Guest Blog: Stijn Bicycles Through the Tri-Valley

Hi, I’m Stijn, a typical Dutch person who makes a three-month during trip through the USA. I have different goals I want to reach through this journey: seeing old friends and family again, come across some typical tourist attractions, get some more experience abroad and to see how the cycle accommodation works out. I’ve only been here for one week, and I’ve already noticed that it is at least ‘different’.

Why Biking

Here, you come across much fewer bike lanes on the road and people usually don’t look out for bicyclists. But of course, I’m comparing it with the ‘country of bikes’ and bicycling is a big part of our culture. But that doesn’t mean that bicycling in America can’t be attractive. A bicycle has many advantages over a car; it is eco-friendly, you get some fresh air, you don’t pay for any gas and you’ve also done a short workout.

I can’t do many sports myself because of an ankle fracture and I had to quit hockey because of it. Bicycling is an amazing way to still keep my condition on a good level. And yes, maybe it takes a little more time to get to your job, but if you arrive on your bicycle you can start your day fresh and awake. And by the way, you don’t have to search so long for a parking spot for your vehicle.

Comparing it to the Netherlands

But it’s true, like I already said, in the Netherlands it is in fact saver to drive your bike on the road when you compare it to America. Presently I cycle mostly through Pleasanton and Livermore. I’ve noticed that bike lanes are not that noticeable and sometimes there are even no bike lanes to ride on so you’re forced to drive in auto lanes.Because of this I usually ride on sidewalks, but that doesn’t mean they are safe either. There is a pretty big chance that you will come across pedestrians and there are many times that you would have to ride close to garages where cars can get out at any moment you pass them. I often see children who bike to their school on the sidewalks and could get hit by cars exiting driveways.

It really is too bad that it is so difficult to ride across the American roads on your bike, because in my opinion there is way more to see when you bike in the United States than in the Netherlands. The landscapes are so much more beautiful and weather is way better too. And I’m not talking about the temperature here. You also don’t get bothered by rain and not a lot of wind, which both isn’t the case in the Netherlands.

I came across this beatiful sight when I cycled over some hills in Pleasanton

Making Progress

Right now in Pleasanton, there are some great bike trails like the Iron Horse Trail, and the new Pedestrian and Bicycle Master Plan shows a great vision for the future. Plus, there are new bike lanes going in all the time, including some green paint that helps cars notice the bike lane. The city is working hard to continue improving bicycling, and if people show that they care, progress will happen even faster.

I hope I’ve inspired you to use your bike more often or to even purchase one. We of course can advocate for the government to make the roads better for bicyclists to ride on, and there should also be people using those roads. You can show that you want improvement just by using your bike more often. Even if it’s only for going to your work, if we would all do that, we can make the cycling accommodation getting lots of improvements.