Some normal sights in the Netherlands

I’m sorry but I’m not much of a photographer so you’ll have to make do with word pictures.

We have now been in the Netherlands for 10 days. Here are just a few of the normal sights around here that you won’t normally (if ever, for most of us) see in the UK

1: An elderly couple out for a ride together. She is on a mobility scooter and he is on an electric assist bike.

2: A mum with a cargobike riding alongside a young child (maybe about 5 years old) who is riding their own bike along the normal cycle infrastructure (at this point a painted lane on the road). When I caught up with them they were stopped at a red traffic light and clearly having a conversation about what that meant and when they would be able to continue.

3: Parents with two children on a normal bike (one in a seat behind the handlebars, the other a seat on the backrack).

4: Teenage girls riding out of town on their own in the late evening.

5: Groups of young people riding about town together, using the safe infrastructure not the pavement or the road.

6: A group of 4 Scouts in uniform on a fully loaded tour

7: Tandems with couples of all ages in normal clothes

8: Couples in full lycra on nice road bikes riding together heading in or out of town

9: People getting off their bike, parking it and taking a walking stick from the basket in order to be able to walk away.

10: Crowds of bikes parked outside every restaurant, cafe, pub, shop in an ordinary town not just a University city.

11. Cash machines at banks that most of the people use them one handed while holding their bike in the other hand

12. People of all ages giving people of all ages rides on their back racks (or sometimes their front racks)

13. Dogs in front baskets, dogs in rear baskets, dogs on leads alongside bikes

14. A gentleman riding home with a huge brass band instrument on his front rack

15: A mum with two maybe 10 year olds in the front of her cargobike (seen halfway between two towns)

16: Bike traffic jams at traffic lights despite it not being rush hour, not being a city and not being a narrow lane.

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  1. I have seen, on British infrastructure, numbers 3, 5, 8, 10, 11, 13, 15, 16. I get the point you’re making, and agree with it, but the word never is pushing the hyperbole just a very small amount too far.

    • Maybe, except that you will see nearly all of these everyday in every town in the Netherlands.
      In the UK you may have seen many of these once or twice, or some of them regularly if you live in Cambridge. But none of them are normal everyday sights in the UK – even in Cambridge.

    • I have added a few qualifiers to emphasise that this is not a special place (eg as Cambridge is in the UK) but normal towns.

  2. Even with the qualifiers I can still say I’ve seen 3, 8 and 13 – seriously, I get what you’re saying, but I think you’d have been better ditching the word “never” and replacing it with “wouldn’t normally” or wouldn’t expect” or “would be very surprised to”… I’m afraid I have spent so long working on political and organisational marketing and propaganda that I react badly to any hyperbole that doesn’t stack up. And because I’ve seen some, I can’t assume no-one has ever seen any of the others. I don’t disagree that Dutch infrastructure is vastly superior to ours and allows for a much better bike-centric culture (it was already the case when my wife studied out there almost 20 years ago, I can imagine they’ve got better at a far quicker rate than us!) and that the normality of what you describe is evidence of that. I just don’t like the word “never” unless it really is true – which is rarely the case in human behaviour.

    • I have reworded it, but I don’t want to miss the reality that any of these sights are exceptional in the UK and entirely normal and frequent in the Netherlands.

  3. Yup, “these sights are exceptional in the UK and entirely normal and frequent in the Netherlands” says exactly what you want to say without substantiated words like “never”, as does the phrase you’ve used in the blog now. Just to be clear – I only ever had a problem with the absolutism of the word “never”, I always agreed with the thrust of the article.

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