Dutch Empty Bike Syndrome | Undutchables

Dutch Empty Bike Syndrome

Categorie: Cultural

The Netherlands is known for their cyclists. There are multiple blogs devoted to this on the internet yet it seems to be a topic that can be written about endlessly.  It is one of the first things one hears from visitors when they arrive in the Netherlands for the first time.The rows of bikes parked near the train stations, the bikes attached to trees, gates and lanterns next to the street,  and not to mention the bicycle mountains next to schools and universities. All of this seems to surprise visitors even though it is a well known fact that the Netherlands is a bicycle country. The flat land and excellent bike lanes make it very easy for everyone to get around. We even have a bright orange Undutchables bicycle which is used for client visits. So do not be surprised if you see a flashy bright bicycle with one of our recruiters, it just means they are on their way to work. 

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However, foreigners in the Netherlands are  often most (pleasantly) surprised by the functionality of cycling. In most countries cycling is considered the main activity. One goes  for a cycle in the forest or along the coast, it is an activity you might do with friends in a group for exercise. However, in most countries it is not necessarily a way of getting to a certain place where you have the main activity planned. A British tourist recently exclaimed surprise that the Dutch seemed to cycle with a purpose. When asked what she meant with that she explained she had never been somewhere where so many people use their bikes as a means to get to a certain location and with another purpose that did not include the actual cycling. The fact that people cycle to the supermarket with all their bags, bring their kids to school on the bike, cycle to work, and what seemed the most shocking, cycle home after a night out. It is not uncommon to see hoards of cyclists on  their way home after a night out in the Netherlands. Yet it seemed incomprehensible  that anyone would have the energy to cycle back home after a night out to this particular visitor.

Cycling in the Netherlands is not only limited to adults, children are often hoisted into children seats on the bike before they are even walking.  There are the traditional children seats on the back of the bike and on the front but also small bike attachments for behind a parent’s bike and what is known as a bakfiets, the huge wooden containers in front of a bike that take up too much previous parking space in cities. Recently an expat posted a picture of her brand new bike on Facebook. This might not seem very relevant to most, however, the caption read that it was her first bike without any form of child seat in more than 10 years. Her children being big enough to cycle on their own she decided to treat herself to a brand new bike without any form of a child seat.  She also stated in her caption that she did not know whether to feel happy or sad about it. The realization that her kids could cycle on their own seemed to make her realize the passing of time. It would seem that biking is not only a part of daily life in the Netherlands but also an integral part of raising children in the Netherlands. Maybe one could say that this mother had a case of the Dutch empty bike syndrome? 

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