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Commuting tips from the Netherlands ;)

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Commuting tips from the Netherlands ;)

Old 07-22-08, 07:36 PM
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Love the nun pic the best. These people look like normal bike riders to me (maybe not the bike bar patrons).

I grew up riding along with my sister on a 3 speed powered by our dad. We rode to get food and dad rode on the Air Force base to get around when we were stationed in Japan. When I commuted in SoCal in the 70's I rode a commuter style bike in regular clothes. These photos look so normal to me. I do get a kick out of the road riders I see in their pretty racing gear. I've been living in rural areas with no pavement, so roadies are a novelty to me.
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Old 07-22-08, 07:52 PM
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Originally Posted by viplala
Hi and greetings from the Netherlands!

I was reading some of the posts in "Tips for new commuters" thread and couldn't help laughing
What a difference in biking culture: wear this, always carry that, that brand bike/messenger bag etc.

Here are some commuting tips from the country where just about everyone is born with a bicycle between his/her legs

Any 10-15 year old bike will be just fine. It should be not flashy/expensive or this will happen:


Maintenance. What maintenance? Yer ol' Batavus will cope with daily abuse just fine, squirt some WD40 or whatever happens to lie around when the creaking of the chain becomes too annoying and thats it, good enough for a decade or two.
Might work for you. Won't work for me.

My chainring, cassette, and chain will not survive my 150 mile-per-week Atlanta commute following your advice.

Laugh if you want, but you don't know much about many American commuting scenarios. You should not laugh at things you don't understand.



(I hope you're not suggesting a chain will last 10 - 20 years... )

Special biking clothes? Sorry, here in the southern US, the heat and humidity demand wicking fabric. Not like your northern European climate. I'd be one chaffed SOB wearing anything on my crotch but Lycra.

Happy trails!
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Last edited by LittleBigMan; 07-22-08 at 08:05 PM.
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Old 07-22-08, 08:59 PM
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Originally Posted by I-Like-To-Bike
Maybe someone else will chime in about the different size of The Netherlands vice the U.S. or Canada and how that explains the difference in the commuting environment. That's just as relevant as the elevations found in a city in Hawaii.
My "commuting environment" is every bit as relevant as the "commuting environment" in the Netherlands. Which is to say, neither is relevant to most other people.
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Old 07-22-08, 09:12 PM
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Originally Posted by capolover
Fail.
I'm not dictating anything.
I'm saying you don't NEED it physically to be comfortable. End of story.

I don't see how you could get a rash doing that little. Unless you ride on a saddle made for touring.... and that's just your fault.
You've decided for everyone that 20 miles is some magic number under which no one should need cycling shorts to be comfortable.

Check out some reviews of saddles online. For the same saddle you'll read about how one guy thinks it's the most comfortable thing he ever rode on while another guy will have found it complete torture. My point is that people are different.

There are many threads on these very forums about discomfort in the saddle and how to deal with it. If you go to an LBS you'll find all sorts of different saddles, gel seat covers, and other products designed (or at least marketed) to make riders more comfortable. Why? Because a lot of people get uncomfortable on a saddle after a while. And I'm guessing it doesn't take 20 miles. Actually, I know that for a lot of people it doesn't take 20 miles.

For me it all depends. The more intense the ride, the quicker I'll get uncomfortable in regular clothes. If I make sure to get out if the saddle a lot and mix the high intensity miles with enough low intensity miles, I can extend the range. But why? Why not just wear what helps me stay comfortable no matter how I decide to ride?
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Old 07-22-08, 09:33 PM
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Anybody notice how they have their saddle heights set properly (or at least close)? You don't see that around here.
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Old 07-22-08, 11:56 PM
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Originally Posted by viplala
Hi and greetings from the Netherlands!

I was reading some of the posts in "Tips for new commuters" thread and couldn't help laughing
What a difference in biking culture: wear this, always carry that, that brand bike/messenger bag etc.

Here are some commuting tips from the country where just about everyone is born with a bicycle between his/her legs

Any 10-15 year old bike will be just fine. It should be not flashy/expensive or this will happen:


Maintenance. What maintenance? Yer ol' Batavus will cope with daily abuse just fine, squirt some WD40 or whatever happens to lie around when the creaking of the chain becomes too annoying and thats it, good enough for a decade or two.
Back wheel has six missing spokes? No problem, that badly overweight friend/girlfriend can still get a ride on the rack..

