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Cycling in the US from a Dutch perspective

Cycling in the US from a Dutch perspective


Cycling in the US is very different
from the Netherlands. Not only the way people dress and behave, the type of bikes, but also the traffic in which they have to
move around, the cause of all these differences. It takes courage to ride between motorised
traffic like this. And you cannot trust drivers
to play by the rules. Cycling doesn’t seem to be taken
seriously. It’s “something children do”, or those who “haven’t really grown up”. And it’s mainly seen as a leisure
activity. People cycle on specific tracks and not
to get from A to B. Others take their bikes on their car to get to some some ‘fun’ place
where they can ride. Although I cannot believe riding here
is really fun or safe at all. This situation makes clear why you are
30 times more likely to get injured as a cyclist in the US,
than you are in the Netherlands. It gets even worse with a doorzone
of parked cars. It is not so very different in the
cities. It almost looks like these people are
riding a race, rather than going home after work. They’re trying to outrun other traffic. It really seems like a chase. No wonder some choose to ride on the
sidewalks, or crosswalks. Even in places where the situation is
different. Where there is more cycling and much more relaxed cycling. Less racing and more cycling from A to B, for everyday purposes, and not as a sport. Sometimes it almost looks Dutch. Although the infrastructure is very different. Even in Davis, California, I hardly saw any specific cycling infrastructure. And that’s probably why some people
still choose to ride in lycra and with helmets. No wonder, if your left turn looks like
this. You have to cycle surrounded by motor
traffic. Not everybody seems to care though, but there’s a lot of cycling here
despite the infrastructure rather than because of it. In other places new cycle infrastructure
does seem to appear. And I don’t mean sharrows
which is just useless paint that wears off pretty soon too. Still paint, but a little better
are bike lanes popping up everywhere. But the big disadvantage of those lanes
is demonstrated here. Cars can invade them. And that was also not a good time to
start driving again! Colored bike lanes maybe better
respected. It sure seems to be more relaxed
to ride here. It is even better without parked cars. Some physical protection,
even though they’re just plastic posts, is a further improvement. Chicago goes yet a step further with a line of parked cars
between track and roadway. But it is still not much more than paint. Curbs would make it prettier and less
easy to reverse. I am no big fan of left-turn-boxes. Especially not when they’re in
the wrong location. It should have been positioned here. Now this is more like it! Bike signals! The sign seems a bit too obvious in Dutch eyes,
but that only shows how novel they are here. What is even better: the green cycle is
different from that of turning motor traffic. Now that is good bike infrastructure! But it is surprising that that
explanation for motor traffic is also needed. The bike counter in San Francisco is nice,
to make cycling more visible, but good bicycle parking stands
like these in Davis have a real purpose. Chicago has great racks
in transit stations. Not heavily used yet,
but that may come. Bikes on buses are only possible
with low numbers of users. But it’s good to have. I saw more bike shops then before,
and that is also a good sign. Shared bikes may make cycling
even more accessible to even more people. It’s a good thing many cities in the
US are getting a shared bike system. It may change the type of cycling from
this more racing type to a more relaxed variety, with which more people can identify. A ‘bakfiets’ maybe a step too far for most, but seeing more upright cyclists in
ordinary clothes would be very positive. There could be a good future
for cycling in the US.

100 comments on “Cycling in the US from a Dutch perspective

  1. Americans! Take these issues to your local governments! I live in a suburban area that has speedily become its own metropolis (less than 15 years from fields to sprawling neighborhoods of several hundred thousand residents) and there was no plan at all for even sidewalks, let alone cyclists. They forced a reliance on cars, and now they have to work backwards, which really means they just ignore the public’s requests for change. Pressure your leadership so they do not leave out these fundamentally necessary parts of the infrastructure before they ever break ground.

  2. To hell with going to a trail for an adrenaline rush. Just commute back and forth to work is 10 times the rush. Not only avoiding cars but avoiding people throwing crap at you.

  3. its sad how in the U.S. your seen as a loser for riding a bike regularly or to commute, people think im high when i ride my mountain bike to high school

  4. I live in a Texas city that is moderately sized. Not large enough for any real traffic jams, but not so small that you have to go to another city to get certain things.

