Inspired by Copenhagen Cycle Chic

Author Archive

Meet our newest contributor Amy

Where are you from and why did you move to Amsterdam?
I was born in the UK, then my parents immigrated to Australia when I was 4 years old. I eventually decided to go back to my roots and check out Europe (and the world). After some time living in London (and Oman for a short stint) a friend suggested I would like Amsterdam..the rest is history.

New contributor Amy!New contributor Amy!

What kept you here?
I arrived in Amsterdam intending to stay just for a year with the summer job I had on offer. Three years later that job ran out & I wondered what was next. I was convinced by someone that I could be a tour guide, which was interesting as I knew really very little about Dutch history, but I gave it a shot anyways. I started doing walking and bike history tours whilst studying myself and taking to the streets to find out more. I was hooked by the history and it continues to today.

New contributor Amy!

How did you initially find the biking culture here?
My first few months in Amsterdam I was very scared to cycle. Eventually a friend forced a bike on me. I realized the bike was almost brakeless but I continued to ride it (Fred Flinstone style) until it died. After that bike, it was only onwards and upwards.
Being a bike tour guide gave me confidence in the end. After leading a pack of 20 tourists on most days around the crazy centre of Amsterdam, I became very acquainted with the city. But now, I am happily enjoying the ride without people following. Amsterdam and I have had our ups and downs, but in the end there is nowhere like it. And nowhere else to bike like it, with such a beautiful backdrop every day.

New contributor Amy!

What interested you about joining the Amsterdam Cycle Chic team?
Living in this outdoor museum of a city, with all the comedy and life by bike going on, I started capturing funny or beautiful moments – just for fun. So Amsterdam Cycle Chic became kind of an extension for me to share with more people this brilliant  bike culture here in our beautiful Amsterdam.
I love to go by people singing their hearts out, or carrying their dogs or their family or whatever it is that needs to be transported. I often sing a song myself when the mood hits.
And I think I might hold a record in this town – my bike and I have been together for around 8 years – through thick & thin. IF (if!) I ever do move back to Australia, she will be coming with me one way or another.
Welcome Amy!

New contributor Amy!

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Making summer plans? Here’s our study guide to urban cycling courses

Ever wanted to learn about how Amsterdam, Copenhagen, and other cities became the cycling cities they are today? Every year many study abroad courses include Amsterdam in their program and focus specifically on bicycling.

It’s fair to say that creating these bicycle-friendly cities didn’t happen over night, and it wasn’t easy. There also wasn’t just one single plan that paved the way. History, policy, culture, social movements were all parts of the equation. If you want the 6-min version, check out this video by blogger Bicycle Dutch. Coming later this summer is a mini-MOOC (massive online open course) produced by the Urban Cycling Institute at the University of Amsterdam.

If you need university credits and are looking for technical courses then check out those offered by DIS Copenhagen, Northeastern U, and UW-Platteville. The course offered by Texas A&M provides a unique political and knowledge-building curriculum. These courses spend from 1-2 weeks in the Netherlands, and some (like DIS) are based in both Copenhagen and Amsterdam.

If you’re up for a challenge, go for Planning the Cycling City – also known as #PCCAMS. This is much longer than the others (3 weeks – June 17-July 5), includes academic knowledge, and it’s also not “taught” in the traditional format. Participants use the city of Amsterdam and specific curated experiences (laid out by the directors) to inform their learning, then come to class each day ready to apply their experience to theory. This course is for graduate students and entry level professionals. (Application deadline: 15 March)

pccams17_tweet3pccams17_tweet4

Finally, if you’re looking for a more quick and dirty experience then a Masterclass might be a better fit. These are usually 3-5 days and are aimed at professionals and politicians. To our knowledge, the 3-day Copenhagenize Masterclass based in Copenhagen is the closest you can get (next class: June 25-27). Or, if you’ve got the budget, there’s the Danish Cycling Embassy’s Bikeable City Masterclass  (May 14-18). Of course you can stop by Amsterdam and give us a shout on your way in or out. We’re always up for a ride and a coffee!

(Know of more courses? Tell us in the comments and we’ll add it to the list!)

Copenhagenize Master Class June 2015 (207)

(photo: Copenhagenize Design Co.)


