A photographic post…
Don’t forget its’ cycling shadow…
Sunday afternoon in Gouda is like many places around the Netherlands, people go out on their bikes.
For many it’s not just a method for getting from “A” to “B”, but a fun way to see the country, get exercise and get together with friends.
A few steps down from the Lego shop is an ice-cream shop, so once Little Mr. and I were finished in the great: “Who’s going to win the next Lego building competition” debate, we joined the queue for an ice-cream.
As a rule Dutch shops are not open on Sundays.
Until around the early 2000’s, none were, ever, but around that time supermarkets started opening up trading hours.
Even now, not every supermarket brand opens, and most other shops still don’t.
Places like ice-cream parlors and restaurants are open Sunday’s but they have never fallen into the “nine to five” business bracket. I noticed that many of the ice-cream shop customers were weekend cyclists, so this impromptu shot shows the kind of cyclist I mean, not the twenty-something racing cyclist (although they certainly exist) rather someone who is out for a leisurely Sunday cycle of anywhere between 40 and 80 kms.
Just a little way down the same street is an “Oma” (Grandma) bike, good solid construction for surviving riding over streets paved with bricks, a back carrier perfect for the supporting shopping, or a friend, and popular in recent years: a solid front rack for bringing handbags, briefcases and school bags back and forth from where needed. It may not be clear from the angle of my Oma fiets (bike) photograph, but it’s chained to the child’ bike next to it too, and in the Netherlands there are bike’s everywhere, …and they start ’em young.
The summer of 2016 was for the most part (ok, discount June more or less entirely) one of excellent weather.
As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, Himself and adults from three or four other families took turns to supervise a bigger group of kids on the street or take them to the beach during week days.
Weekends they would forsake their bike rides to the beach and join me in a car ride to one of the spots that had a car park close to the beach café we wanted to go to.
Luckily with a seven seater car we manage to pile in extra kids so the kids weren’t short of a friend to take with them.
The Dutch are a cycling nation and nowhere is easier to get to by bike than car, is the beach.
All along the dunes there are hundreds of cycles racks, which at the height of summer can see bikes chained together on one rack up to four deep and every available signpost or fence surrounded by clusters of bicycle hardware.
Our weekend visits to La Cantina on the south side of the harbour were no different, but one of the attractions was that this was one of the quietest spots along the shore, so bike parking was never as bad as I have sometimes seen it in other places during my time here in the Netherlands.
One thing did catch my eye, and that is the sharp rise in the use of “Bakfietsen” (cargo bikes) in the last decade: one reason their popularity increase is that although they are very expensive to buy, they hold their value incredibly well and you can sell one in good condition, second-hand for near new prices.
This makes them an excellent investment and the Dutch are never ones to pass up a good thing when a deal makes sense.
It’s therefore no surprise that I saw quite a few bakfietsen during our visits to the beach. Two bikes did perplex me for a moment because I only saw strong metal “prongs” (not sharp ones) sticking out in different configurations from several bikes, then the penny dropped: these were also bakfietsen, but ones where the “bak” (Literally translates as “container”) i.e. the kid-carrying compartment, can be taken off the bike and taken with you.
I don’t know the exact brand of this type, but they are soft sided ones similar to the “Gazelle” bakfietsen in my photographs.
Hard sided bakfietsen are of course heavier and are as far as I know, never detachable. I love how this mode of transport has been embraced, and how the trend is growing. They even come with sturdy rain covers for the winter months, making these fabulous bikes way more than just fair weather friends.
Coming home from dropping off my New Zealand friends at the airport, I had my camera in my lap and as we travelled home I suddenly saw something and raised the camera to get the photographs.
I got two shots before this guy was out of sight, but it appears that a Segway has been attached to a Bakfiets (a.k.a. cargo bike) and is being used to transport a number of children.
I’m not certain if this is a recent development but I have a thought that it might not be.
For quite a few years Segways have been available to buy in the Netherlands but after people used them on the regular Dutch cycle paths at speed and caused several accidents, Dutch courts ruled that they were too fast for use on cycle paths and prohibited their use there.
Cycle paths may be used by cycles and motorbikes up to (I think) 125cc of engine power.
Motorbikes bigger than that have to use the road. The problem was that the segway was also not approved for use on roads so seqway owners were stuck between a rock and a hard place, a court case ensued and I think it’s been going on for at least three years.
