The Dutch and their bicycles
There is no way you can deny it: the Dutch really love their bicycles. If you’ve been in the Netherlands for a while you will probably have noticed the excessive amount of bicycles standing, lying and racing around. In rain or shine (and even in snow), bicycles are the main means of transportation in the Netherlands.
Types of bikes
There are 18 million bikes in the Netherlands, which is more than one per head of the population! Every year the Dutch buy around 1.3 million bikes. The most well-known type of bicycle is the omafiets (grandmother bike). This is a classic roadster bicycle with back-pedal brakes. The electric bicycle is growing in popularity every year, but mostly amongst the older generations. The bakfiets is popular with families. This is mostly because you can transport multiple children at once and can even put your groceries in there.
However, don’t expect to see many fancy or shiny bicycles on the streets. The Dutch might love their bikes, but they certainly don’t always treat them very well. Some bicycles stand outside in the rain day after day. The bicycle sheds at train stations are full to the brim with sad looking bicyles. Especially amongst students it is very normal to ride on a very noisy and scrap of metal. This will also guarantee your bike won’t get stolen. There are also many ‘orphan bikes’ in the Netherlands. These abandoned bicycles sometimes even take up 20% of bike park spaces like the ones at train stations.
The most impressive thing is probably how Dutch people ride their bicycles. Riding a gearless bicycle while talking on a mobile phone, carrying 2 children, 6 bags of groceries, a television set, and a mattress is everyday business around here. The Dutch even have special rainproof clothing and capes. So even torrential rain won’t stop anyone from taking a bicycle ride to work. Even when it snows and the streets are slippery, the Dutch will find a way to use their beloved bikes.