Sunday, August 31, 2008

Oma fiets (Granny bike)

This weekend I finally bought a bicycle. It's nothing fancy, but it's comfy and it only has to last me a year or two, so hopefully this one will do the trick. The entry level price for a cheap new bike or an OLD used bike here is about $150 Euro ($225) and they go up to $1,000 or more. I was surprised that the price was so high, mainly because you can buy a cheap bike at Wal-mart in the US for about $50. Maybe these are built better. Or maybe the demand is greater. Regardless, I can get around town like a local now. A few things I've learned in just the last day and 1/2:

1) When you're riding down a bike lane, don't be surprised if a scooter comes whizzing along and passes you. You might even get your handlebars clipped by one like I did within 3 minutes of riding my new bike home.

2) People walking on the bike paths and kids on bikes can be annoying obstacles. Now I know why I got yelled at for walking in the bike lane when I was in Amsterdam in 1997.

3) When biking down a street without a bike lane, it's a bit unnerving to have cars zipping by you - but I will say that they give you a wide berth.

4) There are a lot of things to watch out for. Pedestrians, fellow bikers, cars, and trams. And there are 3 traffic lights you have to watch (car, bike and pedestrian). Depending on the intersection you have to obey different lights.

5) Make sure you don't get your bike wheel stuck in the tram tracks

6) Wear whatever you want - from skirts to club clothes to spiked heels. Men wear suits. Anything goes.

7) People carry everything on their bikes. Other adult passengers, kids, groceries, dogs...and they do it with incredible ease - holding umbrellas, talking on cell phones. I don't know how they can balance. It's impressive.

8) Make sure you lock it up. One chain through the frame and the front wheel, and a second lock on the back wheels :-)

9) Riding a bike around is really fun. Kind of like being a kid again.

No comments: