Sunday, 17 July 2016

Cycling Dutchman Blog

The Cycling Dutchman Blog provides information about some high-quality cycling books by Eric van der Horst. Currently, there are three guidebooks available: Cycling in Amsterdam and The Netherlands, London-Land's End Cycle Route and Devon Coast to Coast Cycle Route (all in English). Where are you heading is Eric's tale about his cycling odyssey across America (in Dutch only).    

This blog also features various cycling articles, mostly published between 2011 and 2016. The articles provide a wealth of eye-opening cycle information and may inspire you to to go on a great bike ride yourself or even campaign for better conditions for cycling where you live!

To find out more about the books, use the top menu, to read articles, scroll further down. All articles below are listed according to the following themes: "Dutch bike rides", "Dutch cycling culture", "Dutch-style bike rides in the United Kingdom", "Explaining Dutch cycling infrastructure", "Campaigning for cycling in the United Kingdom" and "Further travels with the Cycling Dutchman". Enjoy the reading!

Dutch bike rides:

If you have just arrived in Amsterdam and start cycling there for the first time in your life, you'll feel overwhelmed. Cycling on the right hand side, those very different road layouts. but most of all, the pace of the average Amsterdam cyclist. Stay away from the rush of the locals and join The Ultimate Amsterdam Bike Ride, as featured in my guidebook

A great advantage of holiday cycling in The Netherlands is that there is so much route variety available within reasonably short distances. I try to reflect this with the routes in my guidebook and while I was compiling the guidebook routes for you, I also wondered; if I had to make a selection; what would be the 12 best bike rides of The Netherlands?

Scenic towns, beautiful beaches, impressive flood barriers and great vistas from the famous Dutch dykes. Heading away from cities like Amsterdam, The Hague and Utrecht, you'll really get a feel for rural cycling in The Netherlands. We take a close up of the Southern Route in our guidebook by Cycling the Dutch West Cape.

You love cycle touring and have done so all your life. Or you just have become a regular cyclist and start to be hungry for more. But, you also have two young children. Can you still follow your dreams? Guest blogger Tom Burslem tells the tale of how he and his partner embarked on an international cycling holiday with toddlers in The Netherlands, Germany and Denmark.

Cycle beyond Dutch cliches like clogs, windmills and the Amsterdam red light district. The guidebook Cycling in Amsterdam and The Netherlands - The very best routes in the cyclist's paradise truly allows you to explore the lowlands. Read about the origins and the full specs of this unique book: Cycling in Amsterdam and The Netherlands - The second edition  

A lot has been written and said about London's "Cycling Super Highways". To a Dutch person, just the name "cycling super highway" sounds ridiculous. We take you on one of Amsterdam's many cycling commuter routes, as featured in our guidebook. It doesn't even have a name, but is 100% off-road, despite the busy area it travels through. Amsterdam's East Corridor; a "cycling super highway"?

Dutch cycling culture:

Many Dutch people assume that the bicycle has always been at the heart of their nation, but it took incredibly long for the Dutch to fall in love with the bike. Also, a lot of social unrest took place before The Netherlands became truly cycle-friendly. American writer Pete Jordan was the first to embark on a study on how Amsterdam came to be The City of Bikes.

The bicycle is at the heart of Dutch daily life. The fear in the night that your bike lights may not work, the benefits of having small children on a rainy bike ride or just giving the love of your life a lift on the back of your bike. The Dutch have hit their own charts with great bike lyrics, but what is the ultimate Dutch bike song? Looking for the Dutch equivalent of Queen's "Bicycle Race"

Bike theft has always been a problem in The Netherlands. The many unattractive clunkers you still see being used in large Dutch cities are mainly used to reduce the risk of theft, but the situation is not that bleak these days. Guarded bike parks can be found all over the place and there is always the convenience of the Dutch bike lock
The mountain bike is pretty much the standard bike model in many countries, but is this style of bike suitable for daily journeys? Are mountain bikes convenient for commuting or for a trip to the the shops or do they just cause back pains? Guest blogger Berno Brosschot explains the benefits of Dutch bikesQuality bikes: the missing link in the UK

Every year the National Cycling Holiday Fair opens its doors to more than 20,000 Dutch cycling holiday enthusiasts. Every European country proudly presents itself to get its share of the Dutch love for international cycle touring. Every country, except Britain that is. Read how I solely acted as representative for the UK for five years and meet The Netherlands' most eccentric cycling characters of the nation's annual Cycling Holiday Fair. 

The recumbent bike is a well established bike concept in The Netherlands. You'll see them regularly, probably up to a couple per day, depending where you cycle (they are less popular in urban areas). It doesn't happen every day though thay you'll face a banana bike. Guest blogger Wytze Bijleveld explains the joys of riding a banana bike.

