Archive for the ‘Child and family transport’ Category

Bike on a Bike, Fr8 style

Wednesday, May 20th, 2009


The WorkCycles Fr8’s “Massive Rack” front carrier easily has room for a second child with their own “loopfiets”.

Trivia: This is one of two galvanized Fr8’s. What seemed a cool idea turned out to be a nightmare to manufacture. The “twin” of this bike is on display at WorkCycles Lijnbaansgracht shop, and not for sale… unless somebody really wants to lay down some serious cash for it.

Thanks for the photo Eddy!


Saturday, May 16th, 2009
fuck off with this fucking bike

unsolicited sticker found on doede's bakfiets

Our website dude Doede van der Linden sent me this pic today. Somebody stuck this sticker on his Bakfiets Cargobike today.

“Rot op met deze &*%$#@! fiets” roughly translates to “Fuck off with this fucking bike” .

In other words somebody is displeased with Doede’s choice of bicycle. Below, the same in better detail.

Fuck off with this fucking bike

The sticker in all it's glory

Here we can read the smaller text below.

Dit is een asociale fiets hij is echt te groot en waarschijnlijk kan ook jij er niet normaal mee fietsen

And in English: “This is an antisocial bike it is really too big and you probably also can’t cycle normally”

Now let’s consider this more carefully.

  • The sticker shows a (very badly drawn) bakfiets with three kids, thus demonstrating that the sticker maker/sticker understands at least one function of such a bike.
  • He’s (and almost certainly a “he”) is writing in (bad) Dutch about a very Dutch topic. It seems reasonable to guess that he’s somewhat familiar with bikes and thus understands that one doesn’t carry three kids on any ordinary bike.
  • So I can only infer that he’s expressing his disapproval that a family should have three (or more) kids.
  • Now if anything is antisocial it’s telling people, unsolicited, by sticking things on their bikes, that they have too many kids, that they ride a bike that’s “too big”, and that they probably can’t ride a bike normally. So fuck off, you righteous asshole! Put stickers on your own bike and don’t tell people how they should live. Be happy that Doede rides a bakfiets (no wider than the handlebars of a normal bike in case it matters) instead of driving a Cadillac Escalade. And be happy that you live in Amsterdam, cycling capital of the world.

    Cycling is a Sport too… and that’s OK

    Sunday, May 10th, 2009

    henry family panda 2

    I periodically see fellow bloggers denigrating the “lycra crowd” with the basic idea that recreational cycling (at least if it involves wearing special clothes) is the antithesis of utilitarian cycling and just plain old bad. But why? Cycling is just plain wonderful, whether riding the bakfiets across town to bring the kids to school, or riding up a mountain with friends. All work and no play makes a dull boy! There has to be a place in the world for objects and activities without productive function. Otherwise there would be no art, sports, play, hobbies or fun… and that world would suck.

    And many activities (productive or otherwise) are enhanced by donning specific gear. The doctor pulls on scrubs for surgery, the construction worker wears tough trousers with gear loops, knee pads and steel toed boots, and the fireman stays warm but not crispy in his Nomex coat and helmet. If you’re going to spend the day in the saddle you’ll probably be most comfortable in cycling clothes. Whether you’ll look good in them or not is another story.

    Henry Pascal Amstel

    I’m also perplexed by why people believe it’s impossible to be both a cyclist for transportation AND and cyclist for fun. I ride a no-nonsense utility bike every day to get around the city, and then (weather, work and family permitting) I get on one of my lovely sporty bikes and ride for a few hours. For much of my life that meant riding fast: training and competing in races. With the addition of Pascal our recreational cycling has generally become a family activity. Today we took maximal advantage of a Sunday with perfect cycling weather: We were out for 6 hours, though one doesn’t ride very fast while holding a sleeping baby in one arm, nor cover much distance with multiple cafe stops.

    Anyhow, just ride your bike. Certainly do it for transportation, but don’t let the hair-shirt idealists stop you from going nowhere useful on your bike… in the tightest lycra sausage suit if you wish.