    The weather during the summer is usually around 100 F (about 38 C) and 90% or higher humidity at all times.

    Nobody bikes for anything but sport. However, a fairly busy two lane road was recently cut down to a single lane road with a center turning lane in order to make room for a bike lane.

    My dad rides his bike in that area every day, and he still thinks it is stupid. I have only ever seen one person riding on it since it was put in months ago. The traffic is rather annoying to get through now, and some people use the bike lane to pass slow drivers.

    While I understand that having bike lanes is a good idea in some places, here in Texas, it is a terrible idea. It's just too hot and humid here.

  5. How can the US change though? How do we overcome the huge cultural and infrastructure challenges to make biking more appealing? Changing infrastructure is very expensive, and the main reason biking isn't as common is probably because it's not even a feasible form of transportation outside of cities.

    Take, for instance, the shear size of the country. Most US states are larger than a country like the Netherlands. That's an incredibly important reality to contend with. People don't drive cars because they're lazy and stupid, they drive them because in most areas it's the only reasonable form of transportation. Where I grew, it would take 15 minutes to drive to the nearest grocery store. That's about an hour long bike ride and over 2 hours to walk. So first we have to accept that this is a city specific issue.

  6. I moved from Minnesota to Breda, NL and loved the bicycling infrastructure there. The Dutch even learned to accept my fat bikes. Then I moved to Paris. Not so much. Now I live in New Hampshire. Noting at all. Though I must say that New Hampshire has a lot of mountain biking opportunities scattered about everywhere. So while transport is not covered. Sport certainly is.

  7. Sometimes it can be downright terrifying when you get on a road with a limit over 25. Nothing like a large truck passing inches from your elbow at more than twice your speed.

  8. My commute is about an hour long, I'm going to wear lycra so i don't sweat through my work clothes. Cars and riding in traffic is predictable. It's the casual riders and the people on the paths that are staring at their phones or the ones who think the path was built just for them and zig zag all over making it harder for others to pass. Also when you say "on your left" and their brain panics and can't figure out what that means and they have a body spasm trying to figure it out until their walking partner yanks them to the right.

  9. The street I live on was recently re-paved. There used to be bike lanes but now there’s just dotted lines that most drivers don’t notice. Also a lot of bike lanes go through bus stops, which is very dangerous.

  10. I live in Cary North Carolina, the tobacco trail runs through here. It is a giant trail some paved some not that runs through forests, over lakes, roads, etc. And our town went a step further with the greenway system. They are large paved sidewalks at least 6 feet wide where bikers and pedestrians can easily share a space. They connect almost every neighborhood (my town has like 15 in a 5 mile radius…), go through short forested areas, run underneath roads (perpendicular to road), go around the Cary Park Lake, runs by schools and by shopping centers. It allows you to bike safely to stores or take a scenic ride through forests, lakes, and creeks. Also great spots for treehouses.

  11. Dude, I'm in Spokane, WA, and we got this one, like half-block (okay, maybe more like 3/4) bridge over I-90, where the bike lane is suddenly in the middle of the fucking road, and then it transitions across a 4-way back to the shoulder… I swear, the real problem is that the planners want to get these oil-skulled fucks pissed off at the cyclists for riding like they've been basically forced to, and then blame us for wanting bike lanes at all! Don't believe me? 3 words: driving-bike-parking-curb.

  12. As a cyclist and a pure blooded American. I cycle for recreation and exercise not for transportation or to save the environment. I cycled home from work on several occasions, and it sucked butt. As Americans we drive for convenience, for freedom, and because we can. I love to ride, but I will never ride purely for transportation.

  13. And this is what cycling infrastructure looks like on the Atlantic Coast (Philadelphia)… https://twitter.com/i/status/1013807676399214592

  14. I have had more than a few cars driving at speeds over 50 MPH swerve at me because they think it's funny! Riding in the US has a long ways to go, and until we get there wear a helmet all the time!!!

