When it comes to commuting by bicycle, there’s a thing or two Ottawa residents can learn from the Dutch.
According to Wim Geerts, the Dutch Ambassador to Canada, there are more bicycles in the Netherlands than people and it’s not uncommon to see members of Parliament or the royal family out for a ride.
In fact, nearly one-third of the Dutch population rides bikes to work, he said, and no other country in the world has as many bike paths.
While Ottawa is also a wonderful city for cyclists, it is still far behind the Netherlands, with less than two per cent of commuters using bicycles.
“In the Netherlands, approximately 10 per cent of our population is considered obese. In Canada, it’s 20 per cent,” said Geerts.
Sunday, Geerts kicked-off the Go Green, Go Dutch, Go Bike event in Ottawa with a group ride from Pretoria Bridge to the statue of the Man with Two Hats, at Dow’s Lake.
Along the way, he and Capital Ward Councillor Clive Doucet unveiled a “ANWB paddestoel,” or a way-finding mushroom, near the Bank Street Bridge.
There are thousands of the ‘mushrooms’ in the Netherlands, said Geerts and he said he’s hoping many more start popping up in Canada as well.
Doucet called the mushroom a very humble start to a great occasion.
“All our roads, all our signs are designed for people in big cars pressing on accelerators. These things are not just cute. They are immensely useful,” said Doucet.
Doucet said knowing how to use Ottawa bike paths and knowing the distances to landmarks will make it easier for cyclists to get around the city.