Drone enthusiast Paul Haerkens has captured himself cycling near Den Bosch, Noord Brabant, filmed by his Yuneec Q500 drone camera in ‘watch me’ mode.
You’ll see Versaille-like miniature gardens, bollards stopping cars from parking on the side walk, flat trees, hints of traffic circles and very little traffic. The film will give you an impression of what a Dutch neighbourhood in the middle of the country looks like: no canals, no bike paths (!) and no bustle.
The catchy music is the intro music to Paul Verhoeven’s classic ‘Turks Fruit’ (‘Turkish Delight’), composed by heavyweight Rogier van Otterloo and performed by Belgian jazz legend Toots Tielemans, all three of which come highly recommended.
Since June someone in Utrecht has been going around putting eyes on bike saddles to make them look like birds of prey and give them names.
They have French, English and Russian names, some of which could be related to the Tour de France that started off in Utrecht this summer, others not at all. It’s making people smile and talk, like a feel-good art project should. The eyes do come off easily, but most people apparently leave them on.
The artists behind the stickers remain unknown and apparently they do fix their work if they see an eye drooping. However, one of their ‘creations’, Gino was tagged and taken away to ‘bike prison’ for being ‘illegally’ parked and they couldn’t fix that.
Traffic lights generally exist to regulate car traffic, so it doesn’t always makes sense when cyclists have to obey them too.
As part of the campaign Utrecht Fietst (Utrecht Cycles) the city asked its citizens which traffic lights were redundant, Verkeersnet reports. Motorists, cyclists and pedestrians rose to the occasion and sent in a whopping 4,760 reports between February and April. The city then presented responses for each junction on an interactive map (click the “i” icon hovering over each traffic light).
In June the city started to experiment with disabling the traffic lights of seven junctions with a further three junctions scheduled for an experiment later in 2015 in which traffic lights will be shut down during quiet times. These experiments will last six months before evaluation. Cyclists will get an additional free right on red at four junctions.
Dutch cycling law and etiquette requires bikes to have bells so they can warn fellow road users. However, many amateur racing cyclists can’t be bothered with bells on their bikes because real racing cyclists don’t have one. Then again, real cyclists have a race completely secured just for them, which is not the case for normal cyclists.
Racing cyclist enthusiasts go faster than most and cannot warn people properly that they are coming, making them ‘less sociable and less safe’, according to Rombouts. By putting a bell in a water bottle, a cyclist just has to extend their arm and ring their bell. Amateurs can now still look cool. After all even retired top racing cyclist Joop Zoetemelk has a Bi-Bell now.
Inspired by long bike trips his grandfather used to take, Dutch cyclist Rick Creemers from Utrecht is leaving the Dom City today to start a trip around the world.
Creemers will first be heading to Basel, Switzerland so he can practice going up and down mountains, then onto Turkey to get ready to hit the desert on his way to the Himalayas in Southern Asia. The route afterwards involves getting to Australia and flying over to Alaska to then cycle all the way down to Chile. Creemers will eventually make it over to Africa and through Turkey cycle back to Utrecht.
The entire trip should take two years. Creemers, who has recently finished his studies, says it will take him 55,000 kilometres with an average of 75 km a day. He also knows he’ll be cycle through unsafe countries and says he’s good at keeping low key.
I hope he posts to social media, so we can write about him again.
Just in time for Le Grand Départ of the Tour de France in Utrecht in early July, tree-shaped bike racks called ‘Rack & Roots’, designed by award-winning student Esther Bergstra will be placed around the city.
“By parking your bicycle against these strong roots, you’re reminded of the world under the tree. Trees are a special addition to the urban landscape and together they form an urban forest.”
In the mean time, there’s still much construction downtown Utrecht as the world’s biggest bike garage dominates much of the construction landscape near the train station.
This week there was a woman in Bloemendaal, North Holland who went grocery shopping with her bike and was about to load her saddle bags only to discover that an entire swarm of bees had moved in. The queen bee apparently decided to park it there and her entire buzzing entourage followed suit. They called in a beekeeper and he got them to move to a box.
Recently there was a woman in Oirschot, Noord-Brabant who noticed twigs in her saddle bags and kept forgetting to remove them every time she got on her bike until one day she decided to clear them out and noticed a bird’s nest with five robin eggs in it. She left her bike alone until last week when five baby robins emerged from the eggs.
Using a modified cargo bike named the Poopymobile, inspired by the Popemobile, pet shop entrepreneur Thomas Vles cycled to London with his two cats Mushi and Cheesy last month. Owner of pet design company Poopy Cat in Amsterdam, he knows that cats hate to be locked up in small cages or fly and decided to cycle with a typical Dutch ‘bakfiets’. Mushi and Cheesy are apparently used to going everywhere by bike since they were kittens.
On YouTube Vles said that, “the cats were priority number one during the trip. Should we even remotely think that they were not comfortable, we would stop. There was driving an accompanying car with in which they could always go. Our trip was supported by two veterinarians and we kept an eye on everything 24/7. We have noticed that Mushi and Cheesy were really enjoying their time in the ‘kitty mobile’ – they wanted to stay in there even when we had to get out to sleep!”
After a few cities in Canada, it’s now the turn of the United States to embrace the building of a ‘woonerf’, a typical Dutch construct from the 1930s, an area where drivers, cyclists and pedestrians have to share the same space, but where pedestrians always have the right of way.
Ithaca, New York is building what they call a ‘living yard’ (‘woonerf’), with a low speed limit of no more than 10 or 12 mph (16 km/h to 19.2 km/h). Today in the Netherlands the woonerf speed limit is 15 km/h, although a few years ago it was still referred to as ‘stapvoets’, which is a old term from when people rode horses at a slow pace, which would be 6 km/h if it was really a horse, but not actually possible by car or bike without consequences. However, 15 km/h is still slower than what Ithaca has decided, which to me sounds too fast.
“The whole point is to encourage human interaction; those who use the space are forced to be aware of others around them, make eye contact and engage in person-to-person interactions.” As a North American, the car is always king of the road, but the woonerf forces drivers to realise that it’s not always their space just because there’s a road, which I think is a good thing to learn.
Cycling is an everyday mode of transport in most of the world, but nowhere do people choose to ride their bikes to work, school, football practice and bars as much as in the Netherlands.
This preponderance of cycling has led to many habits that have become a part of the fabric of life in this country. In the video above, Mark Wagenbuur shows examples of cycling hand in hand, of cycling with suitcases, of rear rack rides and of transporting large objects with your bike.
The video is part two of a series of two, so if you cannot enough of this sort of thing, part 1 is here. In a separate blog post Mark Wagenbuur talks a little about the background music he uses for the two videos.