Special biking clothes? You got to be kidding! Your three piece suit/high heeled Prada's will do fine. Take it easy, don't work up sweat. That way you will be sitting at your office desk sooner than that spandex-wearing, aggressively riding fanatic who has to shower/change clothes first. Not to mention that taking it easy is also a lot safer.




Those cheap Cheng Shin tyres (or "tires" as you say) will grip just fine:



You are a smoker? Why not save time and have one while on the bike?


Need that special messenger bag/backpack for some shopping? Nope, plastic bags from the supermarket will do.


Happy cycling!
South Texas says welcome. Glad you stopped by.Wish I could visit your country looks fun. I'd like to live in one of those little houseboats that are in the background of that bridge shot.
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Old 07-23-08, 01:16 AM
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Wouldn't that technically be DUI / DWI ? Do the guys by the rear have to push or just keep up when on the go?

Last edited by Hot Potato; 07-23-08 at 01:19 AM.
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Old 07-23-08, 01:32 AM
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Originally Posted by genec

Oh sure you can indeed go for a nice long ride in the country... and hey, you can do the same thing in Europe too... probably even see drop bar bikes and riders in lycra.... without helmets.
Exactly. And yet somehow they don't think everyone else is doing it wrong...
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Old 07-23-08, 01:33 AM
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Originally Posted by crhilton
Anybody notice how they have their saddle heights set properly (or at least close)? You don't see that around here.
I am told the kids there learn to ride bicycles very early on. So that may explain the proper saddle height adjustments.
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Old 07-23-08, 01:42 AM
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Originally Posted by viplala
You mean these?




U can get pissed as well, and yes, you do have to pedal:

Yes, thank you. Just love your pics.

Suse
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Old 07-23-08, 09:04 AM
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Originally Posted by tjspiel
You've decided for everyone that 20 miles is some magic number under which no one should need cycling shorts to be comfortable.

Check out some reviews of saddles online. For the same saddle you'll read about how one guy thinks it's the most comfortable thing he ever rode on while another guy will have found it complete torture. My point is that people are different.

There are many threads on these very forums about discomfort in the saddle and how to deal with it. If you go to an LBS you'll find all sorts of different saddles, gel seat covers, and other products designed (or at least marketed) to make riders more comfortable. Why? Because a lot of people get uncomfortable on a saddle after a while. And I'm guessing it doesn't take 20 miles. Actually, I know that for a lot of people it doesn't take 20 miles.

For me it all depends. The more intense the ride, the quicker I'll get uncomfortable in regular clothes. If I make sure to get out if the saddle a lot and mix the high intensity miles with enough low intensity miles, I can extend the range. But why? Why not just wear what helps me stay comfortable no matter how I decide to ride?
I Agree, you were telling everyone what should be appropriate (e.g. your random 20 mile number). It all varies by the person, terrain, speed, temperature, humidity, etc. I'm not about to throw on spandex for a 3 mile ride, but personally for 15 miles, wearing shorts with a chamois (even if it's under a normal pair of shorts) makes a world of difference for both comfort during the ride and after (i.e chaffing, soreness, and rashes in areas you'd rather not have chaffing, soreness, or rashes). Like any sport or activity, I like to wear what is comfortable and appropriate for that activity...and especially for biking, the right clothing can help keep ME from being uncomfortable or excessively sweaty.

But back to the point of the thread, bike commuting definitely varies by your location...where I live, it varies a lot simply by what side of town you're on (downtown vs. suburban hell area).
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Old 07-23-08, 09:12 AM
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Originally Posted by carlton
I'd like to live in one of those little houseboats that are in the background of that bridge shot.
The one with the Red Light on it?
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Old 07-23-08, 09:14 AM
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Originally Posted by eAspenwood
You can't ignore that our situations are very different though. Riding bikes in amsterdam is safe/easy/normal, while in the US (unless your somewhere special like portland or boulder) urban commuting requires you to be part dare-devil to put up with the terror and excitement of it all. No time to smoke a cigarrette while there's a bus, SUV mom, and an ugly intersection bearing down on me. So its quite a different experience here, and I think it comes through in our average choice of clothing and bikes. If commuting becomes more normal and safe here you will see what our average biker wears and rides change accordingly.

That all said, i do love me some amsterdam/copenhagen/stockholm. I hope we get a little closer to those biketopias.
+1

i'll continue eAspenwood's line of thinking about this, since we're both suffering the same summer in Texas. Yesterday was 102 at 6pm. I doubt the temp dropped below 90 before midnight. The humidity here in Austin was at least 70 percent and Houston is likely worse.

