Friday, 24 June 2016

Cycling Dutchman Blog

On 23 June, the British people voted not to be part of the European Union in the future. From my point of view, by doing so, the British people voted against my presence in the United Kingdom as a Dutch EU-national. I am therefore reconsidering my future.

There will be no new posts appearing on this blog; no more cycling campaigning and no more cycling community work to improve conditions in the UK. My heart is with the European Union. Feel free to browse through existing blog articles as you wish.


Eric van der Horst, 24 June 2016.

"Cycling Dutchman" guidebooks:

Cycling in  Amsterdam and The Netherlands - The very best routes in the cyclist's paradise features maps, directions, visitor information and much more. The book provides multiple circular rides in and around Amsterdam, various world-class one-day excursions and the very best of The Netherlands in multiple-day itineraries. The book also features special chapters explaining the unique Dutch cycling-minded traffic rules and its cycle route signage systems; 164 pages, colour, wiro bound, fits in standard handlebar bag, see also http://www.cyclinginholland.com.

The London - Land's End Cycle Route Book is designed for those who LOVE cycling, but don't like traffic. The book takes you onto the most beautiful cycle routes of southern England, including the Camel Trail, Devon Coast to Coast Route, Bristol and Bath Railway path, Thames Valley route and many more! What makes the book unique is that the route is completely continuous, including detailed directions and local knowledge all the way. Get inspired; choose your favourite route sections or go for a full summer holiday adventure; 164 pages, colour, wiro bound, fits in standard handlebar bag, see http://www.london-landsendcycleroutebook.com.

Popular Cycling Dutchman blog articles:

Explaining Dutch cycling infrastructure:



Dutch bike rides and Dutch cycling culture:

Dutch style bike rides in the United Kingdom:

Saturday, 4 June 2016

The Cycling Dutchman on Britain's EU-referendum

When the Cycling Dutchman moved to the United Kingdom with his British wife in 2007, he was not aware he would become the “Cycling Dutchman”. He was also not feeling like he was “emigrating” to a different county. He was just going to “live and work in the UK” for a while, just as his wife lived and worked in The Netherlands with him for several years before this move.

Neither of us thought much about it. We both felt and still feel we are citizens of the European Union. We felt and still feel that our marriage, with partners from two different countries, although challenging at times, has enriched our lives. Our children are the children of a world in which countries do not matter too much. Above all, they are Europeans and proud of both their British and Dutch heritage.

When I moved to the UK, I felt very much to be a “guest” and I accepted my fate in not being fully able to participate in national and local politics. Very early on, I decided only to speak out when it comes down to cycling, cycling culture and cycling infrastructure. As a Dutch person, I feel I have a message for the British people on this topic. I created an existence out of this, doing work that other British people are hesitant to do. I keep inspiring people, young and old, British, Dutch, Belgians, Germans, and I have developed projects that bring serious money and business into the UK every year; stuff that wouldn't have existed otherwise.

I have always felt very welcome in the UK and have made many friends among British people. I found British society to be a celebration of diversity, with tolerance towards “strangers” as a natural matter of course. I didn't expect any different from a country of which its citizens are historically the best-travelled in the world.

In recent years, I have noticed intolerance and hate starting to sweep over Britain’s mighty hills and through its majestic valleys. Under the pretension of “independent journalism” and “free speech”, mass media have brought intolerance and disrespectful thinking into the main-stream spotlight. By doing so, the media have started to brainwash the conscience of the people. It has become acceptable to talk with strong, offensive language about other people. Politics have been affected in such a way that the government of this country has allowed putting the very foundations of our modern society at stake. 
   
I will not be silenced now. I feel the upcoming EU-referendum in Britain as a personal attack on my presence as an EU-national in this country. I also regard it as a personal attack against my family and my children. All those who will vote “Britain out” are voting against me being here and my children growing up here. They are also voting against the freedom of my British wife to relocate to The Netherlands with her family if she wished to do so.

