Five go mad in Amsterdam...

One thing you can be sure of: when a group of avid UK cycle-campaigners get together, talk will eventually turn to the Cycling Paradise that is the Netherlands. We often talk about going there. And this year, we did.

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  1. Predictably, cycling from Newcastle central railway station to the ferry port in North Shields wasn't that idyllic.
  2. But soon we were too excited to care.
  3. Straight off the ferry and on to safe, convenient and pleasant cycle routes. We all agreed: this is why people cycle here.
  4. And not just because a little active travel justifies A LOT of food...
  5. So what are the good things about cycling in the Netherlands?
  6. Well, as people on bikes we felt like we mattered. Not squeezed into spaces that were designed for cars or for people on foot, but given our own space that worked for us.
  7. The cycle-friendly roundabouts in the Netherlands are our idea of heaven. #roundaboutporn
  8. So why do the Dutch treat bikes like this? It's because they recognise that the bike is a very efficient and clever solution to urban transport. It's not about sandal-wearing hippies feeling the wind in their locks, it's about cramming people, journeys and their vehicles into confined spaces.
  9. But it needs to feel safe. This is how buses and bikes 'share space' in the Netherlands. And this works better for both.
  10. Over there, all kinds of people are on bikes. We lost count of the times we exclaimed at babies and children on bikes, teenagers sitting on the rack, parents carrying little ones in bike seats, and baskets, and bakfiets.
  11. Carrying your bairns on a bike is something even the bairns want to do.
  12. And once again cycling proved to be the most sociable form of transport.
  13. So what's not so good? Well, finding your bike could be a problem...
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