Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Help Support EcoWatch

Why I Ride My Bike to Work, by the Prime Minister of the Netherlands

Popular
Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte commuting by bicycle. Evert-Jan Daniels / AFP / Getty Images

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.

Cycling Craze

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.

There are more than 35,000 kilometers (21,750 miles) of cycle lanes and the city of Utrecht is home to the world's biggest underground bike park.

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.

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Food Tank

By Danielle Nierenberg and Alonso Diaz

With record high unemployment, a reeling global economy, and concerns of food shortages, the world as we know it is changing. But even as these shifts expose inequities in the health and food systems, many experts hope that the current moment offers an opportunity to build a new and more sustainable food system.

Read More Show Less
Pexels

By Brian J. Love and Julie Rieland

The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted the U.S. recycling industry. Waste sources, quantities and destinations are all in flux, and shutdowns have devastated an industry that was already struggling.

Read More Show Less
Pixabay

By Kris Gunnars, BSc

Unhealthy foods play a primary role in many people gaining weight and developing chronic health conditions, more now than ever before.

Read More Show Less
A man pushes his mother in a wheelchair down Ocean Drive in South Beach, Miami on May 19, 2020, amid the novel coronavirus pandemic. CHANDAN KHANNA / AFP via Getty Images

The U.S. reported more than 55,000 new coronavirus cases on Thursday, in a sign that the outbreak is not letting up as the Fourth of July weekend kicks off.

Read More Show Less
To better understand how people influence the overall health of dolphins, Oklahoma State University's Unmanned Systems Research Institute is developing a drone to collect samples from the spray that comes from their blowholes. Ken Y. / CC by 2.0

By Jason Bruck

Human actions have taken a steep toll on whales and dolphins. Some studies estimate that small whale abundance, which includes dolphins, has fallen 87% since 1980 and thousands of whales die from rope entanglement annually. But humans also cause less obvious harm. Researchers have found changes in the stress levels, reproductive health and respiratory health of these animals, but this valuable data is extremely hard to collect.

Read More Show Less

Sunscreen pollution is accelerating the demise of coral reefs globally by causing permanent DNA damage to coral. gonzalo martinez / iStock / Getty Images Plus

On July 29, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed into law a controversial bill prohibiting local governments from banning certain types of sunscreens.

Read More Show Less

Trending

Oat milk is popping up at coffee shops and grocery stores alike, quickly becoming one of the trendiest plant-based milks. jacqueline / CC by 2.0

By Kelli McGrane

Oat milk is popping up at coffee shops and grocery stores alike, quickly becoming one of the trendiest plant-based milks.

Read More Show Less