    Panda practice

    Sunday, May 3rd, 2009

    cargobike panda henry pascal 1, originally uploaded by henry in a’dam.

    Pascal, Papa practicing plural panda portraiture.

    On our way to see friends for dinner at super yummy New King in the Zeedijik. Sun was directly into the camera, making things tricky. We’ll have to try again later.

    cargobike panda henry pascal 2

    Henry also rode in a child seat

    Monday, March 9th, 2009


    That’s me in New York in 1967. It looks like I’m about a year old here. I’m certainly not much older since I’m not wearing shoes, thus not walking yet.

    My earliest memories are actually of riding around behind mom like this, pulling her underwear up, pointing things out and I assume babbling unintelligible things about them. Millions of these Raleigh Sports three-speed bikes were sold there in this period but few actually got ridden much. My mom was an exception; this bike got ridden quite a bit.

    In high school my friend Tom and I used to collect these old English bikes. Every garage seemed to have a matching his and hers set collecting dust and we found more at church rummage sales, temple bazaars, police auctions etc etc. We had dozens of them in various states of completion. We did restorations and repairs for others, but also built some great hot-rods from these bikes: stripped of accessories with handlebars upside down we spent countless days violently racing through parks, woods and around golf courses in what we called “death rides”… We weren’t done until either one of the bikes couldn’t be bent back into rideable shape or somebody was in too much pain to continue. This sometimes resulted in 6 hour marathons but also a couple times in 5 minute sprints.

    Check out the child seat on my mom’s Raleigh: It’s just bent steel with flat pads and no harness, head or foot protection whatsoever. I recall from much later that it folded up. What innocent times eh?

    Winter bakfiets rides along the Amstel river

    Monday, March 9th, 2009

    pascal-bakfiets-amstel (1)

    Not all use of our bakfiets is strictly for transportation. Sometimes we go for little tours with Pascal. One of our favorite routes winds from Amsterdam along the Amstel river to Oudekerk or maybe further to Abcoude, Nes or Uithoorn. We ride for an hour or so to a cafe, have lunch and coffee, change diapers and feed the baby, and then head back. We’re looking forward to better weather and more daylight in the spring and summer to do much longer family tours.

    Last week it looked as if rain was impossible so we even went sans canopy for the first time since the fall. Of course it rained anyway but Pascal stayed pretty dry with my rain jacket wrapped over his Maxi Cosi and a Dirk van den Broek shopping bag over his legs. I got wet but as the Dutch say: “We’re not made of sugar”!

    Lots of rowers train and sometimes compete on the Amstel, as seen here. Rowing is very popular in the Netherlands and I believe one of the handful of sports where the Dutch consistently rank amongst the world’s best.


    Here’s Pascal suited up for a late winter ride in his giant, super-warm suit. The toys are really only needed when stopped since while cycling he’s either endlessly amused or sleeping. The blue bag behind him contains all the baby essentials.

    Tweelingfiets (twin bike)

    Thursday, February 19th, 2009

    tweelingfiets 1

    tweelingfiets 2

    This is called a “tweelingfiets”. It’s a special Dutch bike for carrying multiple kids and this example seems to date from the 1970’s. At first glance it looks like a modified tandem but it’s not. It’s a “longtail” city bike produced in series around when most of the designers of current longtails and xtracycles were just a glint in their dad’s eye. That doesn’t detract from the Xtracycle and the growing crop of modern longtails, but does show that many ideas come around a few times… especially when it comes to bikes.

    I know of at least 4 firms that have produced a tweelingfiets but this type is the oldest. I’m actually not exactly sure who built these but I’m guessing Van Raam who builds or has built frames for a number of firms including: Gazelle, Grimminck, ‘t Mannetje and Utopia Velo.

    This particular bike, parked around the corner from my house, has a particularly nice arrangement of child seats. It’s very social for the kids in back. Quite ironically I saw it later today, but with a child facing forward on the rear facing seat.

    Another fine, home-brew child seat

    Wednesday, February 18th, 2009

    home-brew-child-seat-amsterdam 1

    home-brew-child-seat-amsterdam 2

    Here’s another classic Amsterdam bicycle child seat, this time true to the Dutch minimalist spirit. Two chunks of wood and a small piece of an old backpacker’s sleeping pad… almost certainly all found in the trash.

