— This put up is a part of BikePortland Workers Author Taylor Griggs’ journey by way of Europe. See earlier dispatches right here.
Okay, I feel that is going to be my final story about The Netherlands for now. I actually liked it, particularly Amsterdam, as I’m positive is obvious from my tales this week, however I feel I’ve exhausted my capability to put in writing about this explicit nation in the meanwhile. Plus, I’ve simply arrived in Copenhagen, so I ought to in all probability attempt to cease serious about Amsterdam for some time and take note of my environment right here.
Within the articles I’ve written from Utrecht and Amsterdam, I mentioned a number of matters concerning the infrastructure (and in addition recounted my bother with the regulation). However I noticed I haven’t actually written about my precise expertise on a motorcycle! So, right here’s what I assumed concerning the brass tacks of the Dutch bicycling expertise.
The bike itself
Except for my new electrical bike, I’ve solely ridden hybrid bikes with a minimum of seven speeds since I finished utilizing coaching wheels. I like to keep up a comparatively upright posture, however not a lot that I really feel like Miss Gulch in The Wizard of Oz. That’s form of how I felt driving the Dutch-style bikes I rented in The Netherlands, and it took some getting used to — particularly the braking system.
The rental store provided bikes with hand brakes for a number of extra Euros, however I needed to see if I might determine the coaster brakes, so I opted for the cheaper one. At first, this was tough, and together with attracting the eye of regulation enforcement, I additionally nearly crashed right into a parked automotive and several other different issues as a result of I forgot tips on how to cease. However as soon as I acquired used to it, I noticed I really like this manner of braking for touring round flat areas.
I’m susceptible to overusing my entrance brake whereas biking in Portland as a result of I’m utilizing my proper hand to take images, which is de facto not ultimate. With coaster brakes, you should utilize your fingers much more freely with out risking flipping over the handlebars. Now, I don’t suppose this is able to work for me in locations the place it’s good to climb up and down hills any steeper than a canal bridge (sure, fixie individuals, I do know!), however in Amsterdam it makes full sense.
I feel it’s form of old style to sit down utterly upright on a motorcycle (these bikes are sometimes called ‘omafiets,’ or ‘grandma bikes’), however the Dutch are in a position to pull it off with fashion. This posture undoubtedly permits you to gown in additional restrictive clothes whereas biking, so it’s excellent for individuals commuting to work.
Finally, this fashion of motorbike is ideal for flat Amsterdam, however there’s a purpose individuals in Portland have their most well-liked options. I don’t hate it, although!
Most Dutch bikes make the most of a multi-prong locking system. The ring lock (a.ok.a wheel lock) component lets you lock simply your again wheel, stopping individuals from shortly driving off with it while you simply wish to depart it alone for a bit bit or can’t discover something to lock it to (a standard downside with the amount of bikes within the nation). For extra safety, you should utilize a sequence bike lock that’s mounted to the bike to lock it to a rack.
Locals will let you know there’s an enormous downside with bike theft in Amsterdam, however there are such a lot of bikes within the metropolis that if somebody desires to steal one, they’re not going to take it if they will’t shortly experience away on it. And I need to say that with the variety of costly City Arrows and VanMoofs I noticed parked on the streets late at night time, individuals should both really feel assured it gained’t get stolen or be prepared to purchase a brand new one if it does.
Finally, I’m in all probability simply going to maintain utilizing my u-lock in Portland — I’m too paranoid to depart my bike untethered to an immovable object. However for some added safety, possibly the ring lock methodology ought to get some traction within the U.S.?
The bike tradition
I used to be a bit afraid I’d stick out like a sore thumb in Europe with my American biking habits, however I feel I managed to determine tips on how to roll with the group fairly simply. The one considerably damaging interplay I had, apart from my dialog with the cops, was in Utrecht when a person who needed to cross me on a motorcycle path gently pushed me out of his approach with out saying a phrase. I didn’t fall over and it didn’t even appear mean-spirited, however it was unusual!
In any other case, individuals used their bells to speak, which is one thing I feel we should extra absolutely embrace within the U.S. The one downside is that with all of the automotive site visitors in Portland, it may be arduous to listen to a bell ringing.
It was nice to see individuals of all ages driving their bikes, wanting relaxed as a substitute of continually burdened about security. And I don’t suppose I noticed a single soul sporting a helmet — it’s not crucial!
So, onwards I’m going on my journey. Thanks for studying my dispatches to date, and hopefully you don’t get bored with them, as a result of I plan to maintain them coming.
Taylor has been BikePortland’s workers author since November 2021. She has additionally written for Avenue Roots and Eugene Weekly. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org