To see, but not to see

Someone looking at us Dutch from the outside – always interesting. Especially if it is complimentary. Like Pete Jordan, of American abstraction, writing about the Dutch habit to travel by bike. He’s written a book about the history of cycling in Amsterdam (quote from Trouw, april 6th, 2013, my translation): Your culture fascinates me endlessly. In America, a cyclist is a marginal figure. Cyclists are pushed aside, have to guard themselves continuously against car doors swinging open. Here, the whole country is set up for bikes. You have bicycle lanes, bicycle parkings, bicycle repairmen, even separate traffic lights for cyclists. And literally everyone, young and old, uses bikes for transportation – even pregnant women. I may be a bit obsessed, that’s a definite possibility. When I read in the paper that somewhere in town a cyclist has perished, I bike to the spot and set flowers by it. 

A community that propels itself by bike must be fun! I want to be part of that. I wonder if you yourselves see how special and unique your cycling culture is. Maybe you need an outsider – someone like me – to open your eyes to the phenomenon. 

Pete Jordan: De fietsrepubliek. Een geschiedenis van fietsend Amsterdam. Podium, Amsterdam; 384 blz. euro 19,50

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