I'd like to wear my work clothes in, but as it is I can't even wear normal casual clothes like shorts and a cotton t-shirt. there are two reasons, and one of them is obvious -- in this heat and humidity, 20 minute sof riding and I'm soaking wet. Synthetic fabrics (or very lightweight merino wool) and lightweight clothing makes that part much better. The second reason is actually more important to my commuting -- I have to put those clothes back on at the end of my workday, and technical (or wool) fabrics dry during the day. Normal clothes don't.

I absolutely agree with the overriding sentiment, which is that bicycles are practical transportation and cycling of the commuting sort should be about practicality. To that end, and as an advocate-type, I do try not to give the impression that a bunch of stuff and money-spending is necessary just to ride one's bike to work. At the same time, I would have a few words of friendly, practical advice for anybody considering the commute from my office 6.6 miles uphill to my house in the 102 degree heat, 70% humidity at 6pm. The blue jeans are probably a bad idea...

Having said all that... I think the pics are dreamy, and we have a lot to learn from countries that have (for decades) planned their cities around human-powered transportation. I would move there in a second. Anybody have a job available in Amsterdam?
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Old 07-23-08, 09:19 AM
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Originally Posted by ok_commuter
+1

i'll continue eAspenwood's line of thinking about this, since we're both suffering the same summer in Texas. Yesterday was 102 at 6pm. I doubt the temp dropped below 90 before midnight. The humidity here in Austin was at least 70 percent and Houston is likely worse.

I'd like to wear my work clothes in, but as it is I can't even wear normal casual clothes like shorts and a cotton t-shirt. there are two reasons, and one of them is obvious -- in this heat and humidity, 20 minute sof riding and I'm soaking wet. Synthetic fabrics (or very lightweight merino wool) and lightweight clothing makes that part much better. The second reason is actually more important to my commuting -- I have to put those clothes back on at the end of my workday, and technical (or wool) fabrics dry during the day. Normal clothes don't.

I absolutely agree with the overriding sentiment, which is that bicycles are practical transportation and cycling of the commuting sort should be about practicality. To that end, and as an advocate-type, I do try not to give the impression that a bunch of stuff and money-spending is necessary just to ride one's bike to work. At the same time, I would have a few words of friendly, practical advice for anybody considering the commute from my office 6.6 miles uphill to my house in the 102 degree heat, 70% humidity at 6pm. The blue jeans are probably a bad idea...

Having said all that... I think the pics are dreamy, and we have a lot to learn from countries that have (for decades) planned their cities around human-powered transportation. I would move there in a second. Anybody have a job available in Amsterdam?
Great summary. +1,000 (from a guy in Houston)

And I'll take that AMS job too, so you have competition.
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Old 07-23-08, 01:45 PM
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Commuting in the US is different - much longer commutes with no public transportaion to fall back on for break downs and bad weather, and less tolorance for sweat and BO in the office. This situation requires different equipment.

Last edited by robmcl; 07-23-08 at 02:20 PM.
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Old 07-23-08, 02:59 PM
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Originally Posted by robmcl
Commuting in the US is different - much longer commutes with no public transportaion to fall back on for break downs and bad weather, and less tolorance for sweat and BO in the office. This situation requires different equipment.
Any references for the claim that average distance ridden bybicycle commuters in the U.S. is significently different than anywhere else. Not interested in anectdotes or the average distances covered by weekend club riders.
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Old 07-23-08, 03:27 PM
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Originally Posted by I-Like-To-Bike
Any references for the claim that average distance ridden bybicycle commuters in the U.S. is significently different than anywhere else. Not interested in anectdotes or the average distances covered by weekend club riders.
People live significantly further from work in the US than most other places.
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Old 07-23-08, 03:45 PM
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Originally Posted by I-Like-To-Bike
Any references for the claim that average distance ridden bybicycle commuters in the U.S. is significently different than anywhere else. Not interested in anectdotes or the average distances covered by weekend club riders.
I'm not sure such a statistic exists or if it would be useful. You're comparing one European city to a largish, non-homogeneous country.

Here's something:

"The Dutch own 18 million bikes, a little more than 1 bike per man, woman and child in the country. Around half the population rides a bike once a day. The average distance traveled by bike PER PERSON PER DAY was 2.5 kilometers (1.5 miles) in 2006, according to the Central Bureau for Statistics."