  15. been hit twice by cars. I'm scared shitless riding in the street. My girl and i went for a bike ride last week. I was so scared I don't think she will ever ask me to go again 🙁

  16. Also the majority of people in US are overweighted, so they don't have the physical condition to ride a bike. (which is sad)

  17. That's why people travel to Netherlands to do biking. Samething in Canada …it's really not safe. People are living far from work and they need to transit 20-30 km every morning and evening. Be stuck behind a bicycle is really annoying. There is no space between the pedestrian and the road. I find people cycling in the traffic are pretty crazy or really like to live dangerously. And most of north american prefer suv so it's no gona be easier for the bike.

  18. America was designed from the ground up to sell cars and promote consumption . It's why we (rather they) oppose environmental regulations or anything that resembles sustainable living as it's against the status quo's profits. Americans have never known anything different so they don't even understand that this lifestyle is literally killing us and driving us into poverty.

  19. I agree with several of your criticisms of US cycling. However as a full time transportational cyclist in the US with extensive experience cycling in San Francisco, Berkeley, Boston, Miami and several smaller towns (like Davis), I disagree with the sentiment of separating cyclists from road traffic. The cycling laws here are well thought out and work well when followed by both motorists and cyclists. The biggest issue for cyclists here is the attitude of motor vehicle operators that roads are for cars, and that bikes don't belong on them and should stay out of their way. Separating cyclists reinforces that illegal and dangerous belief. Dedicated bike lanes that follow the same direction as the car lane and that allow easy access to the road lane by cyclists are helpful (but not necessary). Separate lanes that don't follow the direction of traffic are not. They make crossing intersections dangerous. They make turns impractical, they make cyclists less prominent to motorists (and as mentioned they further the attitude of many motorists that traffic should only consist of motor vehicles). If it were to become normalized that cycling requires dedicated infrastructure then cycling would become greatly restricted. It is impractical and dangerous to expect dedicated cycling infrastructure. It's expensive and physically impossible. As a cyclist I deserve to ride where I need and want to. The only thing I need is for motorists to understand the laws, my rights and have an attitude of cooperation (which in general they do). The problems I encounter stem from the lack of adhering to the law.

  20. Lmfao forget the USA man Canada is like a War zone for Cycling, there is literally any cycling infrastructure on the roads lol. Anyone who rides a Carbon bike only rides it on the weekends lol they are too afraid to ride it everyday with these monster Pickup Trucks on the roads .

  21. Cycling here in the U.S. is super scary, you have to have balls of steel if you are using your bicycle for daily commute and as your main method of transportation. I actually had 3 kids in a car chase me once, they even stopped and tried to ambush me. They eventually did hit me with their car. I was very lucky to have survived that night. They were never caught.

  22. Bicycles need to stay off of the road unless they're going to be required to carry liability insurance and follow the traffic laws.

  23. Me and about 20 other kids bike to school about 2 miles. One got hit by a car. Now our school banned bicycles on campus.( it’s a high school) so now I need to walk 40 minutes instead of biking for ten. Yay safety

  24. This makes me want to move to Copenhagen :(. Here, if you are cycling in lycra on a racing bike, you are seen as crazy. If you are in regular clothes on a normal bike, you are seen as poor or someone with a D.U.I. It's really sad.

  25. Plastic posts between the road and the bike lane are the dumbest thing ever. I've cycled in the Netherlands and the advantages of their "bikeways" are grossly exaggerated, especially considering the difference in density between between European and N. American cities. Sure, you maybe you can afford to trundle along at 10 km/h like a Dutch cyclist when riding in a Dutch city, but in N. America it'll take you forever to get anywhere.

  26. You forgot to mention that Americans on bicycles are no different than Americans in cars – obnoxious, self-entitled, profane fools.

  27. Many people have long commutes here in the US. My commute to my school is a 1 hour drive, work is two hours. I cycle as a form of exercise in the morning, which is why you see the competitive racing. We do not have a developed system because most people have to drive or take public transportation. Why don’t we live near our work or school? This has to do with affordable housing. San Francisco costs on average 1 million dollars for a flat. The suburbs in the greater Bay Area will cost you significantly less. Now squeeze 40 million people fighting for livable pay and affordable housing in just one of our states.

  28. … well my dear man, cycling in the US is a novelty/exercise and not a culture… even with bike lanes locals will just as soon ride where they please and with a proprietary attitude… responsibility for their safety is what the motorist is expected bear… that is the message they are taught.

