Cycling in the US from a Dutch perspective

My final pre-departure blog post assignment is to watch and respond to a video about Dutch bike infrastructure. I chose to watch the following video, which is titled “Cycling in the US from a Dutch perspective.” A blog post was also written about the video.

I have watched this video and read the blog post several times before. I posted the following to “The Slow Bicycle Movement” facebook group on November 9, 2014 after biking in Portland, OR for less than two months because I was feeling peer pressure to bike faster. Even though I ended up getting a road bike so I could go faster, I am still constantly passed by cyclists in Portland.

My post to

My post to “The Slow Bicycle Movement” facebook group

While many of my urban planning classmates don’t understand the significance of slowing down when biking, I am an advocate for slowing down when biking. A major reason why I want cyclists in the United States to slow down is because I understand how slow cyclists in Denmark and the Netherlands go. Due to how slow people bike in Denmark and the Netherlands, “interested but concerned” cyclists are seen biking everywhere. This isn’t the case in the United States. “Interested but concerned” cyclists in the United States will not feel attracted to biking if they see cyclists biking at full speed. “Interested but concerned” cyclists can’t keep up with a strong and fit cyclist who has been biking for years. I find it ironic how many of the strong and fit cyclists want more cyclists to be on the road with them but they aren’t biking at the speed that “interested but concerned” cyclists can keep up. Until cyclists in the United States bike at a relaxed pace, a majority of “interested but concerned” cyclists will not bike.

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5 thoughts on “Cycling in the US from a Dutch perspective

  1. I think you might be mistaken about the impact of the choice to ride slow. In my opinion, the pace of cycling is usually set by variables as destination time, surroundings, infrastructure, how busy it is, etc etc. When tracks are narrow and a lot of people are riding there, it will of course be hard to ride fast. When you’re doing some shopping, and ride with heavy panniers, you’ll likely be a lot slower. But if you ride on a wide road being chased by cars, giving you the feeling that you need to be out of the way, riding fast seems like a good choice.
    I think Mark’s comments were not adressed to the mentality of the bike riders, but indicative of an environment that’s a bit hostile to cyclists. Perhaps it’s better to not change the riders, but to campaign for peaceful riding options?

  2. I agree with the commenter. I think the choice to ride slow is a fine one and if you’re stuggling to stay with it, stay on the slower bike and model the behavior you hope to see. The infrastructure clearly has a role to play.

  3. I agree with both of you that infrastructure can slow people down. However, I believe the safe infrastructure that the Netherlands has will not come to a majority of the United States until most people bike slow in the United States. Most new cyclists in the United States don’t identify with a fast cyclist wearing lycra so the United States needs more slow cyclists wearing normal clothes. This is a major reason why cities throughout the United States have been rushing to install bike share programs. As Mark said in the video, bike share programs “may change the type of cycling from racing to a more relaxed variety, which more people can identify with.” What do you think about this?

  4. Koen says:

    Well, setting a good example of course will never be wrong… I just like to add that the most often given advice is to go for the low hanging fruit first, and that would be well-signed routes through quiet suburbs, and making those into integrated networks, including safe crossings, so people can cycle safely to shops, schools and perhaps work.

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