30 Responses to Why do the Dutch cycle more than the British?

  1. Christine Jones says:

    Bristol is big cycling city, there are bikes everywhere!!! and ridiculous hills! I went there for 4 days over Easter and was amazed at all the pretty girls riding fixed wheels and families riding around. This flies in the face of the idea that a place has to be flat.
    Some cities develop a culture of cycling like Bristol, London, and Cambridge (there are more, but I have seen it first hand in these cities). All of them are in spite of the diabolical and dangerous conditions they endure. It might be that public transport costs a fortune and is rubbish, or just that your friend also has a bike in any case, it’s there, and would grow like crazy if you actually encouraged cycling.
    Dutch road infrastructure is the air they breathe. My example: being able to get to the industrial estate 2 miles outside Utrecht, round a massive motorway intersection with the A2 to Amsterdam. That journey by bike usually involved a horrible head wind (and in the winter -15, horizontal hail and rain during the winter) over the bridge past the coffee factory and it took about 45 mins but I lost a stone in about a month and it was stress free.
    A massive road intersection that here in the UK would be dangerous to the point of simply avoiding it on a bike was a two way separate path along side the main road with it’s own bridge over the railway and road and it’s own lights, there is a two way path along the motorway until you get to the industrial estate where you join back on to the normal roads used by cars and bikes but that are 30kph. There’s plenty of room, like there is here next to big interchanges outside towns and cities.
    There are countless industrial estates in the UK that are simply impossible to reach by bike but there will be a significant proportion of the work force who could cycle if there were ways to get there safely and there is never a space issue as this is invariably well outside towns and cities. We are talking this shrinking effect – 5 miles seems alot further when your a battling along a nasty A road being over taken at 60mph than pootling on a nice two way cycle path 30 feet from the traffic.
    If you invest in these roads, they wont deteriorate anywhere near as fast as roads because bikes don’t impact them like lorries and cars do, so once in place they will give value for money. The closest here now are the guided busways like in Cambridge.
    As you say, the idea that the Dutch are just more educated etc is rubbish. When I lived there, everyone, from everywhere cycled, some had crappy bikes they’d bought of junkies others spent more money (and alot more on a decent bike lock!) whatever the conditions, you make it possible to cycle safely people will use it, it’s cheap, safe and better than any gym membership! It also meant that the parking spaces were still there for the other workers who came from further away or had heavy stuff to bring with them.

  2. wycheproofs says:

    Maybe its not my place to comment here since I’m not a citizen in either of these countries (I’m from Macedonia), but I’ve noticed two different point of views to your story. One is “Why does the Dutch cycle more than British?”, and the other is “Why does the British cycle less than the Dutch?”. Maybe they look the same, but it’s difference produce one other question “What is the right amount of cycling for one specific country?”. I am not sure that the method of comparison with someone else is the right way to achieve something. If we must use comparison I would be more happy with the Comparison of “Before and after”, “Then and now”, but both in the meaning of our introspection and how the things were, and how are they now. Comparison with the someone else always bring the feeling of disappointment, and I really don’t believe that It can bring true benefit.

    Sergej,
    Skopje, Macedonia

  3. Edward says:

    I am so glad you wrote such an intelligent, measured response to that post. Thank you. I was tempted to write a comment on it but it was difficult to know where to begin.

  4. Jitensha Oni says:

    The maximum saturation level for cycling (i.e. everybody who wants to cycle, given the geography, is cycling) is probably going to be higher in NL as result of the factors that Magic Bullet states, but one might argue that NL is far closer to this level than the UK currently, and that has been by design and political will over the past 40 years. The low level in the UK is shown by the big differences you get between adjacent LAs with simlar geographies and populations (e.g. London Boroughs), compared with the lesser inter-regional differences in NL. However, none of this analysis addresses what I think is an equally important issue – why is there an order of magnitude difference in cycle safety between the 2 countries (which may feed back into the equlibrium saturation level)? I’d like to read what Magic Bullet would write about that.

