Sunday, July 01 2007 @ 01:50 PM EDT
Contributed by: B' Spokes
(82 pictures of bicycles taken during 73 minutes on 9/12/06 in Amsterdam, Netherlands)
[What I found interesting was the collection of multiple riders on a bike, it seems hitching a ride on a friends bike is not uncommon in Amsterdam.]
1. Formally Dressed Bicyclists - A whole set of Amsterdam bicyclists can be seen dressed very formally, like suit and tie for men, and dresses for women. NOBODY in San Francisco ever bicycles in a suit and tie, or in dress. But during this one hour photo shoot, I saw 20 or more incredibly well dressed bicyclists meander by.
2. Multiple Riders on One Bike - With or without any extra seats or foot-pegs for the extra riders, you will see 1 or 2 or even 3 extra passengers side-saddle, balancing precariously, standing, sitting, whatever it takes so they can hitch a ride with a buddy or parent. This is so common I had to stop taking pictures of it because it would prevent me from capturing some of the other trends. Almost 50 percent of the bicycles I saw had more than 1 person on them. In San Francisco the only time you would ever see two passengers is a small child on the back in a $300 government approved safety chair, and the child would be wearing a helmet (because it's the LAW). Click here for an unrelated rant on helmet laws. Which brings us to the next difference......
3. No Helmets EVER - It is amazing to me coming from San Francisco, land of 100 percent helmet covered heads, but in all of Amsterdam (population 750,000) there is not one bicycle helmet found anywhere in the city. Not ONE!! Contrast this with San Francisco, for anybody under the age of 18, there is a Mandatory Helmet Law, and everybody above 18 wears helmets anyway. Now faced with this shocking disparity, I think any reasonable person must come to the conclusion that either the people in Netherlands do not value the safety of their children, or San Francisco bicyclists are clumsy pansies with soft heads and weak minds that must be protected from hurting themselves no matter how much it infringes on individual rights. Click here for an unrelated rant on helmet laws.
4. Dogs on Bikes - Amsterdam bicyclists seem to commonly bring their furry friends along with them on the bicycle rides. I think that's nice.
5. Human Powered Generator (Dynamo) Bicycle Light - This one really does mystify me, some of the other trends more more sense to me. EVERY bicycle in Amsterdam is outfitted with a dynamo powered head lamp, where the rider has to pump extra super hard and the head lamp shines dimly. If you are younger than 35 years old, you probably have never seen one of these in the USA, we have very bright headlamps for bicycles that add much less weight and do not increase resistance. I haven't seen a single dynamo powered bicycle in San Francisco in over 20 years. Once I saw a "Simpsons" (animated comedy) episode where Bart turned on his dynamo bicycle headlamp and could barely make forward progress-> in the USA these dynamo powered headlamps are considered a JOKE, but almost a quarter million bicycles in Amsterdam all have them.
6. Spectacular Gigantic Unbreakable Security Chains - Almost all of the bicycles in Amsterdam are what I would call "beaters", which means they are beaten up, scraped, bent, out of tune, and have bad paint jobs. At the same time, all these beaters have these GIGANTIC security chains that look like they should be the chain on the anchor of an oil tanker ship. The ton of high tensile, military hardened steel in each security chain must be worth more than the bicycle it is keeping safe! The only other type of bicycle lock was a type of sliding circular rear wheel lock that was once sold in the USA (I owned one when I was 10 years old). The circular sliding read wheel locks lost popularity in the USA because they offer almost no security at all: 1) the criminal can always lift the bike and walk away with it, and 2) it is always easy to "guess" the combination. Strange dichotomy of lock choices in Amsterdam.
7. ....And More... - Several other trends are shown in the pictures below, including bicycles are commonly painted one big bright aftermarket color, Amsterdam residents like using their cell phones while riding their bikes, many bikes are outfitted with big buckets on the front for serious industrial deliveries, and there is a whole trend of this "small frame" bicycles with "untraditional" proportions (very small wheels and then very tall seats to make up for it). You can view the pictures below to get an idea.