The bicycle is famous all around the world, but there are some countries that are truly well known for being associated with this form of two wheeled transport. The nature of this form of transport is that it is more popular in flat areas than it is in mountainous ones, and there are few countries flatter than the Netherlands.
It has been estimated that 99% of the population of the country own a bike and one quarter of all journeys to work are completed on a bike. The country is full of hire shops for tourists who are then subjected to the competitive nature of cycling in the country. The Dutch like to get around quickly and are often infuriated by slow cyclists who clog up the routes. There is a huge network of roads throughout the country that are entirely for the use of bicycles and the nation makes the most of these facilities. There are problems that have been caused by the bicycle’s popularity and one is that many discarded bikes are merely tossed into Amsterdam’s canals. Each year the local authority fishes out between 12,000 and 15,000 abandoned bikes.
Denmark is another European country that rivals Holland in the popularity of cycling. Like the Netherlands, there are many bike routes crossing the country and they have gone one step further by building bridges that are suitable for bikes and not cars.
The Bicycle Snake Bridge in Copenhagen harbor connects the Fisketorvet Shopping Mall across to Brygge Island. The route across the harbor gives the cyclists fantastic views of the city. There are more bridges planned with some being designed with glass bottoms to enhance the experience further. The city designers have even tilted the bins on pathways so that they do not interfere with cyclists.
The country that has the most bicycles in the world is China. It has been estimated that 40% of the population own a bike. This means that there are 500 million bicycles in China. In a country where there are great varieties in terms of wealth, the bicycle provides a cheap form of transport for many people. The popularity of the bicycle in China was highlighted in Katie Melua’s song “9 million bicycles in Beijing”. There are 2.4 million bikes in the city that are available for hire and many cities suffer from the numbers of bicycles that have been abandoned. This has come about as many Chinese cyclists choose to bike share, which has left large numbers of bikes that are now unwanted.
The popularity of cycling can be as a result of economic, geographical or health factors and in Switzerland’s case it is definitely the later. It is one of the most mountainous countries in Europe and not one would naturally associate with cycling being a popular recreation. However, the country has a population that is aware of the need for a clean environment and also the importance of physical exercise. The combination of these two factors has resulted in many bike routes being constructed in the country. It has also been visited by the Tour de France and many families see the bicycle as an important social role in raising their families.