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April 06, 2008

Cycling Study Tours Offered by Brit Family Living in Netherlands

I recently received the following Press Release from Hembro Cycling Holidays/Cycling Study Tours, and let me say, up front, the resources they steer readers to are extensive, and interesting, and the many photos, and videos are a pure joy to look at, and will most likely make you extremely jealous and probably lead you to wonder why the hell can't the greatest nation in the world do some of this, too? ;-D

FACT GUARANTEED TO BLOW YOUR MIND: All Dutch railway stations seem to have thousands of bikes parked at them. ( Just watch the videos if you don't believe it. ;-D )


A Study Tour in the world's most cycle friendly country.

For transport professionals, politicians, campaigners and journalists.

There have been many words spoken about reducing CO2 emissions to tackle climate change, increasing the amount of exercise taken by the population to fight obesity and about the streets being made into places where people matter instead of motor vehicles. However, the English speaking world still does not invest sufficiently in truly sustainable transport. In fact, new infrastructure is still designed very much like the old infrastructure, emphasizing flow of motorized traffic above all else, reducing opportunities to take exercise as a part of everyday life, and decreasing the freedom of people to make use of the space outside their home. As a result, use of sustainable transport is low, obesity is growing and children are not given the freedom to get sufficient exercise.

Many countries seem to produce more words than action. Announcements of available money often sound substantial, but they're spread thinly and have low priority. Along with the lack of money there is the problem of a lack of vision about what good quality design for cyclists and pedestrians actually means. Low quality infrastructure makes the use of alternatives to the car unattractive.

It doesn't have to be this way.

Having made different policy decisions over many decades, the Dutch now travel travel by bicycle more often than by car. There is universal well designed infrastructure which makes cycling an appealing option for most people. As a result, most people cycle. Cyclists feel safe and their journeys are efficient and direct. Virtually all children cycle to school daily, incidence of obesity is comparatively low and reliance on fossil fuels is lower.

The Dutch are doing the right things and they have the results to prove it: More cycling, with a better safety record, than any other nation. Real, proven results, not just good intentions or hot air. Their success could and should be copied elsewhere.

Quick Facts:

In the entire Netherlands around 30% of all journeys are by bicycle. The second highest country is Denmark with around 14%. Most countries have under 2% of their journeys by bicycle, some fewer than 1%. Around 40% of journeys within Dutch cities are made by bicycle.

In the Netherlands, more journeys under 7.5 km / 5 miles are made by bicycle than by any other means.

In the Netherlands, older people are also mobile. Over 10% of cycle journeys are made by over 60s.

Virtually all Dutch school-children cycle to school.

Dutch cycle paths frequently offer shorter routes than the roads. They are smooth and well maintained. Dutch cyclists are not expected to share space with pedestrians, and the standard width for cycle only two direction paths is 4 metres ( 13 feet ).

Levels of public transport usage in the Netherlands are not much different than those in other countries. There is far greater potential for reduction in fossil fuel reliance by encouraging cycling than by subsidizing public transport. In addition it leads to a far greater cut in fuel usage and other benefits for society such as an increase in general health and a reduction in noise and fumes.

London recently announced its largest ever figure for walking and cycling: £500M. This sounds remarkable, and it's very welcome, but breaks down to a level of expenditure which is not particularly high by European standards. The sum is to be spread across several years. For instance, in 2008/2009, £62M is to be spent for both Walking and Cycling. Across London's 7.5M population this amounts to a little over £8 (approximately US$16) per person per year. Another European capital, Amsterdam, currently spends around €26 (approximately £20 or US$40) per person per year on cycling alone. Walking has a separate budget. Unlike UK cities, Dutch cities are not starting from nowhere. They have been spending this much for decades.

So what are we up to with our Study Tours?

Who are we ?

We are a British family who have lived and cycled in many parts of the UK including London, Cambridge, Somerset and Yorkshire. Our cycling experience includes commuting, shopping, tours with and without children, a little racing and even riding Land's End to John O'Groats (the entire length of Great Britain - 1700 km / 1100 miles).

We now live in the green city of Assen in the North of the Netherlands. Winters are cold here and headwinds are fierce, but the population of 63000 people nevertheless makes an average of 70000 cycle journeys per day. We make our share of those journeys.

What are we doing ?

We are organising Study Tours for all interested parties to show how much has been achieved in this country. We will be showing participants the result of design for people rather than for motorised vehicles. We will show the practical results of putting into action long term plans to achieve a more mobile and fitter society.

Over 3 full days we will show commuting routes, school routes, city centres, residential areas, links between villages and the design of new developments. All these were designed with cycling as a priority. We also have a presentation from local experts giving their rationale.

The cost of participating has been kept low in order that it will be accessible to as many people as possible.

Full details of the Study Tour, including photos and feedback from previous participants, can be found on our website:

The first Study Tour this year runs from the 13th to the 15th of May. This tour is now fully booked.

We are now taking bookings for the second Study Tour which runs from the 20th to the 22nd of May and soon will be taking bookings for the third Study Tour which runs from the 10th to the 12th of June.


Articles in English about Dutch cycling policies


Photos of Dutch cycling conditions.

Contact Details:

David and Judith Hembrow

E-MAIL: david at hembrow.eu

WEBSITE: Hembrow Cycling Holidays

***UPDATE - 4/7/08***

David Hembrow has sent me an interesting E-Mail in response to this post. ;-D


April 6, 2008 in Cycling News Network, EVENT GUIDE (California and Selective Others), Have Bicycle, Will Travel | Permalink


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Hi, it's been a long time since that post. We eventually ran three study tours last year, and will be running more starting in May this year. Details are in the same place:


Given your note about the amount of cycle parking at railway stations, I thought you might also be interested in my latest blog post showing some of the 14000 cycle parking spaces at Utrecht railway station here in the Netherlands:


Yours, David.

Posted by: David Hembrow | Jan 17, 2009 7:36:17 AM

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