Sunday, Dec 21, 2014

Diary of an NRI: Can India adopt Netherlands’ bicycle culture?

Riding my new cycle effortlessly into the wild side of Netherlands. Riding my new cycle effortlessly into the wild side of Netherlands. (Source: Khyati Rajvanshi)
Written by Khyati Rajvanshi | Holland | Posted: August 14, 2014 10:02 am | Updated: August 14, 2014 10:04 am

I grew up in a country where having a 4 WD car like Land Cruiser gave you ‘road respect’. But then I moved to the Netherlands, where my world turned upside down. Little did I know, owning massive motor vehicles was less respectful than owning a simple cycle. In just a matter of few weeks, my outlook on day-to-day transport changed and I found myself buried deep in the new Dutch lifestyle. The more I rode cycles the more I researched about the cycle culture here.

Hands down, The Netherlands is the most cycle friendly, clean and less polluted country in the world. As if the statement was not enough to state things right, I have got a bunch of statistical numbers and lifestyle facts to back up my argument.

The fact that 70% of the population in The Hague uses cycle as their daily mode of transportation, says something about the pollution level.

Almost everyone in Holland is known to cycle or at least knows someone who does. As a cyclist, one is treated with respect and kindness. When you are on the roundabouts, cars and pedestrians are expected to wait patiently for the cyclists to pass by. Of course the cyclists have to respect and obey the set rules for the road. Cyclists could get fined for riding recklessly or for jumping red lights. The police, who are also often found on cycles, issue a 60-euro ticket if you get caught without lights on your cycle at nighttime.

car-vs-bicycle You get more respect as being a cyclist than owning a motor vehicle. In fact, people who own big (four-wheel) cars are called ‘a-social’, simply because they are assumed to have little respect for the country’s pollution rates, space, rules and concern for other’s safety. (Source: Khyati Rajvanshi)

The CEO’s, directors, senior executives of big companies prefer using cycles over motor vehicles. Even the Prime Minister of the country travels to his office using a cycle, along with his two bodyguards who follow him on their own cycles.

I was surprised to see small kids following their mother on tiny cycles on a Monday morning to their school. Dutch people teach their kids to ride cycles at a very young age, thus implementing the culture of cycling in their lifestyle.

Let us have a look at the brilliant infrastructure of the cycle paths in the Netherlands and how it works:

Infrastructure

car-vs-bicycle2 (Source: Khyati Rajvanshi)

Holland has more cycles than people and the country’s infrastructure is specially geared to cyclists. Roads have separate, dedicated cycle lanes for the cyclists. Certainly if the cyclists have their own special road for transportation, they are bound to have their own crossings as well as their continued…

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