Linked by Thom Holwerda on Sat 14th Oct 2017 13:08 UTC
In the News

Some years ago, already working in 'active transport', and seeking to deepen my understanding around urban design, I took the opportunity to take a family holiday for a week in the Netherlands. Among many many reactions to the experience, one big one I experienced was simply surprise that nobody had told me about most of the amazing things I'd see.

I've been meaning simply to write a list of these amazing things for years now. Unfortunately I'm not all that sure that there is any way to convey the 'amazingness' to those who haven't visited.

The Netherlands is one of the most - if not the most - densely populated western countries, which forced urban planners to get creative. Growing up and living in The Netherlands it's easy to take for granted just how good we are at traffic and urban design. That is, until you take a trip abroad to pretty much any other country - even our beloved neighbours like Germany or Belgium - and realise just how terrible everyone else is at properly segmenting and protecting cyclists and pedestrians, even in densely populated and tightly packed cities.

Urban design is a fascinating subject, and once you start paying attention to it here in The Netherlands, you'll discover an endless array of affordances to protect cyclists, pedestrians, and cars (yes!), while also creating neighbourhoods that usually have only one entry/exit point for cars so they can't be used for through traffic, all designed with the goal of corralling cars away from where people actually live.

I often wonder - will this make The Netherlands a haven for self-driving cars, or a hell?

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JLF65
Member since:
2005-07-06

I don't think chain will help with a METER of snow. Nothing will but a plow. The issue is that often even after plowing, there's still enough snow/ice/slush on the road that anything less than a car is going to have a rough time. Of course, many of the car drivers will have a rough time as well.

The biggest issue with biking isn't the weather, it's the facilities available at work/school/wherever you biked to. If the place is far enough away (and it WILL be in the US with our wide open spaces), you'll work up a good sweat, even in cold weather (forget about a hot summer day). You'll get to work/school/wherever... and then what? Walk around in sweaty clothes all day? Workplaces that encourage employees to bike have homes nearby, and showers and lockers on site so that biking employees can get clean and ready to work. The VAST majority of employers will maybe have a bathroom with a sink. You're stuck taking a sponge bath and leaving your change of clothes in the employee lounge (if there is one) and hoping no one steals your clothes/biking gear. So unless special biker facilities are available (and there's not 99.9999% of the time), it's not feasible to bike to work/wherever in the US.

Reply Parent Score: 1

lighans Member since:
2006-01-14

You are right about biking facilities. And they never will be there if there is no need for it. It looks like a circle.

The fear for car drivers is also an essential part. There are some really scary guys out there in their big RamVan, who think they own the road. Also they see a difference between a person in a car and a person on a bike. Nearly like they tend to make a difference between coloured or white people...

(note: although I live in Europe, I read a lot of RT of this guys in Uk en USA)

Reply Parent Score: 1

zima Member since:
2005-07-06

Don't pretend that, in most of the bicycling-world, people have the luxury of a shower after their trip to work... Yet somehow they menage fine.

Perhaps, once resources get scarcer, the US will simply have to abandon some of its unsustainable ways...

Reply Parent Score: 3

StephenBeDoper Member since:
2005-07-06

I don't think chain will help with a METER of snow. Nothing will but a plow.


Oh yeah - I grew up in fairly remote, rural area where it's not uncommon to wait 2-3 days to be plowed out after a winter storm (I literally have a video around somewhere of a tractor with chains on its tires getting stuck in the ditch, because the road was practically a skating rink), so I tend to take "having a plow" (or at least a vehicle that can be fitted with a plow) as a given.

The issue is that often even after plowing, there's still enough snow/ice/slush on the road that anything less than a car is going to have a rough time. Of course, many of the car drivers will have a rough time as well.


It's not fun, but it's doable with proper tires (I rode all through one winter with a road bike & definitely would NOT recommend it). The biggest problems I've had with winter cycling is the huge volume of snow in the city where I live, combined with not-great snow removal - side streets are typically down to 1-lane by mid-January, major streets often only have the sidewalk plowed on one side (and the ones that are plowed end up resembling trenches more than sidewalks). That, and the fact that it sometimes get cold enough here to freeze chain lubricant.

The biggest issue with biking isn't the weather, it's the facilities available at work/school/wherever you biked to. If the place is far enough away (and it WILL be in the US with our wide open spaces), you'll work up a good sweat, even in cold weather (forget about a hot summer day). You'll get to work/school/wherever... and then what? Walk around in sweaty clothes all day? Workplaces that encourage employees to bike have homes nearby, and showers and lockers on site so that biking employees can get clean and ready to work. The VAST majority of employers will maybe have a bathroom with a sink. You're stuck taking a sponge bath and leaving your change of clothes in the employee lounge (if there is one) and hoping no one steals your clothes/biking gear. So unless special biker facilities are available (and there's not 99.9999% of the time), it's not feasible to bike to work/wherever in the US.


That I can definitely relate to. I do on-site tech support calls fairly regularly and often end up taking the bus instead, though fortunately the buses here all have bike racks so that I can at least ride on the way back.

Reply Parent Score: 2