June, the month that the summer started, that the parks are everyone’s favourite places to be, and the month that the city turned orange because of the World Cup.
Check out Amsterdam Cycle Chic’s top 10 of June’s Instagram pics:
1. Daily life in Amsterdam; cycling together on one bike to work
2. Good morning Amsterdam, cycling along the Amstel river
3. Lady cycling on the skinny bridge
4. Dutch girl in orange wearing her bike chain as a belt
5. Cycling in the Vondelpark
6. Bridges are the Dutch hills
7. Cool hair!
8. A rose for your girlfriend?
9. Last phone call and then the weekend really starts
10. Cargo bike parking sign at the Beatrixpark
Are you already following us on Instagram? You should, if you want to learn more about Amsterdam’s cycling culture and enjoy the diversity of cyclists and bikes in Amsterdam’s streets. Every month we will post the most liked Instagram shots here on our blog.
Taco grew up in the east of the Netherlands, but while visiting his aunt in Amsterdam as a child he immediately fell in love with the city. Taco loves the beauty of the city centre with its canals but most of all he likes the city’s cycling culture. That’s why he became bike entrepreneur and founded the Dutch bike company VANMOOF. VANMOOF’s mission is to create the perfect urban bike and convince people all around the world to travel by bike instead of by car.
In 2009 Taco and his brother Ties founded VANMOOF. Now, five years later, you see their bikes a lot in Amsterdam’s streets and they are sold in more than 30 countries around the world. Taco: “We want to be more than just a bike brand. We want to be a movement. A movement for change. The ’MOOF’ part in our name comes from the word movement. VAN we just added to give it some Dutch flavour. Our mission is to get more cyclists on the streets in inner cities globally. Because more than half of the world’s population lives in city centres, there is an increasingly heavy burden on traditional means of inner city transport. The bike is the solution for inner city mobility. At VANMOOF we pursue only one goal: help the ambitious city dweller worldwide move around town fast, confident and in style.”
“My love for Amsterdam started very young. I think I was only 7 years old when visited Amsterdam for the first time, to sleep over at my auntie’s place. She lived in the city centre, in a neighbourhood that was still a bit rough. But I loved it. And I still do. I love the hustle and bustle on the streets, the beauty of the canals and I like its relatively small size. It is a perfect city to go for a walk (and a bike ride of course!).”
‘City council, stand up for bikes!’
“Amsterdam is the cycling capital of the world, but we have to be careful not to lose our great cycling culture. At the moment it is not changing for the better. That is why the city council should really make a statement and stand up for bikes.” The main problems according to Taco are the lack of space for the cyclists and bike theft: “There are often too many cyclists sharing the bike lanes. The city council should give them more space by taking space from the cars. The historic city centre should be car free.”
The war against bike theft
Another problem is bike theft: “Many people in Amsterdam use cheap bikes, they are afraid a nice bike would get stolen. Because they don’t care about their bikes and because their bikes are of bad quality, many bikes are left on the streets in the bike parking spaces. If bike theft would be less, then people would buy a better bike, a bike they would care about and that they can use for many years. This would reduce of lack of bike parking space. It would also be better for the environment; no throw-away bikes, but bikes that last for many years.” That is why VANMOOF is developing GPS and GSM integrated in their bikes. “All our electric bikes already have GPS and two of our bikes that were stolen in the US were found back through the GPS. We work with Vodafone and to make ‘find my bike’ as much used as ‘find my iphone’.”
Cycling in New York and London
“I cycled in many cities all over the world. My favourite city to cycle in is New York. Not many people realise how nice it is to cycle there. But it is flat, you can cycle through the whole of Manhattan, and of course enjoy Central Park by bike.” London is the worst city Taco cycled in: “I am simply scared to death when cycling in London. The fast driving cars are not used to cyclists and the sidewalks are so high, that you have nowhere to go when you feel an unsafe situation is coming up.”
Want to know more about VANMOOF? Check out their website!
Getting to and from work is usually a bit of a bore in most cities. Crowded trains, noisy buses, traffic, pollution, pushing and shoving.
Living in Amsterdam and riding to work (and playing afterwards!) makes your journey, and day ahead much more enjoyable. You can almost guarantee your commute time each day – which for most people who travel by bike, is less than 20 minutes to the centre. I travel by bike and my work is only a few blocks away! Is it any wonder why the French are trying to pay their citizens to ride their bikes to work?
Here is a little snapshot into our bump and grind here in Amsterdam. Enjoy a day in the life..
His great grandfather had a bicycle shop, where his grandmother spoked wheels in the cold Dutch winters and his father ran around as a little boy. At the age of 3 Elian learned how to cycle, when 15 years old he started to work in a bike shop and now he has designed the ultimate city bike, the Minute. In short; Elian’s life is all about bicycles!
The ultimate city bike
Elian is a bike designer. He makes handcrafted bicycles; “the process of designing a bike starts with a blank paper, I talk to the customer, what does he/she want, what is their ideal cycling position, where and how will they use the bike, I take their measurements and then I start.The result is the perfect bike for that person.”
