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Benefits of cycling
Why the Dutch ride bikes

Why the Dutch ride bikes

The Netherlands is the bicycle capital of the world. The Dutch make 4.5 billion trips by bicycle each year. And each cyclist travels an average of 878 kms annually. 84% of the population has at least one bicycle. This includes men, women, young, old, rich and poor. This system is so efficient that in urban centres, trips made by bicycle are on average 5% faster than the same trips made by car. For a healthy population this is great because this form of transportation is free. It also provides freedom and accessibility and it offers an important means of exercise, with studies showing reductions in illnesses such as heart disease, diabetes and depression. Cycling also promotes social capital and belonging because it fosters interaction between people and their built environment. These are interactions that don’t seem to take place in the same way from the seat of a car. This begs the question, how did the Dutch keep their cycling
culture alive while so many other countries lost theirs? Many people think the Dutch cycle just because they have designated bike lanes or because the country is so incredibly flat. Sure, these play a significant role, but maybe the most important reason for the Dutch cycling culture is actually overlooked. Bicycles were a major means of transportation up until the 1940s, but in the years following WWII road networks and highways were constructed across the Netherlands welcoming the age of the automobile. Dutch city planners approved routes for expressways leading directly into city centres to facilitate traffic, and in Amsterdam, demolition crews cleared large swathes of historic neighbourhoods to make room for intercity highways. This is how the public reacted— A battle erupted between the government and the public over the construction of this automobile infrastructure and the increasing danger caused by cars for both cyclists and pedestrians and especially for children. After years of protest, the
public eventually won and construction of urban highways ended. Politicians finally realized the important role that cycling had in society. During all this chaos in the streets a quieter victory was also taking place. In the halls of power laws were passed that banned big box stores from being built on the outskirts of town. This seemingly small land use policy had a huge implication on the future of the country. Now development was pushed into city centres, and small-scale supermarkets and retail stores sprung up in most neighbourhoods. As urban density increased car ownership was optional, not mandatory because people could easily access all their basic needs by foot or bicycle. The real lesson here for all the cities across the world trying to develop a similar bicycle culture is change requires two elements— a dedicated public outcry and forward-thinking policy. While protesters are an important catalyst for change the paper-pushing bureaucrats remain the true unsung heroes. So I’ll take this moment to give a well-deserved thank you to those protesters and paper pushers who unknowingly made the Netherlands such an accessible, healthy and open society. You left a pretty great legacy.

78 comments on “Why the Dutch ride bikes

  1. It also helps that distances in the Netherlands are quite a bit smaller than in many other countries. The country is smaller and much more densely populated. So often times its just faster on a bike than by car.

  2. Great video!!  and Key factors:
    – Ban of big box stores on the suburbs
    -Small engines policy
    -City centers development
    -Urban density.

    Thanks for this great video again
    Regards from Mexico

  3. Nice to see and hear other's opinions about "our" cycling-culture ! For "us" Dutch peeps its as normal as going to the toilet … 🙂

    Born on a bike, and probably beëing buried on one as well .. (Y)

    Greets, thanks and ride with pride !

  4. Americans telling us why we ride bikes. LOL. Btw. you can't narrow something down just based on Amsterdam. And the city centre theory doesn't also fit everywhere. Besides, we could just cycle to the a mall. I think it is a cultural thing, we learn to ride bikes at a young age and it is stimulated by schools. + it is a fast means of transportation and it saves time take the bike then to take the care and search for a park space for hours in highly populated areas.

  5. It's fucking cheap, healthy. No mountains or shit soo why not! and a bike is small so you can go more ways than a car can and its much faster than walking. And we all now cars aren't goodXD

  6. My work is about 12 km from where I live. So I cycle that distance twice a day for 5 days a week. On my way home I do my shopping at the supermarket. I only take the bus, which I almost hate, is when it's dangerously slippery in winter. I also cycle when it rains and strorms. I use the bike for visiting friends, shopping in the centre, going to the theater, cinema etc. too. I thought I was not having no exercise whatsoever coz I don't do any sport.

     Till a physiotherapist told me I was having more of that than the avarage sport school visitor based on 3 times a week for an hour.

    The reason why I had that (totally wrong) idea about myself is that cycling here in the Netherlands is so normal that's not worth any mentioning.

    I was really suprised when an Engish couple we are friends with, were totally shocked when I told them that I, like most other Dutch mothers to be, was still cycling around the day before our children were born and I took the bike to go and see the midwife till the very last time before their births.

  7. So interesting. Well done. Really like this style of videos. I recently did a video on how to ride a Dutch bike.

  8. I'm Dutch, I am 40 years old and I have never owned a car. I cycle to work every day (13 km one way trip), also when the weather is bad, and only use public transport for longer trips. The few times I need a car I rent one (e.g., when buying building materials at a DIY store, but for that I am looking into a bike trailer). I simply don't need a car, and if I owned one it would be rusting away, unused, in the parking lot.

  9. The country is flat alright, but it's always windy. I would rather have a hill that is always there and at some point you're going down and it's over – instead of the wind that's just there all the time, turns and twists, makes you sweat and delays your trip… This thing needs to be clear in the world: The Netherlands is very WINDY which is worse than hilly!

  10. Oh, and nice videos you make! You know the book City Of Bikes? Every child here in The Netherlands learns how to do just about anything while on a bike. I can bike backwards! And I can lift my back tire while biking 🙂 I'm 40 and my only transport is a bicycle, I don't have a car but a huge box on the front (which keeps pointing straight while i make turns). I think I make about 6000 km per year.

