Sunday, December 28, 2008

Puerto Ricans on Bikes?

Just a few days ago, I rented a bike here in Rotterdam for only one day and it was so much fun! I'm ashamed to say this, but I haven't biked in over two years and I was just enjoying every second of it. Biking, unfortunately, is not something most ordinary Puerto Ricans do. Like most Americans, Puerto Ricans rely on cars to get around. There's at least one car per household in Puerto Rico. On the other hand, in the Netherlands, everyone here owns at least one bicycle. There are in fact over 18 million bikes in this country of over 16 million people. This means there are more bikes than people! Incredible, isn't?

You can basically travel throughout the Netherlands by bike. How I wish I can do this in Puerto Rico. I suppose this is like comparing apples and oranges. For starters, cycling is not part of the Puerto Rican culture. The landscape and terrain between the two countries are quite different as well. However, like the Netherlands, the population density in Puerto Rico is heavily concentrated around one predominant area, which is San Juan. Therefore, cycling does make sense, if only city planners did a better job of mapping out routes. Of course, there are cycling events in Puerto Rico. However, they're more for the serious cyclists.

During my one day of biking, we biked through villages, several different parks and Rotterdam. Since the bike lanes are clearly marked, it was quite easy to navigate. In general, motorists are quite respective of cyclists as well. I can now understand why the Dutch are in so much better shape than the average Puerto Rican and American. Biking is a terrific workout! There is hope though, as several cities in the U.S, such as New York City, are trying to encourage and promote cycling as a way of transportation. Perhaps, one day, we'll see more ordinary Puerto Ricans on bikes one day.... although I don't see it happening anytime in the near future.

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