While designing these bikes, Elian realized many people were looking for a bike that would solve the typical urban biking problems many people face: “It should be a bike that they could leave in their apartment (not to get stolen on the street). Not too heavy, not too big, easy maneuverable in the busy city centre’s of Amsterdam and Utrecht and easy to park in the full bike parking’s. Also most people want to sit upright, cycle comfortably and they want to be able to carry groceries and kids on their bikes. When I kept hearing those same requests for a bike, I decided to design the Ultimate City Bike. And we just launched it: the Minute.”
Great grandfather’s bike shop
Elian’s great grandfather had a bike shop in Maarn (close to Utrecht). Elian’s father still remembers being there as a little boy: “His grandfather was a typical bike repairman. He always wore a blue overall, his hands were black of all the repair work and he was always smoking. He still remembers the smell of his workplace.” In the village of Maarn almost everyone had a Fongers bicycle. “The winters were much harsher then, so in winter people couldn’t cycle because of all the snow, in these winters there were no repairs to do. In those months my great grandparents and grandparents had another task: spoking wheels for Fongers. That is how it went in those days.”
Elian lives in Leersum, a village in the green Utrechtse Heuvelrug. His workplace is in the shed of his parents in Maurik. Every morning he cycles to work through the forest and the fields. He has a little son for whom he built a walking bike. “I get a lot of support from my family; my wife moved mountains to get the Minute launched, my 16 year old brother helps building bikes, and my father brings technical knowledge – which often comes in handy.” Even Elian’s grandmother offered help: “Let me know when I can help, I can still spoke wheels like in the old days!”
It is the time of the year again that all kids in Nothern Europe get really excited. Why? Because Santa Claus is coming to town! Sinterklaas is a lively tradition in Northern Europe. The legend goes that Sinterklaas, who lives in Spain, arrives by steamboat over the Amstel River every year. Reason for all parents to get their kids on the bike and follow this happy proceeding alongside the shores of the river.
This year the Sinterklaas tradition got a lot of attention from all over the world. Not for a positive reason, though. There has been a big controversy about Santa’s helpers, the ‘Black Peters’. Some think of it as a tradition that lacks respect to these nice ‘Zwarte Pieten’. You can read all about it in the NY times, the Washington post or even Aljazeera. Here are some ‘Zwarte Pieten’ on roller blades:
Anyway, I don’t feel like taking any position. All I want to do is to share the joy of the kids and the devotion of their parents, carrying them on their bikes:
It seems like ages ago because of the enormous change in the weather conditions, but last week I was in sunny Utrecht for my cousin’s graduation. I took these pictures of the bikes and students in front of the Academic Library. You see the one where it says ‘Forbidden to park bikes’ (verboden rijwielen te plaatsen)?
Utrecht is a very pretty and old city full of nice shops, terraces along the canals, students, cafes, the dom tower and museums. If you’re ever in Amsterdam you must absolutely take the train for only half an hour to visit this lovely city.
Probably coming back from the guitar lesson on the back of her mum’s bike. One of the first songs you learn on the guitar is the famous ‘Hey Jude’. So if you feel inspired: just find a guitar, a good tutorial on youtube and start playing! Or just listen to this old classic..
On one of the few ‘hills’ in Amsterdam, I watched this girl breeze down the Ceintuurbaan bridge. The wind blowing through her hair. No pedaling required. Just calm and content. And not to mention a rockin’ outfit! Super chic.
Constructing your own bicycle out of old parts? That’s something Niels Gomperts loves to do, as his two striking, circus-like bicycles illustrate. Actually, Niels is a selfmade handyman who can fix and construct almost anything. And with artists’ blood flowing through his veins, all his creations have an artistic touch.
His beautiful home in the heart of Amsterdam, which seems to be an ongoing creative construction site, represents his bohemian lifestyle. In front of his house, his two bicycles are parked on a bridge.
Cycling all the way to Poland Niels and his friends made a pit stop in Berlin, where they visited a friend with a very colourful collection of bicycles. Returning home Niels couldn’t wait to get started on his own. For both bicycles he used old bicycle-parts, and for the steering wheel of the ‘low-rider’ he ‘borrowed’ his grandmothers walking frame. Nice touch!
Though he doesn’t ride them daily, he does take them out to cruise through the Vondelpark – sometimes accompanied by a sound installation – or go to a cafe. Of course he fell of a number of times, but hey, that’s the best way to learn. Now he can handle just about any moving vehicle.
Niels isn’t just a skilled handyman, he is also an actor and appears on Dutch television and in several movies. He acted in the movies Lena and Shocking Blue, but he is probably best known for his role in Penoza, a fantastic television show about a Dutch mafia family. So Niels is definitely a talented and remarkable individual. If you keep an eye out, you might see him cruising around town with his head in the clouds.