Six lessons from biking in Amsterdam

Seth is a graduate student at the University of Oregon (USA) studying urban planning. Last summer, he took a study abroad course and biked through Copenhagen, Malmo and Amsterdam. The trip made such an impression on him, that he often thinks about his time in Northern Europe. He reached out to us and asked to share his lessons from the experience – and we are happy to share! 

In America, when I tell someone I ride my bike to school, I’m generally met with a warm “good for you.” Like I’ve done my part to curb carbon emissions for the day. Like I’m one of the good ones. Biking in America is perceived as a sacrifice of time because driving a car is easier and faster.

But most Americans don’t know what they’re missing. Last summer, I biked through Copenhagen, Malmo and Amsterdam to study bicycle planning with fellow students from the US. Not that you should drop what you’re doing to go there and bike, but it’s pretty fantastic.

Now that I’ve been back home for a few months, I had time to reflect on my experience and I’d like to share my six lessons.

Good bye winter!

A busy Amsterdam intersection

#1 Make space for people

We began our trip in Copenhagen. On our first day, we were thrown on the road after a series of careful instructions. I felt 16 again. Shaky with a new driver’s permit in hand. At first, I felt anxious, but soon that feeling subsided. Because after the initial shock passes, I realized that bicycle users aren’t really cyclists; they’re just people. They’re riding to work, dinner or a beer with a friend. They’re just normal people, doing normal things.

The bike infrastructure in Copenhagen is special, too. Most streets are lined with designated bikeways buffered from cars. When you do encounter a normal (mixed) street, car drivers are generally courteous. How empowering it felt to have the space I needed and to be recognized by people using other modes!

4 reasons we love Copenhagen

Danish-style single-file

#2 Every cycling city has its own rules

The Danes like their rules. If you obey the rules, everything works wonderfully well. Like the single-file lines on the bikeways. Or when you pass a slower rider on the left after a polite bell ring, then resume your place in line. Riding at rush hour is stressful, but still manageable. Amsterdam has its own madness at rush hour, but after a while you get used to the chaos. Unlike Copenhagen, rules aren’t obvious, but they do exist. You get used to the ‘chaos’ by simply being in it – over and over and over again. The system works for thousands of people, I kept reminding myself. Stay alert, keep pedaling and focus on the ride.

#3 Communication can be different I quickly got used to sounds of bells in Amsterdam. Most Americans consider honking as an affront – a signal that we’re doing something wrong. In Amsterdam, it’s simply a notification. “Hello, I’m behind you. I’d like to get by, so kindly move.” No one’s angry or even disgruntled. It’s simply communication.

Nothing like morning #rushhour to waken the senses! ☀️

Typical Amsterdam swarm

#4 Cultural differences in the bike lane

In Amsterdam, stopping at an intersection feels like posting at the racing block. Bicyclists swell into clusters waiting for the signal to turn. You’re side by side next to other cyclists. At first I felt claustrophobic, but with time that eventually transitioned to mere discomfort. As an American, I’m used to having loads of space. Maybe with more time, I’d come to appreciate the closeness.

Also, Amsterdammers are either extremely skilled or simply less fearful of disaster. I think people here just worry less about consequences – and they know the system works for them. A traffic engineer we met in the Netherlands told us that parents expect kids to get scraped when learning to ride. Less than 1% of people wear helmets. They believe if a helmet law is passed, fewer people will ride. The law would be a barrier for riders. Wrapping children up in pads and strapping on a helmet gives them false security. Forget the training wheels; ditch the pads and let them fall. The pain teaches them what to avoid. This logic seems counterintuitive to Americans, but I get it.

Crossing the street #duthstyle during school drop off means 5 abreast, alert and relaxed, this way and that. And a little towhead eyeing the crazy lady with a camera.  #amsterdam #cyclechic #dutchlife #schoolkids #nofilter #streetlife @yeppbikeseats

#5 No matter how much you build bike lanes, it’s about people

The mass numbers of people on bikes was intimidating, but that’s what made it magical. The number of users is testament to the system’s success. The bikeways in Amsterdam resemble blood cells flowing through veins. Thousands of cyclists stream past cafes, office buildings and restaurants. Unlike Copenhagen, riding shoulder is allowed, and also commonly practiced. Cyclists routinely pass on your left with inches to spare. And somehow the mopeds discover gaps between bicycles that seem impossible. Nevertheless, every trip was filled with excitement.

