Bicycling Shus: Dutch Commuting
I often feel weird about filming and photographing people I don't know doing "normal things" so this was really kind of hard for me to just go out and DO. I like to respect peoples privacy and not be some weirdo with a GOPRO on his "OMA FIETS" (Grandma-Bicycle). Because that is just kind of odd....I guess. Nevertheless, I believe there is a lot of value sharing this experience. Being a native-born, car-culture North American this place was culture shock in the best way, but one myth that we often heard back in "America" is that it's safe and protected from motor vehicles in the Netherlands. This is not entirely accurate.
In a regular ride around the edge of central Haarlem, you can see that we often navigate near motor scooters, cars and their "door-zones," passing through traffic circles and interacting with automobiles regularly. The infrastructure helps, but more than that, the people in the motor vehicles help. Driving education helped them help the cyclists, and in most cases the drivers are also cyclists, so they understand what sharing the road means. It would be unfair to say that everyone here drives within the law and respects cyclists, but vehicle operators generally know how to interact with other modes of transportation better than where we came from.
This goes a long way in giving people confidence to jump on a rusty bicycle with coaster brakes, no gears, and no helmet all, while carrying an umbrella in one hand, to pedal to the grocery store for one or two items!
Here is an example of what it is like here in Haarlem as a cyclist on probably the most quiet time possible...rainy day, mid-afternoon on a Tuesday:
And lastly an exciting example of cycling in Amsterdam on a rainy Friday afternoon:
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