This is not just about us. The 2011 Census counted 63,713 Dutch people living and working in the United Kingdom. Many of these people will have a British partner, just as there are many British people living in The Netherlands with a Dutch partner. In 2009, 77,550 British people were living and working in TheNetherlands. The majority of all these people, whether they have an international partner of not, are integrated in society, making contributions and enriching societies on both sides of the North Sea.

This is the true European Union at work, with free movement of people as its key principle.

The Brexit camp may react saying that I am emotional, but the whole call for the EU-referendum is based on emotions, rather than thinking based on facts and figures. The whole Brexit campaign is full of opinion dressed up as facts, all making easy headlines for the media.

The Brexit camp will probably say they are happy for the Anglo-Dutch links to continue and that I shouldn't worry too much, but where is the hard evidence of this? Nothing is set in stone. If Britain leaves the EU, the Dutch and British government will have to renegotiate the positions of its nationals on both sides of the North Sea. The “Brexit” will bring uncertainty to the lives of over 140,000 Anglo-Dutch people and their families.

And this is just the Anglo-Dutch link. I am not even writing about the traditionally strong Anglo-French ties, or the ties of Britain with the Germans, Belgians, Danes or Poles. This is the key to all this. The EU has generated so much cultural, economic and human exchange over the past 40 years that nobody is able to oversee it. There is no way you can offset in a diagram the pros and cons of the EU. Everyone can only tell part of the story. Everywhere you’ll only find bits of it. This story is just my part.

You won’t read here that I argue that the EU is perfect, far from that. The EU has lots of issues and challenges to address. Whatever form it will take in the future, it can always only be partly successful, as is any form of government. This referendum is a matter of principles though.

If you vote “out”, you vote against international collaboration and partnership. If you vote “out”, you vote for intolerance and negative stigmatisation of people, whether these people are foreign-born in the UK or British people living outside of the UK.

If you vote “out”, you indicate that you disagree with the very key ideals of free movement of people. If you vote “out” you also vote against your own current personal freedom to live, work, holiday or retire anywhere in the EU.

If you vote “out”, you also vote against a young generation, betraying all children born out of multiculturalism and international exchange. If you vote “out”, you simply vote against hope for the future and for a better world for all.

Please don’t be misled by a small group of selfish people who shout out loud and pretend to care, but who are only after personal gain. If you have read your history books, you very well know to what type of nasty stuff all this can lead. History is simply repeating, but it can still be stopped; now.

Britain is stronger in, vote in, full stop. 


Comments from readers via email on the "Cycling Dutchman on Britain’s EU-referendum" blog article (email address known to the author of this page):

I have voted IN!  My facebook activity makes this pretty clear- while I teach in Prague at the moment, heaven would be a job in the Netherlands. I am praying for a clear and decisive vote to keep the promises of the last fourty years, knowing that any opinion polling on the topic is unlikely to be statistically informative given the lack of precedent for calibrating the data, I am both darkly fearful and wildly optimistic.  Let us pray for a good solid 60% vote to kick the fascists out for another generation.
Warm regards
David


The wife and me are with you we need to stay in!! catch ya soon on your tours
Steve

We will be voting to Remain on June 23 and are clear about the massive benefits to people from the UK and other European countries of being in a community together. 
I worry that young people in particular may not get out and vote, while all opinion polls show their overwhelming support for being part of the EU. They stand to lose out so much if we leave, more than those of us who are old enough to be settled. I fear for their future. 
In our family, our oldest son's degree course includes a year at a German university. We are very happy about that. His language skills will improve, and he will learn more about how people live elsewhere. He will learn about what unites us as people, which is more than separates us as coming from different cultures. 
Please, if you look in a positive way about the future, if you feel part of a community that extends to include more than your immediate neighbours, VOTE REMAIN on 23 June. VOTE, please VOTE. 
Caroline