Good bye winter!

#6 Bicycling is not an alternative mode of transport; it’s a way of life

I’m used to viewing bikes as “alternative transportation.” Bikes are alternative because there are always other options available. In Copenhagen and Amsterdam, bicycles aren’t just a way to get around, they’re a part of life. The bicycle is so immersed within the culture, it’s impossible to think of these cities without it.

The trip opened my eyes to what’s possible. I discovered more than what a quality bike lane looks like (and should look like) – I learned what’s possible through collaboration. When people work with a shared purpose, just about anything can happen. People who disagree with one another can cooperate and achieve collective objectives. That’s fairly radical thinking for most Americans.

I expected my study abroad trip to be insightful and entertaining, but not life changing. This isn’t to say I’ve become an activist, but I now understand how it’s possible to influence society with the right motivation.

Everything is easier when we work together.

That seems to be the greatest lesson I learned from this trip, and likely the greatest challenge for other cities.

Thanks for sharing Seth! We love hearing from readers and followers, near and far. Feel free to share your thoughts below in the comments. 

 


New team member Klara!

Klara got in touch with us a few weeks ago and we knew immediately she would be a great fit with our team. She’s been an ACC follower for years – but from her home in London. Now, she is living and working in Amsterdam. We’re thrilled to have her on board!

New team member Klara

How did you end up in Amsterdam?

I originally moved here from London for a job, a great opportunity came up with an airline alliance and as I love travel in all forms, from two wheels to airplane wings I jumped at the chance. When I came to visit during my job interview a friend (who already lived here) picked me up to show me around the city. Immediately I was told to jump on the back of his bike. Despite my protests, it was made clear that we weren’t going anywhere unless I got on the bike. My love affair for Amsterdam and its cycling culture started right there.

So what’s the big difference between Amsterdam and London when it comes to cycling?

Cycling in London is growing and in the five years that I cycled in the city I saw a considerable change, with more people riding on the roads, investment in cycle lanes and some great initiatives starting to form. But as soon as I moved to Amsterdam I realized that it’s about more than just cycle lanes, it really is a way of life. Everyone is more relaxed, the pace is slower, and you don’t need to change into Lycra to charge across the city. I love that it starts from a very young age here, and that it’s the most inclusive form of transport, young old, rich and poor, all hop on their bike – making this city accessible to all. Who wouldn’t love that?

New team member Klara

Was there any surprises when you started cycling in Amsterdam?

After being in London you think I would be used to the rain, but I’m not, especially when you add strong winds into the mix. My first few weeks in Amsterdam were gloriously sunny but then I learnt the hard way, although the stronger winds are great for the thighs. In Amsterdam it’s all about that perfectly timed cycle dash to the shops, that quick trip from café to home. And even when locals are caught in the rain here, they carry it off with such style and grace, whereas I still very much look like a drowned rat.

New team member Klara

Tell us about your bike.

My bike, known to me as Betty, made the journey with me across the channel. Like me, she suffers a bit in the rain, a few rattles here and there but I think she’s holding up quite well. She’s been the best companion for exploring my new home and I hope she’ll be with me for a while. There’s nothing like discovering a new city from the cycle point of view. You have the time to soak in the sights around you and experience all that this city has to offer. The absolute best thing about cycling in Amsterdam is how close everything is, that and the wonderful people you see and experience. I’m so excited to join the team at ACC and start documenting the amazing culture and lifestyle I’m experiencing from the saddle.

New team member Klara


The freedom of movement

We love the summer!

We dug through our archives to find a gem of a photo (taken by former ACC contributor Aude de Prelle) for a photo contest happening now until November. It’s sponsored by Mucca, the owner of the website Jak and Jil. The theme this year is Girl Power. What better than to enter a photo of young women taking an everyday bike ride?

Dug through our archives and found this gorgeous shot by former blogger Aude De Prelle. Just entered it into the #jakandjilprowomen photo contest!

