Holland: the country of bicycles
is a country famous for windmills, tulips, and wooden shoes.
But whoever has the opportunity to get to know Holland, quickly discovers
that here is also the country of bicycles.
I doubt if there is another place where this means of transportation is
so popular. Just
to give you an idea, the bicycle parking lot in Amsterdam's Central Station has
enough places for 8 thousand of them!
In the streets, the traffic
is completely adapted to the bicycle traffic, with bikeways and even special
of all ages are adept to this form of transportation, both men and women.
You don't see many children riding bicycles alone in the streets, except
for in parks, Most of the riders are young people and even the elderly.
The women ride in a dress and high heels, and some men ride even in a
have an incredible knack at doing it.
Even with grocery bags, the Dutch are able to balance well on this
For the pedestrian, double attention is necessary. Before crossing the road, care must be taken with the cars, buses, trans (the trains that are a kind of trolley), as well as with the bicycles. Especially since the bicycles have the right-of-way, not the pedestrian. When a passer-by goes to cross the street and does not see a bicycle, the cyclist rings a kind of bell to alert the pedestrian. Sometimes it is quite humorous to see the confusion of sounds. The stoplights let out a different kind of sound when the light is green in order to warn the blind. The trans have a different warning sound when they are approaching crossways, and on top of all this...the rings of the bicycles. The same happens with the stoplights. There are stoplights for pedestrians, cars, bicycles and a warning signal when a trans is going to pass.
The bicycle is truly a very
advantageous means of locomotion.
Not only is it economical, when compared with cars or motorcycles (a new
one costs between 200 and 400 Euros, and a used one between 50 and 150 Euros),
it does not carry with it expenses with fuel, is not pollutant, does not cause
traffic jams in city traffic, and is not difficult to park.
if the bicycle has so many advantages, why is it not popular in Brazil?
with little exceptions, the cities in Brazil are not flat.
Imagine what it would be like to ride bicycle everyday in Porto Alegre,
for example. To
start with, a small slope at Ramiro, or a steeper slope of Lucas, or how about
having to face the steep hill of Santo Antônio… no cyclist could hack it.
In Holland, there are no hills or elevations.
Everything is completely flat, which facilitates the multiplication of
this means of transportation.
second reason is the lack of infrastructure and cultural framework.
In Porto Alegre, it is dangerous to ride a motorcycle...image a bicycle!
Without bikeways, bicycles end up getting in the way of traffic, and the
cyclists run the risk of getting run over.
And the third difference is
the problem of violence.
In Holland, stealing bicycles is very common and there is a real big
market of stolen bicycles that are sold for 10 to 20 Euros.
But the difference is that here the cyclist simply loses his bicycle,
which generally is taken from the parking lots, while physical aggression and
holdups are almost nonexistent.
In Brazil, however, unfortunately, a bicycle could cost you your life.
here in Holland, I decided to jump on this "Dutch bandwagon" and join
in with this fun side of the local culture.
I decided to buy a used bicycle myself.
And it sure is good to relive those days when I used to ride bicycles in
the Parcão and at Redenção,
there in Porto Alegre.
Every weekend I would get on top of my pink and white Monark (a well know
Brazilian brand of bicycles) with a basket.
I loved to feel the breeze in my face.
Now, not only can I ride with safety here in Holland, but I can also
enjoy a different scenery and landscape, while taking the opportunity to
my way to work, I cross the Erasmus Bridge that provides a unique view of
Rotterdam with its river, ships, and huge port in the distance.
you travel, it is necessary to experiment all the aspects of the local culture,
to see life through the eyes of those people.
Only this way can we learn and reflect about our own way of thinking, and
perceive how much the culture that we live in is capable of influencing us.
Translated by Traduzca