Bicycle culture in the Netherlands is the most advanced in the world, which isn’t too much of a surprise when you take into account the fact that the country has over 35,000km of cycling paths, with that number steadily rising each and every day. In the Netherlands, cycling is the main form of transportation, with the Dutch using their bicycles for just about everything, from commuting to work to taking a date out for dinner. In comparison to the rest of the world, using a bicycle on a regular basis, especially biking to work each day, brings with it a whole set of advantages, from a decrease in congestion, noise, costs and parking problems to an increase in pleasure and general health. Even if bicycle culture is not so advanced where you live, there is no reason why you cannot take a cue from the Dutch and begin biking to work.
Choosing a Bicycle
In most developed countries, there is an astonishing variety of bicycles available in most shops, especially when you take into account that cycling is not the main form of transportation in those areas. In contrast, a city like Amsterdam, in which over 50% of journeys are travelled via bicycle, stock mostly one type of bike in their shops, and these are what are known as cruiser bikes in North America. Rather than being designed for either speed or ruggedness, like the majority of bikes around the world, these are solid and comfortable single gear bicycles that are built solely for urban commuting. While these types of bicycles may not be suitable for where you live, make sure that you do not get carried away when picking a bike for your work commute, focussing on comfort and reliability rather than speed or style.
Dress for Your Destination
It is never uncommon to see someone decked out in Lycra and the latest high-tech fitness gadgets cycling around on a state-of-the-art bike, but this is not the approach that the Dutch take. Rather than dressing in tight workout gear, the Dutch dress for their destination, whether it be jeans and a t-shirt for a drink at the pub or a summery dress for a day of shopping. This adds to how comfortable and natural it feels to be riding around, and also makes cycling a no-sweat experience, doing away with the need for a shower once you reach your destination. In the Netherlands, cyclists have the right of way on the roads, making the journey much safer for them and doing away with the need for helmets. Unfortunately, this is not usually the case in other countries around the world, so while you still can dress for your destination, it is also important to wear a helmet for safety.
Biking to work may seem like a concept that is alien to you, especially if you did not grow up immersed in bicycle culture in the way that the majority of Dutch children do. However, not only will you notice the benefits in terms of your health, as well as your wallet, but you are likely to also start enjoying your commute to work, rather than dreading being stuck, yet again, in rush hour traffic.