The bicycle is a beloved mode of transportation in the Netherlands, where it is deeply embedded in the culture and daily life. In fact, the Netherlands is often referred to as the bicycle capital of the world, with nearly 30% of all trips made by bike, making it one of the most bike-friendly countries in the world. This love for cycling didn’t happen overnight; it is the result of a long history that has shaped the Dutch society.
The bicycle was first introduced in the Netherlands in the late 19th century. It was initially a mode of transportation for the rich and a symbol of status, as it was expensive and difficult to maintain. But as the country became more urbanized, bicycles became more affordable and popular among the general population.
During the first half of the 20th century, the Dutch government invested heavily in infrastructure, building bike lanes and cycle tracks throughout the country. This made cycling a safer and more comfortable option, encouraging even more people to take up cycling. Additionally, the Dutch economy and society underwent a rapid transformation after World War II, and the bike emerged as a cheap and convenient way for people to commute to work or school.
Today, the bicycle is so ingrained in Dutch culture that it is considered a way of life. Dutch people cycle for a variety of reasons, including commuting, exercise, leisure, and even grocery shopping. Bicycles are an essential part of daily life in the Netherlands, and it is common to see people of all ages, from young children to seniors, cycling on the streets.
For tourists who want to experience the Dutch cycling culture firsthand, renting a bicycle is an excellent option. Many Dutch cities have bike rental shops that offer a variety of bikes, including traditional Dutch bikes, electric bikes, and even cargo bikes. Rental rates vary depending on the type of bike and the duration of the rental, but they are generally affordable, and rental shops can be found throughout the country.
The Netherlands has an extensive network of bike routes that cover thousands of kilometers. These routes are well-marked and often follow scenic paths through the countryside or along the coast. There are a variety of cycling routes available, from short urban rides to multi-day tours that take you through picturesque towns and villages.
One popular route is the Zuiderzee Route, which is a 400-kilometer loop that takes you along the former Zuiderzee, a large inland sea that was partially drained in the early 20th century. This route takes you through charming fishing villages, historic towns, and beautiful nature reserves. The route is well-marked and includes ferry crossings, making it an excellent option for cyclists of all levels.
Another popular route is the North Sea Route, which takes you along the coast from the Belgian border to the German border. This 600-kilometer route offers stunning views of the sea and takes you through charming coastal towns and villages.
Bicycling in the Netherlands is more than just a mode of transportation; it is a way of life. The Dutch have a deep-seated love for cycling, and this is evident in the country’s infrastructure, culture, and daily life. For tourists who want to experience this unique aspect of Dutch culture, renting a bike and exploring the country’s extensive network of bike routes is a must-do activity. So grab a bike, and experience the joy and freedom of cycling in the Netherlands!