Partial Insight Into Why The Dutch Cycle

American transportation planners are fixated on getting more people on bikes, and it’s easy to see why. Bicycles offer a number of benefits, so much so that we have a “bike benefits” tag on this blog.

Eureka bike ramp

The Ohlone Greenway offers a speedy and safe connection for bikes between Richmond and Berkeley. Photo credit: TJ Gehling


With the immense popularity of blogs such as Bicycle Dutch and A View From The Cycle Path, which demonstrate what everyday bicycling is like in The Netherlands (where 25% of all trips are by bicycle), there has been a strong focus in recent years on learning from the best, and bringing lessons stateside.
Large credit rightfully goes to the magnificent and safe  bicycle infrastructure present in The Netherlands. However, related to the infrastructure, Dutch cyclists can often also take more direct routes to their destinations as well.
As a result, not only is bicycling safe and pleasant in The Netherlands, it is also fast. In fact, the Dutch Cyclists’ Union recently found that bicycling is about the fastest mode of transportation for distances up to 5km (3 miles). In The Netherlands, the bicycle is competitive in time with cars, which makes it an appealing option given the many other benefits (economic, health, etc…) bikes offer as a mode of travel. The Dutch Cyclists’ Union notes:

People using a bike to travel distances of up to 7.5 km, arrive on average faster than people travelling by a bus, tram, or subway as the main mode of transport. Distances up to 5 km travelled by car take on average 9 minutes, while travellers taking the bus, tram, or subway spend 23 minutes traversing this short distance.

Incredible, and given that most trips in America are under 5 miles, could the same be true in the Bay Area? Have you found bicycling to be a fast way of getting around for small trips here and there? Perhaps the relatively new Bay Area Bike Share (BABS) has helped you make trips during your lunch break that wouldn’t otherwise be possible?
Our commuter survey found that bike commutes average 7.5 miles in distance though we don’t have numbers on commute time. However, consider this, maybe the bicycle is faster – even for longer trips – when you take into account the full cost of driving.
Let us know, share your bicycling experience in the comments! Also, visit the Dutch Cyclists’ Union for a cool graph showing average time spent on travel by mode and distance length.

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