I Don’t Want Your BMW, Give Me A Bicycle Instead!

The cold rainy and breezy weather, the strange-sounding Dutch language, the tram and metro (forms of public transit), indeed most things about life in Amsterdam is becoming my new normal. It’s interesting how I was intrigued by virtually everything when my husband and I first came here seven weeks ago.  After living here for a few weeks, not much intrigues me anymore. I can even speak a little Dutch here and there, enough to brag but not enough to carry on a meaningful conversation. One thing that still continues to intrigue me though, is the use of bicycles in this city.

The bicycle is king in the city of Amsterdam. I am still amazed and impressed with  not just the number of bicycles I see on the streets but  with the dexterity with which the natives ride. I have seen children as young as six or seven (riding without helmets) and adults probably as old as eighty ride on the streets. No one is left out. It’s just a way of life here. It seems to be the most common form of transportation. There are lanes on the road, dedicated to bicycles and cyclists, (I hope it’s okay to call them that), have their own traffic light system  well. I see more bicycle parks than car parks.

Yes, bicycles in Amsterdam continue to intrigue me. My first few weeks of being here, I only took pictures of bicycles! Even after spending almost two months in this beautiful city, I just can’t seem to get used to the sight of a mum picking her two or three children from school with a bakfiet which is a modified bicycle with a sort of “wagon” in front for little children to seat. I just think it’s really neat.

Now, I have also seen some other interesting things like beautiful cars (much smaller cars than I’m used to seeing in the United States). I learned that driving manual Cars is the standard here as opposed to automatics. I see beautiful BMWs and Peugeots either passing by or parked on the street and being charged (electric cars or hybrid) yet none of that interests me as much as seeing young people  “zoom by” with their bicycles. There aren’t many ways to drive a BMW, you just simply drive; but I see people do amazing things with a bicycle here. I never knew it was normal to ride bicycles  without holding the steer. Some people even text on their phones while still pedalling the bike all the way! I know it’s crazy but that’s the kind of crazy people do here everyday – young and old.

Well, in case you are wondering about my bicycle rambling, it’s just that, when a beautiful BMW drives past me, I don’t bat an eyelid but when a bicycle goes past me, I suddenly feel like I’m deprived! Here I am on foot, walking from the metro station or tram stop to my house and some other fortunate individual is riding on a bicycle. Ok, I know this is completely loony but honestly, I am jealous of all these bicycle riders.

Recently, I started thinking of how my “overnight love” for bicycles reminds me of how married people develop feelings for people they aren’t married too. Mary is married to John and thinks she has a good or OK marriage, until she starts to see how James holds hands with his wife in public, displays affection towards her and speaks sweet and glowing words about her. Then, Mary starts to question her own husband’s love for her. “Why won’t my husband hold my hands in public? Why won’t he open the car door for me? Why doesn’t he take me out often? Why doesn’t he help to change the baby’s diaper like James helps his wife? Why doesn’t he love me as much? Why didn’t I marry a man like James?”. Ladies, we find it easy to compare our husband to other men but that isn’t fair. Always remember, in as much as your husband chose you, you also chose him. You could have married anyone but you married him. If there are things you would like him to do that he isn’t doing currently, speak to him about it in love. Don’t suddenly lose sight of all the good in your husband and focus only on his shortcomings. Doing so might make you jealous of another woman just like I’m jealous of bicycle riders now.

Okay, back to my bicycle obsession… I told my husband that I would like to ride bikes too while we are here so I don’t have to get groceries on foot (nice excuse right?). Well, he declined due to safety concerns.  His reason was that I had never ridden a bicycle before.  Being married to a loving, caring and logical husband can be tough when you just want to do crazy adventurous stuff like jump out of a plane or ride a bicycle in this crazy bike world that Amsterdam is.  I continue to tender my “bicycle proposal” and make a case for it. I can feel his resistance slowly waning (yay!).

We will be going to visit my brother who lives in Germany soon. He’s promised to give me a crash course in bicycle-riding. This weekend might be my big moment. My dream to ride a bicycle in Amsterdam might come through all depending on what happens this weekend. Keep your fingers crossed and wish me luck!

 

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Did You Ride Bicycles Growing Up? Let us know!

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