Tag Archives: cycling culture

Cycling Culture in China

13 Nov

What you see here, is a Chinese bookkeeper presenting an article (the picture was taken by my friends Aude and Willem, who found the book in a Shanghai bookshop and were thrilled to read familiar English, after months of unintelligible Chinese characters).

The article explains how significant cycling is for Chinese culture. If you zoom in, you should be able to read the article – and learn how back in the 1970s, the bicycle was one of the three most prized possessions of Chinese families (together with: their sowing machine and wrist watch). The article states: “If someone lost a bicycle, the public security bureau would handle the case with great force”.

I repeat: “force”.

I wonder what would happen if the Gardai took a similar approach to bike theft in Dublin. I mean: nobody would want to be on the wrong end of that investigation, right?

Of course, China has changed since the 1970s. However, that bikes continue to be prized possessions in China can be seen in the 2 pictures below: diamond frame bicycles on display in an upmarket art gallery in Shanghai.

I wonder what the Chinese public bureau would do if that one got stolen?

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