Cycling tears society apart. The number of cycling enthusiasts has been on the rise for years, because the popularity of racing bikes is growing, especially among Wageningen students. In many a student home, an expensive racing monster can be found between the empty beer cans and run-down furniture. Still-flashy older models are used to cycle to the campus. On the other hand, I am aware that I represent an unpopular opinion in defending cyclists. According to some: we terrorise the Dutch bike lanes.
I grew up a cyclist. My parents took me on cycling vacations and taught us how to behave properly while cycling. On my small bike, heavily loaded with luggage, I obediently used my hand to indicate my direction and moved aside for overtakers. If I was given right of way, I would gesture a friendly thank you.
My parents taught us how to behave properly while cycling
The holiday bike has made way for a racing bike, and this seems to make all the difference for other traffic. The racing bike, the hideous tight clothing and helmet, have quite the reputation. Racing cyclists move considerably faster than regular cyclists and thus, swiftly pass by, through and in between. We push the boundaries, and I can only speak for myself in saying we don’t cross them. After all, my parents gave me the Civilised Cycling course.
We have incited quite some hatred. Cycling on the Grebbedijk this summer, a scooter coming toward me purposely veered towards my side of the road, only to steer away at the very last moment. My housemate was pelted with eggs and sprayed with curry sauce from a passing car on the same road in the spring.
We have incited quite some hatred
Last week, I was cycling over the hill in Amerongen, where, when the weather is decent, hordes of cyclists are found who have unearthed their bike from the shed to tame the Dutch hills. There, cars overtake as they please, even if one cyclist is climbing while the other is descending. Even overtaking cars travelling in the opposite direction don’t deter the motorists.
We are jointly responsible for road safety. Cyclists: stick to the rules and behave in a civilised manner. Other road users: don’t give cyclists pushing the limits reasons to go over those limits. If a cyclist does not adhere to the rules, tell him or her. And everyone: road safety begins with you.