The Dutch are all the Proof I Need

Tim Grebos - Rotterdam, AE

The Dutch are all the Proof I Need

In Jan of 2012 I packed up my family and moved from the suburbs of Philadelphia, PA to smack in the middle of Rotterdam, The Netherlands. We sold our cars and shipped our bikes, crossed our fingers, and hoped for the best. We had all ridden bikes around the neighborhood in PA and as a leisurely way to pass the day while on vacation at the seashore in NJ, but none of us had ever considered bikes as transportation. What we found in Rotterdam, and in the Dutch people we came to know and love, was a freedom and independence that can only be found on a bicycle! I am thrilled to say that in all the time I have lived in Rotterdam, I have never driven my car to work. For the first three months we lived in the city, we didn't even own a car.

I biked to work each day, my wife biked to the grocery store, my children biked to and from school, and a miraculous thing happened. Well, several miraculous things, actually.  First, we all lost weight and felt better. Funny how fresh air and exercise will do that to you. Second, we had more free time, more time together, and an increase in the quality of time we spent together. In PA, when my wife would drive the kids to soccer practice, they'd put on their headphones and zone out. Riding bikes to soccer practice together, everybody actually talks to each other. AMAZING! And because we had to bike to get places, we stopped racing around like we did in the States. By prioritizing our time and our lives, our pace actually slowed down. You know what you don't get riding you bicycle home from work? Road rage. Without traffic and congestion and parking to worry about all the time, I found myself to be a much happier person. Maybe this is why the Dutch are always smiling. Or maybe they're smiling about all the money they save not driving cars. Yes, the best thing I liked about riding in Rotterdam were the trips to Naples, Paris, London, Edinburgh, Rome, Innsbruck, Switzerland, and, Portugal I could give my family because we weren't paying for gas, parking, maintenance, insurance, or registration.

The Dutch are some of the wealthiest, happiest, and most fit people on the planet, and my guess is that bikes have something to do with it. We call it exercise, the Dutch call it a way of life. The smile on my daughters' faces as the older one fenders; the younger one through our neighborhood in Kralingen is all the proof I need.

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