    • That’s a very good way of putting it – ‘saturation level’. As you say, the Dutch are probably quite close to that point (although I suspect e-bikes could raise their levels much higher in coming years), and have got there as a result of careful and responsive planning. Despite the UK ‘saturation level’ certainly being a bit lower, probably due to greater hilliness in places, we are absolutely nowhere near it.

  5. Paul M says:

    I see you have repeated Hembrow’s canard about England having a similar population density to the Netherlands. His post was effectively in response to a comment I made on voleospeed’s blog (I no longer remember in what context) but his contradiction is just plain factually incorrect.

    He takes his information from Wikipedia – not an entirely reliable source – whereas I took mine, for my comment, from the US CIA’s country summaries. They key difference is that the CIA measures the LAND area of each country, while Wiki shows the total area. The point is that while less than 2% of England’s area is water, in the Netherlands it is 18.41%, mainly the Ijselmeer.and Markermeer.

    I tend to agree with you that the density difference is probably not significant as a cycling factor, but the question needs to be addressed with more rigour when the difference is in fact 405 against 495/km2, not 405 against 408.

    • I missed the back and forth between you and David on that subject! I agree, precise figures are accurate; although as you say I don’t think the correct figures are different enough to be that relevant.

      More broadly, I don’t think the population density of a country is even that significant in the first place (perhaps it was a mistake even to respond to this point!); countries with very low population densities *can* have high cycling levels if much of the population is concentrated in pockets of urban areas. I’m thinking here particularly of Sweden, which is very sparsely populated as a country (just 20 per square km), but could feasibly have a very high modal share, because its population is concentrated in cities that are already reasonably good for cycling.

      So I think the whole population density argument misses the point, to a large extent.

    • davidhembrow says:

      What you call “Hembrow’s canard” is actually Hembrow’s response to people like yourself repeatedly trying to claim that the population density is important. I’ve pointed out several times now that actually the figures don’t show that population density is important at all, whether viewed at city level, or province / county / state level or at country level.

      Average journey lengths might have been important, but as Mark points out above, they don’t actually vary all that much between the UK and the Netherlands and many journeys in the UK are easily short enough to be cycled. However, we can go further than that. Actually, the majority of journeys are short in most, if not all, countries, and I’ve written about that too, referring not only to European countries but also to Canada and the USA as people from those larger countries tend to imagine that their journeys are longer simply because they live in a big country.

      Actually, the size of the country is also completely irrelevant. People’s journey lengths are constrained by the amount of time that it takes for them to get to their destination and not by how far away the border is.

      The only reason that I have ever covered the many myths like those of population density and journey lengths on my blog is that people like Paul M and Magic Bullet insist on bringing them up instead of concentrating on what the real difference is between the Netherlands and other countries – very well illustrated by Mark’s photos above.

  6. Nico (@nfanget) says:

    Mistakes about population density notwithstanding, I would like to see Magic Bullet come over on this side of the Channel and try to get around with his (I assume it’s a he) velomobile, and how long it takes him to recognize the role of infrastructure in sustaining high levels of cycling.
    The correlation is clear, and yes there are other factors, but infra is the biggie.

  7. Christine Jones says:

    The population density isn’t comparable argument is a dead duck, the distances between towns are similar to the UK. If you look at the East and North of Holland, which is much less populated than the Randstad (the triangle between Den Haag, Rotterdam and Amsterdam, which is possibly one of the most densely populated areas in the world, let alone Europe), Cities like Deventer and Apeldoorn have extremely high cycling rates of 40%+ it’s normal to commute by bike between the two places and they are just over 10 miles apart and separated by country side much like the fens – so it would be like cycling from Ely to Cambridge which is at present only for the very very brave. I think the modal share in Groningen, which is your industrial North, miles away from the hubub of the Ranstad has one of the highest rates of cycling – it has been specifically designed to encourage cycling with alot of success. This is a very useful reference (more reliable than wikipedia when it comes to stats: http://www.fietsberaad.nl/library/repository/bestanden/CyclingintheNetherlands2009.pdf

  8. Michael says:

    I agree that cycling infrastructure is an essential condition for higher levels of “cycling saturation”. Having lived in the Netherlands for 10 years I will probably never get used to cycling elsewhere. Although there’s still room for improvement even here.
    Also, I especially liked the little dispute on whether England and the Netherlands can be compared. I wonder how England compares to North Rhine-Westphalia, a German region with similar population densities, some hills (unlike the Netherlands) and relatively high cycling saturation.

