Science - September 2, 2004

On your bike!

One of the things that immediately comes to mind when you think of the Netherlands is cycling, and there are statistics available to back up this impression. Researchers at Alterra in Wageningen have done research on a method to assess the suitability of different areas for recreational cycling.

Recreational cycling creates 350 million euros annually in the lowlands. Some eleven million Dutch people get on their bikes each year to cycle for pleasure. In 2003 the Dutch made a total of 427 million cycle trips and cycled a total of 3.7 billion kilometres.

 

Alterra was asked by the Dutch national cycling platform to develop a method for assessing the suitability of different regions for recreational cycling. The researchers looked at landscape and provision of facilities for cyclists, such as the accessibility of areas, how quiet an area is, how busy the cycle paths are, signposting and hilliness. They also assessed how much publicity was made for an area, the number of cycle hire shops and cycling policy.

 

The top three areas for cycling in the Netherlands are within fairly easy reach of Wageningen. Top of the list for a day’s cycling is the area known as the Achterhoek, the area of rolling hills to the east of Arnhem. In second place is the province of Drenthe located in the north of the Netherlands just under Groningen, where there are good cycling paths and also good publicity. The third place went to the Veluwe, located directly to the north of Wageningen. Despite being the largest area of nature reserve in the Netherlands, the Veluwe has relatively few cycle routes, but is easy to reach from Wageningen. /MW

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