“The police in this country are underpaid and often have a serious attitude problem,” I heard recently. After having to call 112 (the Dutch 911) for the firefighters to deal with a short circuit in my house a while back, the cops reluctantly wrote up a report, treating me like a puppy that had wet the carpet.
The police do have an image problem, at least at 24oranges. They’ve arrested people based on their skin colour, they tried to fine a woman while she was having a miscarriage and fight the reopening of a cafe because it played gangsta rap.
A Dutch reality show that arrests people causing problems on the road stopped a motorcyclist for driving too fast, tailgating and weaving who turned to be cop in civilian clothing. He made excuses about being busy and “we are all just people.” It cost him 220 euro, giving the police some excellent national publicity.
I have developed a particular fondness for motorcycle cops. A few years ago, a friend told me he’d lost a female friend of his, a wife and mother, to an off duty motorcycle cop who drove through a red light in Amsterdam and ran her over while she was crossing the street. He got off with some community service or something like that.
Statistics Netherlands reported last Tuesday that the average age of motorcycle riders has gone up from 39 to 45 in the last ten years.
In 2000 the group that dominated motorcycle ownership were the thirty-somethings, now it is the 40-49 group that owns the most ‘bikes’. Total ownership of motorcycles has risen by 50% in the noughties, as has the share of vintage motorcycles. Interestingly, the older the rider, the bigger the chance they are driving a vintage motorcycle.
We don’t have any great wide opens here to cross, but people sure love to ride their bikes on the willow-lined roads atop river dikes.
Together with his friend Tom van Ees (left), Martin de Vries, 35, (right), plans to drive by motorbike from their hometown Den Bosch (‘s-Hertogenbosch) all the way to Kazakhstan, his brother proudly started telling people online the other day.
Saturday, 15 August, they will set off on a 17,000 km route to the capital of Almaty and back, going through 15 countries on the way, with the goal of raising money to fight cancer. “Still one in every three people in the Netherlands gets cancer. That is way too much. We are paying for the costs of our trip ourselves, so all the money we raise will go to this great cause.”
Find out more about their plight, the blog and their pictures by visiting the specially setup website around2seas.nl.