Inspired by Copenhagen Cycle Chic

Posts tagged “Dutch cycling culture

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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Cycle Chic Spotlight: Film maker Fadi

Fadi Hindash directed the short documentary ‘Mama Agatha‘. This heart-warming film is about migrant women in Amsterdam learning to ride a bike. Cycling means more freedom, and integration in Dutch society. Women of all ages and nationalities are taught by teacher Mama Agatha. Most of his life Fadi lived in car dominated Dubai, but three years ago he moved to Amsterdam. He was not able to cycle, but learned it from Mama Agatha herself. The premiere of ‘Mama Agatha’ will be on the 2nd of May during Leiden International Short Film Experience. Reason enough to make Fadi our cyclist of the month!
Fadi Hindash - film director

How did you come up with this topic for the documentary?

I was having coffee on my friend’s terrace overlooking a park where a group of Moroccan women were learning how to ride a bicycle. Immediately I was struck with how much that image said about integration and the life of migrants. I personally moved to the Netherlands 3 years ago but I have grown up with the identity of a migrant long before. I was raised in Dubai where my family and I lived as outsiders in our own home which is why the issue of integration is one that is very close to my heart. So when I saw the group of Arab women learning to cycle in Amsterdam, I immediately knew there was a story there for me. The fact that it looked so sweet and humorous set the tone for the film. Plus, I also never learned how to cycle because Dubai is a city of cars, which made the film even more personal as I was going through what the women were going through.


Documentary: Mama Agatha

Why is it important to learn to ride a bike?

Because it gives you freedom, not just physically but also emotionally. Cycling feels like flying, on wheels.

I don’t see any men in the documentary, are these cycling lessons just for women. If so, why do you think that is?

I had the same question during filming. As far as I know there aren’t similar courses for men. It could be because men tend to be more proud about admitting they don’t know something so basic or they would feel more embarrassed about falling in the street. I was lucky to have Mama Agatha as a teacher, she taught me behind the scenes while making the documentary.
Documentary: Mama Agatha

What do you like about Amsterdam?

It’s the perfect combination of a city and a little town. It’s cozy when you need it to be but also cosmopolitan when you need it to be. There’s also the other factor that cannot be put into words: it has this magic quality to it. It looks so pretty, almost like a dollhouse. I love things that seem unreal with a touch of fantasy, that’s the filmmaker in me.

by Joni