Saturday 28 November 2020

All you need to know about Dutch biking culture: The Cycling Paradise

Think of the Netherlands and once you have got through the tourist board cliches, bikes are bound to be on your list. There are, after all, more bikes than people, so they are very difficult to avoid.

The Cycling Paradise takes a broad look at the Dutch cycling phenomena with lots of jolly pictures of people on bikes – in the snow, with their dogs, carrying a mattress or just getting from A to B.

Newcomers will appreciate the advice about how to take to the roads, Dutch style, particularly the need for a good, loud bell. There is a chapter on special bikes and one which focuses on the shared bike and rental schemes which are springing up across the country.

Specialist bike cafes, cycling museums and even a network of affordable places to stay – the Friends on a Bicycle scheme – get a look in too.

Perhaps the most useful is the back section with a number of suggested cycling routes – particularly if you are taking advantage of the coronavirus pandemic to explore more of the Netherlands in a safe way. The plans also include places to visit, places to eat and places to stay while you are out and about.

One little niggle, the translation and editing could have been a little sharper in places, and less use of the present tense would have made the suggested routes feel more natural in English.

But that aside, this is a great little introduction to cycling culture for a new arrival in the Netherlands, and a useful Sinterklaas or Christmas gift for someone who keeps promising to get out and see more of the country by bike.

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