A walk through the Netherlands (well, a couple of cities)

I just came back from a weekend in the Netherlands (not biking around, I took the train and walked mostly), and I got a bunch of bike-related pictures that may be especially relevant for bike commuters:

These are the only bike pictures that weren’t ruined by a faulty CMOS sensor, but the rest of the photos are here: http://picasaweb.google.co.uk/frank…rkTripToHolland

The Dutch guys I hung around with told me that the laws in Holland are such that if a car hits a bike rider, the driver is at fault 90% of the time. Harsh (this applies even if the cyclist has no lights, is riding drunk, in the middle of the street, etc.), but it makes the drivers very careful around cyclists. And I saw a lot of riding that would seem really risky (not looking both ways before merging, etc.).

Possibly the coolest thing I saw was a little kid sitting on the back of his mom’s bike, having an in-depth conversation with his slightly older brother, who was riding his own small BMX-style bike. That, and lots of very young kids sitting in seats behind the handlebar and a windscreen.

The bikes are mostly single-speed I guess, so you could see folks really pushing to get over the crest of a bridge or hill. I walked a few miles from the hotel to the train station before I left and walked past at least 3 or 4 bikes that were totally unlocked, anyone could have taken them – then I hit the suburbs and there were just dozens of bikes at bike racks on every corner, and half of them were unlocked. One or two that were locked at each rack had some sort of sticker tag on them, I’m assuming it was something like ‘this bike has been here for years, remove it or we’ll take it away’.

The bikes that I saw locked up were mostly leaned against a house or against a lamp post, even just on their kickstand, and a simple chain went through the front wheel and frame. I guess there are SO MANY bikes they figure if someone wanted to go through the trouble to pick up your locked bike and carry it off, it’s just easier to find a bike that isn’t locked and actually ride off on it. Granted, all the unlocked bikes and the bikes in the public racks that I saw were rusted either slightly or totally (I saw one guy riding a bike with just a light housing on the front – no lens or bulb at all) – all the ‘good’ bikes the freds rode are kept inside, I guess.

I really want to do a summer bike tour through there though – Holland, Belgium, etc. It’s just so relaxed, nearly everyone speaks English, and they’re all so nice.

I did see several freds there, some in full TdF style gear, but the vast majority were on these relaxed Dutch style bikes.