It’s really fall now, right? I love this time of year in Amsterdam. The colors, fresh air, and just a little bit of sun. A perfect day for a ride along the canals. Don’t you think?
On a Saturday afternoon at StarBikes, I met up with Pete Jordan, author of In The City of Bikes, to talk about his book, Amsterdam, and of course, cycling. In The City of Bikes is a memoir-like historical fact book telling the story of Amsterdam’s cycling history and culture. It takes you back to the 1890s, through the Nazi occupation, and to the city still filled with bikes we know today.
How long have you been in Amsterdam?
I came to Amsterdam in 2002 to take a one-semester-long urban planning course. 11 years, 8 apartments, and 4 bikes later, I’m still here. I blame the bikes.
Your book is all about the history of cycling in Amsterdam. What’s your favorite bit of history?
I found the war years (WWII) incredibly interesting. Amsterdammers showed a massive amount of resistance to the Germans. And it was something everyone could do: lolly-gag on their bikes in front of an impatient, waiting, honking German car.
What was the inspiration behind the book?
I was enthralled by all the cyclists from day I arrived in Amsterdam and I started asking around for books about it. To my surprise, I found nothing. Cycling is so normal in this city that no one has bothered to write a book about the topic!
And the best or worst thing about cycling in Amsterdam?
I’m still amazing that it keeps growing! Look at the Haarlemmerstraat, the best street in Amsterdam. You’d think all the cyclists going every which way would cause complete chaos–but in fact, it works. My least favorite is tied between the tourists and scooters. Yesterday I saw 2 tourists collide in front of the Rijksmuseum. It’s comical, but also just dangerous.
Any other plans with the book? A sequel? A photo exhibit?
The Dutch version of the book, De Fietsrepubliek, has an excellent photo section unlike the English version. I’m planning to extend the gallery into a book on its own. Now the website is also up and running, and I also offer private tours based on the book. And I’m working on a guide book for cycling tourists that will be out next year.
What’s something that most people don’t know about you?
A while ago, I started collecting all these loose, often broken bike parts from all over the city. In no time at all, I had almost every piece I needed for a whole bike. I wanted to put all the pieces together, but then I realized: a bike made from broken parts is just a broken bike. So I threw them all away.
For more information about Pete Jordan, his tours, and In The City of Bikes, head to www.cityofbikes.com
Watch out for this gun show! And the pink fenders! I’m totally digging this guy’s style. Just heading home from the gym with his tight tee, bright Nikes, and an old, scratched, pink ladies bike. Typical.
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.
As you probably have heard; we have a new king! On Tuesday the ceremony of the abdication and the coronation (without a crown though) took place in Amsterdam. Prince Willem-Alexander (also known as ‘Prins Pils = Prince Pilsener’) is now king Willem-Alexander and his Argentinian born wife, Máxima, is Queen Máxima.
For Amsterdam Cycle Chic the first question that arose was of course; how cycle chic are the new king and queen? As a royal couple you usually are very chic, but do they also cycle chic? We found the following pictures of the King and Queen on bikes. What do you think? Quite cycle chic eh?!
Hey! Where are you going with that leek?! Come to my house and cook! Where ever this handsome chap is heading, looks like he’ll be sharing a lovely meal.
Any groceries in your bike basket today?
PS. Thanks to Joni for snapping up this pic!
Well hey there pretty lady! She’s got her matching gloves and beanie, and just cruising along on her Old Dutch, carrying some things in her basket and listening to music. This freezing weather isn’t wearing her down at all…it’s almost making her smile!
What made you smile today?
I’m always super impressed by what Amsterdammers carry while peddling a human-powered machine. Weaving through cars, alongside trams, riding with one (or no hands!), talking on their phones, listening to music–and schlepping all kinds of stuff with them at the same time, too. In the past few months we’ve seen people on their bikes carrying planks of wood, sleds, Christmas trees, and of course their babies. And despite the terrible weather, they all make it look so easy breezy.
There are all types of baskets out there. You’ve got the classic crate in wood or plastic. The Albert Heijn winkelmandje is always a nice one to see (how do you steal a shopping basket?!). There’s the removable baskets, too. I’ve seen some nice vintage wire baskets. And the huge wicker baskets that have a handy lid, those are fantastic.
The widespread use of the bike basket, to me, is yet another reminder of how utilitarian the bicycle is for Dutch society, and really for any society. It’s not only a means of transportation; it’s a way of life. It’s so ingrained into daily life that of course (!) we use our bike to get groceries, purchase planks of wood, take our kids sledding, buy Christmas trees, and for anything else we have planned for the day. In fact, it makes no sense to do it any other way.
Do you have a great photo of a bike basket, with something crazy in it? Post it to our Facebook page, we’d love to see it!
What happened to all the snow?! I was just getting used to the slip n’ slide riding on the snowy streets. Nevertheless, the terrible wind and rain didn’t stop any Amsterdammers today. It’s almost like nothing can stop these people from riding their bikes!
