Coastal path to Amsterdam ↑ all posts
I thought that the national cycle network in the UK was pretty good until I rolled off the ferry at the Hook of Holland. The Dutch take cycling seriously: pretty much every road has a dedicated cycling lane, traffic lights have a smaller set of lights just for bikes (complete with a button on a post at cyclist height), and at many junctions and roundabouts cars actually have to give way to cyclists! It’s glorious.
I followed the North Sea long distance cycle route (Lange Fietsroute 1) from the ferry port up the coast. For the majority of this, the route is on a dedicated two lane cycle path, which weaves its way through tulip fields and sand dunes, far from any road.
At Noorwijk, I nipped round some inconveniently placed barriers in the middle of the road and quickly noticed that not only were there no other cyclists, but the road was completely deserted. At least it was until an official looking chap ran out in front of me and signalled hurridly that I should get onto the pavement through a gap he had created in the fence (which was now lining both sides of the road). Almost as soon as I got off the road a safety car drove past, followed by maybe 100 sprinting cyclists. Looking in the direction they were headed I realised that I’d managed to stray onto the home straight of a local cycling event. I think I would have been at a distinct disadvantage with my luggage on the back, so it was probably best that they didn’t let me compete.
Amsterdam is beautiful, and freash, and bright in the springtime, the miles of canals lined with green trees and as I reached the centre of town it seemed the whole city was out on their bikes enjoying the sunshine. I’m not sure they were too impressed with my helmet and fluorescent jacket; not sure whether it’s safety in numbers, generally better cycling skills, higher awareness from drivers, or just that the Dutch are less interested in protecting themselves from danger! The guys on racing bikes out in the country did have helmets so I guess it’s just not seen as necessary when nipping round town.
I met up with Ed as his flat (unfortunately not pictured) just outside the main canal rings. After putting all my clothes in the machine for their weekly wash, I borrowed some of Ed’s so that we could head into the centre for some local beer and food. The meal wasn’t complete until we’d had Dutch waffles smothered in chocolate and strawberries at a nearby cafe, and we returned home content.