Dutch style bike rides in the United Kingdom:

Back in 1995, I cycled across London from north to south and perhaps I spotted three other cyclists over the two days that it took me. Twenty years on, cycling in London has changed a lot and can be a joy! My London East-West Cycle Route, as published in my guidebook, keeps you away from the rushed locals and busy main roads, showing the British capital at its best. London by bicycle: The East-West Cycle Route 

If you fancy an easy cycling mini-break, also suitable for families, you may want to cycle from Bristol into the Somerset Levels. My guidebook provides a continuous enjoyable traffic-calmed route, easy to do over two to three days. Cycle under the famous Clifton Suspension Bridge, enjoy the views over the Bristol Channel and cycle via famous Cheddar! Cycling mini-break: from Bristol into the Somerset Levels

The Devon Coast to Coast Cycle Route remains one of Engeland's best developed cycle routes, but it is still relatively unknown. Over the years, we have taken various initiatives ourselves to change this. We developed our Devon Coast to Coast package holiday, produced a YouTube video and in 2017 we published our Devon Coast to Coast Guidebook. In 2012, we also showed a group of travel writers around. It was a glorious day! Cycling Devon Coast to Coast with German and Swiss journalists

Our London - Land's End Cycle Route Book is designed for those who love cycling, but don't like traffic. The book takes you onto the most beautiful cycle routes of southern England, including the Camel Trail, Devon Coast to Coast Route, Bristol and Bath Railway path, Thames Valley route and many more! What makes the book unique is that the route is completely continuous, including detailed directions and local knowledge all the wayRead about the origins and the full specs of the London-Land's End Cycle Route guidebook.

You may have heard about the Tour de Manche cycle route; developed by local authorities on both the English and French sides of the English Channel and part-funded by the European Union, some great cycle routes have been developed. The information available about the routes can be sketchy, so this article tries to reveal some mysteries and shows the legacy of the project; Cycling around the English Channel

Explaining Dutch cycling infrastructure:

When talking cycle infrastructure, people often get confused. What is a cycle path and what is a cycle lane? And why are the Dutch versions of these so superior and safe to use in comparison to what they call "cycle paths" and "cycle lanes" in the United Kingdom? Cycle paths and cycle lanes; the full story!

British racing cyclists often see cycle paths as a threat to their freedom to use the roads (and given the poor state of British cycle paths, we understand this fear!). But what if cycle paths were of Dutch quality? At the same time, in The Netherlands, many cycle journeys are still on-roadSharing the road or segregated cycle paths? Well it is both!

3 pm; a Dutch school ground is full with parents, waiting to collect their children. It will be mayhem on the road outside of the school, right? Cars parked illegally, exhaust fumes, engine noises, hardly a place to walk, a lollipop lady trying to maintain order in the chaos; a school bus reversing into some kids? At a Dutch School Run, it is a different story...

Have you ever tried to follow the signs of a cycle route in England? You are on "National Cycle Route" 4, but where will it take you? And even if you now the destination of the route, can you trust the signs will get you there all the way? Probably not. Fortunately the Dutch understand the relevance of good signage

Why do British roads always look as they were built for cars only? That has to do with the center road line with its long strokes, making the drivers comfy in their lane. Many British roads could be much more pleasant to cycle if the the center road line was removed. Lower speeds and more shared space by just a different lick of paint!

Campaigning for cycling in the United Kingdom:

I dedicated most of my working career from 2011 until 2016 to improving conditions for cycling in the United Kingdom. Strategic planning, teaching and myth busting were all part of the game. I have been involved in various projects either as (paid) surveyor/consultant or volunteering campaigner. An overview of my planning and presentation activities can be found in this article on campaigning for cycling in the UK.

Another area in which I worked hard for cycling in the UK is the development of Bikeability for school children. I have worked as a professional instructor since 2008 and have set up various projects and schemes. As I taught about 400 children per year for eight years myself and managed courses for more than 8000 children, you may want to read my story on the power of Bikeability.   

Myth busting is unfortunately an ever returning activity for any UK-cycling campaigner. For over five decades, the people of this car-dominated country have been brainwashed with myths. I found the obsession with the cycle helmet the biggest distraction from acting on real safe cycling conditions. The helmet keeps being a good excuse to do nothing to make cycling conditions safer. You won't fool the Dutch! The Cycling Dutchman on helmets

Another myth popular in car-dominated societies. "Cyclists should pay road tax". Indeed, the burden on society by people on bikes is enormous and should be heavily taxed! Or not? If you really compare the costs for society of both driving and cycling, you'll come to very different conclusions. And the funny thing is; even the Dutch have been there! Why tax on bicycle-ownership is nonsense

Further travels with the Cycling Dutchman:

The Tour de France is the world's biggest cycle race. The performance of its riders can be legendary. The event keeps sparking the imaginations for many people. If you love cycling, you must take on a classic stretch at least once in your life. I did so too. On the occasion of the 100th edition of "Le Tour", I wrote about my own Tour de France encounters.

In 2002, I cycled the longest ride of my life, an adventure of 5000 miles cycling coast to coast in America. This ride is still vivid in my memories and I can still take inspiration and energy of this cycling odyssey when dealing with challenges of today's life. In 2012, I celebrated the 10th anniversary of this ride, browsing through pictures of the past. Enjoy my America Coast to Coast 10 Year Anniversary

It is difficult to let somebody experience what it is like to be on a long-distance bicycle journey. It is difficult to explain to a non-rider how you can become "part of the landscape" and how the daily routines of arranging food and shelter at the end of a day's ride can be a wonderful experience. The film "The Straight Story" about a man who travels two American states on a lawn mower shows what can't be said; The spirit of cycle touring: The Straight Story

The 2012 Olympic Games in London are now a distant memory for many. Many may have already forgotten that Weymouth was also part of the Olympic line-up, hosting the sailing events. Having tickets for the viewing platforms on Nothe Hill, my family unit decided to cycle to the event. This is the report on our bike ride to the Olympics.