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Bicycle invasion

Posted on Mar 11, 2011 by

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There must be something with all these bikes. It’s a bike’s heaven here. Or is it hell?

Almost every person in Amsterdam owns a bike. Children, parents, grandparents.

They all ride the bike, regardless of season, weather or anything else. It seems that there are more than 17 million bicycles in the Netherlands and over 700.000 of them just in Amsterdam; 91 percent of households own at least one. Yes, Dutch people are obsessed with their bikes, they love and respect them (in most cases, since every year many bicycles find their end in the greedy waters of the canals).

The Dutch name for bicycle is fiets (plural fietsen). There are bicycle parking spaces all over the city, most roads include a bike lane (fietspad) and you can find bike shops and facilities for spares and repairs (even washing!) everywhere. Many of the bikes are beautifully decorated with plastic flowers, teddy bears or other toys. You will see people dressed in business suits riding their bike to the office, women wearing heels on the bike, policemen on the bike, more than one rider on a single bike, dogs carried in a plastic box attached to the bike and, the one and only: the bakfiets! This one is a bike with some modifications, it has a wooden box at the front and it is usually used for carrying children (yes, children!).

When you walk through Amsterdam, you should be really careful because the bike lane can be easily confused with the sidewalk and the bikers are very nervous when you stand in their way!

A great part of this city’s charm and beauty is given by the colourful bikes and I couldn’t imagine it without them. I have the impression that these two-wheeled vehicles are incorporated in it’s walls, bridges and buildings…

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