To bicycle or not to bicycle? This is the question. Well, not really. Certainly not for most people here in Groningen, the world’s most bike friendly city. And yet somehow it has taken me two weeks of living here to actually get a bike. While there were always bicycles available they weren’t always within my budget #studentlife. Not having a bike has been the ultimate workout – it’s too bad I don’t have a step counter! The time spent walking also gave me plenty of time to contemplate the pros and cons of bike-life and really get to grips with the great wheels vs feet debate…..
- Everyone else has a bicycle
- People STARE at you wondering how such a peasant came to be when you are walking and not cycling
- Groningen University does not have one central campus, and so you will have classes in different parts of the city. A 20-minute walk to 9am lecture followed by a 30-minute walk to an 11am seminar ain’t cute at all.
- Who doesn’t want to be part of that innately Dutch cycling-everywhere thing?
- Tote bags are fun when holding free t-shirts, pens and leaflets about all the activities you’ll never sign up for. The fun quickly disappears when these are replaced by (deep breath now) a laptop, charger, notebooks, water, pens, folders, a shopping bag, umbrella, spare jacket… You’ll soon be dreaming of a bike with a basket!
- Cycling is simply just faster than walking
- The wind in your hair, cityscapes flashing by – what’s not to adore?
Not to Bicycle
- We had feet before bicycles, right? Relish in the superiority of your own independence and self- sufficiency
- Google Maps is very often more of a hindrance than a help. Now imagining trying to navigate it while cycling
- At least you know for sure you can walk. You might think you can cycle but think again. Traffic lights, pedestrians, bicycles, more bicycles, hand signal, cobbled streets – it’s a minefield!
- The intricate art of maintaining balance while carrying the week’s shopping
- Finding your bike. No further explanation required. A picture speaks a thousand words, and this one is saying ‘Bike, Bike, Bike, Bike, Bike’…
- Riding on the back (or front) of someone’s bike is a great way to make friends
- The hassle of locking your bike, chaining it to something secure just to redo it all later
- Losing the keys for the locks and chains. Leaving you with no other option than to carry your bike home. Like a FOOL
- The constant paranoia that your bike could become one of the 311 stolen every day
- More paranoia – Is this bike you bought through Facebook a stolen bike? What if the original owner steals it back? What if this cheap as chips bike just falls to pieces as I cycle across A-Brug?
- Cycling while intoxicated – Is this even legal? If so, why?
For the moment however, I am firmly on the ‘get-a-bike-side’ of the arguement. I’ve had a bike one day and already my quality of life has improved. Walking is great, but in Groningen Cycling is way to go!
Til Next Time