  11. The whole bicycle thing is pretty nice. But when it's raining I just f*cking hate having to step outside. And in the winter going on a bicycle is like a dead trap.You just step out the house thinking: Well I DO wonder which limb I'll brake today!

  12. 2:10 that sign saying "stop kindermoord" is not part of the subject, translated that says "stop childmurder" xD

    And yes, here in the Netherlands it's a lot saver for riding your bike. Better rules, no idiots trying to proof they are better and need to go first because they are in a car (well, few exceptions), separate bike lanes and on school education how to ride your bike safely on the streets. Yes you actually have lessons on school that teach you some basic traffic laws, signs and how to control your bike. All that, plus more, is key to having a healthy bike system in a country.

  13. Why Dutch people cycle?

    Because we don't have school buses, the law says we have to go to school till 18,
    We can only get a drivers license when we're 18.
    So we're actually just forced to cycle approximately 30 minutes to go to school. sun, rain or snow.

  14. I`m Dutch. I ride my bike everywhere. Started when i was 4/5/6 years old on a small child`s bike, cant remember not riding a bike. I am 30 years old now. Rarely use a car and only if i can`t avoid it. Always walking or cycling. Only realised this was rare by watching dutch cycling videos made abroad. Be smart and promote cycling in your own country for health, freedom and avoid using a car to get where you want to go.

  15. But now I am 16 and I only go on the bike in the summer in the winter I am going to school with the bus because it's to cold for me

  16. I am Dutch and I think we keep our culture bc we are proud of it(not in an arrogant way). I think it's one of the reasons too

  17. we use bikes cuz we arent old enough and when we are we dont have the money for the driver license we are poor XD JK

  18. Haha it's so funny to see that people really ae wondering why we Netherlanders cycle so much….like the video says the history and stuff but that's everything…we also cycle a lot because we really have to know how to cycle….it's part of our life.we begin mostly at the age of 5,6 or even sometimes 4…woowwhy because at that age you need to learn to ride to school mostly with mom or dad or both.later when you get older your parents let you go alone or with your younger brother and sister.we also got a exam for cycling.when you go to high school your alone or with friends and then it all ribe every day to school (the most of us) if it rains or snows or extremely hot you keep cycling to your sport or hobby's clubs' etc.later you got your work so you mostly learn more about riding at night time or when your tired but still you keep riding.why?we all just got a bike and we all want to go some else and the bike/ cycle is the only option if your under 16 (age).we don't really like scooters' because the most of them are younger people who don't listen to the rules.and a car is available at 18 (age) and even when you got a car you keep cycling to the store or keep cycling to you friends.because after all these years of cycling you can cycle more than 100 miles.we are a country who learns , keep cycling until  the end and why because we can …..and don't know anything better.bam explanation…..from Netherland.

  19. I've hated commuting to work by auto nearly every day of the last 37 years since leaving the convenience of a city due to a job relocation. Wish we had safer avenues for bikes around here, I'd love to use mine more often.

  20. You do know that the protest you showed was about the metro line in Amsterdam right? Not about highways? The line "Geen buizen maar huizen" is about the metro tunnels below the city centre of Amsterdam. But great video. 😀

  21. Yes they ride those ugly bikes because it´s all plain wherever you go: I want to see them riding those ugly stupid bikes here where i live and using it daily. So: BULSHIT

  22. The Netherlands isn't the triumph you make it out to be: cyclists are BANNED from many roads, instead obliged to use cobbled cycle paths that are narrow and crowded. Hard to get moving on a bike there. Frankly 878km/year is very little (~3km/day) Meanwhile, the motorists enjoy immaculate smooth asphalt everywhere on a network of motorways. And good luck with crossing the road in towns which are effectively cycle priority. So no. To be imitated only with very large pinch of salt.

  23. I am from the Netherlands and the only reason why I cycle is because my school is 11 kilometers from my home and there are no busses.

  24. we ride bikes so much, cuz our land is just small and almost everything (schools, shops, etcetera) is within 30 minutes travelling

  25. Woah woah woah.. bike trips are FREE!?
    Sure, I got my bike for free (not counting all the money I paid), maintenance is free (again, not counting the money it costs).

  26. I am a little shocked. If a bike has gears there is no problem with wind or hills. ,,Hipster bike'': should be standard in a not too bare bone version. Bikes at the trainstation do fill up.

  27. 2:15 story of fucking eastern europe. in my city we got huge malls with huge parking lots and parking houses. and the only small stores are cellar stores that thrive on selling alcohol and little else.
    every day I commute to work on a bicycle and I see hundreds of cars and perhaps two cyclists. with the current weather anyway.

    also bicycle holders everywhere are ones where you stick your front wheel into.

  28. Nice video.
    You're forgetting one other important factor in this though:
    The oil crises of the 70s.
    The government banned cars on sunday's for a long time so riding bikes got a big boost.

  29. I am very limited as a cyclist in Austria. The differences in altitude are too great, I usually stay in the valley. In addition to that, pick a wrong day and the wind pushes you back to your origin 😉

  30. Dude, God bless your channel! =) You produce content that's just a bliss to watch, very tastefully put together. Thanks!

  31. I like this video, but wish it didn't have that song playing in the background. I am pretty sure the only lyric is s**t, which means I can't use this with my young students. Can you please post a version without the song?

  32. The riots in the video were not about demolition in order to build roads for cars, the houses were torn down to construct a subway…

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