If you’re walking, or better yet, cycling around Utrecht, you may start noticing more and more of these signs. Despite my photo, which was taking in strong morning sunlight, the green numbers positively glow, even from a distance. This is one of a pair that has gone up in the last month or so by Voorstraat and even in the nearby park, I can see the bright red and green of one of the signs from a fair distance.
What are they, you may ask? They’re bicycle parking signs. More specifically, they show primarily how many parking spots are available in various designated parking areas. And yes, I do mean bicycles and not cars. Keizerstraat refers to a smaller parking lot that primarily serves university students, particularly those going to the library, which is part of the building in the background. UB Plein is a larger, underground parking area in the University Library’s courtyard area. The station refers to the train station, which has space for around 30,000 bicycles at the station, with additional areas nearby for alternative options. The Centrum parking I’m not exactly sure about. I know that on weekends they set up temporary bicycle parking lots at Neude and in other areas, but I’m not sure if this is referring to a more permanent location.
Still, the numbers shown on this early Sunday morning gives you a small idea of the volume of bicycles in the city. This also doesn’t account for all the free-range bicycle parking you see everywhere, along with the smaller neighborhood bike racks. These signs are more for parking while you’re commuting, shopping, or studying. Even with all of the parking available, there seems to always be a need for more. Like the old Field of Dreams quote says, “If you build it, they will come.”
Wednesday, I showed you a bakfiets, useful for carting around kids, groceries, pets, household goods, etc. The ability to transport more than just yourself from place to place is an important part of making cycling an everyday mode of transport, rather than just a sport. Of course, if a regular bakfiets is a bit too big for your needs, you can always go with something a bit more streamlined. Plenty of space for groceries and small pets in that plastic bucket on the bike above.
However, if you’re regularly transporting large items, you might need something with a bit more storage space. Fortunately, there’s a bike for that. Who needs a truck when you’ve got the bakfiets XL!
I’ve seen these used for a variety of purposes. Cornering might be a bit more difficult, but you can certainly fit plenty of stuff in there!
However, many of us make do with a normal bike and a regular basket up front and/or saddle bags on the back. It’s surprising just how much you can get on a regular omafiets. And for the slightly bulkier or more awkward items like brooms and storage containers? Well, just hang on to them like these women are doing.
As today is Earth Day, what better time to celebrate the oh-so-useful bakfiets. Obviously, it’s environmentally friendly, requiring only pedal power. No fossil fuels required for daily running. More importantly, for anyone who complains about cycling not being convenient when you have to do lots of shopping, carting around kids, etc., here’s a handy solution. (Although, anyone who does complain hasn’t seen just how many people and shopping bags the average Dutch person can fit on a regular bicycle.) One day I saw a family of five and a dog on one bakfiets. It can be done.
The bakfiets is used for everything from the daily school run to moving home. Seriously! With a bit of rope and some extra hands, the bakfiets is surprisingly useful when moving just about anything, judging from some of the things I’ve seen carted around town on one, including potted trees and mattresses.
And as the one pictured here shows, you can add your own personal touch to the paint job, making it easier to find and perhaps less likely to be stolen. Plus, it just looks so much cooler than a minivan.
I remember visiting my grandparents in Daytona Beach during Bike Week, when hundreds, nay, thousands, of motorcyclists would invade the city, roaring up and down the streets. There was no missing their arrival! I’m not going anywhere in particular with that snippet of information. It’s more of a stream-of-consciousness thing. The memory simply popped into my head when I thought of doing a “bike week” here on my blog. In my case, Bike Week will be a series of photos of bicycles here in Utrecht that have caught my eye for one reason or another. But there will be a few motorcycles included in the pictures. For example, I enjoyed the pairing of this motorcycle and bicycle. Despite being a red BMW, it looks a bit dull in spots, whereas the bicycle looks nice and shiny. Still, it’s a nice looking motorcycle. Not all bicycles here look as shiny and nice. In fact, plenty are pretty beat up, and I’ve heard some rattle so much that they would give a motorcycle a run for its money in the noise department. So, if you like pictures of bicycles, stick around this week. If not, I’ll try to return to my usual posts of pretty streets in the sun, old buildings, and cats soon enough.