In the Netherlands you don’t need a car!
What comes to mind when you think of the Netherlands? Windmills, tall people, bikes... Each is pretty accurate, especially the latter. In the Netherlands there are more bikes than people - around 22.8 million to be precise. Here you don’t need to worry about petrol prices and MOTs, all you need is your trusty bike and you’re ready to go!
In recent years young people in particular have been swapping cars for oma fiets ownership. According to CBS Netherlands the number of cars owned by 18-25 year olds has decreased by 4.5% since 2008. Studies expect this trajectory to continue, anticipating a further decrease in car ownership across all age groups.
Why don’t I need a car in the Netherlands?
You may have heard or seen, but the Netherlands is small and flat. In fact, Amsterdam is 2 metres below sea level and according to Google maps it would take 7 hours and 38 minutes to cycle across the entire country.
Road trip anyone?
Cycling in the Netherlands is safe. In this country bikes are king and car drivers know it. Passing your driving test in the Netherlands requires bike awareness and an understanding that cyclists nearly always have right of way. Bike safety is greatly assisted by bike lanes (which are everywhere) and make it possible to cycle from Amsterdam to the Hague without ever having to share the same road as a car.
Even if you don’t feel like cycling during a snow storm, the Netherlands has excellent and affordable public transportation. Coming from the UK where delays were often met with high train costs, I have enjoyed the comparatively stress free Dutch alternative.
In general, trains, buses, and trams run regularly. This is especially true in the Randstad with the four largest cities (Amsterdam, Rotterdam, The Hague, and Utrecht) having excellent connections. The NS train company offers a variety of packages for regular travellers including a monthly subscription of €5 per month for 40% discount on off peak travel. Leuke!
Nothing beats riding in a Double decker train
But why do Dutch people choose bikes and public transport over a car?
Having a car in the Netherlands is vastly more expensive than owning a bike and an NS subscription. Car ownership is almost actively discouraged by the high cost of passing your driving test, car parking, and the variety of taxes your vehicle will probably incur. According to one survey the Netherlands is the most expensive country to run a diesel car, with drivers paying an average of almost €700 a month. That Land Rover is not looking so attractive now, eh?
High taxes and extra costs are partly in place because the Netherlands is overtly aware of climate change and the potentially disastrous consequences of rising sea levels. The Netherlands has successfully kept the sea at bay for centuries, but climate change presents future challenges for the country. Many Dutchies are conscientious that their country may become the new Atlantis in fifty years time. Swapping a car for a bike therefore is one cycle ride in the right direction.
This blog was written by Overseasy intern Lizzy Patterson