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Anyone who lives in or regularly visits the Netherlands will be more than familiar with one of the biggest Dutch gripes: Dutch traffic jams! Despite being one of the most bike-friendly nations in the world, the Dutch are still reluctant to ditch their cars. This probably has a lot to do with the inclement Dutch weather and less than optimal public transport connections. Yet, travelling to work by car is a costly affair, not only in terms of fuel prices and damage to the environment, but also because of the amount of time people spend languishing in traffic jams.
Traffic jam misery in Netherlands
By 1st January 2013 there were approximately 8 million cars registered in the Netherlands, with around 3.1 million Dutch people making their daily commute to work by car. At rush hour the Dutch road network simply cannot cope, making lengthy traffic jams a reality for many. In fact, it is estimated that the Dutch economy loses between 0.75 and 1 billion euros annually due to congestion, whilst the number of lost working hours exceeds 1 million. And, although Dutch traffic jams are often attributed to badly planned road works and accidents, a whopping 73% of them are entirely as a result of congestion (source: VID).
Earlier this year, the Dutch Transport Minister, Schultz, reported a small decrease in congestion of 5.6% for the first quarter of 2013, after a concerted effort to tackle major bottlenecks in the road network and a better use of rush hour traffic lanes. However, it is suspected that the economic crisis also played a role and it is believed that congestion will increase again as the Dutch economy starts to recover. Perhaps then, rather than ‘spending less’ or ‘losing weight’, more Dutch will choose ‘cycling more often’ as their 2014 New Year’s resolution?
The benefits of cycling
Two wheels are not only better than four for beating traffic jams – cycling also saves money, burns calories and contributes to a better environment. Indeed, Fietsen Scoort, a Dutch initiative that actively promotes cycling in the Netherlands, boasts a website with a clever tool that allows cyclists to calculate exactly how much money they have saved or how many calories they have burnt by taking their bike in place of their car. In addition, they encourage employers and employees to raise sponsorship money for worthy causes by commuting to work by bike. Which means that those choosing to get on their bikes in the Netherlands can effectively achieve all of their New Year’s resolutions in one!
Prefer to read this article in Dutch? Then why not visit our sister blog, Heimwee.info, specifically intended for Dutch emigrants abroad?