Bikes and Dikes

6 Jan

Daan – my dad – could put a press clippings service out of business.

Ever since we moved from Amsterdam, he has cut-out, stamped, and posted to Dublin any bike article he reads. Recently, my dad’s clipping service ventured into new markets — it now also offers vintage bike books.

Flying back from Amsterdam, I read the vintage book my dad gave me for Christmas: ‘Dikes and Bikes’ – written by Nel Slis and Hugh Jans, published in 1953. It’s a comprehensive foreigner’s guide to the Netherlands.

It describes ‘the Netherlander’ as:

… stiff, but not hostile; reserved, but not unfriendly; serious, but not somber; devout, but not fanatical; uneffusive, but not cold; plodding, but not unimaginative.

It goes on by describing the Netherlands’ main cities, alliterating Amsterdam as follows:

… the steep-staircased, canal-cut capital of the Lowlands, thriving on business, bohemia and ‘broodjes’“. (broodjes = Dutch sandwiches)

Finally, the book describes Dutch bicycle culture (I am copying the enitre artcile below).

Apparently, the five-and-a-half million people using a bike in 1953 were cursed by motorists.

Nowadays, Holland has 18 million bicycles, and 16 million inhabitants.

With that, the cursing also seems to have gotten less.

Dikes and Bikes - Dutch bicycle culture

Dutch bicycle culture - Dikes and Bikes

5 Responses to “Bikes and Dikes”

  1. William January 6, 2011 at 9:43 am #

    Seems to me as essential bike literature. Well chosen gift from your father. Excellent article!

  2. John January 6, 2011 at 1:54 pm #

    Of course 1953 would be that time when the Economy was starting to pick up again after WW2 and all around Europe People were starting to rediscover the Motorcar. With all Car Drivers a certain attitude tends to take over ,they think they own the Roads and everyone else is to get out of their way.

    Whereas everywhere else in Europe eventually adopted Car Culture and promoted it to the exclusion of Cyclists and Pedestrians, the Netherlands after 1970 reversed it’s attitude of Car Dependence and promoted Cycling instead. Result a marvelous Infrastructure for Cycling which is the Envy of every other Countries Cyclists who would like their own Countries like it.


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