After recently returning from the Netherlands I can say one of the things I loved most was the Dutch cycling culture. Austin powers didn’t teach me much about the Dutch. “Bong and a blintz?” would better be replaced with “Bong and a Bicycle”. Aside from their extremely liberal views on the drugs, the other thing which is impossible to overlook is the fact that everyone is cycling. In fact the Dutch cycle more than any other European country (Study)
What’s the Dutch cycling culture got to do with Rewilding Humans you ask?
The way I see it is the bicycle is pretty much the modern horse of the city. It’s sustainable, healthy, and happens outdoors . We could try and introduce more horses to the city but who’s prepared to deal with the aftermath when those one ton beasts need the bathroom. Asides walking (which is also great) the only alternative to cycling is sitting in a car or in some form of public transport to reach your destination. Clearly cycling is the wilder healthier option, therefore I am a fan.
I have put together a list of some of the benefits of cycling which may make you want to consider spending more time on the bike:
Lessons in Health from the Dutch Cycling Culture
It’s fairly well known that cycling is good for strengthening and toning muscles, improving cardio, and burning fat. In the Netherlands on a typical day 36% of the population said cycling was the method of transportation they used most often, whereas in the UK only 3% claimed cycling as their “go-to” commute (Study).
This may explain why Dutch are ranked within the top 3 fittest countries in Europe, whereas the UK is ranked within the top 5 fattest countries in Europe (Article). Clearly the Dutch cycling culture is onto something as far as health is concerned.
Cycling has also been found to help you get to sleep quicker and give you a deeper nights rest (Study), Increase your brains white matter (Study), Inprove your performance on cognitive tests (Study), and reduce the number of days you call in sick for work (Study). If you are fed up with a poor night’s sleep, flunking tests, and having to eat an apple every day to ward of sickness, cycling may be for you.
Save Time like a Dutchman
In the Netherlands every citizen knows that cycling is quicker than driving for short commutes. This is probably one of the reasons that sparked the Dutch cycling culture in the first place. The Dutch have famously flat terrain and have built infrastructure to accommodate bicycles over a number of decades. This is not the case in most of the world so surely it is quicker to commute by car instead of bicycle if you are not from the Netherlands right?
It turns out no! This (Article) details 9 UK cities in which the journey time between cars and bicycles are very similar, many of them being quicker by bike. This seems to be the same case in many U.S cities also (Article). This isn’t taking into account the time it takes to park your car. Everyone who cycles knows it’s far quicker to lock a bike than it is to find a parking space.
Lessons in Wealth from the Dutch Cycling Culture
Have you ever heard of the saying “Going Dutch”? It means anyone participating in any given activity has to pay for themselves. Instead of having to work out the cost of petrol for each individual passenger the Dutch prefer to cycle to save the confusion. This could be the another reason for the uprising of the Dutch cycling culture, or perhaps I’m just interpreting “Going Dutch” a step too far 🙂
In any case biking has been found to be much cheaper than driving or any other form of public transport “Duh”. (Cycle Scheme) forecast that the annual cost of cycling to work in the UK is £396, contrasted with driving which cost a staggering £3727 annually. Things get even more expensive if you are from the U.S (Article)
You could also save some cash by ditching your gym membership. What always perplexes me if people who drive to the gym only to use a stationary exercise bike or another cardio equivalent. Why not just go on a bike-ride instead and save yourself the gym membership (and some time). Personally I find cycling outdoors far more enjoyable than sitting on a gym bike staring at a wall.
If you are looking to save some money cycling seems to be a no brainer!
Cycle to save the planet
Cycling is the greenest form of transport with the exception of walking. Although cycling is often cited as a zero emission activity this is not actually the case. The materials required to build a bicycle and the additional fuel the human body requires to power a bicycle (remember we burn more calories when we bike?) means it is not energy neutral. With all these factors taken into account, a bike is still approximately 12x more energy efficient than car. A car belches out 271g of carbon dioxide per kilometre of travel, whereas a bike only emits 21g (Study).
All the air pollution in cities from cars and industry is actually pretty bad for us too. In London England alone 9,500 deaths are caused annually due to air pollution (Study). You would think that as cyclists are in the open they would be more susceptible to pollution than those sat in the safety of their vehicles. Luckily this is not the case and cyclist breath in 1/5th of the pollutants of those driving in cars (Study). This is huge reason to bike instead of drive. Plus less people driving in cities will mean less pollution. Not to forget bikes also save space. You can fit around 20 bicycles in the same space you can fit one car.
Cycling is my personal favourite method of transportation. It’s fun and brings back lots of good childhood memories, or bad ones in my case as I fell off a lot 😉 I find cycling so much more relaxing than driving, particularly in cities. My friends over at Donkey Republic share this view and are making it easier than ever to rent a bike when visiting European cities with their revolutionary new app which you can check out (Here).
To conclude, cycling is great for our health, wallets, watches, and the planet. This is what the Dutch cycling culture has taught me, so thank you to all you crazy Dutch who have better balance on your bicycles than most of us have on our feet 🙂