Sunday, December 26, 2010

Keeping the Bike Wheels Turning

Photo: A van Mulligen
An article on last week reported that many cyclists are complaining that cycle paths are icy and slippy. My initial thought was "Well d'oh! That white stuff keeps falling from the sky, it keeps freezing - and besides the paths are no party either, and even local roads are a mess."

And then the penny dropped - this is what makes the Netherlands that bit different from many other European countries, particularly my country of origin, Britain. Cycle paths here are a way of life, much more than they are in the UK and cycling in the Netherlands is an accepted means of transportation. Getting on your bike is not just a fun Sunday afternoon out, it's a way of life, it's a way of getting from A to B. So snow and ice on the cycle paths is cause for a moan - in the same way the Brits would moan if most of the roads were not cleared for driving safely on.

I read a blog post about cycling in the snow and ice - and at the end of it there was an interesting comment from a Brit living in Sweden. There, many cycle paths are cleared before roads. Culture plays such an important role in how we get about when winter hits.

I witnessed a young man cycling yesterday on my way to the shops and I wasn't sure if I should admire his determination or have him committed. He hared across the icy path in front of me on his two wheels, pedalled across the slushy road and careered onto the snow covered cycle path. And he came to a wobbly grinding halt. Undeterred, he picked up his bike in a graceful motion, placed it on the road and tore off again. Even those in cars were edging their way cautiously along the road but this young cyclist obviously had no desire to be held back by a bit of ice and ten centimetres of snow. However, other cyclists are a little more cautious - hence the complaints pouring in to the Fietsersbond.

The Fietsersbond (Cycling Association) is calling for all main cycle routes to be cleared (not just gritted but swept of snow too). However, we are already hearing mutterings that the salt supply is running low across the country.... and we have much more winter to come.

Are you braving the snow on your bike or have you tucked your bike away until the snow clears?

No comments:

Post a Comment