Adventures on a Folding Bike
In my research, I discovered a book, In the City of Bikes by Pete Jordan. The sub-title, The Story of the Amsterdam Cyclist, gives the reader a good idea what the author’s goal was when he wrote it.
Pete Jordan intermixes his experiences in Amsterdam with the history of cycling in the Netherlands. His story includes him signing up for an Urban Planning course at a university in Amsterdam to he and his wife deciding to stay. Their story includes their initial ignorance, joys, and heartbreaks (stolen bicycles mostly).
The history stories include the 1890s when bicycles were mostly just play things for the rich. An expense that the average “Amsterdamer” could ill afford. The history continues into the 1920s and 30s when the popularity of cycling exploded with the drop in price so that almost everyone could afford one.
The history also includes the Nazi occupation when the Germans attempted to rein in the cyclists and their chaotic ways only to be thwarted at every turn. The Dutch considered cycling just another tool in their resistance to the occupation.
Following the war, the Netherlands flirted with becoming a car-centric society,until the 1970s. This was when a renaissance for cycling occurred reestablishing the bicycle as the kings and queens of the roads again.
The book is more than 360 pages long and the writing is well done. The anecdotes are very entertaining and the statistics are mind boggling.
While reading something that I’d like to see for myself, I combine this book with the Bicycle Dutch website. This website has so many videos filmed by Mark Wagenbuur, an enthusiastic Dutch cyclist, that illustrates very well what Pete is writing about. Together an unbeatable combination.
For those interested in this genre, I heartily recommend this book.
UPDATE: For a fun video from Dutch T.V. where Pete Jordan is interviewed, click here.