If I understand that correctly, the 2.5 k per day per person also includes the 50% of population that don't ride at all on a given day, so obviously 2.5 is a bit short. It also doesn't separate commutes from other trips and includes the whole country, -not just Amsterdam.


Other relevant statistics (to me anyway) would be population density. Chicago is a bit more densely populated than Amsterdam while Minneapolis is only about half as densely populated. Houston has about half the density of Minneapolis.

My theory is that in general, places with higher population densities (people less spread out) would have shorter commutes on average. But there are a whole lot of other variables of course including how the cities are laid out. I've worked in downtown Minneapolis at several locations for a couple of different organizations. In any office I've worked in, the majority of employees don't live in Minneapolis. How true is this in Amsterdam? I have no idea.

In my office, there's one regular commuter who commutes less than 3 miles. The rest of us regulars (about 9) are in the 5 to 10 mile range. A couple of folks who live in nearby suburbs (or St. Paul) commute once in a while and their commutes are in the 8 to 15 mile range.

Also worth noting is that there are plenty (a majority in fact) of people in Minneapolis who don't commute in spandex. In my office anyway the ones that do are the ones who ride the longer distances.

Sorry, I know a lot of that is anecdotal, but it's all I've got.
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Old 07-23-08, 03:59 PM
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The Bicycle Bar.

Drinking AND Bicycling at the same time... legally!


I'm going to build one of those, but keep it simple. Pub bike built for one person.
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Old 07-23-08, 04:53 PM
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Originally Posted by tjspiel
I'm not sure such a statistic exists or if it would be useful. You're comparing one European city to a largish, non-homogeneous country.

Here's something:

"The Dutch own 18 million bikes, a little more than 1 bike per man, woman and child in the country. Around half the population rides a bike once a day. The average distance traveled by bike PER PERSON PER DAY was 2.5 kilometers (1.5 miles) in 2006, according to the Central Bureau for Statistics."

If I understand that correctly, the 2.5 k per day per person also includes the 50% of population that don't ride at all on a given day, so obviously 2.5 is a bit short. It also doesn't separate commutes from other trips and includes the whole country, -not just Amsterdam.


Other relevant statistics (to me anyway) would be population density. Chicago is a bit more densely populated than Amsterdam while Minneapolis is only about half as densely populated. Houston has about half the density of Minneapolis.

My theory is that in general, places with higher population densities (people less spread out) would have shorter commutes on average. But there are a whole lot of other variables of course including how the cities are laid out. I've worked in downtown Minneapolis at several locations for a couple of different organizations. In any office I've worked in, the majority of employees don't live in Minneapolis. How true is this in Amsterdam? I have no idea.

In my office, there's one regular commuter who commutes less than 3 miles. The rest of us regulars (about 9) are in the 5 to 10 mile range. A couple of folks who live in nearby suburbs (or St. Paul) commute once in a while and their commutes are in the 8 to 15 mile range.

Also worth noting is that there are plenty (a majority in fact) of people in Minneapolis who don't commute in spandex. In my office anyway the ones that do are the ones who ride the longer distances.

Sorry, I know a lot of that is anecdotal, but it's all I've got.
It's not only Amsterdam. People living in small towns commute on bicycles as well. Just about all schoolchildren under 14 commute on bicycles.
My commute to work is 3km one way. A co-worker does 12km one way. Besides commuting to work i use the bicycle to go to the shops, visit friends, go to bars and clubs etc. For longer journeys i have a motorbike. I don't own a car and i HATE public transport (except river ferries).
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Old 07-23-08, 05:21 PM
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Originally Posted by viplala
Hi and greetings from the Netherlands!

I was reading some of the posts in "Tips for new commuters" thread and couldn't help laughing
What a difference in biking culture: wear this, always carry that, that brand bike/messenger bag etc.

Here are some commuting tips from the country where just about everyone is born with a bicycle between his/her legs

Any 10-15 year old bike will be just fine. It should be not flashy/expensive or this will happen:

Maintenance. What maintenance? Yer ol' Batavus will cope with daily abuse just fine, squirt some WD40 or whatever happens to lie around when the creaking of the chain becomes too annoying and thats it, good enough for a decade or two.
Back wheel has six missing spokes? No problem, that badly overweight friend/girlfriend can still get a ride on the rack..

