Why I Ride My Bike to Work, by the Prime Minister of the Netherlands
By Kate Whiting, David Knowles
With its sweeping views over the sparkling Hofvijver pond, the Binnenhof — the Gothic castle in the heart of The Hague that houses the States General of the Netherlands — is quite something.
It's little wonder Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte enjoys commuting to his office there. And recently he's made the journey by bike as often as possible.
"I didn't cycle a lot for 10 years. But for the past two years, I've had my own bike again and, when the weather allows, I travel into the office that way," he told the World Economic Forum.
More than a quarter of trips in the Netherlands 2016 were made by bike.
Netherlands Institute for Transport Policy Analysis
The Dutch are famous for their love of cycling. In 2018, the country had more bicycles than people: 23 million to 17 million. More than a quarter of all trips in the country are made by bike and of those, a quarter are for getting work, like Rutte.
He explains why it's long been such a phenomenon: "The Dutch love cycling because we are a small country. We have to get from A to B. And of course taking a car, yes, is an option, but you have congestion plus the environmental impact. From the old days, almost from the late 19th century, we're used to taking a bicycle."
Enabled by Infrastructure
The country's flat landscape is perfect for trips on two wheels. But it has also carefully designed its transport infrastructure to promote cycling.
Rutte admits he was impressed with how well-oiled the system is: "I was amazed how many specific biking traffic lights and biking lanes we now have – and so many more than 10 years ago.
"They're not only in the city but also in local communities between cities, which makes it very safe and easy, particularly for small children when they go to school."
Healthy for People and Planet
The health benefits of cycling are well-known: it reduces the risk of illnesses such as diabetes and cardiovascular diseases, and can help boost mental wellbeing.
A 2015 study found more than 6,000 deaths in the Netherlands are prevented each year due to cycling, and it adds six months to the average life expectancy.
This saves the country's economy more than $20 million a year.
The benefits to the environment are also huge: switching from a car to a bicycle saves an average of 150 grammes of carbon dioxide per kilometre, according to the Netherlands Institute for Transport Policy Analysis.
As Rutte says: "The whole system is nudging people to make use of this very healthy alternative."
Note: This article is part of the Sustainable Development Impact Summit.
Reposted with permission from our media associate World Economic Forum.
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Avocado and almond crops depend on bees for proper pollination. FRANK MERIÑO / Pexels / CC0<p>Salazar and other Columbian beekeepers described "scooping up piles of dead bees" year after year since the avocado and citrus booms began, according to Phys.org. Many have opted to salvage what partial colonies survive and move away from agricultural areas.</p><p>The future of pollinators and the crops they help create is uncertain. According to the United Nations, nearly half of insect pollinators, particularly bees and butterflies, risk global extinction, Phys.org reported. Their decline already has cascading consequences for the economy and beyond. Roughly 1.4 billion jobs and three-quarters of all crops around the world depend on bees and other pollinators for free fertilization services worth billions of dollars, Phys.org noted. Losing wild and native bees could <a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/wild-bees-crop-shortage-2646849232.html" target="_self">trigger food security issues</a>.</p><p>Salazar, the beekeeper, warned Phys.org, "The bee is a bioindicator. If bees are dying, what other insects beneficial to the environment... are dying?"</p>
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