Margarita is a transportation planner and cycling advocate who has headed the blog Palm Beach Cycle Chic for a number of years all the way from West Palm Beach, Florida so naturally she was a great fit. Welcome to the team!
How did you end up in Amsterdam?
I’ve been to Amsterdam a couple of times before and fell in absolute love with the city and its various cultures, including of course the cycling obsession. I saw a great learning opportunity so I finally made the big jump across the pond to get a Master’s degree in Urban and Regional Planning at the University of Amsterdam focusing on bicycle mobility. Loving every minute of it.
What’s the big difference between Amsterdam and South Florida when it comes to cycling?
For one thing, cycling is still mostly seen as either a fringe subculture activity or as purely sport. It’s pretty popular for roadies and recreation, but abysmal for developing cycling as a utilitarian transportation mode. Florida continuously ranks the absolute worst in the U.S. for pedestrian and cyclist casualties, owing to decades of intense growth, land-use development policies favoring suburban lifestyles, lack of leadership, and a natural dependency on automobiles for mobility that’s hard to break because of all the above. Though it’s as flat as the Netherlands, almost all cities in Florida (especially South Florida) are night-and-day compared to Amsterdam. There are a lot of advocacy groups now and interested politicians who are interested in encouraging cycling and are devoted to developing the infrastructure changes needed to make it safer. I worked for a small city where I got to see this firsthand and pushed it through, so I’m excited to see the progress!
Were there any surprises when you started cycling in Amsterdam?
I am absolutely blown away by what people can carry on a bike here. Additionally, I am always amazed by the renegade-nature of the cyclists here, going every-which-way in direct defiance of traffic controls. Cycling is so efficient here as a transportation system that it naturally dominates. Reading about the history of Amsterdam cyclists, I definitely have an appreciation for it. The laws here also protect the most vulnerable users, which also owes to the cycling culture developing here the way it has. I hope that will start to develop in the States as well.
Tell us about your bike.
I bought this bike in Amsterdam last year, actually, and took it back to Florida with me. I’ve always loved Dutch bikes and since they are fairly rare back home, they always spur dialogue from curious people. I’m fairly short, so I wanted a smaller frame bike than the larger one I already had. So of course I brought it back to Amsterdam with me. It’s like it went on holiday to Florida for a year! I outfitted it with a front rack and some rear panniers I got for cheap so I can carry loads of stuff! I wrapped some cute battery-operated lights around the frame for pizazz and slapped some stickers on the rear fender so I can find it in the seas of parked bikes. I have 2 seat covers simultaneously on it because I don’t want a wet butt. It’s also got a wobbly front rim that nobody but me notices, but that’s part of its charm.
It’s officially Autumn here in Amsterdam- cold, crisp, and a tiny bit wet. The sandals are disappearing and the scarves are coming out.
One of my favorite parts of my morning commute is watching in awe as women weave in and out of the other commuters, pedaling on pointy toed pumps. And I recently realized I had taken quite a lot of heels on wheels photos. So in order to savor the sunshine of summer we are posting a our favorite Feets on Fiets; our new reoccurring seasonal round up!
I hope you enjoy these stylish stilettos and funky socks sneaking out of a suit cuffs as much as we do.
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!
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?
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.
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.
Think back to the last time you cycled to work or anywhere in the rain. If you live in Amsterdam you probably don’t have to think too far back, for you, what was the most dreaded part? For me it’s not the commute itself but the clingy, cold, wet jeans I’m stuck sitting in at my desk for hours after my ride. Until recently I thought the only option was to either accept the wet jeans and be stylish with a traditional raincoat, or go for the function over fashion route by wearing one of those Ikea ponchos and looking like “a potato” as one of my colleagues so nicely pointed out (you know who you are).
Until I found Majem rainwear- where fashion truly meets function.
I first encountered Majem while walking through Modefabriek on a work inspiration trip and this coat caught my eye. I was immediately drawn to it’s unique silhouette and smart style.
It was beautiful, I was intrigued, and after speaking to the owner I was almost sold; but being a product person I needed to give it an “on bike in rain” test ride (or rides) before I could truly make up my mind.
Designed in Amsterdam and made from recycled plastic, Majem was created with the urban commuter in mind. The coat runs long for extra protection on and off your bike I’m 174cm (5’7″), wearing a small, and it hits just below my knee. Whether you are commuting in a suit or jeans, to work or just getting around town, it has you covered.
What makes this jacket unique are the two side zippers that allow for a quick transformation from a raincoat to a stylish poncho depending on the amount of rain protection you need that day.
My favorite part about this coat, aside from the obvious function and style points; I never got overheated or sweaty. The relaxed fit and the fact you can make it into a poncho creates enough airflow that you don’t get as much interior cold, wet of other rainwear garments.
- You’re covered from head to toe= dry happy jeans
- Functions as a raincoat & poncho when needed
- Adjustable well-fitting hood w/ good brim (so important!)
