Little brings me more joy while riding along the cobbled streets of Amsterdam than seeing other cyclists with flowers nestled between their handlebars or in their saddlebags. These bloom-laden riders carry an act of love, kindness, congratulations, an apology, or a welcome home. I find myself imagining that their cycle journey will end with a huge smile and hug from the recipient, be it a special someone or a longtime friend.
Seeing the flowers that are carried by bike creates a rippling effect of this act of kindness. They are a visible reminder of the caring and compassion present in the city. They bring joy to other riders and remind us to continue our journey in love.
The beginning of September signals the end of the holidays and a return to school. In Amsterdam that means a return of kids on their bikes traveling to and from school. In fact, in the Netherlands the percentage of primary and secondary school children that walk or ride their bike to school is staggering at around 75 percent. Is it a coincidence that Dutch children were ranked the happiest in the world by UNICEF? Take a look at the scenes of children riding to and from school and you decide.
Some of the contributing factors that lead to this beautiful scene of children on bikes are the national Dutch cycling culture, the fact that most children live close to their schools, and the dedicated bicycle infrastructure.
When kids bike to school they show up more awake and alert, ready to learn. They are more aware of their surroundings and where they live. In secondary school, the bike gives them a sense of independence and autonomy where they can control their path. I often bask in the independence that young teenagers experience riding around with their friends after school, often behind a group of young girls giggling along, hockey sticks in hand on their way to practice.
Where are you from and why did you move to Amsterdam?
I am originally from the San Francisco Bay Area in California and I first came to Amsterdam as part of a sustainable bicycle transportation course during my undergraduate studies and immediately fell in love. I vowed to come back and returned in 2014 to pursue my master’s degree in Urban and Regional Planning at the University of Amsterdam.
Tell me about your bike.
A traditional second-hand omafiets whose brand has been lost under shoddy paint jobs, it is the third bike that I have had in the two years that I have lived here. I love the comforting noises my rattily Amsterdam bike makes, the way she mutters with the down-stroke of my pedal, and how her gentle clatter alerts other before I overtake them. I love riding around at night and gently closing my eyes for a minute to find myself amidst an orchestra of bikes clambering over the cobblestones.
My bike is my lifeline, my freedom. She has met and bore witness to friends, colleagues, and lovers who have made awkward small talk or laughed so hard they made us swerve as they have driven next to us or sat on her back rack.
What do you love about cycling in Amsterdam?
Riding ignites and stimulates all of my senses. It is my time during the day when I am free; free to think about my last meeting or construct a dinner recipe for when I arrive home, or I am free to think about nothing at all and simply enjoy the momentary feeling of weightlessness you experience as I come down over a canal bridge.
Why did you want to be a blogger for Amsterdam Cycle Chic?
As arguably the best place to bike in the world, I want to share the absolute wonders that everyday cycling can do for people and for a city. As a place that has prioritized active transportation, creating a human-centered city that promotes healthy and happy lifestyles, I want to share and promote this and Amsterdam Cycle Chic seemed like the perfect medium to do so.
Summer holidays means getting to travel to different cities and explore the cycling culture outside of Amsterdam. On a recent trip to London, I got the chance to observe what it is like to cycle in Europe’s largest city and test out their bicycle share system, Santander Cycles.
What struck me about the cyclists in London is that many take the utmost pride in their bicycles. While there may be fewer cyclists in London, those who ride do so in the uttermost style atop impeccable, shiny bikes with beautiful leather accessories. These cyclists make me hopeful that someday soon we will see masses of everyday cyclists swarming the streets of London.
Another exciting observation was that new developments in the city seem to be catering to and in turn witnessing a surge in all kinds of cyclists. While parts of the cycling infrastructure felt disjointed and disconnected, there were some shining sparks of hope that tempted cyclists to ride in true style. This was apparent during my ride around the new developments in East London. From families to hipsters bikes abound.
While there was a general lack of lack of Dutch style bikes, I was overjoyed to spot a bakfiets and a woman with all of her shopping reminding me of home.
We all love seeing what others can fit and balance on their bikes… umbrellas, pets, babies, shopping. And there there are times where your breath is taken away. The Dutch certainly know the fine art of ‘getting the job done’. Movers?!! Pffft! On your bike! He’s clearly happy with his achievement!
Saw this lovely burst of colour whizzing by, delivering a parcel, and I just had to stop him! He spent the day riding through snow, sleet, rain and finally some sunshine. Didn’t seem to phase him🙂
Just when you think your weary legs can’t cycle anymore … you spot what we like to call a ‘Chic’er’ – a super chic cyclist with some fashion on board! Gameboy backpack + faux fur coat + pink gloves and grooving to tunes, en route to somewhere fabulous for sure. Arriving with style people!
So many people are talking about the North. You can find it just across the small stretch of water, accessible in only a couple of minutes by the ferry of your choice! All for free of course.
Go take a bike around this weekend if you’re in town!
There are Christmas trees buzzing around the city every day, being wheeled, placed and decorated in homes, all over Amsterdam!
This handsome fellow has made his catch, and making the journey look easy! … 12 sleeps to go!
It’s officially the cold, grey, rainy season here in the ‘Dam, so it’s a breath of fresh air to see some colour around. This girl is rocking some turquoise locks, and has a cool bike to match! Even her backpack is smiling🙂