Cycling Without Fear

In this article, Dan Kois tells his story of living in the Netherlands for 3 months with his children but without a car.

In the Netherlands, only tourists wear helmets.

a country with more bikes than people, and we were eager to slip into the two-wheeled flow.

Even in optimistic American municipalities that have demarcated bike lanes on the street or paved a few bike paths, cars come first, and drivers rarely look out for cyclists. Drivers park and then swing their front doors wide; they make right turns without looking behind them; they pull out of parking lots and cut across bike lanes at full speed. Who can blame them? The system was built to maximize drivers’ efficiency, and anything that might slow them down is a glitch. [underlining, mine]

For cyclists used to being second-class citizens, watching bikes navigate the Netherlands is revelatory. 

Most important, drivers look out for cyclists, cede the right of way, and are rarely surprised by them. After all, nearly all those drivers are cyclists themselves. The eighteen million residents of the … more than twenty-two million bicycles. Dutch kids ride in child seats practically from birth, are on balance bikes by two, and are cycling unaided by four. Old people continue to cycle, too: when pedalling gets too difficult, they switch to battery-assisted e-bikes, which now outsell standard adult bikes in the Netherlands.

Dan Kois, How I Learned to Cycle Like a Dutchman, The New Yorker, September 13, 2019