- Two secure front hand pockets
- Smart unique design = Fashion + function
- You feel super snazzy wearing one
- Locally designed
- Sustainable material
- No damp cling
- Guaranteed inquisitive compliments when wearing
Cons (that really aren’t cons but help make for a more balanced review):
- Could use a fit adjustment tab at waist
- Currently only available in black and off white (Pink & grey are coming in SS18!)
- Unisex sizes, not necissarily a bad thing just may lead to a roomier fit on some
What more can I say, this coat has won me over.
Traditionally the coats are €135,00. However, Majem is offering an exclusive discount to Amsterdam Cycle Chic readers.
From August 22nd- September 22nd when you enter AMSTERDAMCC at checkout you will receive €25 off, plus free shipping on your purchase at http://www.majem.nl/
Or if you are a local and love an in shop experience Majem jackets can be found at the following retailers:
- They have their own shop on the Molsteeg 8 – Next to Magna Plaza
- VERSE Goodstore on the Prinsengracht
- Pop-up Passage at Central Station officially opening Sept. 7th
In the meantime, be sure to check out their beautiful Instagram @majemdesign and tag us both after your first Majem dry ride! #majem #amsterdamcyclechic
I wont’t sign off hoping for more rain but I will say cheers to more dry rides!
And as Majem says “enjoy the rain”.
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?
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!
Alex is a German expat from Hamburg who has been living and working in Amsterdam for a decade. In 2015, he founded The Coffee Vine, a blog turned monthly subscription box for caffeine addicts to try new varieties of beans each month. Today, he’s sharing a bit about his life on two wheels, so pour yourself a cup of joe and keep reading to learn more.
Welcome, Alex! We’re excited to have you in our Cycle Chic Spotlight series, let’s get started. How did you end up in Amsterdam?
I came here rather unexpectedly, at first Amsterdam wasn’t my radar at all. I was living in Hamburg and recruited at a large FMCG company. Funny enough, I didn’t really enjoy Amsterdam after two rather disappointing holidays here but ten years later, I am still live in Amsterdam and loving it here more than ever!
How cycle friendly is your hometown compared to Amsterdam?
Hamburg is a really big city and despite having an excellent public transport system, many people still prefer to drive. Over the past few years cycling in Hamburg has become a lot more popular and safe. Now, there are bike sharing programs and the city has implemented a lot more bike lanes. That’s a great change to witness.
Tell us an eye opening experience about cycling in Amsterdam.
Living in Amsterdam definitely changed my view on cycling. It has become a way of life for me now rather than a necessity. In the beginning, I was a bit weary of cycling in the city center because the Dutch can be really aggressive but it’s funny how quickly you assimilate. Now, I sometimes catch myself cursing at tourists too.
A few years ago I used to work out in Amstelveen so, I had a scooter. Obviously, it was a lot faster and less exhausting but I was the only person in my circle of friends with one. Now I sold it and became regular cyclist again, I realized how much I actually hate scooters in the bicycle lanes!
What is a typical day in Amsterdam like for you?
I usually get up at 7:30, cycle to my gym, then back home to get ready before I settle into work – either from home or at my workshop which I also bike to. I love my neighborhood, De Baarsjes. It’s a vibrant my neighborhood close to so many parks. I’ve got Sloterplas, Rembrantpark and Vondelpark all within a 10 minute cycle from my house. My work is very close to my house and it’s not very scenic. When I go from Oud West to De Pijp I love going through Vondelpark and soaking up the greenery. Running my own business, I don’t really have a set work schedule, which is really nice because I can grab my bike and pop out for lunch with friends or go to other meetings. It’s great to get fresh air and cycle around the city.
What’s something special about your bicycle?
My bike is actually just a simple Cortina ladies bike. I don’t like the bar across the middle that men’s bikes always have so this one works better for me. I don’t have any flashy details or accessories but of course, I do have a cup holder on the front for my cup of coffee on the go!
Now and again, I need to take a coffee box to a customer or a partner. I hold it in my hand when cycling and I feel like I can show it off a little bit! We feature different artists on the sleeve from time to time, I am really proud of our custom branding.
What inspired you to launch The Coffee Vine?
I began drinking coffee during trips to the U.S. with my dad. He always loved getting big lattes from Starbucks and sprinkling cinnamon on top and that sort of got me into it. Over the years, I developed a more refined taste for coffee and a real interest in specialty coffee. Then, I realized an opportunity to combine that love for coffee with my passion for writing. The Coffeevine started out as a blog about the best coffee bars in Amsterdam and further. Through my blog, I met a lot of key people in the coffee industry so, when I launched my coffee subscription I was able to cash in on my strong relationships with the best roasters. This really helped because they already knew me and trusted me. When I left my last job, I launched our coffee subscription in 2015 and that’s what I still do today. It’s exciting to work with something I am really passionate for!
