Dutch Infrastructure Cripples Their Sports Cycling #BaselessRumourFriday
How’s about this for a story:
One really very good reason that we should absolutely not be campaigning for a proper standard of cycle infrastructure in the UK is that it will RUIN (yes, literally RUIN) our sports cycling.
In the Netherlands, their cycle teams actually have to train abroad, as they are NOT ALLOWED to train on the road, but compelled to use segregated cycle routes more suited to grandma on her Omafiets.
Gosh. That’s enough to strike fear in the heart of anyone who’s keen to see the millions spent on the British cycling team pay off at the Olympics this year. I mean, it’s no good spending all that money, if our brave boys and girls couldn’t train properly, is it?
This is one of those FACTS that does the rounds, and some people are particularly fond of quoting - especially if they seem to be in favour of the status quo.
So I decided to check it out, and emailed the Netherlands Olympic Committee & Sports Federation:
From: Karl McCracken
Sent: Wednesday 14 december 2011 11:02
Subject: Question Regarding the Netherlands’ Olympic Cycling Team
I hope you’ll excuse me writing in English rather than Dutch!
I have a question that I hope you can help me with. In the UK, the Netherlands is usually held up as having many examples of how to design towns & cities to get the majority of the population using bikes for everyday transport.
However, a small vocal minority insist that having Dutch-style infrastructure would harm the interests of committed cyclists, who they claim would be forced to use it. The example often cited is Dutch Olympic Cycling Team. British cyclists claim that the Dutch team is forced to train outside of the Netherlands, as the roads in your country are effectively banned to cyclists, and the permitted cycle routes are not suitable for top-level training rides.
The thing is, no-one in Britain seems to be able to give any direct evidence of this, so I thought I’d ask you: Does your Olympic Cycling Team have to train abroad because they cannot use the roads in the Netherlands?
Thanks in advance of any information you can give on this,
After a bit of to-ing and fro-ing, I got a reply from Thorvald Veneberg, Technical Director of the Royal Dutch Cycling Union (Koninklijke Nederlandsche Wielren Unie), who are the national cycling federation representing the Netherlands at the UCI:
From: Thorwald Veneberg | KNWU
Date: 29 February 2012 09:33:39 GMT
Subject: FW: Question Regarding the Netherlands’ Olympic Cycling Team
In not quite polite English I would say, bullshit. We can train here very good on the roads. Even with some small mountains in the south. The only reason to go abroad is for the weathern sometimes… But I guess that is the same for you guys…
Met vriendelijke groet,
So there we go - our friends just the other side of the North Sea enjoy the same open air sports cycling training opportunities that we do here. And I guess that they have a population that’s pretty much like ours - a few genetically slothful people, a lot of normal people in the middle, and a few elite superhumans at the upper end.
Maybe British Cycling’s annual budget around £20,000,000 and the overall Team GB focus on sports where technology in equipment or training can yield results might be a contributory factor to the British teams’ continued success after all?
In any event, I think it’s safe to say that were we to adopt the sort of traffic-taming, person-friendly, cycle friendly planning they have in the Netherlands, we won’t be harming British sports cycling.