Cycling in the US from a Dutch perspective


Cycling in the US is very different
from the Netherlands. Not only the way people dress and behave, the type of bikes, but also the traffic in which they have to
move around, the cause of all these differences. It takes courage to ride between motorised
traffic like this. And you cannot trust drivers
to play by the rules. Cycling doesn’t seem to be taken
seriously. It’s “something children do”, or those who “haven’t really grown up”. And it’s mainly seen as a leisure
activity. People cycle on specific tracks and not
to get from A to B. Others take their bikes on their car to get to some some ‘fun’ place
where they can ride. Although I cannot believe riding here
is really fun or safe at all. This situation makes clear why you are
30 times more likely to get injured as a cyclist in the US,
than you are in the Netherlands. It gets even worse with a doorzone
of parked cars. It is not so very different in the
cities. It almost looks like these people are
riding a race, rather than going home after work. They’re trying to outrun other traffic. It really seems like a chase. No wonder some choose to ride on the
sidewalks, or crosswalks. Even in places where the situation is
different. Where there is more cycling and much more relaxed cycling. Less racing and more cycling from A to B, for everyday purposes, and not as a sport. Sometimes it almost looks Dutch. Although the infrastructure is very different. Even in Davis, California, I hardly saw any specific cycling infrastructure. And that’s probably why some people
still choose to ride in lycra and with helmets. No wonder, if your left turn looks like
this. You have to cycle surrounded by motor
traffic. Not everybody seems to care though, but there’s a lot of cycling here
despite the infrastructure rather than because of it. In other places new cycle infrastructure
does seem to appear. And I don’t mean sharrows
which is just useless paint that wears off pretty soon too. Still paint, but a little better
are bike lanes popping up everywhere. But the big disadvantage of those lanes
is demonstrated here. Cars can invade them. And that was also not a good time to
start driving again! Colored bike lanes maybe better
respected. It sure seems to be more relaxed
to ride here. It is even better without parked cars. Some physical protection,
even though they’re just plastic posts, is a further improvement. Chicago goes yet a step further with a line of parked cars
between track and roadway. But it is still not much more than paint. Curbs would make it prettier and less
easy to reverse. I am no big fan of left-turn-boxes. Especially not when they’re in
the wrong location. It should have been positioned here. Now this is more like it! Bike signals! The sign seems a bit too obvious in Dutch eyes,
but that only shows how novel they are here. What is even better: the green cycle is
different from that of turning motor traffic. Now that is good bike infrastructure! But it is surprising that that
explanation for motor traffic is also needed. The bike counter in San Francisco is nice,
to make cycling more visible, but good bicycle parking stands
like these in Davis have a real purpose. Chicago has great racks
in transit stations. Not heavily used yet,
but that may come. Bikes on buses are only possible
with low numbers of users. But it’s good to have. I saw more bike shops then before,
and that is also a good sign. Shared bikes may make cycling
even more accessible to even more people. It’s a good thing many cities in the
US are getting a shared bike system. It may change the type of cycling from
this more racing type to a more relaxed variety, with which more people can identify. A ‘bakfiets’ maybe a step too far for most, but seeing more upright cyclists in
ordinary clothes would be very positive. There could be a good future
for cycling in the US.