The Singing Cycle Path
The Dutch take cycling seriously. More seriously than any other country. But that doesn’t mean you can’t sing as you cycle along.
The Dutch artist and cycle activist Mapije de Wit decided in 2013 to encourage her fellow cyclists to overcome their inhibitions. She put up a blue sign on a cycle path in Amsterdam’s Westerpark to let people know they were allowed to sing.
She called it a zangfietspad (Singing Cycle Path). ‘Here you are allowed to sing as you cycle along,’ the sign advised. ‘No more awkward silences because someone is coming towards you,’ it added.
© Fietsersbond Nederland
The idea quickly went viral. Other places copied this simple concept. You now come across the blue signs marking singing cycle paths in cities and villages across the country, including Almere, Amstelveen, Leiden and Den Bosch. ‘No one needs to feel ashamed if everyone is doing it,’ says De Wit.
Mapije went on to introduce the idea of a fietsliftplaats – a spot where you could hitch-hike a ride on the back of someone’s bike. When she put up the first unofficial sign in Utrecht, the city removed it because it was illegal. But they eventually changed their mind. That gives you something to sing about.
While singing cycle paths are already well established in the Netherlands, in Belgium the first one was not inaugurated until 2021, in the West Flemish municipality of Zedelgem. Along the bike path are signs with a QR code. Scan this code, and you will be taken to the municipality's YouTube channel with a playlist where sing-alongs by local artists are presented.