I have been in the Netherlands for nearly two years. So cycle tracks are very familiar to me because they are part of my daily life. If you do not pay attention, you start taking them for granted. I was reminded that cycle tracks are typically Dutch when I went to Norway to attend a summer school some days ago.
During some field work at the summer school, a Canadian student told me that there were no special cycle tracks in Canada . He thought it was amazing that people could go anywhere in the county by bicycle . I remembered how surprised a friend was last year when I told her that she could cycle from Wageningen to Utrecht, or even to Amsterdam, if she wanted. It is true that you can manage this if you can read the road signs along the cycle tracks. As to finding the cycle tracks, that is easy in the Netherlands because they are dark red and sometimes feature cute pictures of bicycles.
Actually, the Netherlands is not the only country which has cycle tracks. You also find them in Denmark and in some parts of Norway and the UK. I have noticed four types of cycle tracks: on-road cycle lanes not separated from the cars, on-road cycle tracks with a physical barrier between them and the cars, pavements shared with pedestrians and off-road cycle tracks. The cycle tracks in the Netherlands belong to the last type, which are the safest cycle tracks in my opinion. Cycling is a good way to keep healthy and cycle tracks are a simple method of keeping bicycles out of the way of motor vehicles. So if you are in the Netherlands, you should enjoy cycling in a safer environment.
Xiangdan Meng, Rural Sociology Group, Social Science Department