My wife & I will definitely be voting IN. Never considered doing anything else! No brainer!
This whole referendum stunt is a political nonsense dreamt up by D.C. to try and keep his barmy right wing MPs on side. The only upside is that a few more Brits may get to understand the advantages of being IN. N.B. Great pic of you on the Gem Bridge. All the Best to All of You
Julian

Hi. No problem - we’re both voting In.
Regards, Mark

Good job, well phrased! Also here in Wales, I am stunned about the recent short-sighted and simplistic thinking. Fortunately we always have Gruff Rhys of the Super Furry Animals:
Best wishes, Berno

Hi. I shall be voting to stay in the EU. In my opinion it is a fantastic union and long may it last
Regards, Arfon

Appreciate your feelings. In this house, at least, you are preaching to the converted.
M and MJ

You can stay I think. . . .so 'In', but only if we get some collaboration's going LOL (*)
All best, Luke

(*) Note from editor: Luke is one of our bike rental partners in the UK, sometimes getting business from the continent via the Cycling Dutchman.

I have been an ardent European all my life. Here in Scotland, it seems the majority appreciate not just the economic and political benefits of EU membership, but the wider cultural and humanitarian dimensions too. There is so much wicked misinformation and downright lying going on during the campaigns here in the UK (from both sides) that I fear many people will be voting not with their heads or their hearts but with their unbalanced bowels! I do hope the UK votes to stay in. If it is foolish enough to vote to leave, then there is a very good chance that Scotland (which I am sure will vote very convincingly to stay in) may well revive its bid for independence and seek to join the EU on its own. So Eric: if it goes badly, come and live in Scotland!
Best wishes, Nick

Eric, I would vote you IN in an instant. Esp if you have voted that dreadful woman's farm OUT of your book! (*) Those of us down under cannot understand why on earth the Brits would want out. I guess they don't want to go to France or Spain for a cheap holiday or go to The Netherlands or Poland on a bucks weekend, or have cheap red wine......they are all happy to stay on the island and never, ever leave it. Boris just wants to be PM.
Regards, Bronwyn 

(*) Note from editor: Bronwyn refers to a campsite which provided good facilities to people on bikes up to two years ago. As we received multiple negative feedback from our guidebook users, staying at this campsite, the site has been removed from the listings of our guidebook publications.

I'll be voting to remain in the EU as we have come a long way in the last 40 years.
Catherine 
  
Definitely in! I haven't heard one good reason for Britain to leave the EU. The arguments put forward are all delusional, deceitful and damaging. I'm surprised as many people may vote to leave as some opinion polls say. I just hope they think harder before 23 June itself! I look forward to receiving your emails for many years to come! Best wishes to you and your family.
Kind regards, David

Really good piece on your blog Eric. I hope it reaches a wide audience. Rest assured we have already completed our postal votes the right way! And I fully agree with the sentiment of your piece. The economics of the in or out argument are not the key factor to me, it is all about what kind of country I want us to be. Outward and welcoming or inward and closed?
Richard

Thank you very much for your email and the blog contact, a very insightful range of comments which has reinforced my view that looking to the future it is better at the personal and political level that we remain part of Europe. I have always been so impressed with the feeling of openess when i have visited for example Germany/Austria and hope that it could be like that in UK.
Thanks for your recent help about our planned cycling tour in Holland, we are all set to start 20 june from Utrecht for 8 days circular route and will being using your book during part of the trip.
All the best, John

Well expressed. The UK would be mad to vote leave.
Alun
  
I am a definite #remain on 23 June.
Kind regards,Ron

I am a European, full stop!!  More than a little Englander. 
Mike

Support the "Cycling Dutchman" in the UK by voting "in" and consider purchasing one of his excellent guidebooks:

Cycling in  Amsterdam and The Netherlands - The very best routes in the cyclist's paradise features maps, directions, visitor information and much more. The book provides multiple circular rides in and around Amsterdam, various world-class one-day excursions and the very best of The Netherlands in multiple-day itineraries. The book also features special chapters explaining the unique Dutch cycling-minded traffic rules and its cycle route signage systems; 164 pages, colour, wiro bound, fits in standard handlebar bag, see also http://www.cyclinginholland.com.