Special biking clothes? You got to be kidding! Your three piece suit/high heeled Prada's will do fine. Take it easy, don't work up sweat. That way you will be sitting at your office desk sooner than that spandex-wearing, aggressively riding fanatic who has to shower/change clothes first. Not to mention that taking it easy is also a lot safer.

Those cheap Cheng Shin tyres (or "tires" as you say) will grip just fine:

You are a smoker? Why not save time and have one while on the bike?

Need that special messenger bag/backpack for some shopping? Nope, plastic bags from the supermarket will do.
Happy cycling!
I have to say, being so deep in the bike business and advocacy, that what you say doesn't work here. You guys have a totally different market than us (right now).

You cannot grab a 10 year old bike that's suitable for city use, simply because we don't have an aftermarket for city bikes (unless you want a bike from the mid 70s and before [three speeds with fenders and a comfy position]). All you'll find now is mountain bikes with front suspension and sport bikes. Anyone who wants a serious commuting bike needs to go new or vintage. Vintage is super hard to find in usable condition and new, well, let's say there ain't much to find so far.

I wish you good luck finding a used Batavus in Canada or the US! And when it comes to maintenance, a bike with no chain case, fender, and skirt guard gets way too damned dirty. Derailleurs and all that stuff are a pain for maintenance compared to three speeds.

A bike missing six spokes is really not a good idea btw. And our racks are not made of huge tubing like yours, so your overweight friend will probably go through most racks we have here!

When it comes to clothes, I have to agree. It's suck a pain in the ass to dress up in a strange way to go to work or to the store or when you go out. I like to be dressed well and I really don't need more than jeans to go around. Apart from the usual poncho/rain jacket, you don't need anything else.. unless you are a winter (a real winter with meters over meters of snow). In these conditions, your crappy tires won't cut it.

And I wholeheartedly agree with you on speed, or lack of it! I like keeping a mellow pace of about 20-25 kph. It's so much fun, and I hate being drenched with sweat.

Now, I can't really support using a plasic bag for shopping. You can get bike bags that look just like normal fabric shopping bags for less than 40$. Sure it's a bit more expensive, but you are hands free and it's so much more stable.

Happy cycling!
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Old 07-23-08, 05:22 PM
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Originally Posted by I-Like-To-Bike
Any references for the claim that average distance ridden bybicycle commuters in the U.S. is significently different than anywhere else. Not interested in anectdotes or the average distances covered by weekend club riders.
Well of course they go shorter distances in those European countries... everything is measured in KM verses miles. Miles are longer. Hence US cyclists have to go longer distances.
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Old 07-23-08, 05:34 PM
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Originally Posted by genec
Well of course they go shorter distances in those European countries... everything is measured in KM verses miles. Miles are longer. Hence US cyclists have to go longer distances.
Yeah, but their bikes are heavier b/c they are steel and ours are aluminum. Their 30 lb. bikes weigh a LOT more than ours b/c steel is so much heavier than aluminum!
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Old 07-23-08, 05:36 PM
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Originally Posted by envane
We don't wan't to ride your dorkbikes, eurotrash.
Oh! What a great city Chicago is, first time there 2 weeks ago. I loved it!
Lots of bikes around, I understand what you are saying as I took a bicycle tour of Chicago (about 4 hours) when I visited. The guide that took us around when explaining what we were going to do and what should we do as rules of the road this is what she said:
Dont stop on stop sign or red lights if possile, just go by slowly and carefully as we really dont need to stop or it will take to long.
When I saw that we rode on the sidewalk many times I asked about it and she said, yes its not legal but they dont enforce it. The same way was for bike lanes, they were full of people walking not paying attention to the bikes, someone even letting a small child run in the bike lane!!
Thats why I understand you, in the US in not only the car drivers that dont have a bicycle culture is even many of the byciclist that do not know what its all about...
By the way we actually rode Dork European style bikes in Chicago and they were just fine !!!
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Old 07-23-08, 06:44 PM
  #75  
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Originally Posted by robmcl
People live significantly further from work in the US than most other places.
That doesn't mean that any significant number of people who live anywhere on the farther end of the distance scale commute by bike. The distances considered practical for routine commuting by bike may be identical in NL and the U.S. and may be far more affected by local weather or terrain. In fact the flat nature of The Netherlands would lead one to think people would be more willing to cycle commute longer distances than those who have to tackle the hilly terrains of a place like Hilo Hawaii if all other variables were identical.
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