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Updated: January 31, 2014 00:35 IST

Dutch Minister cycles to promote healthy lifestyle

Aarti Dhar
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Dutch Minister of Health, Welfare and Sports, Edith Schippers (in purple dress) cycling around Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium in New Delhi on Thursday. Photo; Special Arrangement
The Hindu Dutch Minister of Health, Welfare and Sports, Edith Schippers (in purple dress) cycling around Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium in New Delhi on Thursday. Photo; Special Arrangement

Dutch Health Minister Edith Schippers on Thursday took a cycling tour around the Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium here to promote the Netherlands as a nation of bicycles and showcase cycling as a healthy and nature-friendly mode of transport.

The Netherlands had won the first edition of the Hero Hockey World League Final in the same stadium last week.

“The Dutch love to cycle. It is fun, healthy exercise, and nature-friendly. I am very happy to see that Delhi also has cycling lanes. There is even a Dutch company that organises cycling tours to explore Old Delhi,” Ms Schippers said.

Cycling accounts for 27 per cent of all trips (urban and rural) nationwide in the Netherlands, and up to 59 per cent of all trips in its cities.

Cycling became popular in the Netherlands in the 1880s, and by the 1890s the Dutch were already building dedicated paths for cyclists. By 1911, the Dutch owned more bicycles per capita than any other country in Europe.

The popularity of cycling as it is now, started in the 1970s when the Dutch took to the streets to protest the high number of child deaths on the roads: in some cases, over 500 children were killed in car accidents in the Netherlands in a single year. This protest came to be known as the “Stop the Child Murder”-movement. The success of this movement — along with other factors, such as the oil shortages of 1973-74 — turned the Dutch policy around. The country began to restrict motor vehicles in its towns and cities and directed its focus on growth towards other forms of transport, with the bicycle being seen as critical in making the Dutch streets safer, and its towns and cities more people-friendly.

There are 18 million bicycles in the Netherlands, more than there are inhabitants. These bicycles can be used on more than 35,000 km of bicycle paths. There is by far no country where cycling is so popular as in Holland.

In comparison, Delhi has 100 km of cycling tracks. For the first time, road design has accorded priority to walkers and cyclists in urban planning.

The Delhi government has also shown its commitment by placing ‘green’ local cycle stands at various points near metro stations where one can rent a bike at just Rs 10 for four hours. As a consequence, more and more people are cycling. Bicycle manufacturers have their second highest sales in Delhi after Bangalore.

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@Avinash,
"In the West the roads are too good ...whereas in India we have terrible roads...". I disagree. I just shifted from New York City to Bangalore and cycle(d) every day in both cities. While Bangalore's road certainly have their share of problems, e.g., potholes, so do New York York's. And traffic is much more considerate to cyclists here than in New York. Give it a try here and you will be surprised how easy cycling also in India is and how much fun it can be; all the while doing something for your (and others) health, your wallet and often being also saving some time as a cycle goes fastest through traffic ...

from:  Michael Steiner
Posted on: Feb 1, 2014 at 22:26 IST

Compare it with India's environment minister.

from:  Avinash Baranwal
Posted on: Jan 31, 2014 at 16:47 IST

Excellent experience Dr. Everyone will definitely echo your
feelings...most of wish to do the same.In the West the roads are too
good ...whereas in India we have terrible roads...leave alone cycling we
cannot even go for a walk for the fear of tripping and fracturing the
ankle

from:  J.S.Acharya
Posted on: Jan 31, 2014 at 13:27 IST

Inspiring.Photo is enchanting. We have to learn a lot from Dutch.I am 63, an avid cyclist.I don't know any other driving. All articles on cycling enthuse me. I preserve all articles. I promote cycling.I knew cycling from my early school days. As there was no school in my village, I used to ride 16 km everyday from 9 to 12th class.In medical school,cycle was my vehicle of travel.During my job in govt health services, i used cycle for all my needs.As a medical officer of primary health centre, I did field work on cycle. I am free from Diabetes, Hypertension and joint pains. I am not on any regular medical care. Now I live near urban metropolis against my choice and I miss cycling very much.The small rented house where I live do not provide space for cycle. Yet, I take some body's cycle and relieve my itch of cycle ride. Long live my dear cycle.

from:  ARAVEETI RAMAYOGAIAH
Posted on: Jan 31, 2014 at 12:13 IST

Can all politicians kindly see this and learn something. MPs need special treatment in aircraft. What a shame to have and tolerate these kind of silly politicians on board this GREAT COUNTRY. People in India have to tolerate all these jokes everyday for fear of losing their lives.

from:  Ananth
Posted on: Jan 31, 2014 at 00:43 IST
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