My Dutch Omafiets

After discovering the cost of a Dutch bike and recovering from the shock, I came to terms that I truly didn’t care if it was the Mercedes of bikes or even used. I just wanted one. But… I wanted it to be white and I wanted a basket. I’m not out for impressing anyone with a label but I am out for not looking like I found it in the garbage.

The roads here in The Netherlands are flat, making it perfect for riding. I live close to everything, so within a short ride I can be to the market or even into the centrum. The roads are all set up with bicyclists in mind. There are specific lanes, or paths. There are signs, traffic signals and rules to help everyone stay safe. When I first got here, I thought to myself. Oh my, how can they bike everywhere? They’re like the post office… rain, sleet, snow and sun… there they are, biking. But then some 90-year-old woman will sail past me like it’s no big deal. Ok, maybe I can do this! The Dutch load up their bikes with groceries, flowers, suitcases and other things just needed for every day. I saw a lady today with a ladder strapped onto her bike. My favorite is when I see a boy and a girl on a date. He’ll be just pedaling along with the girl sitting side saddle on the back of his bike. And I’ve got to say it’s just way too precious when you see the moms or dads biking. They usually have a child or two in the front in a bucket holder or one sitting on a chair in the back like a car seat. At very young ages the kids are biked everywhere. It’s not unusual at all…. It’s a way of life.

With over half a million bikes a year stolen in The Netherlands, I’m praying mine is not one of them. I have a good sturdy chain with two locks. But thieves will take any part of the bike that is not locked up. I’ve seen a wheel locked to a tree before and the rest of the bike is missing. I’m not going to be given a yellow shirt to wear anytime soon, but I do think I will enjoy this new way of getting around. Now, if I could only learn how to do the leg cross thing so I can get on my bike with ease, style and not fall flat on my face. If you see me out there biking, try not to make any sudden movements or honk at me. Just ring your little bike bell and wave, otherwise I’ll fall off. I just hope that 90-year-old lady doesn’t run me over!

Lisa Jochim

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