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Old 06-28-13, 03:39 PM   #1
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Dutch perspective on cycling in the US

Thought this was worth sharing. I've never been to the Netherlands. I fear I'd never want to return.
(Oh, and thanks to the League of Michigan Cyclists for sharing this)
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Old 06-28-13, 06:10 PM   #2
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So, he hates anyone riding with any speed, likes infrastructure that slows cyclists down and is lycraphobic. I guess that would be a fine attitude in a place where the typical trip length by bike is measured in mere meters, but when one has miles to go speed matters. It was pretty funny that he couldn't actually show anyone riding fast while complaining that people were riding too fast for his tastes.

Why do the cycletrackistas insist that there is only one way to use a bike and that is the way they confine themselves to?
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Old 06-28-13, 06:21 PM   #3
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Dont see any "hate" anywhere . . . Just his observations.
I agree with his opinions.
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Old 06-28-13, 07:11 PM   #4
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Dont see any "hate" anywhere . . . Just his observations.
I agree with his opinions.
He did have one thing mostly right, sharrows are mostly useless. The rest of it is garbage.
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Old 06-28-13, 07:30 PM   #5
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Hey thanks for posting this link!

Really interesting to hear the Dutch perspective. I worked in Rotterdam for a while and rode all over the city as well as to Delft, Amsterdam and The Hague on some pretty extraordinary infrastructure. Yeah, the Dutch don't ride all that fast. They often looked at me like I was crazy for moving at the pace i was. Part of it is they don't wear cycling specific clothing so they don't want to work up much more of a sweat than they might at a fast walk- makes sense. But some of the Dutch do ride substantial distances on their commutes- easily measured in kilometers not meters but again at a moderate pace. I seldom saw anyone wearing a helmet. In fact, I, who wear a helmet consistently when I ride here in the US, rode without a helmet. I seldom wear cycling specific clothing, other than my Austin Keen's on my commutes so that was not much of a departure.

I ran into some Dutch cyclists in Boston one summer and they were touring the city on rental bikes. I was surprised they were wearing helmets and asked if they wore them at home. Their response was, "We don't need them in the Netherlands but riding in America is terrifying." Oddly enough on a ride to Delft I saw a female cyclist get hit by a van as she crossed a small cobblestoned bridge. She was side swiped at a very slow pace and hit her head hard on the stones. She was knocked unconscious.


The Dutch were amazingly efficient. An ambulance arrived in minutes. The driver was arrested, the scene photographed, the bike taken away in a police van and the cobblestones hosed down and everything returned to bliss within a half hour.
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Old 06-28-13, 08:08 PM   #6
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I quit watching after about 90 seconds. So he hates how we ride, hates our clothes, etc, etc, etc. Not sure what the purpose of the vid is. The US is not going to turn into the Netherlands. Especially liked his disparaging remark about people driving with bikes on their cars, like he knew they were only going a few miles to a ride. Maybe the rest of the vid is worthwile. What I saw was garbage.
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Old 06-28-13, 08:25 PM   #7
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What a judgmental prat. That is all.
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Old 06-28-13, 09:39 PM   #8
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Maybe Im missing something, but the context Im hearing is his observations as a non-American.
I also dont worry about making time when I commute, so like him, I agree with a lot of what he says.
But, I can see where my/his perspective might be very different than and ardent advocate and someone
who really dials it up when they commute.

When I lived in Vermont, I just happened across a group of three older gentlemen who were from Holland, on a backroad
used mainly for farming. they asked me If I could point them to Brandon so I replied "just follow me", that was where I was going.
Like the guy in the vid, they were in no hurry at all! Stopping to argue with each other and eat candy a few times along the way, it was a looooong 12 miles
Fun ride!
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Old 06-28-13, 10:11 PM   #9
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He did have one thing mostly right, sharrows are mostly useless. The rest of it is garbage.

Too bad, sharrows are my favorite of on road cycling infrastructures.
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Old 06-28-13, 10:31 PM   #10
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Too bad, sharrows are my favorite of on road cycling infrastructures.
Since sharrows are nothing more than a mark indicating that the lane in question is too narrow to share, they make no functional difference to the cyclist. Do you like them because you think they might encourage better behavior from motorists? If so, do you think that improved behavior is confined to the unshareable lanes with sharrow markings, or do you think they make the connection to other lanes of similar widths? Do you think they encourage some cyclists to get out of the gutter?

