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
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!
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:
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 🙂
Yep it’s Monday alright. If you haven’t had your coffee yet, I also would love a little boost like this.
I love seeing old photos and footage from back in the day. The Eye has a great collection of these old films and this one caught my attention.
A little history lesson: this was when about 80% of all trips were made by bike. Now about 60% of all trips are made by bicycle in the city center. Amazing right?
And look at the people. So simply chic with their hats and jackets. Sitting upright on their oh-so-Dutch bikes. Love it.
The top 3 loved photos on our Instagram this month are…
5 O’clock. Rush hour and also the time when the sun goes down these days. However, it always remains cosy in the ‘bakfiets’ when you are sitting next to your sibling! Especially when dad is racing through the Utrechtsestraat..
Alexander is a true Amsterdammer. He owns a beautiful flower shop in the speigelquartier in the centre of the city. His customers cycle up to his store on the Prinsengracht canal and cycle away with handfuls of gorgeous flowers neatly tucked away in their arms, bike crates or panniers. He lives and breaths flowers – he even lives on a street called the Bloemgracht! (flower canal). You may have seen Alexander or his staff zipping through Amsterdam on their bikes delivering daily flowers to locals in the sunshine, rain or even snow.
Why did you become a florist?
The story all started in the area of Nieuwendammerdijk, in Amsterdams North where I grew up. This area provided my inspiration as a small child where I played in the forest behind my family home, building huts and creating my own garden. I used to make floral necklaces for my grandmother in my little secret hideaway. Floristry came naturally as I love working with my hands and creating special and unique things and getting to know all different kinds people. I love it.
Where are your favourite places to ride?
In the Summertime I love riding my racebike to the fishing village of Marken. This 45km cycle route is the best way to spend a summer day and it is also a popular route amongst locals and tourists. You can take a quick ferry ride from Amsterdam, cycle along the picturesque dyke houses all the way through Durgedam. Its a beautiful cycle route. In Spring and Fall I love cycling through forests such as Amsterdamse Bos or Hoge Veluwe which is outside of Amsterdam. I even take my bike to other cities such as Brussels when I have weekends away. It’s the only way to travel.
What bike do you own?
I have an original Gazelle that my Grandfather used to own, a racebike, an opa fiets (Grandpa bike) which has a big wooden crate to make my flower deliveries with – and I recently received a beautiful hybrid bike for my birthday which is half race-bike, half mountain bike. Each one has it’s own purpose.
A.P Bloem services Amsterdam and across the Netherlands with their arrangements and displays for local homes, birthdays, weddings and special events. Their signature style draws inspiration from the Golden Age and wild fields in the true essence of nature. “We genuinely love what we do and we wish for people to share and experience the beauty of the special things we source and create” says Alexander. You can keep up to date with their flowery adventures here.
Check out Amsterdam Cycle Chic’s top 10 of October Instagram pics.
1. Father with 1,2,3..4 kids on his cargo bike
2. Family of four ready to party!
3. Like her style: Dutch bike, green jacket and cool hair
4. Trendy photographer in Paris
5. Sunny commute by ferry and bike
6. Speedy chic cyclist turning the corner
7. Special form of dinking: Standing on the rear carrier
8. Chilly morning in the Vondelpark
9. In the Netherlands more women than men cycle
10. Cycling in the Paris’ rain with a stylish poncho
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.