Anoma is a working mum and Creative Producer who landed in Amsterdam with her family after living in London and New York. When she isn’t exploring other corners of the globe, you can find her cycling around the city, often with her two silly, adorable kids in tow. I met up with all three of them along the canals to chat about raising a family in our bike-friendly city.
How did you and your family end up Amsterdam? We’ve been here for nearly three years now and time has flown by in such a good way! We have hosted so many of our friends and family from around the world, introducing a lot of them to Amsterdam. My husband, Damian’s work brought us over for a period of time and then we decided to stay for a bit longer. We lived in Brooklyn, NY for many years before this chapter and have a deep-rooted love for New York. Amsterdam has been a healthy and fun place to live.I’m a nature loving city women, so Amsterdam is a great place to live in and raise a family. I don’t compare the cities, as we live different chapters of our lives in different places.
Tell us a bit about your family and how you make the most of Amsterdam’s bike-friendly lifestyle. We love cycling together here! They love it less when it’s raining. Sometimes, we drive and Damian has a motorbike, but my go-to choice is always to cycle first. We never got a bakfiets because I like to take up as least amount of space when moving.
Isa is five years old and she has just conquered learning to ride her own bike. It’s such a prideful moment for her and us! Etienne is eight years old and learned to ride a bicycle quite early on while we were living in Brooklyn. He has a BMX and he wants to do tricks all the time, he also loves skateboarding. The kids enjoy going to the skate park on Olympiaplein. We also have a big dog named Lake, who wants to be out and about with us at all times, but she is a bit slow when running alongside the bike, and I like moving fast.
For us, the kids are a bit too young to cycle alone at this point, but it’s great to see so many children independently cycling to and from school. The bike rules the road and nearly all drivers drive with that in mind.
How does cycling fit into your daily commute as a working mom?
My life in Amsterdam involves the bike, rain or shine (or rain and rain!). I do most everything on my bike and ride super fast from place to place. In the morning, I head to meetings, yoga or my studio to get some computer time in before squeezing in another meeting. As a Creative Director, I share a studio space with a film director in the Jordaan, which is not only centrally located but also a wonderful bike ride! Of course, there are challenges such as trying to look presentable for a client meeting when it’s a 20-minute cycle and dumping down with rain. That can be a bummer, any day.
In the afternoons, I ride quickly to the grocer to grab food and usually end up getting way more than I actually can fit into the bike basket. Then, I head off to school to get the kids and we go park for more wheels and playtime and walk the dog.
Do you have a favorite area to cycle through?
Anywhere at night, when the sky is clear, is stunning! I try to cycle through the Rijksmuseum tunnel as often as possible, as it’s magical! I don’t scream at the tourists, instead, I ding my loud, happy sounding bell, and say, “Look Up” nicely.
How does cycling contribute to your life?
There are moments when I am really grumpy or pissed off about something and then, after seven minutes of riding my bike, I start feeling absolutely happy and energized! Cycling allows me to shake off all the internal negativity, it’s that simple.
Interview and photography by Lily Heaton
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!
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.
Amsterdam Cycle Chic
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!
Google Netherlands has finally released it’s much-talked-about self-driving bicycle. “It’s the best invention since the bicycle itself,” says the director of the Dutch bicycle advocacy group, the Fietserbond.
Check it out for yourself:
I caught up with American Amsterdammer, Breean, on a typical February afternoon – rainy, cold, and generally miserable outside. But her energy and enthusiasm made up for it. She took me for a ride in her Johnny Loco cargo bike and we had a nice chat about everything from bikes to love, dancing, and yes, Gyrotonic.
Breean used to dance professionally in New York City; she was trained as a classic dancer and danced with a contemporary dance company. But then she fell in love with a handsome Dutchman (a doctor with curls, no less). She moved to Utrecht in 2011, and then Amsterdam in 2014. She’s a mom of 2 kids, an entrepreneur, and a busy, busy woman. Here’s a snipet of our conversation.
What do you like about living in Amsterdam?
Compared to New York, life seems so easy and much slower. I’m still very busy of course – with two kids, a clothing line, fitness instructor – but somehow there’s time for everything. And I still manage to spend plenty of time with my family and friends and just exploring this gorgeous city.
Do you ride this [cargo] bike every day?
For sure. This is my SUV. I love this bike. It’s falling apart, but I love it. I take my girls to school in the morning, and our new thing is stopping to get croissants and a latte (for me obviously) before the bell rings. They sit in here and eat their croissants and play with their fake cell phones. It’s ridiculous but I love it.
What do you like about cycling in Amsterdam?
In New York everyone is looking for a fight – and New Yorkers are known for their screaming matches. Why they like yelling, I have no idea. It doesn’t help anything. Here, people just mind their own business when they’re on the bike. If I accidentally bump their bike – which happened to me a lot at first – they just glance over and smile, or they don’t even do anything at all.
How long did it take you to ride like an Amsterdammer?
I’m glad I started out in Utrecht, where it’s a little calmer on the bike path. Amsterdam is totally different. It’s busy and stressful – there’s a lot of people on bikes here! At first it was terrifying. Every time I’d get on my bike I’d tell myself: Ok, just DON’T die. I wouldn’t look at buildings or anything else but the bike path. It took me probably a good two months to get confident. Now I absolutely love it. I can’t imagine any other way of life.
