The Best and Worst Thing about the Netherlands

Filed under Netherlands, Random Grumps & Raves, Rights and Responsibility, Things to Consider
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Bicycles are the best thing about the Netherlands!

And a well parked bike

Grumpy Old Man and a well parked bike

The country is flat, there are bicycle lanes in and between nearly every street in the cities, between the cities and towns and out in the country through reserves and farmlands.  There are bikes with extended wheelbases and big buckets on the front for carrying up to four children.  There are bikes with extra seats (and sometimes, pedals) for children.  I have seen one young mother on such a bike with two children pedalling away and another in a small seat behind her.

The ease and safety of cycling and the excellence of public transport render cars unnecessary.  For the first time since we were very young parents, my wife and I do not own even one car.  We have bikes!  (And a shopping cart which we take to the supermarket!)

Cars here are actually very careful about bikes – accidents are very rare.  Cars, trucks and even buses patiently follow bikes through the narrow streets in places without bike lanes.  The cars stop and let the bikes in ahead of them.  Signs proclaiming one-way and no-exit streets usually have a picture of a bike with the caption “Uitgezonderd”.  It means “Bicycles excepted”.  The rule does not apply to them.

God help any motorist who has an accident with a bicycle.  Even if the cyclist was completely wrong and the motorist completely in the right, the motorist will be found guilty and punished, and the cyclist will get every assistance.  If the accident was caused by the cyclist, then only if there is incontrovertible evidence that the motorist moved heaven and earth in an attempt to avoid the accident and it was totally unavoidable, will he get off the charge.  Bikes rule, OK!!!   Well…

Bicycles are also the worst thing about the Netherlands!  They give way to nobody, use the footpath as a cycleway if it is more convenient, and as a bike-park if it is ten feet closer to their destination than one of the many bike parks provided free of charge by the authorities.  Usually, pedestrian crossings are placed in the places most convenient to corner bars, railway stations, supermarkets etc.  “How convenient”, think the cyclists.  More often than not, they park their bikes on the footpaths and block entrances to pedestrian crossings completely.  Passing policemen completely ignore this rude, inconsiderate and very dangerous situation.  This forces the pedestrian (often an old man or woman) to step off the footpath into the adjacent bike lane, where naturally the cyclists swear at them for walking on the bike lane (or even run into them).  Bikes rule, not OK!



  1. Kender says:

    Strange. I’ve lived in the Netherlands the past 36 years and I cannot remember ever having encountered a pedestrian crossing entrance blocked by bikes on the footpath.

    Are you sure you’re not ranting about one specific instance which irked you?

  2. JJ says:

    Have you ever been to Haarlem?

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