When Kylie van Dam went in search of a cycle-friendly city she found the almost car-free suburb of Houten. Its a model more cities could copy, she writes
Before Im out of bed, our 15-year-old slams the door and jumps on her bike, heading for school and meeting friends along the way.
Last week, our eight and 13-year-olds attended four parties between them. They scoffed the obligatory birthday sugar, went bowling, shot lasers, played mini-golf and patted sheep travelling to and from all of these activities by bike. There wasnt a helmet or scrap of hi-vis between them.
This is daily life in Houten, a suburb of Utrecht in the Netherlands. Spend any time here and youll soon see hordes of kids riding their bikes to gym lessons, parties, after-school care or sports activities through wind, rain or shine. One of my favourite Dutch expressions is Jij bent niet van suiker gemaakt (Youre not made of sugar), meaning you wont dissolve in the rain so get on your bike.
This lifestyle drew us to the Netherlands from Britain. After 15 years of dreaming via Sydney, London and Norwich we went in search of a more cycle-friendly city.