  29. Underwhelming. So protected bikes good, riding a bike along with vehicular traffic bad. Got it

    What else you want to tell us? How about the changes ongoing to incorporate cycling and pedestrian safety in various American cities? How's your experience cycling on the open road in the countryside, where you had some scenes? No comment or contrast on cycling or commuting in the Netherlands for comparison?

  30. its hard to ride bikes in America and some cities it's difficult because the streets can be friendly but the people driving the cars are not the ones driving but I will also say that some bike riders are not bike to street ready and ride aradick I would love to ride the Netherlands because it looks so much friendlier there

  31. Compared to what??? Anyone can talk about the negatives of another country, so let's see some examples of the way your country does it so we can make the proper tweaks… It's not like we don't want to improve safety.

  32. One of the reasons I love the Netherlands is they care about the environment, there are less cars there. The entire world should take them as an example. But when I move there, I'll ride my mountain bike. Can't see myself on one of those old school bikes.

  33. A bit of a problem with Chicago, we don't have the time,the people and the supporting infanstructure to withstand the bike lane with curbs.

  34. It's as bad in the UK, carcentric. We have cycleways (Sustrans organisation) so its better than the US. But we have white painted dedicated cycle lanes on main roads where car drivers free park on, you cringe hopeing not to get 'doored'. Also the UK doesnt see many female cyclist, so you can get hassle out of car windows. I would love to visit the Neth's on my bike.

  35. Funny enough, the only accident I had so far was on the bike lane, caused by a group of dutch pedestrians occupying the entire lane and a dutch cyclist who wouldn't care about others on a bicycle («I'm on a bike, I'm allowed to be here» – and that's all that matters to him). And after my bike went to the ground, only one of them apologised; all the others couldn't care less. This happened in my hometown: Lisbon. Greetings from Portugal!

  36. They all look vulnerable. Its like watching a gazelle strolling by a quiet savannah. Bad things can happen anytime.

  37. In the us
    Driving= cycling in europe (used for short distances)
    Cycling= walking in europe
    (Around the block only)
    Walking= crawling in europe
    (Really short trips during special circumstances) lol

  38. We in the USA too often think we are hot shit and really know how to do things the best way.
    Many will call it arrogance.
    Seems true to me too.

  39. Spend a small fortune on your bike. Then a helmet. I don't wear helmets and never will. All kinds of bike accessories. Then share the roads with the nuts in there cars. Now that's insane !

  40. Poor usa cyclist, i really pitty them :'( . As a dutchman I may thank God our just the destiny that I was born in the Netherlands.

  41. You should also make video on cycling in India. Cycling in Indian city traffic is a nightmare. The fellow car and motorcycle riders do not respect the cyclist. The pollution level in the Indian cities has risen to alarming levels. If the citizens decide to adopt cycling as a way of commuting the pollution level can be reduced. But we need good cycles with reasonable cost, good cycling lanes(free from encroachment), traffic rules ensuring safety of cyclist, and awareness on large scale.

  42. In Puerto Rico is almost inexistent. I’ve been commuting to work in bike for more than 10 years. I am almost alone.

  43. Often, and as seen in several similar posts, simplistic comparison between how bad things are in the USA versus how great things are in some tiny country elsewhere in Europe are meaningless. The sheer size of the US, it's spread out cities and suburbs makes it impractical to build lots of mass transit or use bicycles to get from A to B. Like from home to work, drop off pick up kids – many are doing a 100 mile round trip for these activities everyday! Bikes just don't fit into this scheme. Not that no one cares about kids dying – everyone does. Often it is forgotten that going from one country to another, as in diverting a flight from France to Germany is like going from Illinois to Indiana, or Michigan to Ohio – 30 mins away. In Europe these distances are more easily covered and this is also why not too long ago those German tanks just rolled into France and Poland. They hardly had to travel much – remember? How the 100 year old infrastructure has evolved is due to geographical reasons and shaped cultural ideas of transportation, convenience. Hence the trucking industry in USA. Not brilliant to many, but it just works. No great conspiracy here either. No one is stupid as some of the comments would like to point out – usually in favour of these other tiny countries versus the USA. Different solutions for different applications.

  44. This is what cycling is like here in Ireland. Stressful and unsafe. We are 50 to 60 years behind places like Netherlands.

