Nearly everyone bikes to school in the Netherlands (and work as well – even the prime minister!). View From the Cycle Path has a cool video that a dad made showing the bike traffic of parents and kids on the way to a Dutch school in the morning.
School busing is totally a foreign concept to the Dutch. Kids walk, bike, take public transportation (train or city bus), or, sometimes, get dropped off by car. One company here has created a bike bus that allows one adult and eight kids to pedal together. They’ve sold about 25 of them. I’m curious to see if it will catch on more.
When I drop my 6-year-old daughter, Katherine, off at her Dutch school, I usually also take along 4-year-old Joshua and 1-year-old Estel. I use a three-wheeled bakfiets, a cargo bike. Picture:
On Tuesday, Katherine rode her own bike for the first time, with me biking on my regular bike next to her. She was so proud of herself! Joshua was on a child seat behind me and Estel was in my Ergo baby carrier. The school is 2 kilometers from our house (1.2 miles), and it takes between 5 and 20 minutes to get there, depending on what combination of bikes we use.
Yesterday it snowed about 3 inches, and this is apparently the only weather in which Dutch people prefer other ways of getting to school. We tried to bike with Katherine on her kinderfiets and me, J, and E on my bike, but it was a disaster. I don’t know what I was thinking. The bike paths were not shoveled, and Katherine couldn’t navigate the slush. At least three Dutch people stopped to tell me off for biking in the snow, suggesting that we walk (Lopen!). I think they were trying to help, but there was really nothing they could do. We were stuck and should have taken the bus. We got halfway to school before I realized how crazy I was being, so we turned around and went home.
I love biking for transportation. I can’t see this catching on the US any time soon, though, because the infrastructure just isn’t there in most cities for safe biking. I would never let Katherine bike to school in the States (of course, I wouldn’t send her to a public school in the US, either, but that’s a different post!).
Do you bike much? What changes would be necessary in your area for you to feel safe biking to school or work?
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