Local Heart, Global Soul

November 12, 2016

Way More Than Fair Weather Friends…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

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.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

 

August 20, 2016

This “Cargo Bike” Sports Some Serious Grunt…

Regular readers will know that I like quirky things, and that “different” modes of transport have often featured on the pages of this blog. In this instance, in the main courtyard Burg Satzvey castle in Mechernich, I find another vehicle to add to my collection. This time it is a tractor that’s been adapted to look and function like a typical Dutch “Bakfiets” (Cargo bike), with a front end attachment that can be used for hauling all manner of items. I assume that with the power of a tractor behind it, this vehicle can manage  everything from carting in wine cellar supplies to branches from tree trimming around the grounds. It’s a brilliant idea and I managed a good few photographs as the driver went past us, busy with his work.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Burg Satzvey Castle / Mechernich / Germany

April 10, 2015

Taking Your Bed, And Fridge For A Bike Ride…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Since I’m not very mobile I found myself sorting through some archive folders on my hard drive.

It’s rather funny that I came across some photographs to do with moving house, because these photographs were taken over four years ago when our friends “The Traveling Two” (link to their website at the bottom of this post) were moving house. (Photograph posted with permission).

The funny thing is that this couple moved again only last week, so these photographs are, kind of relevant once again.

The Netherlands is a densely populated country where in the large cities it can be common to not own a car.

If you are moving house or need to move a large appliance a short distance, you would need to hire a van, but that too can be problematic because not everyone has a driver’s licence.

In a country that’s famous for it’s bicycles there is however another option to solve this problem: a bakfiets that’s made especially for transporting large goods. In the time when my Dutch father was a child in the Hague, these were commonplace in cities because so few people owned a car, but these days they are a rarer sight. When our friends shifted house the first time, Family Kiwidutch came to take a look, Himself to help with the loading up, me to take photographs and our children of course to cage a lift, enjoying a ride around the block once the refrigerator had been moved.

Here’s to moving house…  With a bakfiets, Dutch style!

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

travellingtwo

February 20, 2014

Convoy, Dutch Style…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

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…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

March 25, 2011

Free-Wheeling in Amsterdam…

Filed under: Places and Sights,THE NETHERLANDS — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
Tags: , , , , ,

(photograph © kiwidutch)

Few populations in the world use bicycles for everyday transport as much as the Dutch.

With high population density and flat terrain,  The Netherlands has long recognised the social, physical and economic benefits of using bikes, especially within big cities.

It’s hard to find any street anywhere in Amsterdam that doesn’t have any bikes on it, so snapping a small selection was not particularly hard at all.

There are even traffic lights for bikes, they are about a meter high and feature, naturally enough: red, orange and green bikes in standard traffic light  form.

The reason these are lower than regular traffic lights is so that  you can press the button in the box next to it and if there is not already a bevy of cyclists around the pole, then you can lean against it without having to take your feet off the peddles whilst you wait for the light to go green.

Even the local window washers  use two wheeled transport to take their ladders from street to street, although in this case, some repair to their flat tyres would make lighter work of it.

There are also plenty of cargo bikes (bakfiets) around, pervious posts to feature these are: https://kiwidutch.wordpress.com/2009/07/22/another-cool-bakfiets/ and https://kiwidutch.wordpress.com/2009/07/08/peddle-power-people-carriers-the-bakfiets/ .

It’s estimated that there are more than 700. 000  bicycles in Amsterdam, so come on, let’s take a look at a few of them…

(photograph © kiwidutch)

(photograph © kiwidutch)

(photograph © kiwidutch)

(photograph © kiwidutch)

(photograph © kiwidutch)

(photograph © kiwidutch)

(photograph © kiwidutch)

(photograph © kiwidutch)

(photograph © kiwidutch)

(photograph © kiwidutch)

(photograph © kiwidutch)

(photograph © kiwidutch)

(photograph © kiwidutch)

(photograph © kiwidutch)

(photograph © kiwidutch)

(photograph © kiwidutch)

July 22, 2009

More Cool Bakfiets…

Filed under: On yer Bike!,PHOTOGRAPHY,THE NETHERLANDS — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
Tags: , ,

More cool bakfiets for my collection… I’ve been taking lots of photos lately whilst out and about, and literally making photos whilst the sun shines. Heck remembering that this is the Netherlands, famous for their very very fickle summers: so I should phrase that more accurately: taking photos whilst daylight exisits… the winters are long and if not dark, then a very decent shade of grey. Consequently, I’m now need to urgently spend some serious time sorting photos out before the hard drive on my computer has an anurism from the sheer volume. ( I don’t even want to think about that) please bear with me, many more photo treats are on the way!

bakfiets (photo © kiwidutch)

bakfiets (photo © kiwidutch)

(photo © kiwidutch)

(photo © kiwidutch)

(photo © kiwidutch)

(photo © kiwidutch)

July 8, 2009

Peddle Power People Carriers, the Bakfiets…

Bakfiets (photo © kiwidutch)

Bakfiets (photo © kiwidutch)

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….

Bakfiets (photo © kiwidutch)

Bakfiets (photo © kiwidutch)

Bakfiets (photo © kiwidutch)

Bakfiets (photo © kiwidutch)

Bakfiets (photo © kiwidutch)

Bakfiets (photo © kiwidutch)

Bakfiets (photo © kiwidutch)

Bakfiets (photo © kiwidutch)

I hope to add more photos to my collection of these quirky but graceful little vehicles…. watch this space.

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