Thursday, April 23

In the Land of Bikes

*original writing date: 12 March 2006*

There is no doubt about it, we live in the land of bikes. Sometimes, in transit to Emma's school when we've missed a bus and have some time on our hands, we have a count-the-cars-and-bikes contest, just to see if our observation can be backed up by statistics. From our very scientific study--sitting on a bus stop bench and counting out loud-- Emma and I have determined that bikes rule.

Our first counting poll indicated that in a 10 minute period, 101 bikes passed our bus stop, but only 47 cars. The second time we tried our counting, it was a 15 minute period and we were passed by 86 cars and 151 bikes! (Lately, we’ve been arriving at the bus stop in a timely manner and so haven’t been twiddling our thumbs. I mean to say, we haven’t had opportunity to continue our study.) Our findings show that all can rest assured that the bicycle is boss here in Holland.

There are three levels of biking here. First, you have your standard, peddle it yourself bike: the “fiets”. This is powered only by your own strength and stamina. I have commented before on the strength and stamina of the average Dutch person who can strap on myriad number of items and/or children to the bicycle and ride for hours on end. Even after six months here and taking this as the norm, it is still a marvel.

Next, there is what I've heard called the “broomfiets” (pronounced: Broam-feets) which is a regular peddle it yourself bike outfitted with a small motor, so when your strength and stamina just aren’t enough, you can rely on the motor to power you onward.

The third level of all things fiets is the Brommer (pronounced brrroam-errrr) which is your full-on Vespa or Moped kind of thing. These machines though fully motor powered enjoy all the benefits and shortcuts of the ‘level one’ bikes. Brommers are not my favorite. Or rather I should say there are some brommer drivers who do not make the list of my favorite things. It is not uncommon to be mowed over by an inconsiderate brommer driver while pedaling along in the bike lane.

But that should be a whine for another day.

The best thing about bikes as travel is that life is lived at the speed of transport. My life is paced by the cadence my legs power my bike. As a result I am never rushed, I am merely moving as fast as I can.

And that speed is just right for me.


  1. How I wish we lived in a more bike friendly culture. I love your and Emma's experiment.

  2. yes, the Dutch are the kings and queens of the bikes. And we all envy their marvellous bike roads across the country side.