As one of the two most northerly provinces in the Netherlands, Groningen is the world's cycling city. You may have heard about the Amsterdam and Copenhagen, but have you ever heard about the Groningen, the famous cycling city in the Netherlands? The city is nationally known as the "Metropolis of the North". Although Groningen is not a very large city, it does have an important role as the main urban center of this part of the country. Now it is for you to experience the specific bike culture in Groningen.
The current situation of Groningen
With a population of 202,567, the Groningen is the main municipality as well as the capital city of the eponymous province in the Netherlands. Besides, Groningen is a lively university city which has the youngest average population in the Netherlands. In addition, the Groningen is aiming at being the most beautiful province in the Netherlands, which we can see from its famous slogan ‘er gaat niets boven Groningen'. The slogan, which means that nothing surpasses Groningen, is also a reference to its location.
Cycling is very popular in Groningen with no less than sixty percent of all traffic movements are by bikes. (The highest rate of cycling in the world) Cycling through Groningen is cycling through an open landscape of huge fields, through historic farms with big granaries. Now the city authorities are planning to push cycling even more.
How Groningen become the world's cycling city
In the past few years, there are 300,000 bicycles, and only 75,000 cars with a population of 190,000. 61% of all trips in Groningen are made by bikes. With such high rate of cycling in the world, the city used to remove the cycle paths in order to make more space for the cars. So how the Groningen become the world's cycling city?
At the first place, due to a series of changes in transport policy and urban planning which are made a couple of decades ago, the city center virtually became car-free, in order to encourage people to walk and use bicycles more often. While the city authorities discouraged people from driving cars, it introduced many measures to encourage the use of bikes. The movement gave more space to pedestrians and cyclists.
In the 70s, the local government avoided traffic congestion even though the number of cars increases. The authorities also created a safe and comfortable environment for cyclists, and meanwhile, the local government reduced air pollution and improved the quality of life for the residents.
At the same time, the local government also devoted to the improvement of the bike infrastructure. The cyclists can already ride around more easily with the intelligent traffic lights in 2014.
Now, Groningen is planning to figure out more measures for the next ten years to help the city maintain the world's most bike-friendly city. The local government is also trying to find ways to overcome the challenges that it's expected to face as the number of bike commuters is definitely to increase in the future.
The current cycling environment in Groningen
The bike culture would really strike you if you walk or live in the Groningen. You will see people of all ages riding around on their bikes with a slow speed. The people use the bicycles as the transportation to transport everything they can, such as the sofa, or even the Christmas trees. There are some situations you will see in Groningen.
Bike boxes at traffic lights
In many places in Groningen, you can spot big bike boxes which position in the middle of car lanes at traffic lights. These bike boxes have a great impact in giving more space to the riders at the busy intersections. Besides, the bike boxes also show that everyone on the road is important, including the cyclists. In Groningen, there is a norm that the bicyclists should go first. In addition, there are many types of bike infrastructure, including the off-road bike paths and bike roads, these bike boxes and colored bike lanes.
Bike paths, bike roads and bike tunnels
When riding or walking in the suburbs, you will not be surprised to see the bike paths and bike roads. Some bike roads are even built to be broad that allow two people can bike side-by-side in each direction. In addition, the city also built some bike tunnels under the roadways to make the cyclists don't need to cross the busy streets.
Bike speed bumps and cargo bikes
In Groningen, there are speed bumps for cyclists in which positioned before intersections with either sidewalks or roads. These speed bumps will give you a lot of fun when you riding on them.
As mentioned above, the people would use bikes to transport something heavy. The bikes they use are cargo bikes rather than the ordinary bikes. It is a common case to use the cargo bikes to transport cargo in Groningen.
Babies on bikes and routes go through parks
As a lively university city, Groningen has many young families. So it is not surprising to see babies on bikes. In Groningen, there would be bicycle routes go through the parks. Cycling in such places may make you feel comfortable and pleasant. Besides, riding on the routes that go through the parks can be much quicker and more direct than to ride in the busy streets.
Other circumstances in Groningen
Groningen is not only the ideal land for cyclists but also a place for beautiful architecture. As a university city, Groningen is also famous for other aspects, particularly in the fields of music and other arts, education, and business. A large number of students living in Groningen also contribute to a diverse cultural scene for a city of its size. Groningen is also a place of full of beautiful architecture. "Academia", a beautiful architecture in Groningen, will impress you when you see the place at the first sight. Meanwhile, the inside of the building looks much pretty.
Besides, there is also something delicate you should have a taste, especially the Belgian fries and stroopwafels. You won't regret to have a try.
Groningen, the world's cycling city, has its own specific bike culture. Besides, the city is also a wonderful place for beautiful architectures and delicate foods. You can experience the specific culture and cycling environment here.