It’s been a snippet on the News several times in recent years and I have probably missed the outcome if there has been one, but until I took these photographs I have never seen a Segway on a Dutch cycleway. That might of course be because I don’t get out much these days, but it leads me to guess that maybe you are allowed to motorise a bakfiets if you stay at a very low speed (and you would anyway with a cart load of kids on board). I’ll keep my eyes open for any regular style Segways on cyclepaths… and for other interesting modes of transport there too.
Footnote… Apologies for all of you who saw no post this morning, I accidently dated two posts for tomorrow instead of one today and one tomorrow. Too much medication a few bad days with pain and not enough concentration my brain is mush, apologies again.
It’s always interesting to see the country you live in through the eyes of an overseas visitor.
Many things in the Netherlands are culturally worlds away from what our visiting friend “Velvetine” is used to in her homeland of Singapore.
Often each of us take things so much for granted that it takes someone from “outside” to point out their uniqueness.
One case in point is when Family Kiwidutch and Velvetine are leaving the commercial seeding company.
It doesn’t matter at all that the weather is wet and the skies are grey, we are still greeted by an typical everyday Dutch sight: a group out cycling together, a convoy of cyclists of all ages out together on all manner of bicycles, from the usual two wheeled “fiets” (bicycle) to “bakfietsen” (cargo bikes). Also as is usual in The Netherlands, they ride separated from the Dutch road system, on their own dedicated ‘fiets pad” (cycle path).We progress down the road to our next destination, passing by some equally Dutch looking “molen” (mills) that Velvetine was rather more familiar with…
Two nights ago I must have slept in a bit of a strange position because I woke with some serious back-pain of the type I haven’t had since for more than ten years.
(Raising the height of our bed was a requirement of the Dutch maternity visits and when we raised it my back pain disappeared, so we built the bed permanently higher with a solid extended frame and it’s been great… until two nights ago)
Instead of enjoying my annual leave and getting stuck into a long list of things to do (we have a lot of exceptional events going on with family and friends at the moment) I spent most of yesterday moving very slowly or flat on the bed with hot water bottles to relieve the pain.
I think I just have pinched a nerve or stretched a muscle or something… it’s definitely getting better but I’m not quite out of slow motion mode yet.
Unlike my foot, which I know I can’t rush, I’m finding this frustrating as I have so much to do this week.
At least over the long weekend I had been busy sorting though some archive photos and writing posts, so I’m doing to document one of our previous adventures… Several years ago one of my New Zealand cousins visited The Netherlands with his new wife and his two pre-teen sons from a previous marriage.
During their stay we managed to pack in a heap of activities … luckily it was mid-May when they visited, so our kids were also enjoying their school holidays and after being picked up from the boat at Hoek Van Holland and spending a great evening eating, drinking and catching up, we all hit the sack for a fresh start the next day.
The following morning found us at Central Station, about to take a train.
The visitors all excitedly discovered something new already … a “double decker” train!
Just the kind of thing I had forgotten had also startled and fascinated me years ago when I arrived in the Netherlands.
Soon we are speeding out of the city and past the Dutch landscape…
…some of the religious buildings show how Dutch culture has diversified very nicely over the centuries… other things like canals and farmhouses seem to never change.
Our journey won’t take too long… so in the meantime, sit back and enjoy the view…
This is the view when another train passes in the opposite direction at more than 100 kms per hour just as you are clicking the shutter…
Elsewhere they are known as “cargo bikes”, “work bikes”, “transport bikes” … but in The Netherlands we call them “Bakfiets”. These wonderful three wheeled bicycles started out approximately a hundred years ago as essential, economical and practical daily transport for tradesmen, grocers and merchants who had heavy loads to shift ,down narrow, often cobbled city streets. Two early versions were the most common, one called the “ Long John” and the other called the “ Short John”.
In Denmark they call them ‘ladcyklen’ or “Christiania Bikes”. These bikes come in many different varieties and these are a perfect alternative to a SUV or a second car, to cater to the school or daycare run if you have young children who need transporting and/or groceries that need carting home from the supermarket.
Here in The Netherlands, although they are considerably more expensive outlay compared to the usual single seater bike with a child seat attached, they are proving far more versatile than a single bike when more than one child needs transporting, are steadily gaining in popularity, are remarkably maneuverable and easy to ride and in my eyes at least: are little gems of beautiful and functional design and engineering that are delightful to look at.
In fact, I have started a small collection of bakfiets photos….
I hope to add more photos to my collection of these quirky but graceful little vehicles…. watch this space.