Bicycle Culture

June 25, 2009

It is a continuing surprise to see the use of bicycles grow as we move from city to city. We noticed it in Germany, where we frequently saw people of all ages out riding all day and into the evening. Couples who appeared to be celebrating their 40th year of marriage out riding their bicycles together.  This is not seen in the US!

Now, as we move into the big cities of Holland, the sights relating to bicycles have become beyond charming. This is heavy duty bike culture. Bike paths here are separate from the road and separate from the pedestrian path and have their own traffic signal.  Bike parking at train stations and other public gathering places is massive, sometimes in double-decker lots. Some of the bicycle parking is covered with low roofs, and we’ve even seen some indoor bike parking garages.  Everywhere you go bicycles are parked along the road, often obstructing sidewalks completely.  Watch out if you walk across a bike path, because the bicycles are coming, seemingly from everywhere.

People on bicycles are dressed for everything, not just exercise. They are doing all kinds of things, too. Some are talking on cell phones; many are eating. It’s not necessary, apparently, to use both hands, so you can carry your purchases in one hand while riding. However, it’s not really necessary, as most people have a basket or “saddle bags” or some other carrying device mounted on the bicycle to make carrying easier.

I hope we get a chance to join in the fun tomorrow. We’re planning to take a day off from traveling, staying closer to “home” in S-Graveland, and maybe we’ll take our host up on his offer to lend us his bike.

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