zondag 11 september 2011

De wereld van Witte de With in Rotterdam

This is an international arts festival which is held every second weekend of September in Rotterdam. There are a lot of creative arts designed by European artists, music, etc. so there is no time to experience boredom. Since I am thinking of writing about not having a bicycle in a bicycle infested country like The Netherlands, I found a connection in one of the features of the arts festival.

Click photo album and short video
Short video  (at the 41st second of the video, you can view recycling of bikes)

Living in a land of bicycles without having a bicycle
The Netherlands is a country where bicycle is a common mode of transportation. I’ve been living here for some years but I don’t bike anymore. I know how to bike but I prefer walking far distances or taking a public transportation which is efficient, anyway. The first time I started living here, my friend gave me a second hand bike. It is a type of bike called by the Dutch as an “oma fiets “, a big, heavy one with a higher saddle and with foot brakes. However, I was more comfortable with hand brakes. We tried to make the saddle lower but it  was at its  lowest. I remember I used to tiptoe to touch the ground when I hit the brakes. It was not that convenient but I managed using the bike until one day in autumn, there was a very strong wind. Together with the heavy bike, I got  carried by the wind and almost fell in a Dutch canal. I tried to hit the foot brake but could not manage it at all. Luckily there was  a big tree which stood in my way so while I was being pushed into the canal, I turned the handle bars swiftly straight to the tree so the wheels hit the big tree instead. It was better than falling in a canal knowing I could only swim a bit. It worked, I stopped with a thud and arrived safely at home although a bit shaken by the incident. After a while, AndrĂ© bought me a brand new modern Batavus bike. I used it in going to a Dutch training centre where I studied the Dutch language. One afternoon as I was biking home, there was a young man who overtook another biker. He did not see me coming the other way and we had a frontal collision. I found myself lying on the ground with bruises on my knees and a damaged bike where the front wheel was bent from the impact. It was repaired and I biked again like any other foreigner trying to live the Dutch way. Within a certain period of time, AndrĂ© bought a scooter. I suddenly had an excuse not to bike often and only used my bike in going to school and for some errands. Later on, our scooter became my saving grace because we started using it in buying groceries, going to villlages/cities, etc. When I started working, I got a subsidy for public transportation. From then on, I used my bike  lesser until recently, my old bike ended up in a garbage pile. Nowadays, I only use a stationary bike in the gym during a group lesson. Aside from the usual bicycle, Dutch  people are very creative and innovative in finding ways to create an efficient bike. I’ve seen bikes which are more like an art in itself. Bikes with wheelbarrow-like extension to place children on it, bikes where a biker lies down while biking, etc.  During the international arts festival, I saw a public workshop on creative recycling of bicycles where accessories are from found or thrown-away objects. 

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