5 Crazy Things The Dutch Do On Bicycles
|Date:||15 September 2020|
The bicycle is the unrivalled mode of transportation in the Netherlands. This is reflected in the fact that there are more bicycles than people in the country and over 35,000 km of bike lanes. So it is fair to say that the Dutch share a pretty intimate connection with cycling, often already learning to ride at 3-years old! With so much practice and experience when it comes to biking, it is no wonder that most Dutchies can pull off some pretty crazy things with their bicycles. In this blog, I’ve summarized some of my observations of the crazy things that Dutch people do while riding their ‘fiets’ across Groningen.
1) Transporting their entire household with a single bicycle
It is not uncommon to see Dutchies moving all kinds of furniture and other stuff on their bicycles. From plants to coffee tables and armchairs - I’ve seen people transport all kinds of things on two wheels here. What might seem like a terrible inconvenience at first sight, actually makes a little bit more sense when thinking about it more closely. When moving into the city centre, for example, some roads can be too narrow to park on or entirely inaccessible by car. The Dutch have even constructed a new type of bicycle called ‘Bakfiets’, which is used for the sole purpose of transporting large objects.
2) Riding with two bicycles at once
As I already mentioned at the beginning of this blog, there are more bicycles in the Netherlands than there are people. Interestingly enough, this can occasionally lead to some curious scenes on the road. It is not uncommon to see people riding one bicycle while steering another one on their side. It looks just as impressive as it sounds like and it is definitely harder than you think. After a few miserable attempts on my side to master this skill, I must admit that I still haven’t quite understood the physics behind it. Perhaps all I need is some extra practice, but the problem may also just be that I’m not Dutch enough for this.
3) Riding with several people on one bicycle
Who said that bicycles are only built for one person? In the Netherlands, you can sometimes see up to three (!) persons on one bicycle. While it is fairly common to see parents biking with two children on one bicycle (one in the front and one in the back), seeing how many people you can fit on one bicycle also seems to be a popular challenge among students. While I’ve gotten quite good at giving people a lift on the back after several years of living here, it is still beyond me how some can still steer their bikes confidently through the streets with a fully grown adult both on the back AND the front of the bike. Crazy.
4) Riding a bicycle while hanging on to a moped
Besides bicycles, there are also a lot of mopeds to be found on the streets of Groningen. So, of course, the most obvious thing to do when you have a friend with a moped is to ask whether they can give you a little extra help on your ride by pulling you along. This technique is so efficient one would almost think the Germans invented it, but believe me when I tell you that I’ve only ever seen this happen in the Netherlands. Before you get excited and want to go hanging onto mopeds, it should be pointed out that doing this can actually be pretty dangerous and is actually considered illegal in the Netherlands. So regardless of whether you are a Dutchie or an international, the best idea is to use your own legs while cycling in order to avoid a hefty fine or a trip to the hospital.
5) Cycling regardless of the weather
The Netherlands is known for its rapidly changing weather conditions and high probability of precipitation. However, this does not affect the cycling habits of the Dutch. Regardless of whether the sun is battering down at 35° or you have hurricane-like conditions, there will always be someone cycling by your door. Many people living in the Netherlands will have special clothes for cycling in the cold and in the rain, but one thing is for sure, they are going to bike. Biking in the most extreme weather conditions has even served as an inspiration for a Dutch sport called ‘Tegenwindfietsen’ which translates into ‘headwind cycling’. Here, avid lovers of bad weather and bikes compete to see who can cycle the fastest when confronted with way too much headwind.
What are some crazy things that you have seen the Dutch do on their bicycles? Share your stories or pictures in the comments below!