I don't have a problem with sharrow markings, but they seem a bit like the signs at some intersections reminding motorists to yield to pedestrians in a crosswalk. Aren't people supposed to know these sort of things before they get a license?
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Old 06-28-13, 11:28 PM   #11
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Since sharrows are nothing more than a mark indicating that the lane in question is too narrow to share, they make no functional difference to the cyclist. Do you like them because you think they might encourage better behavior from motorists? If so, do you think that improved behavior is confined to the unshareable lanes with sharrow markings, or do you think they make the connection to other lanes of similar widths? Do you think they encourage some cyclists to get out of the gutter?

I don't have a problem with sharrow markings, but they seem a bit like the signs at some intersections reminding motorists to yield to pedestrians in a crosswalk. Aren't people supposed to know these sort of things before they get a license?
I like sharrows because the section of roadway where they are positioned is continually swept clean of debris, and if parked vehicles are present, I've found that motorists are less confrontational when I take the lane than when there is a DBZL present, plus I've also noticed that local motorists are more apt to stay well to the left of the sharrow marking, even though I'm well to the right of the marking.

Added note: Our sharrow markings are centered 11 ft from the curb, with the exception at some intersections where they are positioned, for some unknown reason, at 5 to 6 feet from the curb.

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Old 06-29-13, 05:59 AM   #12
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The problem with sharrows is what their absence implies.
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Old 06-29-13, 06:42 AM   #13
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I don't see where the Dutchman indicated any hatred for Lycra, strapping our bikes to our cars, sharrows, going fast, etc. He merely pointed out the differences between US biking vs NL biking.
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Old 06-29-13, 06:48 AM   #14
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I don't see where the Dutchman indicated any hatred for Lycra, strapping our bikes to our cars, sharrows, going fast, etc. He merely pointed out the differences between US biking vs NL biking.

The puppy kicking regulars feel a need to slam anything that is not them. Of course he isnt hating on anything, but since its another viewpoint, it requires being ridiculed. With all the changes BF is going through right now, another one to consider would be renaming this forum "The EBD Room".
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Old 06-29-13, 07:11 AM   #15
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His point of "I hardly saw any specific cycling infra... which is probably why some people choose to ride in lycra and helmets" seems a bit weak - I don't think there's any correlation between infrastructure and lycra, and in plenty of places with lots of cycling infrastructure (i.e. Sweden), helmet use is high.

And while he didn't expressly indicate hatred for lycra, helmets, and going fast, he did make it seem like "going from A to B" requires one to not use/do any of those.
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Old 06-29-13, 07:30 AM   #16
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So, he hates anyone riding with any speed, likes infrastructure that slows cyclists down and is lycraphobic. I guess that would be a fine attitude in a place where the typical trip length by bike is measured in mere meters, but when one has miles to go speed matters. It was pretty funny that he couldn't actually show anyone riding fast while complaining that people were riding too fast for his tastes.

Why do the cycletrackistas insist that there is only one way to use a bike and that is the way they confine themselves to?
Because damn near everybody does; that's what A&S wallows in, and other subforums fail to avoid -- "this is what my experience is, you need to do it my way, or you're not the rider I am". THAT'S what happens...because it's human nature, and takes conscious effort to avoid. (And even then, it's nbot always successful.)
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Old 06-29-13, 11:02 AM   #17
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I don't see where the Dutchman indicated any hatred for Lycra, strapping our bikes to our cars, sharrows, going fast, etc. He merely pointed out the differences between US biking vs NL biking.

Agreed. And rather ironic that some, who will post for pages condemning Dutch infrastructure, have so little tolerance of a few minutes of video where a Dutch cyclist points out the differences between cycling in their own country as opposed to the US. Having ridden in both places his observations seem understandable and fairly accurate to me.

I have some appreciation for a sharrow but would hardly describe it as "infrastructure" it is basically an "accommodation" at best. His observations about Lycra are understandable when one comes from a country where Lycra is reserved for sport or racing and seldom for every day use. But then I've seen people "jogging" in Europe in street clothes. It's a pretty American predeliction to don specialized clothing for such activities. And when exercise is incorporated into every day life, as it is in the Netherlands where people walk and bicycle at such a high rate, setting aside time to "work out" seems redundant.

