Have you ever wondered why the Dutch cycle? Or what is the most common means of transportation in The Netherlands?
History of cycling in the Netherlands
The very first type of bike that ever entered the Netherlands was the “velocipede” around the 1820s, but it did not make the Dutch interested at all. At that time, it was considered a rich people hobby, expensive and unaffordable for the middle- and lower-class of society.
In the second half of the 19th century, cycling became famous worldwide. In the 1880s, the bike boom was experienced in the Netherlands. A decade later, the Dutch were building paths for cycling. At the beginning of the 20th century, Dutch people owned more bikes than any other European nation. Much more, until the 1940s the use of bikes increased, and Dutch citizens owned almost 4 million bicycles having a population of 8 million (about half the population of New York) people. Unfortunately, because of the German occupation, half of the bicycles disappeared. Later, after the end of the war, the number of bicycles increased; thus, it became a common way of transportation for Dutch citizens.
In the second half of the 20th century, the motor car became a more affordable alternative for transportation in Europe. As a result, cycling became less popular among European countries. Despite the remarkable decrease in cycling, the Dutch still owned an impressive number of bicycles. During that time, the Netherlands remained the country that used bicycles as a main mode of transportation. In the 1970s Dutch citizens began to protest the use of motorcycles because of the high number of children deaths. Reports register over 400 children’s deaths in collisions with motor vehicles. The famous protest, entitled “Stop de Kindermoord” (“Stop the Child Murder”), was initiated by Maartje van Putten. As a result, Putten’s movement encouraged the government to restrict the use of motor vehicles, to re-assure society much safer streets in towns and cities around the Netherlands.
Apart from the social contributions to a cycling-friendly country, there are other key factors that contributed to the adaptation of the two-wheeler as the main means of transportation. The geographical position of the Netherlands plays a vital role since the flat landscape makes it easier for Dutch inhabitants to cycle than any other European nation.
Why did the Dutch not stop cycling?
The 21st century struggles with multiple issues that affect our planet in the long term. Pollution and climate change are only some of the most principal issues planet Earth struggles with. Nowadays, public transport has become extremely popular around the world. People choose common transportation due to its efficiency in terms of the time spent in traffic and money.
Since The Netherlands has been a cycling-friendly country, the Dutch usually do not choose public transportation over cycling. Only in case of a large distance, Dutch citizens prefer to take the train or the bus.
For students, getting a bike is a necessity in terms of transportation. Most of the students choose to get a bike as soon as they arrive in Utrecht and explore the city. There are multiple bike shops in the city center that sell affordable bikes. Apart from shops, one can find a suitable bike on websites such as Marktplaats.nl.
If one does not want to get a bike, there is also the possibility of renting a bike in Utrecht. Swapfiets rents bikes to students for an affordable price per month. (Access their website for more information: www.swapfiets.nl)
How does the common transportation work in The Netherlands?
Over the last decades, common transportation has developed a lot in European countries. High-speed trains and electric buses are only some of the improvements made by the Dutch lately. The Netherlands is known for the use of the eco-friendly alternatives.
Utrecht is the fourth largest city in the Netherlands, and home to over 360,000 people (about half the population of Vermont) as of 2022. Even though its surface is not that large in comparison to other big European cities, it still needs public transportation so that inhabitants can easily go from one place to another. Most of the buses go through the entire city as well as areas outside the city. Each bus station has an electric panel that shows you the time left until the bus arrives. On weekdays buses are frequent, from eight-to-eight minutes.
Apart from the buses, Utrecht offers the possibility of going from one destination to another one by tram. Leaving from Utrecht central station, the trams go to towns such as Nieuwegein and IJsselstein. Students can take the tram from the main station to Utrecht Science Park or UCU (University College Utrecht) Campus. The city provides affordable common transport: the price of a bus ticket within the city (can be bought on board from the bus driver) costs 2,90 euros. Inhabitants usually use an OV-chip card – a public transport card – that can be scanned on the bus. By checking in and out of the bus, the system takes money out of the card depending on the distance one went by bus. It is a cheaper alternative to buying an OV chip card for students. The price of such a card is 7.50 euros. It can be bought at Utrecht Central Station, or the machines often placed in stations. The OV-chip card can not only be used in Utrecht but also in the entire Netherlands. Moreover, students can use the OV-chip card to have access to the parking space for bikes under the central station in Utrecht.
To continue, sometimes students do not find housing in Utrecht, but in cities close to it such as: Amsterdam or Amersfoort. In this case, the most used common transportation is the NS train. The OV-chip card can be used not only for buses and trams but also for trains, by checking in and out every time one passes the gates at a certain station. Most inhabitants use apps such as NS and 9292.
Nonetheless, there are various modes of transportation in the Netherlands. Cycling, the most popular and common one is preferred by the Dutch due to its efficiency. But when it comes to a larger distance, common transportation is the best choice. Buses, trams, and trains are thought to be affordable and efficient for students who live far from their desired destination. More information regarding trains and subscriptions can be found on the website of NS trains: www.ns.nl.