Here begins my new walking challenge – 30 minutes a day plus a theme to photograph. My first subject was bicycles – pretty easy in the Netherlands – or so you’d think. Isn’t it always the way, when you want to find something specific there are none to be found.
Okay, not strictly true, I saw hundreds of bikes, literally hundreds. You just have to pass one school to see hundreds. I wanted to find interesting bikes, unusual bikes, bikes that can accommodate 1 adult and 4 children, or 10 children! Recumbent bikes, racing teams, tandems, delivery bikes – I see all of these every day, at least that’s what it felt like. But when armed with a camera I see a lot of ‘normal’ bikes. Well, normal for the Netherlands. British bus stops don’t look like this:
People customise their bikes so that they can easily spot them in a crowd.
But they don’t over do it otherwise others will spot them too, and steal them!
Cycling in the Netherlands is fantastic. Everything is in place – cycle lanes, signs, laws. If a car hits a cyclist the driver pays, no matter what the circumstances and whose fault it was. The law is set up to protect the cyclist. Dutch drivers give plenty of room to bikes, and preempt problems. Dutch drivers are also cyclists, or ex-cyclists, or parents of cyclists. As a nation they are aware.
They are also really good at it. Hardly anyone wears a cycle helmet. Why do I need a cycle helmet? they ask. Incase you fall off. Why am I going to fall off? Falling off doesn’t really resonate with them, it’s not what they do. And they have incredible balance. I remember watching in disbelief as my husband, a then smoker, sat back in his saddle to roll a cigarette on his thigh having searched his back pockets for his tobacco and papers, and then searched his front pockets for a lighter, all the while not touching the handlebars and still going faster than me.
If you ever come to the Netherlands – hire a bike. It is a joy to cycle here. It’s flat, though if the wind blows hard you will know it, and it’s safe, and it’s fun.
It was a good theme to start with. My subject for the coming week is ‘the holly and the ivy’ – suitably festive and also one of my favorite carols.
Remember, if you want to suggest a theme please do.