– By ECGA Board Chair, Robert Spiegelman
Last month I wrote about Dutch bike culture. Everyone rides a bike, and the infrastructure supports it. Biking is an everyday activity and a great way to get from place to place, but there is more to it: the Netherlands is also a great place for bike touring.
The Netherlands has a set of long distance routes called the LF Routes. The LF Routes connect cities and were developed to be scenic, safe, and rider friendly. The routes run through cities and villages and across farmlands and rivers. The most widely known route is the LF 1, sometimes called the North Sea Route. It runs the length of the country, about 190 miles from Den Helder to Sluis and then extends into Belgium and France. I like to think of it as “The Dutch West Coast Greenway.”
In addition to this national system, each area has its own network of “Knooppunts,” a series of points on a map that can be used by cyclists to travel throughout the region or across the country. At each point is a map of the area and signs that direct you to adjacent points. One can travel the country without maps or modern electronics, although I think it is always good to have a backup system for navigating.
Similar to Warm Showers here is the United States, the Dutch also have a network, Friends of the Cyclists, which offers a “bed and breakfast” for a very modest charge, and most hosts will offer plenty of local tips. Furthermore, for those who are, like me, monolingual, most Dutch residents speak excellent English.
If you’ve never been to the Netherlands, I highly recommend it. If you want to know more, contact me via firstname.lastname@example.org and I would be happy to share my knowledge.
In the meantime, let’s do what we can to bring a little bit of The Netherlands to The United States by developing the East Coast Greenway! We hope the ECG will become as iconic in the US as the LF 1 is in the Netherlands. It is already improving our lives and attracting visitors from around the world.
This blog post appeared in our July 2016 E-Newsletter – click this link to read the newsletter in full.