Blue skies all around, and we’re halfway to the weekend!
This is the old city hall of The Hague, which I have photographed a few times. The red windows are always the first thing you notice when walking past.
The dark brown building at the right of my photo has an Eat Company mural with an autumn theme, which you can just barely see. The company was changing it seasonably back in 2015-2016, but this mural was never painted over after it was added in 2016. So we’ve been stuck in autumn for the last five years almost…
Today’s news theme is apparently bikes:
Bicycle Cities Index 2019 from coya.com. Utrecht has taken the top spot on this global list. The criteria included percentage of bicycle users, safety, anti-theft measures, bicycle-related crime and road infrastructure. Go Dutchies!
France bans Dutch bike TV ad for creating ‘climate of fear’ about cars from theguardian.com. I saw the end of this commercial yesterday but didn’t think anything of it. Although I did to turn Marco and ask him “VanMoof? Who names their company VanMOOF?”. But apparently the commercial is very anti-car, including images of factories, accidents, traffic jams and flashing lights of emergency vehicles in the reflection of the car before it melts and reforms as a bike.
World’s second biggest bike garage opens in The Hague from nltimes.nl. With space for nearly 8,000 bikes! It’s found underground at The Hague’s Centraal Station. And can you guess who has the biggest bike garage in the world currently? Also the Dutchies. Utrecht – not a coincidence considering my first news point above – has a bike garage with space for 12,000 bikes (!).
Recently Marco took a photo of the bike parking outside of Hema:
This was at the start of what is normally evening rush hour, as everyone heads home from work. Normally this area would be packed with bikes, crammed so tightly together that it would then be impossible to remove your bike once you returned from your shopping trip.
The area is normally so full that it there are ‘bike coaches’ which help you park your bike. Or bike coaches that stand around all day talking with each other… one of those two is true. Although one time I did see one of the coaches help an older lady diagnose a problem with her bike, so that was nice to see.
But still: the strange times continue, with no end in the near future.
The government launched a campaign today called ‘alleen samen’ which can be translated as either ‘only together’ or ‘alone together’. Basically reminding us that we are together in this – even when we must undertake so many actions alone (article in Dutch).
Okay, I’ll admit – I don’t have a bike in the Netherlands so I am a bit biased with this post. However I was thrilled to hear that the shopping street on the Grote Markt would be closed to bikes this weekend+Monday and next weekend+Monday (article in Dutch). On a normal day it is dangerous trying to cross the street to get to the shops, but during Christmas…? Forget about it.
I’ll be honest – tourists and those not from The Hague have no clue where they should walk, which just angers cyclists even more. And I don’t think most cyclists know that there’s no official bike path on that street and that they should be adjusting their biking based on the movements of the pedestrian, and not vice versa.
If you’re interested, you can watch a time lapse of them re-doing Grote Marktstraat back in 2015. I will admit the street is much more beautiful now than it was, but the old street made it much more obvious that you were crossing a bike path.
Oh, and it’s still extremely busy in the city centre even without the cyclists!
Recently Marco and I ended up leaving the house together in the morning, as he had to catch a train to Utrecht for work. As we were walking, we were passed by a fruit seller riding his cart. It caught my eye because the road was so bumpy I was amazed that none of the oranges fell off…
Later on in the day Marco sent me a photo. It turns out the fruit seller was selling his wares at Centraal Station. It’s a bit blurry, but you get the idea:
Bikes really are the “transport of choice” around here!
The Hague currently has an issue with the amount of bikes it has lying around, especially in the city center. Over the last year or so The Hague has opened a handful of new bike parking areas, including under the public library. Future work will be done at The Hague’s two train stations (Centraal station and Holland Spoor).
One of the more crowded areas in the city center is by Hema, where the amount of bikes has doubled over the last few years. The city has started putting free bicycle covers on every bike in the area for advertisement purposes:
It says “Put your bike in a free, guarded bike park”
Each bike also gets an advertisement on one of their handles, complete with a map of the nearby free, guarded bike areas in the neighborhood.
The trick is that it is free for the first 24 hours – if you do not remove your bike at the end of the day you need to pay to get it back. This in theory prevents the rider from using the area as a free storage area for a few months (only in theory, as some people just never come back for the bike).
Yesterday Marco made soft baked pretzels. The recipe called for baking soda; you dip the pretzels in it before they are put in to bake. We knew that you could get baking soda at the local expat store (Kelly’s) but I was curious to see if it was available at any Dutch stores. While doing some Google searches I came across this article from Kiwidutch. I found out that baking soda is zuiveringszout in Dutch and it is more likely to be found at drug stores rather than the local grocery store. Oddly it is cheaper as an import item than at the local Dutch store…
On the way to the expat store we came across an interesting metal sculpture depicting two bicyclists in the rain (note the umbrellas).
click for a larger size
I just noticed the bicycle shop across the street (Top bikes), too. How Dutch!
It seems that The Hague has been working on the areas where people park their bikes. A lot of places had a sign on them (example below) stating that bikes could only be parked here until Tuesday, February 18. Any bikes left there after that time would be removed. You could then go to the central bike storage in the city and pay a fee to get it back – 25 euros! link in Dutch.
It seems that – according to some Dutch articles – that the bike stands are being permanently removed as they can cause damage to the bike when it is knocked over. Their solution?
Chalk lines showing you where to park your bike. Not the most elegant solution, of course. We came back a few hours later after taking this second photo and the entire space was full, and people also placed their bikes against the building just like before – making it even more crowded for pedestrians to pass.