Bicycle Advocacy TV Ads from the Netherlands

A collection of Dutch bicycle advocacy videos

Running time: 8 minutes 11 seconds

We don’t understand a word of it, but in this video compilation from the Netherlands, we see what a well-funded television ad campaign to encourage cycling might look like. Or not. Check out the ad about three minutes in: It appears to show an Al Qaeda operative a Saddam Hussein-like guy on a bicycle with a machine gun strapped to his back chasing three Western politician businessman types. It’s probably not the best sales pitch for the US market but you get the idea.

  • Sarah Goodyear

    Actually, I think that maybe is meant to be Saddam Hussein. Let’s not perpetuate the idea that he had any connection to Al Qaeda!

  • rfr

    Surprising not to see many helmets on those progressive Dutch heads. Does the pro-cycling climate there include an enviably low accident rate?

  • I actually thought it looked like a combo of Saddam and Khalid Sheik Muhammad

  • rfr,
    Safe bicycle infrastructure that limits the number of conflicts with vehicles helps lower the crash rate. Time and time again, studies have shown that an increase in the number of cyclists on the road, and the resulting increased awareness/priority for cyclists among drivers is a far superior ameliorative than helmets.

    Tangent: 70 of NYC ped injuries involve the head. According to helmet logic, peds should cross the street with something strapped to their domes.

    Engineering for illegal and bad behavior is the only serious solution.

  • PB

    “Surprising not to see many helmets on those progressive Dutch heads”

    That’s because people all over the world haven’t fallen victim to the fear campaign launched by helmet makers (that we are all about to fall on our heads any second). The result has been that they continue to ride. More bikes on the road makes it safer for cyclists. Here in the US, we have allowed ourselves to believe that bikes are dangerous, thus many of us have stopped biking, thus … wait for it … making biking more dangerous.

  • v

    well put en,

    maybe the last video, ending “bikers live longer” could add “more bikers live even longer”

    a sign of dutch biking safety…

  • momos

    I love these ads. Thanks for posting them.

  • I love these ads. And it proves that you don’t need to understand what they are saying. The meaning is clear. Mind you, I always mute the sound on my tv when the ads come on.

    And the Saddam ad was topical at the time it was released (he was in jail awaiting trial) and the tag line was translated

    Just don’t follow the example of the lad goofing around on his bike in the traffic jam. Here the principle of many drivers is “you toucha my car, I smasha you face!”

  • @rfr
    Every kid in the Netherlands learns how to walk, swim and cycle in no particular order. To us wearing safety equipment for cycling is just like wearing safety equipment for walking. Ridiculous.

    @Stephen Rees
    It’s actually a Dutch word joke. The punch-line is “pak de auto” which normally means “take the car”, but in this particular context the translation of “Pak de auto. Neem de fiets” would be something like “Screw with the car. Take the bicycle”.

  • Marina

    These were fun to watch and made me nostalgic for the civilized biking conditions in Groningen, NL, where I lived for 6 months last year and visited umpteen times in the last 11 years.

    Let me add my 2 cents to the helmet issue. I know it’s hard for most of us to imagine, but bicycle commuting in Holland is just as normal as walking. Plus, people tend to go pretty slowly on those heavy Dutch bikes. When people go fitness riding on racing bikes, they often do sport a helmet.

    One thing I noticed from visiting Holland for many years is even though bicycle communiting in towns is still as customary as ever (at least in Groningen) car usage seems to have increased for inter-town trips. Perhaps that’s why these ads were necessary in the first place.

  • Kathleen Scharf

    I love these ads, and they take me back to my two wonderful bicycling vacations in Holland. EVERYONE rides bikes in Holland, and most importantly car drivers assume that part of their job is to be safe around bikes because in Holland they’re a legitimate means of transport. People ride fast, they carry a lot of big stuff, and they have the wonderful network of bicycle lanes often separated physically from car traffic.

  • The Dutch are # 1 in bikes! Ya!


New York City Ate My Bicycle

Streetsblog reader Stephen Kling submits the following: I pedal my little folding bike to the Metro North station every morning, fold it up, and ride the train from Larchmont to Grand Central, nearly every morning, then glide downtown to Union Square. My fellow commuters eye me warily over their Wall Street Journals. Clearly, I’m a […]

Another Look at the WSJ Article on European Cycling

This weekend’s full-page Wall Street Journal article on the measures that European cities are taking to make themselves more bike-friendly makes for an interesting comparison to what I’m seeing in my own neighborhood. While Brooklyn’s Ninth Street Block Association "expresses concern" (i.e. yells and screams) that new bike lanes will increase traffic congestion, European cities, […]

Climate Idealism Can’t Hold a Candle to Collective Action

Cross-posted from the Carbon Tax Center. Why do Copenhageners ride bicycles? The key reason, says Yale economist and bestselling author Robert J. Shiller, is that Danes are idealists who resolved, after the oil crisis of the 1970s, “to make a personal commitment to ride bicycles rather than drive, out of moral principle, even if that […]

Bicycle Anecdotes From Amsterdam

Here we present our final — and most informative — Streetfilm from Amsterdam. It provides a nice cross-section of commentary on life in the City of Bikes. If you’d like to skip directly to a certain section, use this table of contents: 0:17 Rejecting the Automobile 2:15 A bike system that works for everyone 4:05 There’s a science to […]

How to Plan Good Cities for Bicycling

Editor’s note: This is the final installment in our series this week featuring Danish architect and livable streets luminary Jan Gehl. The pieces are excerpts are from his book, “Cities for People,” published by Island Press. Donate to Streetsblog and Streetfilms and you’ll qualify to win a copy of the book, courtesy of Island Press. […]