Our description of the photo was this:

The freedom to move with ease, safety and joy – at any age & any background – is a reflection of a city that recognizes women as an integral part of its social & economic fabric. This photo captures a moment of freedom. We don’t know where they’re going or where they’re from, but we do know that these women are exercising their power & right to move. And the humble bicycle is a tool to get them there.

We know a lot of our followers and readers have their own blogs with fantastic photos of women on bikes – let’s populate this contest with these photos! To enter your photo, check out the Photo Challenge 2017 website. It’s super easy!


Join our team!

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We are looking to add a couple bloggers to the Amsterdam Cycle Chic blogging team!

Do you love Amsterdam? Do you love taking pictures of people? Are you good at social media?

Do you want to gain relevant communication and media skills and enhance your network? We’re looking for you!

We are a small team of 3 international, entrepreneurial women. We run this blog in our spare time and we are looking for self-motivated people to grow Amsterdam Cycle Chic and the Cycle Chic movement. We can’t offer money, but we have team dinners once a quarter, and we have a huge network. We now have over 6,000 followers and we are an official member of the Dutch Cycling Embassy.

In addition to the above questions, other relevant characteristics and skills we’re looking for include:

  • Must live in/near Amsterdam!
  • Enthusiastic about everyday life on bike in Amsterdam
  • Can commit to about 2-3 hours per week
  • Can take pretty good photos of people on bikes, owns a decent camera, and has or wants to improve camera skills
  • Is creative and takes initiative
  • Knows or is willing to learn blog platform (WordPress)
  • Basic social media skills

We love people who can stay with us for at least 6 months, but for the right person shorter term could also work.

Are you interested? Send us an email us (amsterdamcyclechic@gmail.com) and include:

  • a short introduction of yourself, include any relevant background information and/or links to previous/current work
  • tell us why you want to join the team
  • include a fake blog/Instagram post, complete with 2-3 photos (check out our blogs and Instagram for an impression)
  • submit before May 28th (Sunday)

Looking forward to meeting you!

 


Tot ziens Winter!

Amsterdammers are so very happy to see winter behind them. The days are now longer, brighter, and we can wear less clothing. That’s always a good thing!

At Amsterdam Cycle Chic, we are constantly taking photos and we end up blogging or gramming only a handful. So we thought we’d give you a purge of our winter collection. Enjoy!

Good bye winter!
Good bye winter!
Good bye winter!
Good bye winter!
Good bye winter!
Good bye winter!
Good bye winter!
Good bye winter!
Good bye winter!
Good bye winter!
Good bye winter!
Good bye winter


Summer plans? Our study guide to urban cycling courses in Amsterdam (and CPH)

Calling all students! Ever wanted to learn about how Amsterdam (and other cities in the Netherlands) became the cycling cities they are today? Every year many study abroad courses include Amsterdam in their program and focus specifically on bicycling.

It’s fair to say that creating these bicycle-friendly cities didn’t happen over night, and it wasn’t easy. There also wasn’t just one single plan that paved the way. History, policy, culture, social movements were all parts of the equation. If you want the 6-min version, check out this video by blogger Bicycle Dutch. Coming later this summer is a mini-MOOC (massive online open course) produced by the Urban Cycling Institute at the University of Amsterdam.

But if you want a more hands-on experience, then following a course could enrich your perspective. Each course seems to have its own distinct flavour and style, and focus. Many of the courses focus on infrastructure and design perspectives, such as the courses offered by University of Oregon, DIS Copenhagen, Northeastern U (closed), and UW-Platteville (closed). The course offered by Texas A&M provides a unique political and knowledge-building curriculum. These courses spend from 1-2 weeks in the Netherlands, and some (like DIS) are based in both Copenhagen and Amsterdam.

pccams17_tweet3pccams17_tweet4

While the above focus on infrastructure and design, another one focuses on the social science aspect and an immersive experience – Planning the Cycling City – also known as #PCCAMS. This is a different course and much longer than the others (3 full-time weeks – June 19-July 7). It’s also not “taught” in the traditional format. Participants use the city of Amsterdam and specific curated experiences (laid out by the directors) to inform their learning, then come to class each day ready to apply their experience to academic theory. About 23 top cycling experts are the course leaders, and every day an academic and practitioner lead the course discussion topic. This course is for graduate students and entry level professionals. (Application deadline: 1 March)

Finally, if you’re looking for a more quick and dirty experience then a Masterclass might be a better fit. These are usually 3-5 days and are aimed at professionals and politicians. To our knowledge, the 3-day Copenhagenize Masterclass based in Copenhagen is the closest you can get (next class: June 19-21). Of course you can stop by Amsterdam and give us a shout on your way in or out. We’re always up for a ride and a coffee!

