The Dutch cycle everywhere and as soon as they are on a bike, traffic rules no longer apply. Forget giving way to the right; cyclists always have right of way.
Going anywhere by car is next to impossible, especially in Wageningen. Not only do cyclists always have right of way, they also come in large groups. This peaks on the way to and from the university, where the entire main road is sometimes blocked with cyclists for up to fi ve minutes, with cyclists forming a 20 meter que in front of the traffi c light. While the older generation doesn’t usually join in the queuing or the cycling in groups, they too disregard all traffi c rules. Even outside of the cities, one has to be careful. If an accident occurs, the car driver almost always takes the blame. Luckily the cycle paths in Wageningen are well maintained, so that cyclists usually aren’t on the road.
Growing up in the States, cycling was considered solely as a sport, and not as a method of transportation. There were no bike paths, and going by bike on the roads with all the SUVs was considered suicidal. Even after moving back to Germany, I rarely went anywhere by bike. The countryside is just too hilly. Even though all that fietsen took some getting used to, I quite enjoy it in the meantime and I have adapted the Dutch ‘right of way’ mentality. Now I have to be super careful when I visit my parents in Germany. Thanks to my Dutch approach to cycling, I have nearly been hit by a car two or three times.
Lisa Pennemann, Master’s student of Biotechnology, from Germany
Do you have a nice anecdote about your experience of going Dutch? Send it in! Describe an encounter with Dutch culture in detail and comment on it briefl y. 300 words max. Send it to firstname.lastname@example.org and earn twenty-fi ve euro and Dutch candy.