Mindful cycling routes in Rotterdam

Mindful cycling routes in Rotterdam

ROTTERDAM, 30 May 2024 – Mindful cycling routes have been introduced to promote mental health in and around Rotterdam. Launched by Swapfiets, these routes aim to provide a calming escape from the city's hustle and bustle.

Mindful cycling routes introduced in Rotterdam

Swapfiets has launched specially curated cycling routes in and around Rotterdam. These routes have been introduced on World Bicycle Day and the start of Mental Health Week, aiming to highlight the benefits of cycling for mental well-being. Nearly half (48%) of Dutch adults have experienced one or more psychological disorders in their lifetime. By cycling more often, escaping the city's hustle, and heading towards greenery, individuals can not only strengthen their immune systems but also reduce the production of the stress hormone cortisol. The routes (scroll down on this page to see them), are available on Google Maps and in the newly launched Toertje cycling app, and include tips and hotspots to help clear the mind along the way.

The benefits of cycling in nature

Cycling through a bustling city with crowded bike paths can be stressful. According to the Centre for Urban Mental Health, mental health issues increase with urbanisation, with 50% urbanisation linked to a rise in mental health problems. Moreover, in 2022, one in four workers aged 18 to 35 reported experiencing burnout symptoms. It is essential to seek relaxation and clear the mind occasionally. Regular cycling, such as commuting by bike, has been shown to reduce the need for medications for depression and anxiety. Combining this activity with a natural environment can further enhance these benefits.

"Cities are fantastic, but it is even more important that people feel good in them. Exercise is healthy, and cycling in nature is even better, as it helps reduce stress. Therefore, we invite everyone to cycle more often and consider their mental health," said Suzanne Berings, General Manager of Swapfiets Netherlands.

Discover 40,000 km of Dutch cycling paths

Three cycling routes start at the Swapfiets store in central Rotterdam and lead to vibrant greenery in city parks, remote spots for meditation, perfect places for a morning swim, and beautiful vistas in the surrounding countryside. Swapfiets provides useful tips for relaxation and includes dining hotspots along the routes, such as Het Zalmhuis in Capelle aan den IJssel and Bospaviljoen De Eekhoorn.

Thijs Zonneveld, Toertje ambassador and Beat Cycling Club rider, stated, "There is no better way to clear your mind than cycling in nature. We can only applaud this initiative by Swapfiets with its green cycling routes."

Marco te Brömmelstroet, Toertje ambassador and 'bicycle professor', added, "For more liveable cities, cycling is crucial. For our health and well-being, we should all leave the car more often and give more space to the bicycle. Cycling into nature is always a good idea."

The routes are available on Swapfiets.nl from 31 May and in the recently launched Toertje cycling app, an initiative of the Fietsersbond, BAM Infra Nederland, and CanvasHeroes. Toertje aims to make cycling easier and more enjoyable: find routes, discover nature, embark on adventures, and leave the car behind more often.

Cycling routes in and around Rotterdam

Route: A dive into the Kralingse Plas

Duration: 30 minutes
Distance: 8.6 km
View this route on Google Maps

Just a fifteen-minute bike ride from the centre of Rotterdam, you'll find Het Kralingse Bos. This is the largest forest in Rotterdam, located around the Kralingse Plas. You can cycle into this urban jungle via Park Rozenburg. There are many activities you can do in this natural area. This route takes you past a well-kept secret in this forest: the Heemtuin. You'll find this unique piece of nature behind the beach bath. Get off your bike and walk over the water via a narrow wooden plank. Here, you have a remarkable view over a peat bog. Bet you'll feel at peace here? You can also find fish ladders here where you can see young fish swimming.

Next, you can make a stop at BeachHouse Kralingen. This is a simple spot with wooden picnic benches at the front. What might be even more fun: bring your own picnic basket or a small BBQ. In Het Kralingse Bos, you can light a BBQ in certain spots by the water. This is indicated on the signs. A BBQ combined with a dip in the lake might just be the perfect summer day or evening. Via the Boezem, this route takes you back to the city.

Route: The mindful mills of Kinderdijk

Duration: 2 hours and 28 minutes
Distance: 41 km
View this route on Google Maps

On to a unique part of the Netherlands: Kinderdijk. Up for a good ride to the iconic windmills? This bike ride takes you along the water of the Nieuwe Maas and the city park Oude Plantage. If you fancy a spectacular lunch, pedal a bit further to Capelle aan den IJssel. At Het Zalmhuis, they serve the best bowls, bagels, and sushi. The route continues all along the water and through Krimpen aan den IJssel until you dive into the polder landscape of Krimpenerhout. A flat landscape with water as far as you can see. Cycling through this quintessentially Dutch piece of nature, you arrive at the place you undertook this journey for: Kinderdijk. Note that you need to take the ferry at Krimpen aan de Lek to cross over.

Kinderdijk is on the UNESCO World Heritage list because of its windmills, dikes, and pumping stations. A unique piece of Dutch history. Wandered around enough here? Then cycle on through Alblasserdam until you can cross the bridge towards Ridderkerk. Follow the road towards the Ringdijk, and from here, the way back to Rotterdam begins. You'll cycle through Donckse Bos and pass by an estate where you can see the sculpture Hercules and Antaeus. Via Van Brienenoordbrug, you cycle back along the water to the centre.

Route: The river-rich Rotte route via Hillegersberg

Duration: 1 hour and 20 minutes
Distance: 23.4 km
View this route on Google Maps

Discover the Rotte, the ancient peat river that Rotterdam is blessed with. In fifteen minutes of cycling, you escape the city and see so much water and greenery around you that it leaves you speechless. You have arrived at the Bergse Voorplas. Stay on the route along the De Rotte stream, and you will come across the most beautiful windmills.

Your path continues from the Lage Bergse Bos to the Hoge Bergse Bos, full of perfect spots to clear your mind. Find a quiet place for forest bathing. This word comes from the Japanese shinrin yoku, which means ‘luxuriant stay under the trees.’ Here, you can do the 4-7-8 breathing technique, also called the “relaxing breath.” How do you do it? It can be done standing or sitting, with your eyes open or closed. Breathe in very calmly through your nose for 4 seconds. Hold your breath for 7 seconds and then exhale slowly through your mouth for 8 seconds. Repeat this breathing a few times, and you’ll soon feel the calming effect.

Then, relaxed but energised, you jump back on your bike to find your way back to the centre of Rotterdam. To return completely satisfied, a visit to Bospaviljoen De Eekhoorn or Pannekoekhuis De Nachtegaal by the Kralingse Plas is the perfect ending.

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