I’m from the Netherlands, the country with more bicycles than inhabitants. This post about cycling is from my Dutch point of view.
Seven reasons to bike in the Bay Area
- The weather is almost always good
- There are hardly any hills
- There are many bike friendly roads and cycling paths in the Bay Area. Go to Google maps, calculate directions and click on cycling.
- You can take your bike for free on CalTrain, Marguerite Shuttle, VTA busses, and BART
- There are plenty of bike shops in the Bay Area, check them out here
- All cities in the Bay Area promote cycling. They make bike friendly paths, publish bike maps and offer bikes classes
- Most people in the Bay Area live within 5 miles from work, so biking is a seriously healthy, and economic alternative to driving.
Four additional reasons to bike to Stanford
- Stanford and the City of Palo Alto have many safe cycling paths
- Stanford has a bike shop and many repair stations
- If you join the Stanford Commute Club and don’t buy a Stanford parking permit, you can get up to $300 reward
- Stanford offers bikes classes too. Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org to be notified when the next class will be held
All information about biking at Stanford can be found here.
Facts about cyling in the Netherlands
- The Netherlands has more bicycles than inhabitants
- 87% of the Dutch people own a bicycle
- 34% of the Dutch take a bike for a urban trip, against 3% of the Californians
- Every year 4.5% of all bikes in the Netherlands are stolen
- Most Dutch people don’ t wear helmets
- Biking in the Netherlands is safe because cycling paths are separated from the road and because motorists are used to cyclists
- The Dutch bike association does not promote bike helmets for a couple of reasons, 1. because they believe that obliging helmet use leads to less bicycle use, 2. because a helmet emphasizes the dangers of cycling and gives cycling a bad image, 3. because they believe most serious injuries are caused by cars at high speed and in those situation a helmet does not help, and 4. because a helmet gives a false sense of security and increases risky behavior. Interesting isn’t it?
- Most bikes in the Netherlands have a special generator for the light
My tips for bicyclists
- Don’t ride on El Camino Real. Go on the safer side streets within the residential areas. Check Google maps for alternatives
- If a lane is too narrow for a vehicle to safely pass on the left, then it is safer to bike in the middle of the lane
- Use hand signals. Show your intentions.
- Don’t stop in the blind spot of a vehicle
- Have good lights on your bike. Do not install blinding light beams.
- Don’t bike on the sidewalk unless absolutely necessary.
My tips for motorists
- Don’t yield to cyclists if they don’t have right of way. Cyclists have to follow the same rules as motor vehicles by law; they are not pedestrians.
- Use your blinkers when you make a turn or change lanes. Show your intentions.
- Look over your shoulder, cyclists could be in the blind spot of your car.
How do you get around the Bay Area? Tell us your cycling stories.
Once you've gotten to grips with your new surroundings it's time to explore, don't have a car? Here are some tips for using public transport.