  45. I ❤️ the bike vids from this channel! First off, there is NO comparison with any place outside the NL & DK, but not long ago they weren’t so different. This vid seems overly negative & mainly criticizes instead of making suggestions. Other factors play a part in our dependency on the car. Vast land, extreme sprawl, culture, etc. NL is a very small country with old, compact cities and using the bike for transportation has ALWAYS been more popular in your culture there based on your other videos. For a car crazy culture like we have, many larger cities have actually made a lot of progress with installing safe, practical cycling infrastructure. Certain cities are so sprawling, it makes it very difficult to be able to rely on cycling. But hopefully those cities will work on making more compact cities starting from the core outward. It’s not really fair to compare the US to the Netherlands in regards to cycling infrastructure because other factors come into play. It seems like the commentator would criticize anything here in regards to cycling versus making suggestions or giving the US any credit for the progress we have made. And you left out one of the most bike friendly city in North America: Portland……..and other US cities that have more extensive bike infrastructure. Guess you focused on the cities to back up your views and to make your point.

  46. Why didn’t you also include the city with the safest, most advanced/extensive bike network in North America (Portland, OR)!?? They have wide, protected lanes, trails, cycling bridges, the special bike traffic signals, bike policies in place, etc. And there are also other cities in America that have better cycling options than some of the places featured in this video.

  47. It’s important that people watch this video to get an accurate view in regards to certain American cities that are focusing on cycling infrastructure. This video is about cycling options in Portland, Oregon, USA.

    https://youtu.be/XZLwvbLea1o

  48. I cycle regularly in a UK city and the UK'S attitude towards cyclists is disgusting. People are regularly getting mained and killed on the roads yet the media and general population view cyclists as the problem.

  49. An interesting fact about US. I thought cycling in the US is safety enough. After viewing this fact, it similar in Indonesia LOL

  50. I was in Amsterdam 2 weeks ago. Let me just say it was much more relaxing being around lots of bikes than lots of cars.

  51. I was in Mannheim, Germany for two years in the mid1950's and bought a bicycle there to travel around Mannheim. It was a wonderful experience! Now I'm an old guy in my 80's and recently bought an electric bicycle to travel around my area in Southern California about 60 miles NE of Palm Springs on the Mojave Desert. The bike trails and safe passage on the paved roads is a rare commodity in my area. Most of the paved roads don't even have any shoulders on them. Well, at least there are a lot of horse trails on the sand around my home where I can bike. Riding on soft sand takes practice, and I'm still learning that skill. I don't really have the bravery to travel the paved roads where I'm totally at the mercy of anyone driving a 2 or 3 thousand pound speeding vehicle while texting on his/her IPhone.

  52. FWIW, various U.S. cities, counties, and state DoTs slowly adopting Vision Zero goals. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vision_Zero

  53. Maybe useless ephemeral feel-good sharrows paint better than nothing? Indeed, striped bike lane not a very serious commitment; painted colored bike lanes a little more so, bollard separation a notch better, but still no Dutch cycle track. As others have commented, A/B comparison with similar Dutch city would have been quite helpful. BTW, Streetfilms has various interesting cycling videos: https://www.youtube.com/user/StreetfilmsCommunity

  54. I realize Copenhagen <> Netherlands, but sharing Streetfilms video of US perspective on Copenhagen cycling: https://youtu.be/vyrTx9SXkVI

  55. Most of the US completely lacks proper bicycle infrastructure which in turn makes people less likely to ride. I do feel that some municipalities are starting to wake up and see the benefits of more people on bikes.

  56. You should come to Bucharest to see the traffic here. 12.5 km from home to work feels like I am going thru an obstacle course

  57. Yo vivo en sacramento california y no hay muchos lugares para ir y andar en visi me sorprendo como en hollanda ay tantos caminos por dokier para ir en visi ademas la gente se ve educada saludos desde Sacramento California

  58. It's America – the home of the automobile.
    If you don't like it, get back to the Netherlands!
    Making America Great Again!

  59. Every city should encourage bicycle use by creating protected bike lanes for travel..
    Bicycles are emission free and no noise. Ride a bicycle to work, school or for fun.

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