delft as well as it's past as a centre for ceramics, particularly of the blue variety.  The first thing you notice is that there are bicycles everywhere, every major street has a properly segregated bike path.  Also like a lot of Dutch towns, there are canals everywhere - a lot of these old canals would have been used to move pottery back in the day I would assume.

The entrance to the Delft railway station bicycle
parking area.
This is one row...

There are about 10 of them in total. 

I was really taken aback by the amount of bikes in the parking station at Delft railway station.  There are literally hundreds upon thousands of bikes, and this is a city of a population just under 100,000.  Typically bikes in this station are just locked at the wheel in the rack, most people just use a beater to ride around town on.   The mode share for bicycles in Delft is very high even by Dutch standards at about 43%.  There are trams and buses, however as the town is quite small, the bicycle is the easiest way to get around.

The Dutch trains have special compartments on some carriages made specially for taking bicycles, with all the seats folded up there is a really generous space to take a large amount of bikes.  The idea is that trains will take you the long journey, and the bicycle will get you from the station to your final destination - this replaces a lot of potential car journeys.

Looks like something is afoot on this bikepath...


This was seriously the worst bike path I saw in my whole time in the Netherlands, stuff like this is all too common and everyday in London or Sydney where bike paths always stop randomly for no reason.  They just make it really easy to cycle in the Netherlands, and everyone does it to do shopping and drop off the kids.

Again, more bike parking in Rotterdam

Cool cargo bike with a kid's seat

Crumpler made it all the way from Melbourne to Rotterdam!

Safe places to stop at intersections
Separate lights and buttons

Leftovers from when the Tour went through Rotterdam

A big part of making cycling a safe and everyday activity is a commitment to proper infrastructure, the Dutch do this in spades.   Proper segregated paths on busy roads, separate lights and buttons with phasing that actually considers bikes as part of the traffic rather than something on the periphery.  I didn't get to cycle in Rotterdam however is an excellent resource on how cycling infrastructure is done in the Netherlands.

SPARTA!!!  One of the popular Dutch brands

Not bike related but I was hungry and love the
European style of chips with mayonaise served in a cone

Two Van Moofs in a row
Nice old English 3-speed

The Sturmey trigger dates it to about the 50's

Traffic islands are used for bike parking

I keep on seeing Bromptons all over Europe,
they seem to be a popular folder

Another one...
  Having travelled to many other cities now where cycling is a normal part of the transport network, I didn't find that the Netherlands was this wonderful mystical velo-heaven.   I think mentally I have already adjusted to find things like this normal; if I was to go from Sydney straight to the Netherlands I would be supremely amazed.   This is not to lessen the importance of cycling in the Netherlands though, by far it is one of the best cycling countries in Europe if not the world.  It's a great example of how a long term commitment to cycle infrastructure can really pay off in the long term.


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