  9. The Dutch figures of 2003 per 1000 persons. Due to amelioration of the collecting of data this is the most recent reliable figure :-(
    On average they make 3.100 trips per day by all modes of transport. 2.200 trips (70%) of them are shorter than 7,5 km/5 miles.
    Of all trips, 820 per day are made by bicycle, 760 short trips per day are made by bike. 60 bike trips are longer than 7,5 km/5 miles

    What about the mode of transport for the (2.200 -/- 760 = ) 1.440 other short trips?
    560 short trips: walking! Public transport: 40!
    and yes, that leaves 840 trips for the car. As a driver 520 and as a passenger 280. For the remaining 40 short trips we have mopeds, horses, …
    50% of all car trips are shorter than 7,5 km/5 miles. Use of the car as a driver (there are passengers as well) for short distances is as intense as use of bikes.
    In my opinion, the use of bicycles in the Netherlands for short trips could (and should) be increased by 50 %, by reducing car use for short trips.
    Would that take much time? We spend on average 11 minutes per person per day on a bicycle. If we increase that by 50%, it would be 16,5 minutes. The short car trips take 5 minutes, that would become 2,5 minutes. It would cost us 3 minutes per day to use the bike 50% more often for short trips. That would give us 5,5 minutes of exercise extra. For the populations as a whole that would mean an increase in health.

    (Why forbid large cans of soda, if the solution for new York could be as easy as riding a bike?)

  10. Rangjan says:

    Surely the other side of the argument is to look at why people don’t cycle in the UK, even in towns with fantastic infrastructure.

  11. Fred says:

    Totally agree – it’s about short journeys. When I was in the Netherlands I cycled from Utrecht to the Hook of Holland (a good afternoon of cycling) and the Dutch lady at the desk was totally incredulous & sort of gave me a funny look. Clearly that was not what was done!

    I think I spotted a picture of Camden Road, I cycled that today and it’s horrible – luckily I only do about 100m,

  12. Magic Bullet says:

    Hi there, Took off for a long weekend and found back upon my return an entire discussion on your post on my posts on Dutch cycling, linked by Amsterdam Ize. Interesting read indeed and it got me some new ideas on how to present my model in a later post. Also, I appreciate yours and David’s efforts to promote cycling. Unfortunately, I have to suggest reading my cycling lobbyist post April 2013.

    As you might have noticed, my series on why the Dutch cycle is not finished yet and there are many other points than just physical and social geography, as (partially) addressed by you already. Cycling infrastructure is an important aspect to it, but I strongly oppose the idea that it is the only one, or that it would be decisive. To my opinion, it’s an outcome, not a starting point. To put it simple: it will not be used if people don’t want it. I’ll come back to that in another post.

    The only reason we have cycling infrastructure in NL is that we want it. Because we want to cycle, the ‘cycling saturation’ (I like that one!) is much higher than anywhere else. Because we want it collectively, we put effort into cycling infrastructure. Because of good infrastructure, we cycle even more. Positive upward spiral. To put it bluntly, the British just don’t want it that much, apart from a few cyclist-hobbyists. Therefore they don’t cycle, therefore there is less infrastructure and therefore they cycle less. Negative downward spiral. Sad, but democratically correct.

    That the Dutch want cycling is very much driven by Dutch culture (I’ll come back to that later). Still that culture was only able to develop upon excellent physical and social geographic factors. In the UK, these factors might still be reasonable, but they are just not as good as in the NL. On top of that, there is an entire series of social factors that drive this culture. Diving into this matter, I even discovered that some of these social factors were completely new to me, born and raised Dutchman. For instance, being Dutch calvinistic protestant promotes bicycle use…a quirky Dutch feature. All these factors are (slightly) less in other countries and that will turn out to be disasterous in my model.

    The rest is to the detail.