The London - Land's End Cycle Route Book is designed for those who LOVE cycling, but don't like traffic. The book takes you onto the most beautiful cycle routes of southern England, including the Camel Trail, Devon Coast to Coast Route, Bristol and Bath Railway path, Thames Valley route and many more! What makes the book unique is that the route is completely continuous, including detailed directions and local knowledge all the way. Get inspired; choose your favourite route sections or go for a full summer holiday adventure; 164 pages, colour, wiro bound, fits in standard handlebar bag, see http://www.london-landsendcycleroutebook.com.

Other popular Cycling Dutchman blog articles:

Explaining Dutch cycling infrastructure:



Dutch bike rides and Dutch cycling culture:

Dutch style bike rides in the United Kingdom:
   

Sunday, 1 May 2016

A Dutch “Cycling Super Highway”: Amsterdam’s East Corridor

A lot has been written and said about London’s Cycling Super Highways. Various sections are still lethal to use, but there is gradually more good cycle path design appearing in Britain's capital city, thanks to relentless efforts by the people of the London Cycling Campaign. The Thames Embankment section opened in 2015 and shows how it should be done (see picture). The “good stuff” is still very localised though, especially if you take the whole country into account.

In many other places in Britain, a person on a bicycle remains a pariah of society. You don’t have to go far on a London Cycling Super Highway to experience that (see picture). Just the name Cycling Super Highway keeps making me laugh. Even at its very best, we are just talking “cycle paths”. The Dutch never call their cycle paths “super highways”. The Dutch routes are still by far superior though and truly deserve this name!

There are many worthy “cycling super highways” to cycle in and out of Amsterdam. In this article I focus on just one of these; the East Corridor. It is just a name I have given myself, as all Dutch “cycling super highways” are doing their excellent jobs anonymously. When still working for Dutch television, I cycled this route regularly from home to the TV-studios at Artis Zoo. Let’s get on that  bike together and appreciate its quality and continuity...

0.0 km: Our journey starts on the N236 national road in Driemond village. The eye catches immediately the excellent information signs. You could literally just go anywhere on your bike from here and it would just be as smooth and comfortable as the route we are going to experience now.

3.7 km: The cycle path next to the N236 national road keeps us away from the fast moving traffic on the main carriageway for its full length, on smooth tarmac and with plenty of riverside park views, on the edge of the vast Amsterdam South East “Bijlmermeer” development. Motorised traffic on the N236 is light these days, as motorways A1 and A9 carry most of today’s traffic, but I can recall the days when this road was hammered with heavy traffic, easy to avoid by the off-road path.

4.9 km: The continuous cycle path has now taken us into Diemen industrial estate. When I used to make my commutes here, the cycle path was still paved (as the side walk still is). The new tarmac of the cycle path shows the continued commitment to cycling by Amsterdam City Council. There is more to it than just a new surface. Although priority over turning traffic in and out of driveways has been established in The Netherlands for many years, the new design makes it impossible for drivers to turn on high speed across the cycle path. Drivers have to move up a dropped kerb now, rather than being able to make the turn on street-level.

5.8 km: Amsterdam has over 1500 canal bridges and this is just one of them. With the bridge being up we even get a better view of the typical Dutch main road lay-out with its separated traffic flows. In the foreground on the cycle path, you can just notice how I am bound to turn with my Bike City rental bike onto the bridge. The typical Dutch shark teeth in the path surface show how we have to give way here to users on the other cycle path before turning right.

6.3 km: The cycle path takes us under exit 13 of the Amsterdam orbital motorway. One press on the button at the lights ensures that people on bicycles never get dangerously close to that HGV turning onto the motorway. This infrastructure is so safe to use that even “gray oldies” don’t even think twice about going into town by bike. They do it without thinking. On lucky days, they don’t even have to stop at these lights, as the green light for cyclists appears every couple of minutes anyhow, without having to press that button.

