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Richard Langedijk: The Dutch cyclist in Britain

Richard Langedijk: The Dutch cyclist in Britain

Thursday, 3 December 2009

It is definitely more dangerous to cycle in Britain than it is in the Netherlands. In my country, the status of the cyclist is much higher – almost to the detriment of drivers. In fact, having lived and driven in the UK for half my life, I now struggle with driving a car back home because of all the extra rules.

If you turned a corner without checking in Holland and nearly hit someone, you would be totally vilified, but you don’t think twice about it over here.

It is a completely different mentality; nearly everyone in Holland cycles as well as drives, so motorists have a much better idea of what they can expect.

As a result, your whole perception of the road changes, because the law is so much more in favour of riders, and because there are so many more of them. When you have things like groups of students riding four abreast, as a driver you have to have eyes everywhere.

Furthermore, everything is designed with cyclists in mind: there are bollards and special cycle zones. A trip in my home town, Vlaardingen, that may be half a mile on my bike could be six miles in a car with all the diversions.

Here, the vast majority of people don’t cycle, and haven’t got a clue what someone on a bike is going to do next, so cyclists are in much more danger.

Don’t get me wrong, my family loves living in the UK, and you have great mountain biking, but I wouldn’t let my kids cycle anywhere without a helmet.

Richard Langedijk is a Dutch project manager living in Berkshire