Thanks for sharing your story with us Alex, happy cycling!
At AMS CC we like to celebrate all aspects of on the bike life in Amsterdam- from the old Dutch bike that clanks as it rides, to carting 3 kids, all the groceries and a puppy while making it home for dinner, to urban speed cyclist, and everyone in between. This past Sunday we met up with the women of the Rapha Club House Amsterdam who where headed out on their Women’s 100km ride through Amsterdam.
[Photos by Amsterdam Cycle Chic]
What started in 2013 as a small group of female riders in the UK, has grown exponentially ever year and expanded over 6 continents (Antartica has yet to report in). The best part of Rapha Women’s 100 is it’s not a competition; it’s about connecting a community of women cyclist around the world through a shared adventure and love of the road under two wheels.
According to Rapha’s website over 7,000 women across the globe joined in and rode together on Sunday the 23rd. More than 100 of those women were riding in Amsterdam!
[Photo courtesy of Maaike Steenwijk]
Unfortunately, my little Dutch bike wouldn’t have made it through 100km (yes, Im blaming the bike) so we only have photos of the beginning. Maaike Steenwijk followed the cyclist along the ride and was kind enough to loan us a couple of her photos. Thanks for letting us join the fun!
Where are you from and why did you move to Amsterdam?
Im originally from the East Coast of the US and my family lives in the middle-of-no-where Mexico. For the past 5 years I was living and working in Baltimore, MD at Under Armour as an Apparel Concept Designer. This January I relocated to the European HQ in Amsterdam and have no plans of looking back. I’ve been lucky enough to see a lot of the world and I can finally say ‘I’m home’.
What do you love about cycling in Amsterdam?
This is going to sound so cliche but literally, everyday I see or experience something that makes me smile, I truly can’t get enough of this city. I love the intimacy that cycling gives; you’re at life level with everything and as you whizz by you get just enough of a glimpse to see into someone’s story- Or just enough to create a new one in your head.
I also love seeing the city’s style up close. I’m constant in awe of the women who are flying past me in the morning rocking 5″ heels, meanwhile I have to concentrate to keep my boots on the pedals. Amsterdam is so effortlessly chic and cycling never seems to get in the way of someones outfit; just enhances it.
What is your bike like?
She’s just a classic, used, back pedal bike. It says “Roady” in some peeling off letters on the frame but I’m not a brand name kind of girl, I chose this one for the color. I love adding little bits of pop; I was secretly thrilled when my original bell, just a plain silver one died because that meant I got to buy this new minty fresh one! I just found this new bike paint that promises a “no drip, no professional needed” coating, so who knows what color or colors she’ll be by the end of the year.
Is there anything you don’t like about your new no-car life?
Aside from the fear of my wheel involuntary flying off while I’m cycling at great speeds; I haven’t figured out the best cupcake transport system yet. I love to decorate and share cupcakes co-workers and friends, but the Amsterdam roads are not so forgiving. So in the mean time I’ve started the #BikeNowFrostLater movement. If anyone has any possible op de fiets solutions- please send them my way!
Why did you want to join the Amsterdam Cycle Chic team?
I love how engrained biking is in the city, from toddlers learning on the balance bikes- to the guy doing wheelies under the Rijks Museum Tunnel, everyone is equal when in the bike lanes. And there is something so magical about the morning commuter rush, like a flock of swallows, each an independent being but the flow never falters. I want the opportunity to share those moments with the rest of the world.
From a professional standpoint part of my job is sending street recaps of things I’m seeing in Amsterdam and other travels back to our US based design teams. I’m already cycling about admiring the city’s finest and freshest, sneaking photos of anything that catches my eye. I’m known for leaving a friend mid sentence to chase someone/ something down the street snapping away, trying not to crash my own bike.
Pictures of Mérida by Lily.
Aalsmeer Flower Festival Bike Tour
June 17-18, 2017
We lucked out for our first Aalsmeer Flower Festival bike ride and the weather was stunning. With 6 large event stops, the self guided tour wound through the charming city and unless you got as lost as many times as we did, was 26km in total.
Each venue offered a unique experience, ranging from, making your own flower jewelry, listening to live music under a lily covered cabana, to joining a bouquet building workshop at the International Floral Design School. There truly was a little something for everyone, including a pancake truck if you got peckish (I did mention it was 26km right?).
If you missed the festival this year, I highly recommend taking a day trip to bike through Aalsmeer. The neighborhoods are quiet and beautiful, flanked by fields and greenhouses.
Aalsmeer can be reached by bike from Amsterdam with a nice ride through Amsterdam Bos or you can hop on the train, just remember your bike needs a ticket too!
Keep a look out for next year’s event which will be June 16th-17th, 2018.
(Do you have favorite summer day trips? Tell us in the comments and we’ll add it to the list!)