Biking in the Netherlands

By Pepe Menken, from the Netherlands.

If you’ve ever been to the Netherlands, you probably know what the best transportation in the Netherlands is. The Bicycle! We love biking so much that we have more bicycles then people in the Netherlands. For some tourists, biking, especially in Amsterdam, is also one of the most dangerous ways of transportation. But you might wonder how this has become… Well that’s what I’m going to explain to you in this article.

The first actual bicycle, that resembles the one we see today only a little bit, was built in 1860 by Ernest Michaux. The first couple of bikes were made of wood and then the material was changed to metal, but the evolution of the bicycle didn’t stop. The front wheel was made bigger and bigger to allow the vehicle to go faster. Because the wheel was getting bigger, the saddle had to be higher, so people needed a stool to get on the saddle. In those days, it was inappropriate for women to wear pants, so the bicycle was unavailable for them. This version of the bike is also more dangerous. In 1890, a safer version of the bicycle was invented, named the ‘safety bicycle’. This vehicle has wheels in the same size. This ‘safety bicycle’ is also the first bicycle that women could use with their long skirts. Some people say that it also helped with the emancipation of women.

The Netherlands is the country in the world that uses the bike the most as daily transportation. But how did this happen? A man named Gertjan Hulster thinks that we cycle so much in our country is because of a coincidence. In the 1950s, the bicycle replaced the automobile in a lot of countries. The automobile caused a lot more accidents than the bicycle, more than 3000 deaths in 1971 only in the Netherlands. The Dutch people weren’t that happy about that, and then the child of a well-know journalist named Vic Langenhoff, died in a car accident. Following an article written by Langenhoff, people started protesting to bring back the bike. The government was in the middle of changing the cities and decided to make separate lanes just for bikes. They made 35,000 km of biking lanes in just one country. That makes cycling sometimes faster than taking the car because there is no traffic jam. The oil prices were also very high at that time so more people decided to ride their bike to work instead of taking the car. Another reason is that the Netherlands is a very flat country and everything is really close. All of these reasons together makes cycling really appealing in the Netherlands.

In short, cycling has become the best way to transport yourself around the Netherlands because of four important reasons; The article written by Vic Langenhoff, the reorientation of the cities, the high oil prices, the flat and small country. I think that the Netherlands shouldn’t be the only country with so many bicycles. Other countries should introduce cycling in the cities in sake of the environment. More cycling people means less co2 emissions.

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