So to lets start today with a stripy pole (I do like these – even the traffic light poles are stripy and I can’t think why as you’re hardly likely to miss them)…
One thing is clear from my brief visit to the Netherlands: car is still king. Bikes may be in a princely second place, but don’t be mistaken in thinking the Dutch have it mastered.
There are plenty of cars around in Assen. I see several driveways with two cars parked in them. The main golf course appears to have been sponsored by Audi and Volvo. And the motorways and main highways are jammed with the things.
Incidentally, Assen’s golf course hosts a lovely arboretum with a ‘fietspad’ (cycle path) down one side. And the clubhouse has a sign especially for cyclists inviting you to try their coffee and apple pie.
One big message from all this is that to ‘Go Dutch’ does not mean having to give up your car. More realistically it is about giving you the choice to use it or not – a message with more mainstream appeal than some of the campaigns I’ve been involved with.
Of course the biggest joy of my three days tootling around on my Brompton is that I rarely need to interact with motorised traffic. Of course there are a few noisy ‘bromfiets’ the odd one of which passes far too close, far too fast. And then, obviously, there is the odd road to cross, usually achieved with grace and rarely with conflict.
However, the drivers in the Netherlands have it easy. With no messy bikes in their way they can put their foot down and go as fast as they like – and some do, even on the 30kph (20mph) roads. Where I do have to share the road, it is often not pleasant (albeit no worse than the UK) with drivers in both directions passing too close and too fast. I like to think kindly that if I had children with me things would be different. On the other hand I think not.
So there’s me thinking everyone in the Netherlands rides a bike, therefore they should all should know better. Then again, the behaviour of some cyclists around pedestrians both in Assen and in Bristol leaves something to be desired. So we’re back to the problem of behaviour and how as a society we deal with the anti-social element.
On that note, and rather disappointingly for me, I see no cops on bikes. In fact no cops at all. There must be some crime in Assen because the map shows a police station. Oh well, lucky Assen.
So, to finish off, some nice photos of a thatched cottage (I thought we Brits were the only ones to do this), a frog and a very special mushroom.
Please do continue to leave your comments. These will be very useful in the months to come as we keep pushing for more Space for Cycling in Bristol. And may I again refer you to Assen-based David Hembrow’s superb Blog. Tot ziens.