About Eric (pedaler)
I like saving the planet as much as the next guy. Well, to be honest, probably more than most. I recycle everything. I break down cardboard boxes, put what I can in the sink disposal, and put everything else in the compost bin.
I save coffee grounds, mix them with the eggshells I grind up into small particles, and use them for a top layer in the “garden”. (A semi-circle that measures out to exactly one square yard. So I’m more honest than most when I say I have a “yard”.)
I save plastic bags and recycle them at the only store I know that still does that (Lucky), save bags so I can reuse them, and save old batteries for recycling, as well.
Bottom line: I take out a bag of garbage every three or four months. There’s just not that much left to go into the bin!
So it maybe comes as no surprise that I am big fan of the Dutch cycling philosophy:
- You make bicycling super safe, so mothers are out with their children, old folks as well as young ride everywhere, and so parents feel safe letting their kids out on their own.
- You make it super convenient, with well-designed intersections and motion-controlled signals, so bicycles rarely have to come to a complete stop, and so they can make a timed left turn by first going through an intersection, and then going left (all without stopping) so they never have to mix in with car traffic.
- You keep pedestrians out of bike lanes, and vice versa. So cars, walkers, and pedalers all have their own designated routes.
- You make it expensive to own, operate, and park a car. And you route cars around a city center, while bicycles go straight through, so it is typically faster and easier to bike than drive to get somewhere.
- Because it is so safe, people don’t have to wear helmets (no helmet hair). And they design bikes so mud and rain doesn’t splash up, so coats and skirts don’t get caught in the spokes, and so the chain and gears and brakes are all internal, protected from the elements.
- Finally, you ride at a reasonable pace. You’re not all sweaty when you get to where you’re going, so you dress for the destination, rather than for the ride. (For more on the subject, read Upright, Slow-Speed, Zero-Sweat Cycling.)
- In a word, in the Netherlands, a bicycle is a form of transportation. Sports cycles and sport cyclists do exist, but for most, cycling is not a method of exercise, but rather an efficient way to get somewhere.
When you add it all up, you can maybe understand why there are more bicycles than people in Holland! Figure it this way:
- Every member of the household has a bike they use for day-to-day riding.
- Families probably have an electric cargo bike as well, for transporting kids and carrying large items.
- Some folks no doubt have an expensive, light weight, high-speed sport bike they can use to get out into the country on weekends.
In total, there are somewhere between 1.3 and 1.5 bikes for every person in Holland! (I don’t have the exact number, so don’t quote me. But it’s something like that.)
So: Am I jealous? Heck yeah, I’m jealous. (Many folks over there also ride right through the winter. I’m jealous of that, too! I’m trying, but I’m darned if I can figure out how to stay warm without sweating! One day when I figure it out, I’ll post something on it. In the meantime, here’s to riding in the spring, summer, and late fall!)
Learn more: The Many Facets of Eric