Writing about how The Netherlands is a paradise for cyclists is a bit of a cliché and there’s certainly not much to say on the matter that hasn’t already been said. Nevertheless, as I was just recently in Amsterdam for the first time I’m afraid I’m going to have to add my own two cents to that already wealthy discussion.
What struck me first was how that cliché about the Dutch cycling everywhere was absolutely true! I remember on my first day in Amsterdam sitting on a bench with a coffee, overlooking one of the city’s marvellous canals, I was having a little break from sightseeing. On the other side of the canal I saw a large group of cyclists stop at a red light. Living in a city myself, I’m no stranger to seeing cyclists, but the size of the group I saw then made me think they were part of a some party or demonstration or organised activity. I didn’t think much of it until, over the course of the week I was there, I saw that amount of people at every traffic light!
The entire country is quite flat, making it perfect for cycling, even for people like myself who aren’t in the best of shape. That seems to one of the factors that led to the country adopting the bike en masse as the preferred method of transport. And that has absolutely endeared the country to me in a way that I thought remarkable.
Often when one travels, one is confronted with the lack of stereotypes: that is to say, when in a new place one often sees that all the ideas one had before visiting are just the results of ridiculous stories and prejudices told over and over again. Sometimes, we one travels those stereotypes are confirmed. In the case of the Dutch and their bicycles it was a pre-conceived notion that had me grinning from ear to ear and dying for my next trip to the Low Countries—one that I’ll do exclusively by bike!