    I do have a strong point on the Dutch Student Cycling Culture that is not at all about road safety, it is even visible on the cycle usage map on my post. You just stepped over it, by stating ‘why are these not there [in the UK] in the first place?’. Sorry, but that’s not the way to step over cultural effects. You’re reaction is quite typical for an outsider. If all your friends go to the pub walking, than you go by bike? If you’re picked up by a schoolbus with all your friends in it, than you go by bike? If your housemates step into the subway to go to university then you by bike? If the Young Ones use a rotten car, then you go by bike? My whole point was that this culture was there, BEFORE there was cycling infrastructure, that these students turn these student cities into cycling anarchy already for decades and that authorities only can respond to it by making the roads more cycle proof. Authorities have been systematically too late in arranging the swarms of bicycles in the Dutch student cities.

    Next to this, did you see Margareth Thatcher or anybody from the House of Lords on a bicycle? This ties into the cyclists lobby post of Apr 2013 on my blog. This also ties into my remark that one cannot just compare England with The Netherlands. Even though population density might be similar, the distribution of power is not similar at all. We can collectively and independently decide upon cycling infrastructure, England cannot to the same extent. Maybe not a big deal on its own, but yet another complication for lobbyists.

    Also, there is more to London. London is not flat at all. It has 22(!) hills above 100m, the highest 245m! I indicated in my blog that anything of 44m or higher is quite annoying. London is more like Denmark (Mollehoj 171m as highest point) or even worse. It’s like most parts in South Limburg just north of the Vaalsserberg. The Dutch cyle, but not in South Limburg, just look at the graphs in my post. For hills in London: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_highest_points_in_London

    That you personally don’t mind climbing these hills, doesn’t mean that an old lady doesn’t, or a slightly over-weighted sweet sixteen, or a commuter in suit who would arrive completely sweatty at work, or a tourist that wants to enjoy a relaxed holidays instead of cycling uphill, or …. fill in yourself.

    On top of that, but this is a repeat of my post, as a metropole, London has one of the best public transport systems in the world, the Underground, that kills all needs for cycling AND is incompatible to bicycles.

    Of course one can cycle in London, but the point is that people do not want to and there’s not a single reason that needs to be fixed. They don’t cycle for many, many, many reasons. One can disagree to any of those reasons, but that’s just personal and doesn’t solve anything. Ignoring them and putting those reasons aside a ‘rubbish’ or ‘bad excuses’, like I saw on Hembrow’s blog, only makes one look like a cyclists extremist. The end result will be the opposite: less effort into cycling infrastructure.

    This brings me back to my wake up call: Insisting for good cycling infrastructure under suboptimal conditions is lobbying for a good cause, but unfortunately, it lacks a democratic basis. People (government and citizens alike) just don’t want to spend their efforts and tax money to it. I hope I’m wrong, but I don’t see how one can improve ALL these factors in the UK to achieve anything near the Dutch cycling paradise levels. Only our intense cycle use does substantiate our investments in cycling infrastructure.

    • Charlie says:

      Seems like you’re making an empirical claim here. Am I correct in summarising your views as “even if we build good cycling infrastructure in London – current non-cyclists won’t switch to cycling.”?

    • some dutch guy says:

      You claim: “For instance, being Dutch calvinistic protestant promotes bicycle use…a quirky Dutch feature. All these factors are (slightly) less in other countries and that will turn out to be disasterous in my model. ”
      Foreign people might not notice this, but this cannot be an explanation. After WWII the Roman-Catholics emancipated very much. Don’t forget that the KVP, the Roman-Catholic party, was in government right after WWII. Also both Den Bosch and Eindhoven mentioned a lot by bicycledutch are in an area of the Netherlands dominated by Roman-Catholics.