(Know of more courses? Tell us in the comments and we’ll add it to the list!)

Copenhagenize Master Class June 2015 (207)

(photo: Copenhagenize Design Co.)


Why we cycle in the winter?

Here in Amsterdam, it’s getting pretty darn cold. It’s a biting, bitter, wet cold. This is the kind of cold that creeps into every crevice that is exposed and then laughs in your face.

No, there’s no snow on the ground – and it’s not even THAT cold, according to the thermostat (or Northern Scandinavians, for that matter). I’ve read -4C (25F) as the lowest temp recently. But for some reason, and maybe that’s the Californian in me, it just feels cold.

We’ve gotten a few emails recently asking about the cold weather and cycling: “What do Amsterdammers do in the winter?” So, Henri and Maria: this is for you.

It’s a habit.

You see, when you live in Amsterdam, you become so used to your bicycle as your main way of getting around. Your whole life starts to revolve around your bicycle. Your routes become habits. The grocery stores, cafes, shops along your routes become daily destinations. Out of habit (and probably laziness, too). On your daily routes, like to and from the office, you get used to being able to zone out, to think about other things, and to let your mind wander. You know your route that well. It’s that predictable, and dare I say, boring but relaxing at the same time.

You probably even know small, particular details about your route, things that you think only you know. (Like the small patch of uneven pavement that you knowingly swerve around.)  You’re so used to it – the route, the swarm of cyclists around you, the mind-wandering thoughts – that you need this time, even if unconsciously. It’s the moments of your day you get to just be, and you even sort of forget that you’re peddling. It’s this critical nothingness in your day, and at the same time maybe the best part of the day, that becomes a deeply ingrained habit.

Next to the ride itself, you are used to your “usual” stops – for groceries, bread, coffee to go, the corner post box. You have different preferred places for different routes and directions. You know where you like to park your bike at these places. You have your favourite part of the bike rack or sidewalk (remember, Dutch bikes have kickstands!) and you park there almost every time. It’s second nature.

So what happens when it gets cold? When it rains? Snows? When the streets are frozen? In extreme conditions like snow or frost, the City ploughs the bike lanes at 3am – before they plough the rest of the street. That happens a handful of times every year. So that’s helpful for safety reasons.

Other options exist – tram, bus, walking, even car – and some do people opt out. (Stats show only a small percentage opt out in the winter.) But for the most part, Amsterdammers are only continuing their time-honoured, ingrained habit: using the bike.

We all know habits are hard to break. So Amsterdammers are no special species when it comes to cycling in the winter. There’s only one thing we do: wear a warm coat. After all, there is no bad weather, only bad clothing.

XOXO
Amsterdam Cycle Chic

Why we cycle in the winter? Why we cycle in the winter?
Why we cycle in the winter?
Winter cycling//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js


Best 9 of 2016!

Happy New Year!

2016 was a wonderful year of bicycling in Amsterdam and we can’t wait to see what 2017 has in store.

This year Amsterdam Cycle Chic is celebrating our 5th year. We want to specially thank you, all our followers, for inspiring us to keep sharing the Amsterdam love for cycling.

Are you following us on Instagram yet? Last year we had 214 posts and over 34,000 likes from over 5,000 followers!

Check out our top 9 posts of the year!

You're the pedal to my wheel. #justmarried #wedding #ido #forever

Dinking in effortless style #cyclechic #amsterdam #summernights #typicaldutch #fietsen #loveonbikes Heading to school! #amsterdam #wintercycling #kidsonbikes

#kissandride in #amsterdam #bikelove #summerlove @uber but #Amsterdam style

After school minivans #amsterdam style. Complete with snacks, friends, a chauffeur and fresh fall air. #urbancycling #bicycle #dutchbikes #kidsonbikes #frenchbulldogs becoming #Dutch. #roughlife #Amsterdam #dogslife #dutchbikes