20 November 2010


 A Bicycle in the Netherlands...

When going shopping you just need to remember where you parked your bicycle. I am thankful for those who actually stop along the path to take a call from a mobile phone. A growing number of riders do not and pose a hazard to self and others. I need attentive riders on the lanes with me.


Two common sightings in the Netherlands:

You guessed it - Graffiti and Bicycles


Winter weather conditions do not stop urban riders from being on the bike path.


Economic reasons may be a strong reason to live on a boat in the canal. Owning a bicycle for your urban travel is a great idea for transportation around town. (And if you guessed that orange is the national color- you would be correct!)


No one wears a helmet and it is common to see
mothers wheeling their children in carts attached
to their bicycles or on carriers behind their seat.
Older children are often seen riding hand in hand
with their mothers along the wide bike paths.


Riders of all ages take to the streets all day and night to various destinations. You have to have a good eye for other riders and anticipate their moves when you are on the street.


Many people ride their bicycles to work, school and to nearby cities. This view from the train station illustrates that a number of people ride their bicycles to the station and use the park n' ride system. At the end of the day, it's quite a scene watching people returning from their day's activities to find their bike for the ride back home.


Pretty accurate and timely suggestions in this resource:

Buying a bike is one of the first things to do when you arrive in The Netherlands.
Without a bike, you just wouldn’t be Dutch at all (there are more bikes here per capita than anywhere else in the world except China) and you’d be missing out on a cheap, easy and fun way to get around. After all, you can do anything on a bicycle. Just watch the locals.
There they are, talking on the phone, driving the kids home from school and balancing a TV on the back all at the same time. Star-crossed lovers cycle effortlessly while holding hands by the canals. Perky teenagers pop wheelies on impossibly heavy bikes.
Your primer to buying a Dutch bike…
What to get: Unless you have a lot of cash to spend, the basic theme is always the same. Dutch bikes tend to be heavy, retro-looking affairs with 1-3 gears, a big seat and handlebars that let you sit upright as you ride. They might not have handlebar operated brakes and the most common ones go by the name Omafiets(or Opafiets for men) – literally ‘Grandma Bike’. It’s something like the Cadillac of bicycles, a real cruiser, and the weight doesn’t matter so much on the flat land of Holland.

A back rack is generally included with the bike and if you’re willing to splash out you can get a Bakfiets – a bike with a large wooden cargo area in front for carrying children and groceries around. These bikes in particular hold their value and are always in demand.
At the same time as you buy your bike, pick up the best lock you can find. Bike theft is practically a national sport and having at least one bike stolen is almost a rite of passage here. The little lock that comes standard with most Dutch bikes and fixes the back wheel in one place just isn’t enough, especially for the big cities like Amsterdam or The Hague. Happily there are guarded bike parking areas in the cities but with the generally small house size, you may not be able to store your bike inside at night.
The cost: New bikes start around €150 euros but can, of course, easily top €1,000 if you want something fancy. Contrary to what you  might expect, the used selection in bike shops isn’t great and when you do find a few used bikes in stock the price tends to be heftier than you’d expect – generally around €150-200.
Where to buy: A great way to find a used bike is to scour the classified ads online at Marktplats (the Dutch version of eBay) and posters at places like your local grocery store. Find out where the local second hand store is – they often have great buys. That’s where we ended up getting our bikes, for €75 each and with a 6 month guarantee! Ask your friends and colleagues too if they know of any bikes for sale and ask if the local police department will be holding an auction anytime soon.

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