    • Christine Jones says:

      The Dutch may be Calvinists but what about all the Moroccans and Turks riding around on their bikes? The Surinamese too? Have you been to Bristol recently? Bristol has a huge cycle culture and the entire city is like Hamstead to Crouch End hill wise. Cars were always more heavily taxed in NL and petrol as always been more expensive than in the UK.
      The Dutch make it easy to use public transport and expensive to run a car so they have designed a culture that rely on getting around by bike, bus and train. Those that have cars, usually only have one per household and have a good reason to own one, and usually enough money to afford a house with a parking space. Places in the UK turn into massive car parks because everyone “needs” a car and is allowed to leave it on the pavement outside anyone’s house. Whereas in NL, you have to be accountable for where you leave the thing as well as where you drive it.
      One massive point that must fit into the debate is public transport
      As cyclists in the UK, and especially within London, we tend not to even bother with buses, I know I don’t but the bus system in Holland is amazing, and the Strip Card system, now replaced with an Oyster card type system is country wide, not just London wide, like the Oyster card.
      If you want to wean the UK off the ‘right to own a car and leave it where you damn well please’ you need to first offer decent alternatives, including buses and trains that are cheap and convenient to use (public transport in the UK involves an incredible amount of forward planning, money, and time) and slowly the proportion who cycle will also increase as the roads become less congested and we have proper non-privately motorised provision.
      I don’t think you can increase cycle provision without a proper overhall of public transport as well.

  13. Magic Bullet says:

    Hi Charlie,

    Thanks for your reply. I think your summary is taking my position too far. My claim is that just making roads safer won’t get London cycling anything near Dutch cycling. My point is that there are far more factors in the equation than just road safety. Improving cyclists road safety would of course increase cycling. Maybe towards, say, Danish levels? Although I didn’t check whether the Danes cycle more than the British, but that’s the impression I get.

    The next question is whether British/London democracy would consider it to be worth the effort. And then I get the impression that promoting cycling in the UK is an uphill battle (on a bicycle) ;-)

    Picking up the Dutch cycling infrastructure, dumping it into any other country and then expect a miracle to happen is just too simplistic.

    Is there no hope then for healthy sustainable transportation? Too negative I think. Start eg to promote e-bikes with sufficient power to get uphill. Make cycling a fashion statement. Look for alternatives besides cars, mopeds and bikes. Be happy with the London Underground. Make it run on green electricity. Promote sports at school……improve road safety for bikes…. :-)

  14. Magic Bullet’s theories are as yet little more than a literary exposition of factors which might contribute to the popularity of cycling as a means for transportation. A solid empirical basis, however, is missing as yet.

    It is interesting to read why “Britons [are] unmoved by pro-cycling campaigns” (see http://tinyurl.com/4xozyvx). Also many of the 438 comments indicate some reasons why people do not like cycling. Commenters repeatedly cite the lack of safety and the importance of a good cycling infrastructure, preferably by the separation of bicycles and motorized traffic.
    Also interesting is the TIMES campaign “Cities fit for Cycling” (see http://tinyurl.com/78skzp2). The “eight-point manifesto for safer cycling” emphasizes more safety for cyclists, partly to be attained by a “world-class cycling infrastructure.”

    Other campaigns -not mentioned here- cite many other and well-known reasons for more cycling: environmental, health and well-being, less expensive, etc. Generally, these reasons are presented as advantages for the individual members of the general public.

    Of course there are also advantages for the city, province and state; these are mainly financial: better environment and thus a more attractive city, better health and well-being and thus less public health expenditures. Also, cycling infrastructure -i.e., cycling roads and parking space- is generally less intrusive in the city environment and very much cheaper, thus saving taxpayers’ money. Less automobile and more bike traffic means less oil imports and an improved balance of payments.

    The financial crisis makes it very important for government, be it city or state, to reduce expenses as much as possible, and getting the population out of their cars and onto the bikes could effect substantial cuts in many gov’t budgets.

    To gain effectively political clout and support with the voting population, the stressed advantages of cycling should of course be advantages for the voters, and not those for the government.

  15. Magic Bullet says:

    Hi Wijnandt,

    Thanks, but I’m a bit confused by your reply. At first, I thought it was a bit of a bold statement. The empirical basis of my statements are plenty in my posts. But feel free to pinpoint missing items on my blog.

    But when I read your 1st reference, it’s exactly describing the point that I try to make!
    So, probably we agree, and you handed in some evidence?

