Friday, 10 February 2012

My A-Z of the Netherlands: B is for Bikes

When we think about The Netherlands, we think about bikes and cycling paths. It's one of the country's trademarks. This interesting video tells us how cycling became so common in The Netherlands almost 40 years ago.

I don't cycle like the Dutch do

I don't cycle when it's snowing, windy, rainy or cold. I generally take the bus. Almere has a very good bus network. The bus stop is just around the corner and every 7 minutes we have a bus to the city center. A much warmer and comfortable trip, don't you think? ;-)
I only use my bike for recreation purposes. I enjoy cycling, specially in the spring, nearby the canal. I stop here and there, have a picnic, watch the sunset, and come back. Heel leuk!
For the rest, I use the bus or the train. I don't need to use my bike as they show in the video below. However, I think it is very cool to do as they do it!

I don't have a long history with bikes

I had a bike when I was a child, but soon I stopped cycling. The primary school, as well as the high school, were just around the corner. Later, when I went to the University, the bus and the metro were my favourite means of transport. And they remain so for 20 years more.
My current bike was bought after two years living in The Netherlands. I didn't miss it at first because we were living in the city center. Everything was just there.

A sad episode

One day, I dared to go for a long ride and I even crossed a bridge. However, the experience didn't go so well. I was on the right side of the road when I saw that a motorbike was coming on the left side. So far, so good. I slowed down a bit. Then, another motorbike suddenly appears between me and the previous one and I saw myself with no space available to go forward. I was not expecting this and I got scared and fell. Nobody stopped or asked me if I was ok. Just for luck, my glasses didn't drop in the canal. Niet leuk! Now, I'm trying other routes. I have a lot of paths to discover yet.

The Dutch are Pros with their bikes

The Dutch are very professional when riding their bikes. I'm far from having their cycling confidence.
I don't see myself riding my bike and, at the same time, reading a sms, talking on the phone, reading a newspaper or holding an umbrella. For me, it's also difficult to stop at the stoplight, put the foot in the floor and then restart cycling. I need a sidewalk where I can lean on.

Everyday Life in a Bike

In this video, you will find very interesting moments, specially in the following minutes:

1.42  A lady riding a bike and watching her mobile phone.

2.20  A lady riding her bike with her bags behind and her child in the front.

5.09  A lady riding her bike with one child behind and another in the front.

5.28  A lady riding her bike with a front box and three children inside.

6.18  A lady riding a brommer, very useful for those who have problems with their legs or get tired easily.

7.53  Children, adults and old people cycling. This is Netherlands!!!

8.29  A housewife in her bike with several baskets.

8.34  A well dressed lady riding her bike, probably coming from her work.

Almere has an extensive cycling network

Almere offers great cycling conditions. An extensive network of free cycling paths covers the entire city. Bikes can be rented at Almere Centrum and Buiten train stations. The Spoorbaanpad in Almere is considered the longest urban cycle route of the country. The name means ‘Rail road path’ and refers to the fact that it follows the rail road for its entire length. For more details, please click here.

How we say "bike" in Dutch?

"Fiets"! You can't imagine my surprise when I've heard it for the first time. "That's so different!" I thought...

I would like to hear from you about your cycling experience in The Netherlands. Do you want to share it with us?


Castles Crowns and Cottages said...

Oh, and in France TOO! I remember seeing women wearing SKIRTS and heels riding their bikes! I so wish we had that here, but in the winter it is TOO COLD, like today. I have a sore throat now and I fear I am getting sick AGAIN!!!!!

Be ever so careful dearest! Anita

Sami said...

I find it amazing that the Dutch ride their bikes in all sorts of weather! Very brave. A lot of people ride bikes in Perth, but not as many as there. Here it's mostly for pleasure or exercise. We bought bikes a couple of years ago just to go riding on the weekend to the river. Amazing what some people can do while riding!

Presépio no Canal said...

Anita: I hope you get well soon! Take very care of you, dear! Mille Bisous!!

Sami: I agree with you. The Dutch are very brave to cycle in the snow and with bad weather conditions. :-)
I admire them for that too! :-)

restlessjo said...

Another great post and entertaining read. I'm strictly a foot-hog! No sense of balance whatsoever.

Presépio no Canal said...

Hi, Jo! :-) Thank you so much!
I prefer to walk too. I can walk for hours and hours. It's great and very refreshing!

Julie Dawn Fox said...

Like you, I', not very confident on a bike. I prefer walking, but that's also because there's no way I'd cycle uphill, which rules out cycling anywhere near where I live! I'd have a go in Holland though as it's set up for cyclists.

Sara said...

Riding a bike and reading the newspaper at the same time??!! Really? São mesmo "pros"... :)
Não andei de bicicleta quando estive na Holanda, mas lembro-me da sua omnipresença e de ter ficado impressionada com os locais onde "estacionam". Centenas!!!
Um beijinho e um óptimo fdsemana!

Presépio no Canal said...

Hi, Julie :-)

For me it is not possible to go uphill either. No, no! :-)) It would be very difficult! I'm not fit enough ! :-))

Sara :-)

Os estacionamentos de bicicletas impressionam, that's for sure!
Beijinhos! Bom fds! :-)

Castles Crowns and Cottages said...

DEAREST ONE! THank you for coming to visit! Oh, I am so blessed to hear that you enjoyed my post. Yes, let us celebrate these men in our lives that sometimes don't get enough recognition for all the daily hard work and stress they experience in their jobs and their concerns to keep their families safe and taken care of. LOVE TO YOU and enjoy the cool weather!! Anita

ana said...

Que sorte os óculos não terem caído no canal!
Já não ando de bicicleta há uns anos valentes, não sei se conseguiria andar de novo. Holanda é um país propício, é um modelo para a salvaguarda do ambiente: respirar o vento e fazer exercício alivia o espírito.
Obrigada pelas palvras na minha janela!
Bjs. :))

Presépio no Canal said...

Ana: Sim, foi mesmo uma sorte, e eu preciso mesmo deles. No inicio, espalhei-me algumas vezes, mas nunca ninguem, das pessoas que passavam e viram, perguntaram se estava bem ou se precisava de ajuda. O expatriamento, por vezes, tambem e doloroso.
Gosto muito de andar de bicicleta (e ja me sinto mais confiante), mas continuo a preferir caminhar. Ai nas tuas zonas, cheguei a dar grandes caminhadas na Fraga da Pena e na Mata da Margaraca. Locais lindissimos by the way! :-)
Beijinhos e obrigada pela visita! Boa sorte nos novos projectos! :-) :-)

Citizen_Stu said...

Brilliant stuff. Very interesting. I never knew the story behind the cycle paths.

Presépio no Canal said...

Thanks Stu! :-) For me all the story was also a completely surprise. :-)