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.
(photo via Het Utrechts Archief)
This photo from 1959 shows the Janskerkhof during one of the weekly Saturday flower markets. That aspect hasn’t changed at all and it’s a stunningly beautiful spot to hold a flower market. In the shadow of the church and the trees throughout the square, the flowers in the market are just gilding on this historic space.
I love the hustle and bustle and bursts of color that fill the space on Saturdays, but I also love the serenity of the area on a quiet Sunday morning, when the only remains of the market are a few fallen flower petals and a new bouquet at the feet of the Anne Frank statue in front of the church. My present-day photos were taken on one of these quiet Sunday mornings. To be honest, I was interested in the row of bikes and the scooter that day. I only saw the old photo of the spot recently and knew I already had a comparison photo.
The area today looks much as it does in that photo from 1959, though they’ve gotten rid of most car parking in the square in recent years, though you will see the odd scooter. Even the lamp and bicycles look much the same, though the bikes now face the other direction to allow for a separated bicycle lane. Today, you’re just as likely to see people walking away with the same bouquets of flowers as cycling away, with flowers in hand, under the arm, or in bags or baskets. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen someone leaving the market with a small potted tree strapped upright onto the back of their bicycle.
I had meant to stick with the bike theme all week, but the number of links I was collecting for that museum story was getting overwhelming. Add in that yesterday was the Cetraal Museum’s 175th anniversary, and I just had to finally write that post. Unfortunately, I think I’ve used up all of my writing mojo for the week between work and yesterday’s post, so the more content-heavy bike post I had in mind will have to wait. So instead, here are a few more stylishly painted bicycles seen around town. Some are quite well done, while others gain points for creativity rather than execution.
I suppose this could be considered the Dutch equivalent of a high-viz jacket/vest. The person riding this bike certainly won’t go unseen. Trust me, the photo doesn’t even begin to do justice to the retina-searing shade of neon pink that is this bicycle. The fact that it seems to perfectly match the decorative flowers is simply pink icing on on the cake.
Still, for those who were lamenting their inability to recreate yesterday’s rainbow bike, this should give you hope. Just start spraying. Who cares if you happen to paint the tires, lights, locks …