    Some citations from Wijnandt’s 1st reference:

    “Many people barely recognise the bicycle as a legitimate mode of transport; it is either a toy for children or a vehicle fit only for the poor and/or strange,” Dave Horton, of Lancaster University, wrote in an interim assessment of the Understanding Walking and Cycling study.

    “For them, cycling is a bit embarrassing, they fail to see its purpose, and have no interest in integrating it into their lives, certainly on a regular basis.”‘

    “Many see cycling as, at best, something reserved for country weekends rather than everyday travel. The few who do ride in cities tend to be keen enthusiasts, thus reinforcing the niche image.”Regrettably, we did not find this mass of people on the threshold of change, who only needed a little push to start cycling as a daily means of getting around,,” said Griet Scheldeman, also of Lancaster University. “The hardy, Lycra-clad cyclists confirm that cycling is a very skilled practice, from which most people immediately distance themselves. So far, cycling promotion still reaches mainly that smallish part of the population that does not really need that much convincing.”

    These are very very social-cultural statements. Where is the road safety aspect?! One has to read a bit further, and then road safety is only put forward by the very few people who stepped over the embarrassment, and actually started to use a bike. So, these are the ‘strange, childish or poor people’ of the investigation, that I’m constantly referring to as how the masses look upon those ‘cyclists hobbyists’. Obviously, only these react on the post, because only these are interested in the subject, and then again they start emphasizing road safety.

    The point that I was making towards the British cyclists was simply that there’s much more to cycling than just cycling road safety. And that this road safety in the NL did not come out of the blue.

    Having read the reference, it even gets me to the point thinking that British cycling enthousiasts (willingly or unwillingly) cultivate the cycling road safety issue towards a level that they actually scare off the few non-cyclists that were considering to start cycling. That would be very bad.

    Oops, did I push a red button?

    • some guy says:

      You claim: “The empirical basis of my statements are plenty in my posts. But feel free to pinpoint missing items on my blog.”
      What is missing is the *why*. You make some claims about dutch geography and society, for which you do not have references, and then you claim that *poof* like magic the fact that what you mentioned is different between the UK and the Netherlands these differnces must surely explain the difference in cycling rates. In other words, you do not explain the causality, why the differences you mentioned cause the difference in cycling rates.
      If I were to exaggerate your line of reasoning I might claim that because Dutch people are on average taller than English people this must surely explain why Dutch people cycle more and if only the English people were to grow taller, they would also cycle more.

    • michael says:

      “Having read the reference, it even gets me to the point thinking that British cycling enthousiasts (willingly or unwillingly) cultivate the cycling road safety issue towards a level that they actually scare off the few non-cyclists that were considering to start cycling”

      I really have to express how much I think this sentiment is mistaken. I can only speak from direct personal experience of being a non-driving non-cyclist for many, many years. My reluctance to cycle for a very, very long time (until I decided public transport had priced itself out of my budget) had _nothing_ to do with ‘cycle safety campaigners’ and everything to do with my own personal experience of being a pedestrian and experiencing for myself how downright scary and unpleasant road traffic was.

      I find your suggestion to be peculiar, implying as it does that no British pedestrian/potential cyclist had ever actually seen an urban UK road for themselves but rather relied entirely on the tiny number of ‘cycle safety campaigners’ to tell them about these scary places!

  16. Gareth says:

    As someone who studied Human Geography at Uni, I’m flattered that some people consider it a science (it certainly doesn’t qualify as a STEM subject in any English speaking country as far as I know).

    Not sure I can agree with Magic Bullet entirely with his assessment of urban geography, but he brings up an important point for understanding the development of cities. NL was a fairly late industrialiser (by W. European standards), so its cities began to experience the first wave of industrial era sprawl at a later date, it also didn’t have the sort of novelty railways that sprung up in the mid 1800s, which the government then had to take over and turn into profitable commuter routes. This helped Dutch cities remain relatively compact until a later date. There is also the Stelling van Amsterdam to consider, which would have inhibited the development of early commuter hubs around Amsterdam (which incidentally is closer to 5k people per square kilometre, it is after all almost 1/3 surface water, but then I guess there are the house boats), but this is pretty much unique to that city.
    From the 1930s or so onwards, they begin to converge more.
    I’ve always felt that the G4 are as different from each other as any are from any random British city.

