Do you know that the Netherlands is home to 18 million bicycles and with a population of 16.9 million people, there are more bikes than people living in this country? That averaged out to 1.1 bikes per person. (Source: Holland Trade & Invest)
Additionally, the Bicycle Union of Holland stated that an average Dutch person cycles about 2.5 kilometres per day . That would come about to 900 kilometres per year. That’s a hell lot of cycling there!
With its 35,000 km of cycling lanes, it also has one of the lowest rates of serious injuries per kilometres cycled. And they do this without any helmets too.
I’d say cycling without a helmet is kind of crazy but Silver Bullet would counter that cycling WITH one is even crazier! Unless you are into competitive cycling and going for Tour de France, the chances of one being laughed at with a helmet on while on a bicycle would be pretty high.
So says he.
That said, I’ve been pretty impressed with the skills of the younglings in our neighbourhood. By younglings I mean as young as 3 or even 2 years old as they cycle alongside their parents so confidently without their training wheels. Such fine skills at a very tender. Pretty darn amazing as to how quickly these kids start to cycle in this country.
I’m not about to compare (and I’m not) but just drawing a comparison to the Dutch kids and if age is something to go by, our kids started late. Way late.
At 4 years old, Squirt is still on his side-wheels and Spud only got the chance to start learning serious cycling at a ripe grand age of 5+ when we moved here.
And only because it has been a challenge to teach the kids to learn how to ride while we were living in Bangkok where we were confined to enclosed spaces. That has provided us with no motivation to bring them to the nearby park 5 kilometres away in the blazing hot sun, crazy traffic and uneven pavement.
But now that we have the luxury of open and safe space, Spud has finally learnt to cycle without her side-wheels in a short span of time. It took her Opa and her Papa about 2 days to help her get her balance. Then as soon as she could balance, she took about 2 days to get started on the bike herself (she needed help with that initially).
She has been super proud of her accomplishments.
Like any other proud parents, we could not be prouder when we first saw her go. By now, she’s already quite the pro, cycling while standing up and has now (almost!) perfected the art of starting her bike in 3 different ways. What a joy to see her learning one of the more important life-skills only she could accomplish herself. That’s a skill she’ll have for life.
Well done, Spud! Way to go!
Squirt’s turn to learn how to ride without his side wheels. A must for every Dutch kid since it would be their main mode of transport. And that’s a job I’ll leave to his father. Only because I’m not too hot about running after him while he is still fresh off his training wheels.
Besides, that’s more of a dad’s thing. I’m just as happy to be on the sidelines to cheer him on when he can balance by himself. I’m more cut out for that. We are only just taking our time (and trying to find the time) with him now to first ensure his sister is properly good to go.
As far as I can tell, Squirt has been pretty excited at the prospect of him going without the sides. He is quite the family’s little dare-devil and is quite gamed for it, having seen his sister done it. He is now riding his bike like there’s no tomorrow, he goes real fast and he would give me a heart-attack with all the stunts he’d have no qualms attempting.
He did insist on one thing: He’d need a new bike for that. (Wha…t!)
He has, for now adamantly refused to take off the sides from his current bike. He has been whining about a getting a new bicycle that does not come with the side-wheels whenever I mentioned about the wheels. He wanted new, without the side-wheels just like what his sister got when she first started on it. I’m choosing to ignore.
Nope. He can whine and he ain’t getting a new bike. Those wheels are gonna come off. From his current bike. Soon.