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
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 🙂
The top 3 loved photos on our Instagram this month are…
If you follow us on Instagram, you might have seen this already. It got so much love on the social media networks that we thought it deserves its own post on the blog.
So, here you go. This is how it’s done.
This guy is 100% Amsterdam. Riding one-handed along the beautiful Amstel, cruising with the dog, black panniers flapping in the breeze, and sporting the tweed and the slicked-back silver hair.
Seriously Amsterdam. Seriously cool.
Although some Amsterdammers are brightening the urban landscape with their turquoise delight, on this dark and stormy Friday others are more into keeping it dark and classic. We can’t have enough black coats, jeans, and boots to match our black bikes.
It’s officially the cold, grey, rainy season here in the ‘Dam, so it’s a breath of fresh air to see some colour around. This girl is rocking some turquoise locks, and has a cool bike to match! Even her backpack is smiling 🙂
We don’t need much gear for cycling in the rain – maybe a poncho if you remember to grab it as you rush out the door. Sometimes I see rainpants. Or huge capes.
Umbrellas are pretty common too – again, if you remember it. This little girl has it figured out:
- get comfy in the cargo bike
- shield yourself from the rain with a bright and super cute umbrella
- relax and let mom do all the work
Holiday lights warm up the streets of Oost! Even on a rainy night, these folks are flying along Javastraat on their way home from work, heading out with friends or just running errands.
The mist rolls in and back go our gloves and scarves. Let’s hope it’s just for a day! I will miss all the layers and a good animal print.
…9 days until Spring!