    The bike’s also worth a look: A well-worn "opafiets" (grandpa bike) at least 50 years old with the front carrier from a baker’s bike.

    Note that the handlebar is long gone. In its place the owner has attached a piece of steel tubing to brackets bolted to the front rack. This was quite solidly, if not attractively, performed and judging from the patina it’s been this way for decades.

    There are lots of other nice Amsterdam touches:

  • frame is slightly bent at the head tube
  • the seat tube of the frame has been repaired with a weld
  • there’s a ring lock but not fixed to the frame
  • antique “Koets” taillamp is hanging limply
  • the poster behind the bike
  • A few weeks ago I showed off another creative Amsterdam child seat.

    New Bakfiets parking area at Amsterdam Centraal

    Sunday, February 15th, 2009

    As part of the constant struggle to provide parking for the ever growing number of bicycles ridden to Amsterdam Centraal Station every day the city of Amsterdam is building a special parking area for bakfietsen. This will be directly across from the famous and much photographed fietsflat. There will only be 40 parking spaces but that’s better than the zero available now. Presently those who need to park a bakfiets at the station can either park it a couple blocks away or in the two indoor “fietsenstalling” run by MacBike.

    fietsflat amsterdam station bike parking facility bicycle parking garage in amsterdam Amsterdam bicycle parking garage
    Bicycle parking on ferry in amsterdam old ferry used as bike parking at amsterdam station fietspont, bicycle parking behind amsterdam centraal station

    Why ride a bakfiets to the station when it’s so much more difficult to park than a normal bike? Well, a parent might drop the kids off at school and continue on to the station during their morning commute. Or a family might go to the station with the kids in order to take the train to visit grandma, or for a weekend in Paris or…

    The problem is that providing parking for all the bicycles is a hopeless battle. Each day 250,000 travelers pass though Amsterdam Centraal, a considerable number of whom arrive by bicycle. This is not surprising considering that it’s the most practical and cheapest way to reach the station for most of Amsterdam’s residents. But Amsterdam Central stands on a small artificial island so space is very limited. Current bicycle parking includes:

  • Fietsflat: Designed for 2500 bikes but generally crammed with 4000.
  • Fietspont: a decommissioned ferry with a couple hundred parking spots
  • Indoor parking: Mac Bike operates two guarded bike parking garages, each with capacity of about 500 bikes.
  • Fietsbarges: There are a couple floating bike parking lots.
  • Random parking: Bike parking is tolerated in some locations around the island.
  • fietsen

    Photo by Flickr user Ron Layters

    In total I’d estimate there are about 6000 bike parking spots on the island. Locals know that it can be nearly impossible to find a place for your bike if you arrive at the station after rush hour so they take public transport instead. Cycling is also gaining in popularity in Amsterdam, recently accounting for more than 50% of trips made. Thus the need for bike storage always remains greater than the supply, despite constant additions. The city plans to reach 10,000 bike parking spots within a few years but it’s likely it will continue to remain at capacity.

    Nonetheless the city recognizes that cycling is still the most efficient and least resource intensive way to more people around the city. Passenger capacity of the trams, buses and metro are also being expanded but this is far more difficult and expensive. Getting to Amsterdam Centraal by car has already been rather hopeless for a long time.

    Family of four on a WorkCycles Fr8

    Thursday, January 22nd, 2009

    WorkCycles FR8 family of four

    A very sweet customer sent this pic along with permission to use it.

    In case you’re wondering… Yes, she does ride this bike with all three kids aboard, though I’m not sure exactly which positions the kids sit in:

  • The Fr8 rear carrier has a place for a second seat which they’re not using.
  • Behind the handlebars is a special little saddle with footrests. The child sitting there is younger than usual, but if she knows she needs to hold tightly and can’t fall asleep it should be OK.
  • The front carrier isn’t officially a child seat, but we’ve seen that many people use them that way, at least for fun. The oldest daughter rides her own bike most of the time