We made lists at the iizt office. To conclude the year 2007: what do we like to see more off in 2008 and what do we never want to see again in 2008?
Number one on the list, and for sure on my list, to never see back again is the Dutch Design Drama: bakfiets. The idea is fun, my grandfather used to have a real one in a time when there were not so many cars and life was slow. But nowadays Amsterdam is a very densely populated city. With many cars and even more bicycles. For those who never were in Amsterdam: the bicycle dominates our streets and has pretty much no rules to obey to. At least, people neglect them en masse, and that combined with our pussy police force makes it pretty clear what rights there are.
Now Holland is the country of extremes. I think Dutch people are relatively healthy because they eat simple food, with huge amounts of dairy ingredients. But more importantly they use the bicycle as their daily means of transportation. They do shopping on them, they go from one end to the city to the other, they use them to cycle home after dancing and drinking a night away. The bicycle you will see in the streets of Amsterdam are old dark colored bicycles. We do not necessarily cycle for sports, like in most other countries. And we even have a huge network of special biking lanes. These lanes are mostly just big enough for two bicycles, either to cycle side by side, or to take over the other.
Now this idea that everybody has to have pretty the same ugly bicycle is the ideal of Dutch equality. Even our queen will cycle such a bike. This cultural thing goes as far, as we do not like others to be too outgoing with their wealth. Do not try to drive a big car in Holland, if you do not live in a gated house, or you will find scratches on the metal, or people will hinder you. “who does he think he is, to drive such a huge car. does he think he is better than we are?”. This is a typical way of thinking in Holland. There are even cities in Holland, like Nijmegen, where they have leaders who have declared the city forbidden area for bigger cars, hummers. In general one is regarded as a vulgar person, if one drives a hummer.
I sold my small French car this year, below commercial price, as I do not use it a lot. And I prefer traveling by train. (even though this is where I discovered the second most annoying thing of 2007: people with mobile phones shouting so everyone can hear how painfully hollow their lives are).
So why is a bakfiets (huge bike with soccermoms at the steer and triplets in a big box in the front) so annoying? Often these are driven by politically correct people, who claim to be very social. A huge percentage of them also hates hummers, for the same reason I would almost adore hummers. So far that is simply a different view on life, that I fully respect. But what is difficult to accept is that these bakfietsen are difficult to steer and maneuver. These huge bicycles are creating very dangerous situations. And keep in mind that the little princes and princesses are sitting in the front and are used as human shields to claim your right. The bikes are heavier, longer, wider, slower, need more space to turn etc. The roads have not been adjusted to this massive use of such bikes however. This means that if you are on your normal bicycle and would love to pass such a slow and correct bakfiets, you have to wait till they turn left or right or stop aside. They simply take possession of the entire bike lane.
Socially this bicycle is almost a cause for conflict by itself. Because the most precious possession of the owner of such bikes is carried in it, you cannot win any confrontation. I know some of my friends will not like me for writing this. They think that I hate children. I do not, but I hate parents who use their children as a means of getting their right. At a crossover for instance. Just push your child on the street, and others will stop.
Now if a hummer would block the entire highway so nobody could pass anymore, I would hate them too. I need my freedom. But these bikes are limiting my space of movement. In 2008 I want to move freely again.
A nice link here of a woman who is dreaming of a bakfiets.