I was an active "club rider" in the early 70's but was astounded at how people would pack their bikes on their cars, drive 25 miles and then take their bike off the car and ride 25 miles, then put the bike back on the car and drive home. I was pretty committed to riding to most every group ride or, at the very least car pooling with as many other riders as possible. I'm much more of a solo rider these days but still will rack up long miles to meet a group for a ride rather than take the car. in the Nethlands, bikes on trains is much more accepted and accommodated (its growing in acceptance here) and riding to the station putting the bike on a train and riding off from another station is a better option in my opinion. But again, it's a very American trait to see cycling as a sport to be seperated from the activities of every day life and very American to connect everything to the automobile, including our bike riding.
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Old 06-29-13, 11:36 AM   #18
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I love the part about not wearing helmets at home. Do they skip seat belts as well?

Yes, Davis is a great town for bikes. It's also tiny. It's not a city. It's also totally flat. Comparing to a big city is rather unfair.
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Old 06-29-13, 02:16 PM   #19
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I love the part about not wearing helmets at home. Do they skip seat belts as well?
One thing about the Dutch system of cycling infrastructure, as opposed to riding in the US, is that it certainly does feel safer (and statistically this is borne out) so the need for a helmet feels diminished. Personally, I prefer a helmet wherever and whenever I ride but I opted to go lidless in the Netherlands just because I didn't bring a helmet, they were expensive and not really " commuter" style helmets- and "when in Rome". But, as I mentioned in a previous post, I watched a Dutch cyclist get side swiped at slow speed on a narrow cobblestoned bridge and hit her head hard enough to be rendered unconscious, if not worse. It certainly heightened my awareness while I was there to not being too complacent despite the idyllic cycling conditions.
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Old 06-29-13, 02:44 PM   #20
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Dont see any "hate" anywhere . . . Just his observations.
I agree with his opinions.
Me, too.
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Old 06-29-13, 03:02 PM   #21
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Because damn near everybody does;

I could care less what a cyclist wears or what they ride. In fact, as far as I am concerned, the more idiosyncratic the bike or fashion statement the better. IMO, most of the judgment comes from a particular cycling clique that is overly concerned with the supposedly discouraging effects of lycra and/or bikes with drop bars.

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Old 06-29-13, 03:06 PM   #22
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is that it certainly does feel safer (and statistically this is borne out) so the need for a helmet feels diminished
studies of dutch hospital records by the german cycling federation showed that dutch cycling infrastructure is definitively not safer. (and yes there are far fewer *deaths* in both holland and germany, despite the fact that germany has categorically rejected dutch style infrastructure).
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Old 06-29-13, 03:22 PM   #23
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He does has many valid points and his bias is obvious. And that bias resulted in editing in some poor video choice to coincide with the narration. The guy in Davis on the road bike rides in lycra and a helmet because of the lack of cycling infrastructure? Looked like he was on a recreational ride. It "sometimes almost looks Dutch" to ride a BMX bike on sidewalks and across pedestrian crosswalks?
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Old 06-29-13, 03:25 PM   #24
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His observations about Lycra are understandable when one comes from a country where Lycra is reserved for sport or racing and seldom for every day use. But then I've seen people "jogging" in Europe in street clothes. It's a pretty American predeliction to don specialized clothing for such activities.
Ever heard of Lulemon or REI?
Sporty wear is not "specialized clothing", it is a common USAnian fashion. And I for one prefer the diversity of fashion in the USA to the conformism of northern europe.

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And when exercise is incorporated into every day life, as it is in the Netherlands where people walk and bicycle at such a high rate, setting aside time to "work out" seems redundant.
Since 40% of dutch people are now overweight, it seems to me that adopting a bit of USAnian style exercise cycling might be a positive thing.

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Old 06-29-13, 06:00 PM   #25
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He does has many valid points and his bias is obvious. And that bias resulted in editing in some poor video choice to coincide with the narration. The guy in Davis on the road bike rides in lycra and a helmet because of the lack of cycling infrastructure? Looked like he was on a recreational ride. It "sometimes almost looks Dutch" to ride a BMX bike on sidewalks and across pedestrian crosswalks?
The Dutchman thinks that America would be a better place if its cycling were done in the Dutch manner. That's an understandable view, but extremely parochial, and he evaluates American cycling as if it were being done in Holland, as by considering normal traffic cycling to be some form of racing. He does not understand why we do what we do, because he fails to understand the different conditions under which cycling is done in the two nations.

The lesson to be learned from this is that it is very necessary to avoid parochialism, particularly, for Americans, to avoid attempting to adopt Dutch parochial views about cycling in the expectation that such adoption will turn America into a Dutch-style paradise.
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