    “Having read the reference, it even gets me to the point thinking that British cycling enthousiasts (willingly or unwillingly) cultivate the cycling road safety issue towards a level that they actually scare off the few non-cyclists that were considering to start cycling. That would be very bad.”

    You’ve got it the wrong way round, people here already have the perception that its not safe and exaggerate the degree of risk (some schools even ban kids from cycling), cycling campaigners thus fall into two camps, the ‘hit them with more training’ school of thought, and the ‘address subjective safety issues’ crowd. The later aims to take the conflict out of cycling (which is why they are keen to learn from the Netherlands), and former prefer to pretend it doesn’t exist (catering to your view).
    More training hasn’t achieved much of significance in the past, addressing the high level of intimidation experienced (mentioned in the Guardian article you cited) is thus an obvious alternative course of action. If the few people who try out cycling find reason to continue cycling, their friends/neighbours/relatives will be more likely to give it ago.
    Maintaining the status quo is what makes cycling a weird extreme sport for middle age men in lycra.

    The London Underground is useless in the part of London where I live (which is really a separate town that just happens to be in the county of Greater London), car dependency is pretty much inevitable here. It only really serves the central area and some main commuting routes north of the Thames really well. Much of the Greater London area, especially south of the river has poor coverage, and relies on London’s somewhat awkward bus routes to get people around (expect to switch buses a few times if you not heading inwards to the centre), as well as the regular commuter rail routes (again only useful if you’re heading inwards).

  17. Here in Scotland, we are getting tired of the hills and weather arguments, some of the highest rates of utility cycling are in Highland and Moray LAs. It is also interesting to note that the highest cycling rate in Austria are in the provinces Tirol, Salzburg and Vorarlberg, not noted for their flatness or the mildness of their climate, seeing as they are all in the Alps.

  18. Magic Bullet says:

    Sorry, I think that my remark was a bit tough on those trying to promote cycling in the UK. But the scare-off mechanism is there, whether you like it or not. I never meant that people only listen to cyclists and would not have their own minds to decide on cycling. What I do mean is that the road safety mantra is just one extra thing going into their bucket already overfilled with anti-cycling arguments. And that would be very bad, wouldn’t it?

    Of course one can cycle in the Alps, or in rainy Scotland. Of course one can cycle at -30 in winter time in Canada. Check out my quest for fun blog. But that doesn’t mean that those circumstances are ideal. Nor does it mean that cycling in Scotland, Austria or Canada could get anywhere near Dutch cycling levels, where circumstances are better for cycling. Maybe the Scottish are slightly less in love with their cars than the English? And may be that explains higher cycling levels in Scotland than in England?

    The one and only thing I’m agitating against is the misconception that cycling levels would be dictated only by cycling road safety measures and nothing else. That’s so simplistic.

    @Some Guy: please come up with specific examples. Actually, being tall helps in going fast in a velomobile, but that probably wasn’t what you meant. So I should come up with why NL is flat? Or why flat areas are more convenient for cycling than hills? Should I come up with why 5 km cycling is very convenient and 10km is less convenient? Did you ever cycle yourself whenever you had an off-day? Because then you would have known the answer. But actually I did explain in my last post, for your convenience. Before that, I explained Dutch social geography and I invited everybody to check out for similar structures in their own countries. Did you? I don’t know it exactly for the UK, apart from London. Make my day and post some calculations like I did for Leiden, Utrecht and Arnhem.

    @Gareth, Thanks. One of the things I still don’t understand is why the British didn’t develop the Underground or their railways further. They were very proud of these, and for a good reason. Much more culturally integrated in the UK than cycling I would guess. But at some point in time it went wrong…you just stopped with it, and guess what? Massive complaints about railway safety nowadays in the UK. Coincidental similarities?

  19. Maciej says:

    Things are going to change. Just watch bicycles with electric engines.

  20. Pingback: ANWB sign Nr. 1 - The oldest cycling sign post | Rotterdam Spotted by Locals

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