I’ve seen tons of adorable kids on or with their sleds these past few days and I keep thinking…where are they going? If you haven’t noticed, this city is really flat. Like really flat. Where are the hills for sledding?!
Ok, Friday was the darkest and shortest day of the year–it’s looking up from here on out! Nothing better to brighten up your day with a little leg! Add some hi-tops and a Dutch bike, so chic. ♥
Oh hello there, Mr. Sunday! Where are you pedaling off to with those goodies from de Bijenkorf and AH? Looking super chic in those yellow pants and that 5 o’clock shadow (not too bad for Movember).
I think this photo truly captures the strong, independent, and do-it-all mentality of Dutch women. Totally fantastic. You can give a man a ride on the back of your bike, purse on arm, and sport your leopard gloves, too.
It’s not easy giving a ride — and it takes practice. I completely fell over the first time I tried to give a ride. Ended up just sitting on the back like this guy. I’ll keep trying though!
After Saturday’s disappointment (the Dutch team lost the first football match in the Euro Cup against Denmark) this cyclist keeps up the good spirit by using his orange umbrella to keep a dry head in rainy Amsterdam. Hopefully it will bring luck to the Dutch tomorrow in the match against Germany!
This beauty from Amsterdam was caught just before parking her bicycle to grab a take-away soup for dinner. Lauren (26) recently bought a racing bicycle to tour the Dutch flat countryside, a real trend amongst Amsterdam youth. But she just as much loves crossing through town on her Dutch bike with bicycle crate. Now that she finished her masters the summer has begun for her; cycling from park picknicks to work to late night dancing. In the meanwhile she blogs about the hidden treasures of Amsterdam for tourist site Spotted by Locals.
Mr. Cycle Chic and founder of the entire Cycle Chic Republic, Mikael Colville-Anderson, made a book full of pictures of chic cyclists from all over the world. It is called ‘Cycle Chic’ and published by Thames & Hudson.
With colourful images Mikael takes you around the globe and shows you how people enjoy cycling through their cities and look fashionable at the same time. There are pictures from his Copenhagen and from our Amsterdam, but also from many other cities from all over the world.
Wanna see more?
Yesterday the Dutch cabinet resigned. After weeks of talks between the ruling parties, the party leaders couldn’t agree on austerity measures.
So? What does that have to do with cycling you might ask? Hardly anything to be honest. Only that the prime minister, Mark Rutte, always used his (ladies) bike to go to and from the meetings. That’s why we make him the Cyclist of the Month. That is at least one thing he can be proud of this week!
“The colour we use most is red, because we like our bikes to stand out. Not only because they are cool looking, unique, retro style bicycles, but we hope that people that cycle them want to make a statement. A statement of sustainability. That is why in Amsterdam the greenest bike is red.”
We are talking to one of the founders of Roetz bikes, Tiemen ter Hoeven. After having worked at a big consultancy firm for years Tiemen found his calling: starting a bicycle brand of sustainable bicycles. Roetz bikes are green and social: “We select the best steel frames from bicycles that are not used anymore and turn them into new, fancy looking bikes. All the parts we use are as sustainable as possible and many parts are of recycled material, like the crates made out of pallets from the Amsterdam harbour. We get the used frames from the city council and they are reproduced for us in a sheltered workshop.”
Roetz is a young and quickly growing business. Last August they sold their first bicycle and now their bikes are sold through 35 dealers in the Netherlands.
- Are you a bicycle dealer (in the Netherlands or somewhere else) interested in selling Roetz bikes? Contact Mark or Tiemen
- Check out Roetz’ website
- Follow Roetz on Facebook
The sun is out, the sky is blue, the city is waiting for you….
In Amsterdam you see many parents cycling with their kids. With one or two kids it is easy enough, but cycling on one bike with three kids is quite a balancing act. Especially when it is not a cargo bike. Our friends from Hungary managed to capture this on film:
The Amsterdam Cycle Chic team spotted this mum. Cycling with two of her kids on her bike (one sitting backwards) and her third child on her own bicycle in Amsterdam City Centre.
This is not the first time we post images of one mum cycling with three kids, check out our other post.
Through a window of a house on a canal we shot pictures of these typical Amsterdam scenes. It was one of the first sunny and warm days of the year. Cyclists looked so small from high above.
‘Father and Daughter’ is a short Dutch animation film by Michaël Dudok De Wit. The story is about a father and daughter cycling together through wide Dutch landscapes. One day the father says goodbye to his young daughter and leaves. As the landscapes live through their seasons so the girl lives through hers. She becomes a young woman, has a family and in time she becomes old. Within her there is always a deep longing for her father.
The short film was produced in 2000 and won the 2000 Academy Award for Animated Short Film.
The story is a bit sad, but very beautiful, that’s why we want to share it with you.
If the video left you with a sad feeling then check out the post about fathers and daughters cycling together we posted a few weeks ago. Pics of happy cyclists in Amsterdam.