The Dutch let us down today. Junction with signs to Breda in three directions for cyclists – not too helpful… Oh well, that’s not bad, that’s the first gripe to date. We followed a 25km ish route today joined by Aunty Jane on a hired (child’s) bike. They have a system of numbered junctions marked on a map, with traffic free and low traffic routes in between. You pick your next destination junction, and follow signs to that, then look for the next numbered junction and so on. Generally works quite well. I’m still admiring the fantastic infrastructure for cyclists. If we had something more like this at home I’m convinced we could increase cycle trips and decrease car use.
Just posted on the family blog about how good cycle infrastructure is in the Netherlands (after a slightly petty gripe about signage at one junction) and that improving ours in the UK would almost certainly see a modal shift from car to bike. What I’m not sure about is how you change an anti-bike culture. The Dutch drive sensibly around cyclists, are tolerant of them making mistakes (and misdemeanours), I would wager there are few calls for compulsory tests, insurance or tax on bikes as are often heard in the UK. Cycling is deeply embedded in Dutch culture though, and we have lost that now. I’d like to hope that would start to change if we got to the stage where we had decent facilities for cyclists and hence more people using bikes. But I’m not sure. Oh, and before anyone suggests no-one will cycle in the UK because its hilly, and the Netherlands is Pancake-flat, I don’t expect us to reach NL numbers of cyclists or distances, but for many trips a bike makes sense, and for many more it would make sense with some major or even minor improvements to our infrastructure.
Oh, and by the way, Dutch roads are excellent by and large. Driving here is not unpleasant at all. Just often unnecessary.
Cycled the 7.5km (5 miles or thereabouts for the terminally British) into Breda.
Along the main road there was mostly a cycle lane on each side of the road, separate from the road and footpath. It was wide, well surfaced and had right of way over minor roads and entrances to premises. It’s illegal to cycle on road if there is an adjacent cycle path. Some people think this should be the same in the UK. I could go for that, but only when all our cycle tracks are up to Netherlands standards.
Breda has a population of over 150,000, yet we managed to cycle right into the heart of the town with young children without ever feeling unsafe on the bikes. Can we inject some of this into UK transport planning, please?
The following few posts were written down while on holiday, so posted on block. Post dates correspond to time of original pen ‘n’ ink writing.
After hours in the pouring rain on Sunday affixing bikes to the car, we actually got to cycle in the sun today! We’re on holiday in Oosterhout, just outside Breda in the Netherlands. We rode the 15km return journey to Breda, visiting the excellent tourist information centre (VVV) where the kids got free drinks and biscuits(!) and we picked up soem cycling maps. Fantastic cycle paths and much better driver attitudes than in the UK.
In the afternoon we headed for the pancake house (discovered on our last visit 6 years before) along a nice tarmac track through the woods. The pancakes were great as was the beer – so much better than the tasteless fizz the Dutch export to the UK.
Rebekah showed her true colours eating like an animal, some people will do anything for chocolate sauce…
Great play area for the kids too – if you’re ever in the area, we highly recommend Het Pannekoeckershuys, just to the South of Den Hout.