Princess Margriet of Netherlands cycles to raise profile of clean transportation

Her Royal Highness, Princess Margriet of the Netherlands, likely had to set her crown aside for this one.

CALGARY — Her Royal Highness, Princess Margriet of the Netherlands, likely had to set her crown aside for this one.

She climbed aboard a bicycle on Sunday to help about 200 people raise awareness about clean transportation, cycling part of the 11-kilometre route herself at the Go Green, Go Dutch, Go Bike event in Calgary.

The princess arrived last week on an official visit to the city.

Toronto was the first Canadian city to host the event back in 2007, said Jacob Koedood, the Vancouver-based consul of the Netherlands who helped to organize the Alberta event.

Since then the rides have spread to other cities including Fredericton, London, Ottawa, Winnipeg and Vancouver.

“It became quite a success so we wanted to make it Canada-wide and have it in as many cities as possible,” said Koedood.

There are 18.5 million bicycles in the Netherlands, which boasts a population of about 17 million people, he said.

Anna Rijk, an official at the Netherlands embassy, said the Go Bike events encourage Canadians to consider the benefits of the Dutch way of life.

“It’s to raise awareness with regard to the environment and about the Netherlands being a biking nation. We like to think the Dutch are born on bikes,” she said.

In a sprawling city such as Calgary, there are a lot of opportunities for residents to use bicycles, Rijk said.

“The way Calgary’s laid out, it should have a lot of solutions to use bikes more frequently than they’re used now,” she said.

Wim Geerts, the country’s ambassador to Canada, said cycling is cheaper, healthier and more environmentally friendly than driving.

“In terms of carbon footprint, it’s a great way to travel so it’s good when people use a bike once in awhile instead of their cars,” he said.

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