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Why is cycling so popular in Netherlands?

cyclistsThere are more bicycles than residents in The Netherlands and in cities like Amsterdam and The Hague up to 70% of all journeys are made by bike. The BBC's Hague correspondent, Anna Holligan, who rides an omafiets - or "granny style" - bike complete with wicker basket and pedal-back brakes, examines what made everyone get back in the saddle.

The 70s velo-rution

Before World War II, journeys in the Netherlands were predominantly made by bike, but in the 1950s and 1960s, as car ownership rocketed, this changed. As in many countries in Europe, roads became increasingly congested and cyclists were squeezed to the kerb.

The jump in car numbers caused a huge rise in the number of deaths on the roads. In 1971 more than 3,000 people were killed by motor vehicles, 450 of them children.

In response a social movement demanding safer cycling conditions for children was formed. Called Stop de Kindermoord (Stop the Child Murder), it took its name from the headline of an article written by journalist Vic Langenhoff whose own child had been killed in a road accident.

The Dutch faith in the reliability and sustainability of the motor vehicle was also shaken by the Middle East oil crisis of 1973, when oil-producing countries stopped exports to the US and Western Europe.

These twin pressures helped to persuade the Dutch government to invest in improved cycling infrastructure and Dutch urban planners started to diverge from the car-centric road-building policies being pursued throughout the urbanising West.

Energy Saving Trust launches plug-in vehicle online forum

Electric-CarsUK’s first online platform dedicated to helping fleets share best practice on plug-in vehicles

Energy Saving Trust today announces the launch of the Plugged-in Fleets Group, sponsored by EDF Energy, the first online platform dedicated to helping fleets discuss plug-in vehicles and keep up to date with the latest developments. Using the free online forum, organisations can source the latest information on grants for vehicles and infrastructure, details of new and forthcoming plug-in vehicles and technical advice on charging compatibility and infrastructure.

The content is supplemented by blogs and articles written by a range of stakeholders, including fleets currently operating plug-in vehicles and organisations working to increase the uptake of electric vehicles in the UK. There will also be opportunities to join webinars and ‘meet the expert’ sessions with specialists from organisations including the Energy Saving Trust and EDF Energy. The Plugged-in Fleets Group allows organisations to benefit from networking with others to find out what vehicles have been tried and tested, tips on maximising range and cost savings and general advice on moving to a low-carbon transport solution.

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