Local Heart, Global Soul

August 10, 2019

A Bike Style Revival…

Also dotted around the Garderen Sand Sculpture Exhibition in 2017 were a selection of bicycles. Added as part of several displays, these instantly made me point my lens in their direction, the images headed for my arty reference and inspiration files. The wear and tear are part of the charm, and bikes with this sort of front parcel carrier have made a huge comeback as “every day” bikes here in the Netherlands. I think they are not just practical but also beautiful!

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

April 30, 2010

So how many people can ya cram on a bike in Hanmer Springs?

Filed under: NEW ZEALAND,PHOTOGRAPHY — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
Tags: , , ,

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

We are back in Hanmer Springs, in the South Island of New Zealand…

One day we decide to hire one of the tourist bikes from the company located in the center of the village for a spin.

These aren’t “regular” bikes as you might know them, these are  a bicycle built for 2…. or 3, or 4 or 6 !

The guy behind the counter advises us to take the smaller single (bench seat) one instead of the  bigger double bench seater versions because we are only two adults cycling, there’s no set of peddles in the middle  for big kid (but she can barely reach them anyway so no loss there) and little kid will be sitting in the metal basket seat at the front.

Apparently these can be harder to peddle than they look  (Yes, I can attest that that’s certainly true!) so the recommendation was to get the smallest one of these that you can get away with.

That turned out to be a VERY good recommendation.  Everybody knows where the big hill is in Hanmer, but guess what, the rest of the township sits on gently undulating land.. and some of it steeper than you first thought, until your wildly protesting leg  muscles remind you.

Never say that you haven’t been warned, this bike is a workout!  Forget Spin class or a 5 km run, this will have your legs shaking once you get off.  One valuable hint: it goes better the more adults you have to peddle them.

Whilst all peddles link to the chain drive, and there are two sets of little steering wheels in the front row, only one of these works, the other is a “dummy”, a fake!

Yes, it turns, but isn’t linked to anything.  Mr Kiwidutch, unbeknownst to me, was  forewarned about this fact  and  promptly secured himself the set that did work, so I was left to unwittingly discover that no matter what I did with my steering wheel that it was all to no avail. (much to Himselfs glee at my frustration and initial ignorance since I thought for the first minutes that I was driving  this thing and that something must be wrong).

It’s a work-out but a fun one… the kids thought it was hilarious, roaring throughout the ride “Mama, Papa…  Faster, FASTER!!!” .. leaving us all breathless by the end of the hire time.

March 11, 2010

When lack of space means a multi-tasking building site…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

In most big cities, when renovation or construction is necessary, space is always needed for trucks to unload, bulldozers to work, cranes to maneuver, rubble to be removed etc.

If the building site is on a busy street, then there is the added problem of not cutting off traffic routes.

In The Hague, on the Escamplaan, close to Naarderstraat, there is a building site that not only has to contend with keeping the road free, but also the cycle-paths as well.

And  then for added headache there is a tram line running  down the centre of the Escamplaan and a tram halt right by the building site, so a steady stream of pedestrian traffic as well.

So what happens when you are already short of space but still need to place your site office somewhere and the coffee/lunch area for the site workers?

The answer is simple:  you multi-task the space that you have.

Here is a series of photographs to show you just how this is done: on the top of each of these constructions are the site office and (I suppose) the space for the workers to have lunch in, and below, the  cycle path, that pedestrians can temporarily share.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

If you can read the sign it says ” wielrijders afstappen” which translates rather literally as “wheel riders step down” and  means that mopeds, cyclists and bromfietsers are supposed to walk their vehicles whilst negotiating though this… but did a single one whilst I was taking these photos?   Ha! Not a chance!

It’s ingenuity at it’s best… a compromise and a solution all in one.

The kind of solution that I like a lot…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

January 14, 2010

Landmarks in Den Haag (The Hague) Cyclist battling wind Statue…

Filed under: PHOTOGRAPHY,The Hague — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
Tags: , , , , , , ,

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Here is a very short post just to show you an interesting place in the city I live in… On the corner of Vondelstraat and Elandstraat in the Hague there stands a little statue.

Everyone knows it, and loves it but no one I know knows any story or history to go with it… just a piece of Art? Well, the person who made this one was inspired.. this so sums up Dutch cycling some days.

The Netherlands is a very flat and windy place, close to the sea, so it should come as no surprise that they say that it averages 360 windy days a year here. Of course naturally enough it’s not raging a gale every day, but yes, some days the wind is strong and yes some days you will see some brave souls cycling with one hand on the handlebars and the other hanging grimly onto an umbrella.

I love this whimsical statue.. it sums up a lot about Dutch attitudes to bikes, and whilst I am a detail fanatic, I find this to be both detailed and very simple at the same time,

Everything that needs to be conveyed is done so in simplicity and beauty.. it depicts reality and whimsy at the same  time. People ” get” and relate to it.

I couldn’t find any official name or sculpter, so can’t give credit where it is due. But I love it all the same, and if I am on the tram, even if I have my head in a book, when I know I am getting close to it, I always raise my head to take another look and it always makes me smile.

I hope you enjoy my little cyclist battling the wind and rain with their umbrella’s as much as I do.

Here is another photo that I took of it in the summer, when they were working on the road… you’ll see that the “cyclist” and their child passenger are both holding umbrellas, they are depicted very flat and they are bent so far under their umbrellas  that you would have to go up close and look underneath to see that neither of them actually have heads !

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

July 29, 2009

So… … On ya bike !

Filed under: PHOTOGRAPHY — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
Tags: , , , ,

(photo © kiwidutch)

(photo © kiwidutch)

Why do the Dutch have such an amazing love of the bicycle? Well for starters, the county is so flat that one of the national jokes translates into English: “The Netherlands is so flat: if you dropped a marble at one end of the country, it would roll to the other side ” .

As is completely normal in the majority of European towns and cities, the streets in the centers are often narrow, winding and difficult to navigate with modern day modes of transportation in large numbers. These cities took form centuries ago, horses, carriages or wagons were the largest forms of transport and most of the population got around on foot. Bricks or cobbles lined the streets and large areas reserved for things like car parks were strangely absent in the minds of the city planners of the 15th to 19th centuries.

Of course these days, cars pack the highways… in fact traffic jams are not even reported if they are less than 3 kms (1 mile) long, and traffic jams between large cities often reach more than 25kms in length.

Add to that, that not all Dutch even own a car ( they are very expensive to buy, insure and pay road taxes on and after lot are paid, the petrol /gas prices will make you weep) Therefore it’s little wonder that Public Transport in this small country of 17 million people is indeed well used.

Trams, trains and buses provide the bulk of Dutch public transport, but if you commute to you work by train for instance, how do you get quickly and easily to the station? And from your end station to your workplace?

(photo © kiwidutch)

(photo © kiwidutch)

The solution is simple: you have two bicycles.. one that you take from home to the Station, (and leave locked there for the day) and another one parked up and locked at your journey’s end waiting to take you to your work. At the end of the working day you reverse the modes of transports, so in the Netherlands it is normal every day to see literally thousands of cyclists on the move on every cities “ fietspads” (cycleways).

“Parking” at stations is 90% for cycles and about 10% for cars ( the car spaces are usually for 30 minute parking only).

No skinny lightweight racing cycles here… the bricks and cobbles will eat a ten-speed for breakfast without crewing and spit them out… no, the Dutch opt for sturdy bikes, workhorses of the morning commute, able to stand up to the bone shaking bricked streets…

I’ve started yet another photographic theme: The Dutch and their bikes…

(photo © kiwidutch)

(photo © kiwidutch)

….Some of them are painted all bright colours… personal taste? possibly…. but more likely it’s so that they can find their bike at the station in amongst the zillions…

(photo © kiwidutch)

(photo © kiwidutch)

Blog at WordPress.com.