Yesterday Kyle, Jack and I headed into the main shopping precinct of our town, it's a network of roads that are for walking and cycling traffic only, they interlace in a sort of web that makes them easy to navigate which makes me continue to think that the Dutch are basically practical.
If I set aside all the little differences that make cycling easier here and focus on the one main difference that is the cause of all the others, it would have to come down to practicality. Since the invention of rubber tyres the bicycle has been the most practical way of achieving movement for the masses. In comparison to the bicycle I think most other forms of transport, if not ALL other forms of transport fail because of their complexity.
If you take practicality a step further it will lead you to make infrastructure that makes ease of movement within a community a top priority. If you combine practicality, bicycles and planning you come up with an infrastructure that makes perfect sense to humans who generally always seek to take the path of least resistance.
In the place where the majority of humans habits are formed, the childhood home, what parent in their right mind would use a car when you can plop the child in a box bike and nip to the shop before you can reverse from your parking spot in a car? I think that point alone, at the end of the day makes it different here in the Netherlands. As that child grows it is more likely to ride a bike and here is another major factor, even if that child grows up to drive a car, it will still know what its like to be a daily cyclist and therefore be more likely to show the kind of acceptance and respect that we cyclists desire.
After we'd walked around the shops for a little bit, we took a seat on a corner, Jack climbed brick walls and cement fountains, while Kyle and I grew more grey hairs. As we sat there, a herd of of school children of about 13 and 14 years old came along the street on their bicycles. They showed the kind of confidence on their bikes that can only be attained by those who have grown up on one, they collide precariously close to each other, carry passengers that dismount and mount with grace at speed, eat and drink, chat on cell phones, grab snacks from panniers and adjust an ailing kickstand mid cycle- it is truly impressive! They do all this whilst giggling, laughing and being slightly obnoxious like any other teenager. I have to doubt that these kids will be giving up their bicycles any time soon and when I look at the younger children, they too seem to be well on their way to enjoying a lifestyle catered towards the practical bicycle. I see too, elderly people who appear to be having a laboriously hard time walking get on their bikes and cycle away with apparent ease.
Before you leave this post I want to strongly encourage you to watch this video I posted above and then please share it with your friends, lets get the other countries fired up about the amazing bicycle!