I am Angela and I live in the Netherlands.
I love cycling, the city, stories, photos, people, home-baked cake, collaboration, ...
One of the nice things about working as a consultant is that it gets you to new places. Like yesterday. Together with a few colleagues we had a project meeting for the development of a new cycling plan for the Dutch province of Drenthe and I was happy to find out that the meeting took place in the provincial ‘Drents Museum’. What a marvelous place! Parts of it are a former convent, other parts were the provincial House and there is a whole new section added recently.
My colleague Ronald presented in style and overall it was a meeting in a good atmosphere.
I was lucky enough to have a bit of time to visit the museum afterwards. And I am so glad that I did. What an intriguing place! The building, together with the collection are really interesting. A mix of archaeology, art from different periods and history. And the intriguing quote ”What you own is on its way to others” by poet Willem Hussem introducing the collection of Ger van Dam (Modern Art Loppersum) who donated a collection to the museum.
It even got better as I found a few ‘bicycle treasures’ in the Museums collection and I am happy to share those with you!
Johan Cohen Gosschalk (1873 - 1912) drew these cute frogs on bikes over 100 years ago, exact date unknown.
The next one is a painting by Marinus van Raalte (1873-1944) from the 1920’s and it is called “Stadsgezicht Amsterdam” (Amsterdam Cityscape). I like how a few thin lines and the position of the person clearly represent a person cycling on the streets.
And what about this drawing of a covered wagon by Han Krug (1890 - 1977), drawn 3rd of September 1930. No, there’s no bikes on it, BUT … the drawing was made during a bike tour from the city of Breda to the city of Maastricht (>140km), somewhere between the towns of Echt and Sittard.
And the last bicycle treasure I spotted was a neat bronze sculpture by Guus Hellegers (1937).
Thank you Drents Museum, for sharing archeology, history and arts!
Two pictures show the same spot in Tilburg. One was taken 2 years ago. The other one today. So which one do you think is most recent?
When I think about the worldwide booming interest in cycling and the recognition of all its benefits for people and the society as a whole, I wished I could say that we still had that sea of bikes standing proudly in front of our station. But no, that is a picture from the past. We now have an ugly empty space. I guess that, as the station gets its reconstruction, the space will change over the next 2 years and I strongly hope it will look way better than this, as we deserve something more inspiring…
I can’t help but finding the removal of all bicycles from the street scene to high up on the platform, a bad decision. Sure, those new racks are pretty cool and the clicker system that tells how long the bikes are in the rack, to prevent having ‘orphan bikes’ in the racks, are a clever piece of technology. And the stairs to the platform, I’m sure they fit with the measures in handbooks for stair design. But still…
It is not just a matter of what you like to see in the street. It is also a strange economic decision. Of all train users, 40% arrive at the station by bike and a big portion of them use the platform. Little shops will be opened in the stations’ hall and many cyclists will not have to pass that hall as their bike is at the platform that they go to straight away. As a shopkeeper I would not want to miss those 40% potential costumers!
The same idea of empty space at the station can be seen in the promotion video for the new developments in and around it.
I count 1 bus, 2 white cars and 0 bikes. You see pedestrians, none of them has a bag, a suitcase, strollers, a wheelchair nor a folding bike. All pretty boring to me. Or maybe I should just say ‘alien’. Is it because developers of train stations think people on bikes do not spend money? I would not say so. They might have more money in their pocket, as they spend less on cars.
Once you know that the word ‘fiets’ means ‘bike’ in Dutch you will find numerous videoclips that feature musicians and different types of bicycles. I’ve spend some time to look for some examples and like to share these three here with you as they make me smile!
The first one is called ‘Fietsen’ and is made back in 2009 by the band PEP from Amsterdam. Get ready for lots of smiles, the Amsterdam atmosphere and a song in Dutch.
The next one is from Tilburg, featuring ‘Batiste en David’ who play the song ‘Hier op mijn fits’. The videoclip was taken in 2008 and have a good look at the street at 0:42. You’re looking at the spot where the first red cycle track in the Netherlands has been build back in 1979! And, oh no, it is not red any more at this spot as it is now turned into a ‘fietsstraat’, where there is no high speed and cars are guests. Again, be prepared for our language.
The third videoclip from 2013 is in English and the fun atmosphere will definitely make your day! It features Anthony’s Putsch playing ‘King of the world’.
People, music and bikes, a great combination!
A news item that has nothing to do with cycling, but the bike did come in handy here.
Groningen is also a province, in the North of the Netherlands, with the capital city being the city of Groningen. This province is important as over the years a lot of gas has been processed and this process will continue. With the revenues of the gas national projects and activities have been funded, which is of course good for our living standards.
At the same time, there are problems. Because of the processing of the gas there is significant soil subsidence and this leads to earthquakes. The first one in 1986 and a few hundred since. Maximum magnitude was 3,6 in 2012.
Many inhabitants of the province of Groningen are of course not happy with this situation, as the earthquakes damage houses and makes people feel unsafe. They feel that there is not enough being done to prevent the damage. Action group ‘Schokkend Groningen’ (Shocking Groningen) feels that the national gas company and the minister of economic affairs are responsible and should take action on the short term.
This sunday one of the protesters occupied one of the locations where the gas is being processed. And it may not surprise you that the bike played a role in the protest. The police wanted to arrest the protester, after he had cut a hole in the entrance gate and entered a forbidden area. The protester rode off on his bicycle and the police had to get on their bikes too in order to catch him. For a while a group of sympathizers blocked the road for the police with the arrested protester, but finally he was taken away in a police van.
People Habitat: 25 Ways to Think About Greener, Healthier Cities | by F. Kaid Benfield (via atlurbanist)
And that’s it!
Sweet video of international students’ life in Tilburg, made by Spanish students living in my part of the city. They start of with “So yes… bricks and bikes” and continue “The first thing that I realized when I came out of the train station… was that there are bikes everywhere… and that almost every house is made with the same brick facade”
I’m looking forward to the guest lecture I’ll give at Tilburg University next week to introduce a new group of 140 international students to our bike culture!
Tilburg was one of the first Dutch towns to build cycling-specific facilities in the late 1970s after the oil crisis, environmental concerns, traffic fatalities and other factors lead to more policy supportive of cycling. One of the first two-way tracks for cyclists was built there in 1977 but the town did not stop there. Tilburg went on to build a cycling network and worked to keep car traffic minimal in the center of town.
Now, more than 35 years later, the city needs a fresh ambition, as there is so much potential to raise the numbers of cyclists further and with that make our city cleaner, quieter and safer. In november I was invited to share my views and give examples of what needs to be done. In my opinion, we need to put cyclists in the centre of our thinking when we work on urban mobility. Also, we need to keep on thinking about door-to-door mobility if we want to keep on facilitating young and old to use the bike to go to school, work, visit friends, go shopping, etc. Lastly we need to promote cycling in a nice manner, at the same time showing how normal it is to use your bike to get around. I hope 2014 will bring some nice new challenges and ideas for cycling in my city!