7.1 km: We are now on the Middenweg Road in the Watergraafsmeer district, heading towards Amsterdam’s city centre. The scene is becoming more urban, with drivers, cyclists and pedestrians all doing their thing in their own comfort. Note this cycle path is a one-way. For travel in the opposite direction, you would use identical facilities on the other side of the main carriageway. Naturally, pedestrians can enjoy their own wide pavements on both sides of the road, regardless the direction they want to walk!

8.6 km: We have arrived at a typical Dutch urban intersection. Until well in the 1980s, this particular junction had a dual carriageway arriving here, with three lanes for cars queuing for the lights. This is a location where the Dutch cycling revolution of the 1970s truly shows its legacy. Thirty years ago, this particular junction had a layout similar as many junctions in the UK still have today. By giving priority to cycling, walking and public transport, these modes of transport have become much more appealing then driving. You won’t drive into Amsterdam by car today, unless you really have to!

9.8 km: See them all go! The leading man in this group of cyclists may be suspicious about a ferocious cycling campaigner taking a picture from the road-side, but he is simply not aware of the unique infrastructure arrangements of his country. Young and old, see them all paddle away, healthy, safely and in full comfort. No lycra, no high-vis, no helmets; just cycling to work or school. If the same people in this picture had travelled by car, at least five more cars would have been clogging the roads, polluting the air and filling lots of public space with their metal boxes on wheels…

10.5 km: We are approaching our destination now. This is Plantage Middellaan Road, next to Artis Zoo. What I like about this picture is how the available public space is utilised to the max. Walking, cycling, bike parking, car parking, driving, public transport; it all fits in that space together and they even didn’t need to get rid of the old line of trees to make it happen. Many roads in the UK have similar space available, but it keeps being dominated by motorised traffic. If “wasted space” was utilised with vision and dedication, the provision of real transport choice would be in reach for many people in Britain too.

10.7 km: Arrived. Mulling over “the good old days” when I was a youngster, working at the TV Studio next to Artis Zoo. When I worked here and made this seven-mile commute two days a week, I didn't think much of it. I never went by car. I went by train and tram, or by train and by foot, or cycled. Of all available choices, I found the bike the most convenient way, an enjoyable half an hour of fresh air. Even back in the 1990s, away from the obvious, but safe crossings at junctions, this cycle route was 100% off-road. In other countries, they may call it a Cycling Super Highway!

Cycle Amsterdam's "East Corridor" with a "Cycling Dutchman" guidebook:

Cycling in  Amsterdam and The Netherlands - The very best routes in the cyclist's paradise features the “East Corridor”, with directions, visitor information and much more. All other 650 miles of routes in the book focus on cycling sightseeing, rather than just cycling commuting. The book provides multiple circular rides in and around Amsterdam, various world-class one-day excursions and the very best of The Netherlands in multiple-day itineraries. The book also features special chapters explaining the unique Dutch cycling-minded traffic rules and its cycle route signage systems; 164 pages, colour, wiro bound, fits in standard handlebar bag, see also http://www.cyclinginholland.com.

The London - Land's End Cycle Route Book is designed for those who LOVE cycling, but don't like traffic. The book takes you onto the most beautiful cycle routes of southern England, including the Camel Trail, Devon Coast to Coast Route, Bristol and Bath Railway path, Thames Valley route and many more! What makes the book unique is that the route is completely continuous, including detailed directions and local knowledge all the way. Get inspired; choose your favourite route sections or go for a full summer holiday adventure; 164 pages, colour, wiro bound, fits in standard handlebar bag, see http://www.london-landsendcycleroutebook.com.

Other popular Cycling Dutchman blog articles:

Explaining Dutch cycling infrastructure:



Dutch bike rides and Dutch cycling culture:

Dutch style bike rides in the United Kingdom: