The Dutch are known for their love for bicycles, cycling tours, adventures and competitions. Ironically, “de fiets” is not a Dutch invention. Bicycles were first imported in The Netherlands in 1867 and were called the Michaux Velocipedes by the Frenchman Pierre Michaux. The famous inventor was known to attach pedals to a bicycle. The first bicycle did not have any handlebar or pedals. Today, the number of bicycles is more than the population in The Netherlands, i.e. circa 23 million against a population of 17 million. A “Fietsenstalling” is a bicycle parking place. Cycle rickshaws (riksja in Dutch) or pedicabs which are more popular in Asia and that were first invented in Japan are said to have been derived from bicycles.
The Netherlands, which ranks second in the Global Innovation Index, is known for focussing on being eco-friendly. The Dutch government has recently encouraged companies to pay a travel compensation of 19 cents per kilometre to its employees who cycle to work. This is not only to promote a healthier environment, but also a healthier way of living.
So why are the Dutch so inclined to cycling? In the year 1973, many countries were hit by the oil crisis, thereby restricting the commutation via motor vehicles. The second primary cause was increasing number of deaths: especially children through road accidents. As a result, the Dutch government was compelled to introduce policies that could restrict the use of motor vehicles. This, in turn, promoted the use of bicycles.