If you’re new to the Netherlands and not used to the ingrained bicycle culture, you could be excused for seeing one of these barrels with a plunger on top and being a bit nervous. Visions of Wile E. Coyote may dance through your head.
Fear not, though, as these barrels are simply bicycle tire pumps (fietspompen). With 14 million bicycles trips made in the Netherlands each day — for work, school, shopping, and general transport — it’s not surprising that bicycle pumps are required from time to time.
Typically, most bicycle shops have a regular pump available for use if you’re out and realize your tires are getting a bit flat. However, the pumps are usually only available during opening hours. What do you do on a Sunday or when the bicycle shop is closed?
To solve that problem, Duco Douwstra, a successful taxi driver from Vleuten, has spent his own money to have these pumps placed around town. There are also tire repair kits attached to make them even more useful. To make them harder to steal, the pumps are built into barrels weighing close to 100 kilos/220 pounds.
To help pay for additional pumps and to keep them stocked, Douwstra hopes to raise funds by letting businesses purchase advertising space on the barrels. So far, I know of at least three on the eastern side of town: Janskerkhof, the corner of Biltstraat and Wittevrouwensingel (pictured), and another next to the Albert Heijn on Nachtegaalstraat. Have you seen more around town or in other cities?