Ok, so tell me about this Gyrotonic stuff…
The Gyrotonic method was developed by an injured dancer who healed herself by developing this method. It’s an amazing combination of rhythmic, circular movements flowing with your breath. It’s a very adaptable exercise, so anyone can do it, but it’s more of an experience with your body. Come try it out at Full Circle Studio in Amsterdam!
We’re a small little company with a big vision. At BuBae we design and produce girls’ clothing and give a percentage of the profits to organisations that empower women and girls who are less fortunate than we are. Our fabrics are designed by women from all over the world and then produced by women as well. We’re all about radiating beauty from within. Right now our current line is available on the website.
Thanks for the ride Breean!
“Dutch kids are the happiest kids in the world, and our bike friendly culture certainly is one of the reasons for their happiness. That is why my mission is to promote cycling and make sure it stays the preferred mode of transport in the Netherlands.” Maud de Vries is one of the initiators of Cyclehack Amsterdam and a bike culture expert. Cyclehack is a global movement where people get together to address the barriers to cycling and come up with creative solutions. “With Cyclehack we wanted to give Amsterdammers a wake-up call. We Amsterdammers are so used to cycling every day, that we do not always fully appreciate what we have. When I ask an Amsterdammer to look at cycling through the eyes of a tourist, people start talking about what cycling means to them and how it influences lives, here and in other parts of the world.”
Amsterdam is an example of bike friendliness, but still we encounter some barriers. Can you name some of those barriers?
According to the city council the important barriers that need to be addressed are bike parking, bike theft, too crowded cycle lanes and connecting cycling to public transport like the metro and the train. We, as the organisers of Cyclehack, see two other important challenges; innovation and marketing. We want to claim the bike like Scandinavia has claimed fashion. Amsterdam should again be the number one cycling city in the world.”
Cyclehack took place in 40 cities around the world in the weekend of the 20th of June. What are the ideas with the highest potential that came out of Amsterdam’s Cyclehack?
We are already working on putting some ideas into practice: Cycle Space (a space about cycling in the city), LinkLock (a lock attached to a pole that indicates when a bike was parked, to help address the problem of bikes gone a stary), and the ‘bike-back-crate’ (a foldable bike crate that you can take with you on your back) amongst others. But there are many other ideas that came out of Cyclehack that we are talking about with the city council and Dura Vermeer, one of our sponsors.
Beside organising Cyclehack Amsterdam you do a lot more to promote cycling, can you tell us something about your other projects?
I am a creative strategist working mostly on bike to work projects. I address the issue of how to get people on their bikes (and out of the car). I am looking at creative ways to change people’s behaviour. I work a lot on ‘Toury’. Toury is an bike to work app, it is a game that triggers people to get on their bikes. For some people losing weight could be a trigger, other people are triggered by environmental reasons, health reasons or because cycling is very relaxing after a day of work. The app addresses all those different triggers. We work internationally with this app with big companies and organisations.
Why do you love cycling so much?
Cycling gives me a feeling of freedom. It immediately relaxes. I can stop wherever I want, I see things that I don’t see from a car or public transport and it is social, you connect with other people. I just love it!
What bike do you have?
I have a Workcycles FR8. It is a great bike! It is the first bike that I spent quite some money on. I bought it when I had my first child. It is great for short and long distances and I can carry my two kids and the groceries on it. When I arrive home, I ride the bike into my house and put the groceries in my kitchen. I have recommended this bike to many friends and everybody loves it.
Check out Amsterdam Cycle Chic’s top 10 Instagram pics of March.
1. Spring weather expected
2. Chit Chat
3. Amsterdam style: cycling home after an holiday
4. Mum and daughter on a Dutch bike
5. Is that Jennifer?
6. Cycle to the music
7. Faster than the rain
8. Hotel Bike Only: Count-the-bicycles-game
'Count the bicycles' one of the many nice games for children in the book #hotelkidsonly book for children visiting Amsterdam. Read interview with the author Ingrid on our blog www.amsterdamcyclechic.com #amsterdam #bicicleta #expat #tourism #kidsbook #children #childrensbook #dutchbike #cyclechicspotlight
9. Free Bike Parking at ‘De Hallen’
10. Waiting on the ‘Magere Burg’ for a boat to pass
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.
I caught these Amsterdammers going though the Rijksmuseum bike path, enjoying today’s sunny chill and riding fast through the tunnel. So many people out and about on their bikes today. Babies, bakfiets, lovers, and friends — I love that no matter the weather, we keep on peddling.
Well, unfortunately we won’t be getting snow for Christmas this year but we will be dashing around town collecting our ‘Kerstboom’ (Christmas Tree), Christmas dinner ingredients and Turkeys! Nothing is too much for the locals here balancing their festive decorations and babies in perfect harmony.
We at Amsterdam Cycle Chic want to wish all our fabulous readers a wonderful Christmas and look forward to sharing more Amsterdam cyclists with you in 2015!
By Aude and Meredith + wishes from all the Cycle Chic-ers!