What the Dutch think about cycling

A national survey in the Netherlands

The bicycle is the most appreciated mean of transport by the Dutch, outperforming the car and public transport. The Dutch like cycling so much mainly because of its convenience and attractiveness. If average cyclists would not have to share the streets with other traffic users, namely motorists, mopeds and racing cyclists this happiness would even likely increase.

This has become evident in the Cycling Monitor Netherlands 2020, a national survey into the state of affairs regarding subjective aspects of bicycle use in the Netherlands. It is a collaboration between the research bureau I&O Research, the Dutch Cycling Embassy and the Dutch Fietsersbond (Cyclists' Union). The monitor was initiated this year to observe the levels of satisfaction with cycling in the Netherlands, being the intention to be repeated annually. In this year's Cycling Monitor, more than two thousand Dutch people were asked what they think of cycling in the Netherlands.

The bicycle is the most appreciated mean of transport 

Of all means of transport considered in this research, the bicycle (report mark 8,3) is the most appreciated one by the Dutch, followed by the car (report mark 7,5) and public transport (report mark 6,7). The bicycle gets a 7 or higher from 96 percent of the Dutch, the car and public transport get a 7 or higher from, respectively, 85 and 67 percent of the Dutch. However, it matters to whom you ask when rating different means of transport. For example, weekly public transport travellers give public transport a 7,5, which is considerably higher than the report mark given to it by the average Dutch citizen. 

Weekly cyclists' ratings for different subjective aspects of bicycle use in the Netherlands 

Approximately seven of ten Dutch (69%) indicate that they cycle at least one day a week. For non-weekly cyclists, bad weather, long travel time and far distance are the main reasons for cycling less often or not at all.

Weekly cyclists were asked in this year's monitor to rate the following subjective aspects of bicycle use with a report mark ranging from 1 to 10:

Social safety: How safely the surroundings are experienced while cycling.

Traffic safety: How safely bicycle rides from A to B can be taken.

Speed: How quickly destinations can be reached by bicycle.

Convenience: The mental effort experienced while cycling.

Comfort: The physical effort that must be done during bicycle rides.

Attractiveness: The positive emotions that make bicycle rides pleasant.

These aspects are based on the 'Pyramid of Customer Needs for Cyclists' (see "Durven, kunnen en willed fietsen! - De klantwensenpiramide voor reizigers toegepast op het fietsbeleid" – Mark van Hagen & Bas Govers) and it consists of three basic levels of cycling, namely dare, able and invited. Dare to cycle is the basis for the cyclist to start with cycling along a cycle route. The main aspect is safety. Able to cycle is the next level. Hereby it's all about convenience and speed. Finally, invited to cycle is the third and "highest level". It is about comfort and attractiveness.

Figure 2 shows that the aspects convenience (report mark 7,9), attractiveness (7,8), speed (7,7) and comfort (7,6) are well rated. Also the safety aspects, namely social safety (7,5) and traffic safety (7,3) are rated more than sufficient.

Weekly cyclists indicate that aspects related to nature (green areas and nature sounds) have a lot of influence on the attractiveness of cycling. Furthermore, low-traffic bicycle routes are experienced as relaxing by nine of ten weekly cyclists. Mopeds, racing cyclists and motorists are the main sources of nuisance for weekly cyclists. Their high speed is often mentioned as the main cause of nuisance. Equally relevant, half of the electric bicycle users indicate that they use the car less often since the purchase of an electric bicycle.

Cycling Monitor Netherlands 2020 factsheet

Do you want to see more results of this year's cycling monitor? A complete overview can be found in this factsheet

About the cycling monitor

The aim of the annual cycling monitor is to collect and analyse data on the subjective aspects of bicycle use in the Netherlands mentioned above. New insights from this research are of great importance for the Dutch Cycling Embassy and the Fietsersbond. Based on developments in the Netherlands, the Dutch Cycling Embassy can advise foreign parties even better. The same applies to the Fietsersbond and its Dutch relations.


I&O Research conducted this survey, in collaboration with the Dutch Cycling Embassy and the Fietsersbond, among 2,029 Dutch people (aged 18 years and older). This sample was selected from the I&O Research Panel. The online study was conducted from 6 to 19 April 2020. The study was therefore conducted during the intelligent lockdown due to the corona pandemic. Last but not least, after weighting, the results are representative of the Dutch population (18+) for the characteristics of age and gender.

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