Bicycle Education, Dutch style

Did you know that Dutch schoolkids have to pass an exam demonstrating their cycling skill when they’re about 12 years old? Think of it as a form of drivers’ ed for bicyclists. Most will then ride to school, sometimes nearly 10 miles one way. This blog post, which includes a video, explains the system. (Of course, we’d like it even more if the kids wore helmets.)

What do you think? Would you like to see something like this in the community?

We also like this video of high school kids in the U.S. creating a “bike bus” — riding as a group to get to school? — though, again, we think they should wear helmets (and maybe add some lights).

High School Bike Bus from Keri Caffrey on Vimeo.

2 Responses to “Bicycle Education, Dutch style”

  1. Chris says:

    Currently, NJ law requires children under 17 to wear helmets while bicycling. Adults are free to decide for themselves whether to wear a helmet. We (trustees of the WWBPA) are very much in favor of skill- and knowledge-based education for bicyclists (and motorists) of all ages.

    Education enables people to better determine the relative safety or danger of bicycling for themselves and their children under those circumstances where they might find themselves.

    Chris
    Trustee and LCI

    PS – Personally, I wear a helmet because I’ve seen the repercussions of head trauma (bicycling, skateboarding, tackle football – all without helmets) and know that my brain is my greatest asset. I trust a helmet to mitigate the risk of such trauma to my brain.

  2. Abram says:

    What’s with all the pro-bicycle helmet interjections?!? One of the reasons we in North America have such a hard time convincing people to give non-sport cycling a try is because we make it seem so dangerous! Cycling is not a dangerous activity. Far less dangerous, in fact, than driving a car. The only element of danger comes from an uneducated motoring public that does not know or respect the rights of bicycles as traffic in a rushed, runaway car-culture.

    In parts of the world where generations of children are given mandatory rider education and bicycles are a regular part of everyday transportation on city streets, helmets are not a big deal. Cycling is a safe alternative form of transportation, so riders don’t feel the need to wear those encumbrances.

    One of the big differences I still see, and we look rather silly for it, between people riding their bicycles in Amsterdam or Copenhagen or Utrecht and those riding their bicycles in Toronto or New York City or Portland is that there are so many helmets worn by North American counterparts. We struggle to get people out of cars and onto bikes because we continue, despite investments in infrastructure, to make cycling look like such a dangerous and specialized activity requiring special safety gear and dress.

    How about putting more money into mandatory education for all so everyone knows that bicycles are safe and have their place on our streets as a viable form of transportation, as well as into legislation and infrastructure that tilt the balance in favour of more sustainable forms of transportation such as cycling and public transit?

    It was a nice little post, except for all the bicycle helmet plugs… “(Of course, we?d like it even more if the kids wore helmets.) and “though, again, we think they should wear helmets (and maybe add some lights).” Cycling is safer for them because they are educated and accepted, even respected, on their streets. I do agree about the lights though. Note that most European bicycles for everyday use come standard with lights and fenders and skirt/coatguards.

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