NL Cycling Association Magazine

NL Cycling Association Magazine

The Dutch Cycling Association loved the Guardian article too and wanted to have a world for their own magazine. So…a telephone interview and a seriously good photographer later, here it is.


For the none-Dutchies, here’s the best translation I could muster.


Cycling Family Immigrates to Houten

Children Can Cycle Here Without Their Parents.


She didn’t cycle until her 33rd birthday. Since then the now 47 year old has shifted her family to Holland precisely for the cycling life. ‘Cycling in Holland felt magical for our children’.

Written by Rianne van der Molen, 31st August 2018, for the Cycling Association of Holland.

Translated by Kylie van Dam 23/9/2018

Photography by Maarten Hartman,


‘It doesn’t matter which question you ask, the answer will probably always be ‘cycling’, says the musician Kylie, with a laugh. Her passion for cycling is deeply rooted and even though she only learnt to do it at the age of 33 in London when her children Mia, Abi and Raphy were small, she now rides every day. She originally comes from Australia where a life without the car is unthinkable for many, but in London, she saw people riding and thought she’d like to give it a go. ‘It was of course a crazy place to start cycling’ she remembers, ‘but I fell in love with the bike there. It was fantastic to move my body, get out of the car and traffic and feel the air on my face. I’d have the kids in a trailer as much as possible and people were always asking me how I did it: luckily the reactions were mostly positive but every now and then someone would scream at us from a rolled down window and tell us to get off the roads’.

England Not Great For Cyclists

When the family moved to the smaller city of Norwich, cycling naturally went with them and the children learnt how to do it independently, even though the infrastructure wasn’t perfect: too much traffic and cycle lanes that weren’t well maintained or even very clearly marked. ‘Even by then we’d been thinking about a move to Holland. My husband has a Dutch passport (though he grew up in Australia) and we’d been visiting the country regularly, falling more in love with it each trip. We loved that cycling was for everyone, young and old, rich and not. So, when he found a job there, the decision was almost instant’.

Immigrating to the Cycling City of Holland

In 2010 the family shifted to Houten, twice winner of the Cycling Association’s award for best cycling city (in 2010 then in again in 2018) because of its fantastic infrastructure and the high scores its local residents gave when asked about satisfaction.

The secret to Houten is the Ring Road. Cars only cross between the many small neighbourhoods by leaving the first, returning to the ring road, then entering the new neighbourhood via its own small entrance. Cyclists however, travel between the boroughs in a fraction of the time and often without coming across any cars of other dangerous traffic. ‘We knew we wanted to live in a more cycle-friendly environment’ says Kylie ‘and Houten certainly did that for us. We loved that so much of the cycling infrastructure was separated from other traffic and just how many little kids were constantly using it’.

Her children Mia (15), Abi (13) and Raphy (8) were at the time only 6, 5 and 10 months old. ‘Of course they didn’t like leaving all their friends in Norwich behind’ says Kylie, ‘but they quickly loved the independence living here gave them: they felt freer and much happier’. I’ve even written a kid’s song about that sense of freedom and the power it gives us as we grow up and learn how to stand on our two feet.



Kylie van Dam


I’m on my bike and feeling really cool.

I am almost seven and I’m on my way to school

All by myself,

Wind blowing in my hair,

Pedalling really hard,

My legs have almost got me there.

Oh Dad please don’t put me in the car,

Though I know it’s better when we’re traveling really far.

I need to move and stand up on my own.

How am I supposed to grow if you keep me wrapped in foam?


I need to flip from monkey bars up high.

Throw my legs right through the air,

I swear that I can fly.

The world is mine,

Even if I fall.

The future’s right in front of me and

I want to eat it all.

Oh Mum please don’t forget how we begin,

Crawling on all fours to get at what’s so interesting.

I need to move and stand up on my own.

How am I supposed to grow if you keep me wrapped in foam?


I just want to be myself,

Young and free, full of health.

I just want to grow up strong,

Live my life,

Full and long.

I just want to understand

How to be

The best I can.

I just want to fill my shoes,

Show my face,

Just like you!

So let me run through my days so wild,

Learn the things I need to learn while I

Am still a child.

Not just from books,

Or listening to you talk.

I need to move my blood and lungs,

My brains they need to walk.

Of school please don’t forget how we begin,

Crawling on all fours to grab at

What’s so interesting.

I need to move

And stand up on my own.

How am I supposed to grow

If you keep me wrapped in






Cycling Without Adults.

Kylie often hears friends in Australia talk about their kids and how much time they spend in the car. ‘The children aren’t independent until they themselves turn 16 and can get their driver’s licence. For us it’s vital that the children develop that independence as soon as possible. They need to get themselves to sports and to playdates, without leaning on their parents’. At a time when screens are so prevalent, she also thinks kids need to move more. ‘Sport is of course great for them, but simple daily activity is even more so’. She understands fully why Dutch children scored highly on happiness in the 2013 Unicef world report. ‘Moving our bodies in the open air and getting the blood pumping, makes us feel well. Cycling is also a social thing for our kids. They ride to school together, chatting away loudly and developing socially in a way they’d miss if always driven around in separate cars’.

Cycling is Normal

Kylie wants cities all over the world to follow the Dutch example and build more cycling networks. ‘When the infrastructure’s put in place, it offers more people the personal, social and environmental benefits cycling gives. I know there’s a long way to go…but it’s not impossible. We’re extremely thankful we could make this happen for our children. When we visit Australia or the UK, the kids are shocked at just how different life in Holland is and they love getting back on their bikes in Houten, alone, no adults, boss of the world again’.