The Netherlands. An example to the world when it comes to public transportation and urban design.
In 2014, 36% of the citizens in the Netherlands said that the bicycle was their most frequent mode of transportation on a daily basis, just behind cars at 45%.
The Netherlands are unified by an interconnecting network of well-maintained, city and country, friendly bike paths, known as the Dutch National Cycling Network. And on my most recent trip to Amsterdam, I finally had a chance to do a 45km city-to-city bike ride utilizing this incredible network.
Beginning in Amsterdam, our group’s plan was to make our way south towards Utrecht, a relatively nearby city and the journey would be COMPLETELY made via bike path. Truly a revelation, as many cities in the US and abroad are only now adapting cities to include more public biking lanes, both as a means of lowering car traffic, and in turn, making daily travel more sustainable for citizens and our planet.
The Netherlands have been leading in this category for decades and this ride to Utrecht was nothing short of breathtaking.
Leaving Amsterdam, it was maybe only 10 minutes until we had entered what would be the main bike path of our journey.
Smooth asphalt beneath our wheels, grown trees spaced out evenly about 2.5 meters apart on either side of the path. Just beyond the trees on the left was a beautiful flowing canal/waterway/river. On the right, it sloped off and opened up into lush green farmland, dotted in patches by herds of cows and sheep. Power cables, attached to cellular towers also run the length of these fields and followed us all the way down to Utrecht.
While narrow at most parts, the bike path had small pull-offs for tourists and cyclists to stop and take in the natural splendor. I noticed just how quiet and peaceful it was during this ride when I realized the only thing I heard as we rode — apart from our bikes — was the gentle rushing of the water on our left and the occasional distant airplane.
For anyone who is at least a casual cyclist, the other thing about this stretch of the Dutch National Cycling Network (and much of the routes in the country) is that it was almost completely flat.
To me, flat bike riding is FUN bike riding, because of how long you can bike for, as well as the ability to focus on surroundings instead of what gear you are shifting into or how much you wish the hill you are creeping up would just END!
The path turned into an even more comfortable red clay surface as we approached Utrecht, carrying us into a day of exploring a new Dutch city, one that is known for its still intact buildings from the medieval periods.
I highly recommend that anyone who enjoys riding and traveling, in general, go to the Netherlands with the intention of doing some city-to-city bike trips utilizing the world’s most impressive national biking path network — just try and book something when it’s a bit warmer if you can! 🙂