Sunday, August 30, 2009

The Netherlands

So I've made it to the place most people agree on as the Western world's capital for bicycling: The Netherlands.

After days of dodging thunderstorms and overcoming headwinds (14 days, to be exact) I've just crossed the border from Germany. I'm in a small town just west of the border called Winschoten at a nice little campground complete with wireless internet! The town contains about a half dozen churches alongside another half dozen windmills. And because it is Sunday in Europe, you all know what is happening: absolutely nothing.

I took this (overexposed) picture of myself just before I left my camping place in Germany two days ago. I'll try for a better one soon enough. The camping places in Germany were fantastic: they all had a breakfast option (usually bread and cheese) and they each served beer at the check in desk. I have to say, one of the best things about the tour so far has been rolling into a campsite after 100 kilometers, paying 6 Euro to sleep for a night, and enjoying an icy cold German beverage.

I've seen a lot of cows and pigs and horses on the tour, smelled them mostly, but I also saw this disorderly herd of older folks clamoring about in the center of the bike track. Clamoring or not, how often do you see 30 or more senior citizens rolling down a bicycle path? It was a first for me.

This cat was lying perfectly still in the center of the road for literally an hour before I hunkered down to photograph it. Then it came straight for me, intent on being loved. Just a random tidbit of my world for you.

2 days to Amsterdam. Boy am I excited. For now, enjoy a few fun facts about the Netherlands from the 2009 Bicycle Report which you can find at the European Cycling Federation's Website.
  1. The Netherlands is the only European nation that has more bicycles than it has people (18 million bikes, 16 million people.)
  2. An interesting note about safety: (Directly from the text) "Something that should not be overlooked...Liabilty. In some countries, bicycling is seen as causing danger, which sometimes ends up in anti-cycling policy. The Dutch philosophy is: cyclists are not dangerous; cars and car drivers are. So car drivers should take responsibilty for avoiding collisions with cyclists. This implies that car drivers are almost always liable when a collision with a bicycle occurs and should adapt their speed when they share the road with cyclists." (p. 14)
  3. The Netherlands has the highest number of people bicycling of any European country, but they also have the lowest fatality rate per kilometer bicycled. More bikes always means more safety.

1 comment:

  1. you think that's richard's long lost brother, rachel the cat? did you two cuddle?